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Premier League Preview and predictions: Title test for arsenal

Premier league
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We take a look at some of this week’s Premier League games, including a huge game for Arsenal as they travel to Anfield, hoping to keep City at arm’s length, while elsewhere, Leicester, without a manager, hosts Bournemouth, in a relegation 6-pointer.

Premier League Preview and Predictions: Another Tough Test For Liverpool
Take a look at my midweek predictions here!

This week’s premier league fixtures

Man United v Everton
Aston Villa v Nottingham Forest
Brentford v Newcastle
Fulham v West Ham
Leicester v Bournemouth
Tottenham Hotspur v Brighton
Wolves v Chelsea
Southampton v Man City
Leeds v Crystal Palace
Liverpool v Arsenal

Aston Villa v Nottingham forest

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Things are looking very good for Aston Villa at the moment. Unai Emery took charge of the club languishing down in 16th place, now, they sit in 7th, 6 points behind 5th-placed Spurs, and an outside shot of a European spot. What a job he has done for Villa this season, and it will be interesting to see what he can do with them next year as well.

After their brilliant 2-0 away win against Chelsea, they travelled to Leicester in what was a tricky game against a struggling side. Villa shaded the game, and the sending-off for Leicester probably helped Villa get their late winner. Is a European spot a realistic aim for Villa this season, or will it be too late for them?

Ollie Watkins is having some seasons for Villa. He has 11 goals this season and has scored in Villa’s last 6 away games. If it were not for the form of Toney and Kane, Watkins would have received an England call-up. If he can finish the season with 15 goals or more, he may find himself more involved in the national team, which he is more than deserving of.

I had high hopes for Forest after the World Cup break. They looked confident, hungry for goals, and they were winning games. They looked like they were going to avoid relegation with ease, but they have slowly dropped back towards the bottom, and now sit in 17th, above the relegation zone on goal difference.

The issue with Forest is that they are dropping points against the teams around them now. In their last 6 games, they have lost against West Ham, drawn against Everton, drawn against Wolves and lost against Leeds. They need to be picking up points against these teams if they are to avoid the drop.

The board have come out and shown their support for Steve Cooper, as they believe he is the right man for the job, which he is. He has had a difficult job this season of trying to integrate 20+ new players, to fit a style he wants to play, and get them up and running in the Premier League.

If Forest does go down, they will have spent a lot of money for nothing. Other teams have come up from The Championship and stayed up on less of a budget. They have not brought the right players in, in some cases, and have neglected other positions that they should have invested in.

I think this will be a straightforward win for Villa. Forest has only won once away from home all season, against Southampton, and typically struggles to perform on the road. Villa looks so good at the moment. They are in great form, and Emery has his players performing out of their skin. A comfortable home win here.

Prediction: Aston Villa 2 – 0 Nottingham Forest

Brentford v Newcastle

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Brentford has slightly dropped off the pace recently, and is coasting back towards a mid-table finish. They had a good chance of closing the gap on the top 4 when they played an out-of-form Man United last week, but they lost 1-0, whilst hardly creating any chances.

Brentford only had a single shot on target, and whilst they restricted Man United to just 3 themselves, they still came away from Old Trafford with 0 points. It was a completely different side of their game on the show compared to their 3-3 draw with Brighton.

They now sit 7 points behind Spurs in 5th, and whilst they could still mathematically finish in a European spot, it would rely on other teams above them dropping quite a few points. Brentford’s aim now should be to finish as high up the table as possible and start building for next year.

Newcastle was back to their best last week. After an impressive 2-0 win against Man United, where they battered The Reds from start to finish, they did the same against West Ham at The London Stadium.

West Ham started well. Newcastle hardly saw the ball in the first 5 minutes of the game and could have been 1-0 down early on. But Callum Wilson, who started over Isak, netted after 6 minutes, and from then on, it was all Newcastle. By the time Wilson had netted his second, shortly after halftime, Newcastle were 3-0 up with just 3 shots on target.

Isak added a fourth, with Fabianski failing to clear the ball, and Isak lobbing the ball into an empty net from 25-30 yards out. Everything Newcastle tried to do seemed to work, and West Ham was guilty of giving the ball away too easily, and in some key areas. They contributed to their own downfall. Newcastle was brilliant, but West Ham let them walk all over them.

This will be a completely different game for Newcastle, but they will come into it with confidence after their last two results. Brentford on the other hand, is not the same team they were a few months ago. It will not be an easy game for both sides, but I think the current form will see Newcastle record another impressive win, cementing their place in the top 4.

Prediction: Brentford 0 – 1 Newcastle

Leicester v Bournemouth

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Leicester is in big, big trouble. Down to 19th, 2 points from safety, and they are in horrendous form. They struggled against an inform Villa side last week but still could have got something out of the game after Harvey Barnes’ equaliser. In terms of chances, it was an even game, and it probably should have ended as a draw.

Dewsbury-Hall received a second yellow card in the 70th minute, resulting in Leicester going down to 10 men. The sending-off did not have too much of an impact on the game, until the 87th minute when Traoré curled in an absolute beauty from the right side of the pitch, condemning Leicester to another defeat.

Leicester has a chance to put things right here. Bournemouth is directly above them in the league, and if results go their way, a win could see them exit the bottom 3. For Leicester, it would be a travesty to go down, especially after winning the Premier League, and the FA Cup last season, but if they do not start picking up points fast, that may become a reality.

Bournemouth could not capitalise on their impressive win against Fulham, as they slumped to a disappointing 2-0 loss against Brighton. They may not have expected to get anything out of that game, but this cannot be their mindset. They need to go into every game believing that they can get a point or three.

Bournemouth needs to do something they have only managed twice this season, which is to get a win away from home. The two sides they have beaten away this season, Nottingham Forest and Wolves, two teams who were struggling at the time they played them.

Tavernier is going to be an important player for Bournemouth now. He has spent a long time out of the squad injured, but he is such a big player for them. He, and Ouattara, take Bournemouth’s attacking game to another level when they play. They look much more comfortable going forward with them both on the pitch.

This is such a big game at the bottom of the table, and the pressure on each side is massive. Neither side will go all guns blazing, as they cannot afford to lose. The first goal is crucial. If Bournemouth scores first, the home fans will get on Leicester’s back and it will be a long evening for them, but if Leicester score first, Bournemouth could collapse. I think a cagey score draw here.

Prediction: Leicester 1 – 1 Bournemouth

Tottenham Hotspur v Brighton

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A big game against 5th and 6th place. Brighton is pushing Spurs all the way for a European spot, as they sit 4 points behind them with 2 games in hand. A win for Spurs will put more much-needed distance between the two, whilst a win for Brighton will really heat up the race coming into the closing stages of the season.

For large parts of the game, Spurs were woeful against Everton. From the get-go, Everton looked hungry, full of desire, and battered Spurs. They were hanging on, and luckily for them, Everton wasted chance after chance.

Doucoure’s sending-off really helped Spurs. It allowed them to get into the game more, and they took the lead from the penalty spot 10 minutes later. They could not make the numerical advantage count though, having just 2 shots on target throughout the 90 minutes. Lucas Moura then got sent off for a high studs challenge, before Michael Keane silenced the travelling fans with an absolute thunderbolt.

Spurs should have been winning this game comfortably if they had any hopes of finishing in the top 4, especially when they had a man advantage. Something is wrong with Spurs at the moment. They do not look like they know how to win games or hold on to a lead. They dropped points against Southampton after leading 3-1, and they dropped more points here against Everton from a winning position.

Brighton continues to be the story of the season. They have 11 games left to play, and sit in 6th place, 4 behind Spurs in 5th, and 7 points behind Man United in 4th, with games in hand on both teams. Will Brighton be in Europe next season? Or will they end up slipping when it matters most?

They navigated a tough tie away against Bournemouth, winning 2-0, something which fellow top 6 hopefuls Fulham could not manage the week before. Bournemouth was on a high after that win, one which helped them climb closer towards safety, but were brought crashing back down to earth after a routine win for Brighton.

It is not just Brighton as a team who have been the story of the season, but some of the players have been as well. Mitoma grabbed himself another assist, contributing to his already incredible impact to the Premier League. Ferguson also grabbed his 4th goal of the season, and Jason Steele kept a clean sheet in the Brighton net.

With Spurs in indifferent form, struggling to win games and keep hold of a lead, I see Brighton winning this. Even if Spurs were in good form, this would have been a close game, but after their recent performances, I think Brighton will win this one, giving them an even bigger chance of finishing in the top 4.

Prediction: Tottenham Hotspur 1 – 2 Brighton

Liverpool v arsenal

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This is a game that could decide Arsenal’s fate in terms of winning the Premier League. A win here, and it should give them the boost they need to go on and win the competition. Liverpool on the other hand, desperately needs a win to revive any hopes of a top 4 finish, and even then, they need other teams to slip up. This should be a brilliant game of football.

What is going on at Liverpool? They can blame the injuries, they can blame the World Cup, and the only thing to blame for this downfall is the players themselves. This is the same group of lads that took Man City all the way to the final day of the season last year. The quality is there, but is the desire? They look like they are out of ideas, have no confidence, and look beaten before they even kick off.

Their game against Chelsea was poor. It really displayed how far Liverpool’s game has dropped. The game really did seem like a battle between two mid-table sides. A plethora of misplaced passes, woeful efforts in front of the goal, and poor defending across the board. This is not the Liverpool we are used to seeing.

If Klopp stays, he has a big rebuild in the summer in some key areas. The midfield needs strengthening, and another attacking would not go amiss if Nunez and Gakpo continue their poor run of form. Let’s not forget, this is the team that beat an inform Man United weeks ago. Where is the passion and desire from that game? They need to show it against Arsenal or they will get thrashed.

Arsenal will be hoping they meet Liverpool in this poor form, as this is just one of their many big games between now and the end of the season. They still have games against Man City and Newcastle away from home, whilst also hosting Chelsea and Brighton. A win here will give them the confidence to go on and secure the title, but a loss gives City the chance to close the gap and put even more pressure on their meeting together.

Arsenal is irresistible at the moment. In their last 5 games, they have scored 18 goals. Although most of those games have been against teams battling relegation, they are putting themselves in a good place going into their more difficult games. Their confidence is sky-high, they look like scoring every time they go forward, no matter who they are against, and they look so hard to beat at the moment.

It was good to see Jesus getting back on the scoresheet, with a brace against Leeds. He could be a massive player for Arsenal in their title run-in. He started the season well and looked like a brilliant signing for The Gunners before his injury. For him to come back in, and hit the ground running with 2 goals, will give him and Arsenal a massive boost.

Will Liverpool roll over as they did against Man City? Or will they put up a fight and show some desire as they did against Man United? Ultimately, that will decide how close this game is. Arsenal will score. Liverpool’s defensive incapabilities will make sure of that, but it all depends on how confident Liverpool is going forward. I think this will be a fourth consecutive game without a win for Liverpool and Arsenal to overcome another massive hurdle.

Prediction: Liverpool 1 – 3 Arsenal

Other predictions

  • Man United 2 – 0 Everton
  • Fulham 3 – 1 West Ham
  • Wolves 1 – 0 Chelsea
  • Southampton 0 – 3 Man City
  • Leeds 1 – 0 Crystal Palace

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