Premier League Preview And Predictions: Vital Derby Days

Premier League

We look at this weekend’s Premier League fixtures, including some key derbies featuring clubs at both ends of the table, including West Ham v Chelsea, and Liverpool v Everton.

This Week’s Premier League Games

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

West Ham v Chelsea

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West Ham picked up a brilliant point on the road last week against Newcastle, and if it were not for some stout defending and goalkeeping from Newcastle’s backline, West Ham could have come away with all 3 points.

The problems West Ham have had all season were on display against Newcastle. They conceded less than one minute into the game, which ended up being ruled out as the ball had run out of play, to then concede just 2 minutes later. This sloppy start cost West Ham dearly as when they grew into the game, they looked like the more likely team to win.

West Ham needs to learn to be more clinical. They have scored 18 goals in the Premier League this season, but that number could be much higher if they showed a bit of composure in the final third and in front of goal.

West Ham does look like they are turning a corner, however. They followed up their vital win against Everton with a point on the road, and they now face Chelsea at home. If they can get another point or 3 here, they could start to drift away from the bottom 3, and towards the safety of mid-table.

Chelsea is so frustrating to watch at times. They outplayed Liverpool the other week, had a goal disallowed by VAR and ended up drawing 0-0, they then played Fulham at home and drew 0-0 again.

They dominated the ball, but could not create chances. Mudryk looked like a shell of the player who impressed so heavily against Liverpool, to the point where he got brought off at halftime.

Chelsea, now, has so many attacking options to choose from, exciting, young, pacey players, who like to show skill and take their man on, but these players need to learn how to play as a team.

It was surprising to see deadline day go by without Chelsea signing a recognised striker. Whilst Felix is suspended, Havertz and Ziyech are being expected to play in this position, and it simply is not working for them. They both looked lost on the pitch against Fulham. When Felix is back, we may see a different Chelsea.

Like a lot of the games this week, this is a hard one to call. West Ham is in high spirits, having picked up 4 points out of the last 6, and Chelsea is struggling to create and score goals, but is solid defensively. I think Chelsea will win here, just, and it will be far from comfortable for them.

Prediction: West Ham 0 – 1 Chelsea

Arsenal v Brentford

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What a shock for Arsenal last weekend. After a brilliant win against an inform Man United previously, they slipped up against Everton, losing 1-0 to a Tarkowski goal. It was obvious that Sean Dyche would come in and make them hard to beat, but I do not think anyone expected Everton to come away with 3 points.

This means that Arsenal has now lost only their second game of the Premier League season, with their last loss coming against Man United in their 6th game of the season.

The main question for Arsenal here is, can they bounce back from this? It has been a while since they have tasted defeat in the league, and Arteta will need to motivate his players to reach the same levels they were at when they played Man United.

One positive for Arsenal is that when they lost against Man United, they won their next 3 games scoring 3 goals in each, beating Brentford away, then Spurs and Liverpool at home. They will be hoping they can replicate this again here.

Brentford bounced back from their poor performance at Elland Road with a commanding 3-0 win against Southampton, to pile further misery on The Saints.

Brentford is the form side in the Premier League. No other team has picked up more points than them over the last 5 games. They currently sit 7th and have an outside shot of a European place, which would be an incredible feat for them this year.

The last time Brentford played Arsenal, they suffered a 3-0 loss, their heaviest loss of the season at the time. Brentford will have learnt a lot from that game, and I do not think they will go in with the same attitude here. They will be tight defensively and will look to break on the counter.

This could be a very frustrating game for Arsenal. We all saw how difficult Brentford made it when they went to Man City and won late in stoppage time. They are a difficult team to play against, and I expect them to make Arsenal work for 3 points. Brentford has not conceded in their last 3 games and is in great form. I believe they will make Arsenal drop more points here.

Prediction: Arsenal 1- 1 Brentford

Leicester v Tottenham Hotspur

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Leicester have been through some absolute rollercoasters in recent weeks. Following their dramatic 2-2 draw with Brighton, they then travelled to Aston Villa and ran out 4-2 winners, with their new man Tete getting on the scoresheet.

The stats from the game tell you everything you need to know, Leicester were slightly fortuitous with this win. They were dominated on the ball, hardly had any possession, and only managed 9 shots to Villa’s 19, but were more clinical on the day.

They were much more solid at the back, restricting Villa to just 4 shots on target from the 19 shots they took. It was good to see Iheanacho on the scoresheet for Leicester. He does brilliantly in the cup competitions, and always manages to score, and it is about time he brought that goalscoring record into the Premier League.

This win was massive for Leicester. It pushes them further away from the relegation zone, but they are within touching distance of is still. They need to put a run of form together to secure their place in the league for next season. They should have enough to stay up this season, but it could be a nervy finish to the season for them.

Spurs picked up a brilliant 1-0 win against Man City last week. Unlike the previous game against them where they lost 4-2 despite leading 2-0 at halftime, Spurs looked confident on the ball, and defensively solid, and their attacking play tore the City defence apart.

Harry Kane scored the only goal of the game, making him Spurs’ all-time record goal scorer, and he also became just the third player to score 200 Premier League goals. Kane will have his sights firmly set on beating Wayne Rooney, and potentially Alan Shearers records by the time he retires.

It is absolutely criminal that a player like Harry Kane, who has been so consistent each season, has not won a major trophy in his career. There are rumours that Man United will come calling in the summer, with a potential transfer on the cards. It will be interesting to see whether Kane stays loyal to Spurs, or leaves to try and win his first major trophy in his career.

Spurs really need to push on and cement their position in the top 5. There are numerous teams below them that are waiting for them to slip up and move ahead of them. A strong run of form here would do them wonders.

A few weeks ago this game would have been an easy away win against a struggling Leicester side, but now both teams come into this game on the back of a massive win. Another tie that could go either way, but I am going to go for an entertaining, narrow away win.

Prediction: Leicester 1 – 2 Spurs

Southampton v Wolves

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Southampton made it two Premier League games in a row without scoring when they travelled to Brentford and lost 3-0. It was always going to be a tough game for them, against a tricky Brentford side, but they never looked like winning in this game.

Hopes may have been high around Southampton after they beat Everton 2-1 to claw themselves closer to the teams around them, but this match seems a long time ago now. Back-to-back losses, no goals, the fans calling for Nathan Jones’ head again, times are certainly worrying around the St Marys stadium.

Southampton needs to turn their stadium into a fortress, make themselves hard to beat at home, try to dominate the ball and not give away any avoidable chances. Southampton needs to start playing as a team and their big players need to step up. Their last 4 Premier League goals were all scored by Ward-Prowse, which highlights the issues they are facing.

It is going to be a long second half of the season for Southampton, they need to pick up points and fast. Teams around them are picking up points, with Leeds, West Ham, Wolves and Everton all pulling further away from them. 4 points already separate them from West Ham, and safety, in 17th, and this gap could grow bigger in the coming weeks, it really is crunch time for The Saints.

Wolves on the other hand are having a much better time under a new manager. Since Lopetegui came in, Wolves have won 3 of their 6 games under him, drawing another and losing twice, hauling them up to 15th, and sitting 2 points above the drop zone.

The new manager ‘bounce’ is certainly in full swing at Wolves, and the longer this continues, the more Wolves can relax in regard to the relegation battle. Wolves have two games against teams below them, in Southampton and Bournemouth, which gives them a great opportunity to put further distance between themselves and the teams battling against the drop.

Wolves certainly shocked everyone last time out, as they bounced back from a 3-0 loss against Man City with a 3-0 win against Liverpool. New man Craig Dawson got on the scoresheet, scoring their second goal, and he may prove to be a brilliant signing for them. He defended brilliantly throughout the 90 minutes, looking calm and composed on the ball, and always looked like a threat from set pieces. He could prove to be a great signing for Wolves.

This is a brilliant chance for both sides to pick up some valuable points. Southampton needs 3 points to close the gap on the 17th, whereas Wolves need the points to distance themselves from the bottom 3. A side suits neither side here, and we could see an end-to-end game. Wolves are in much better form, and Southampton looks hopeless at the moment. A big win for the away side in this one.

Prediction: Southampton 1 – 2 Wolves

Liverpool v Everton

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The Merseyside Derby is back and what a big game for both clubs this is. A win for Liverpool could reignite their faltering season and push them towards a Champions League spot, whereas a win for Everton could see them climb out of the bottom 3, and make it back-to-back wins, against two top 6 sides.

Last time out, Liverpool was absolutely humiliated by Wolves. An early own goal from Matip handed Liverpool another poor start, going 1-0 down just 5 minutes into the game. They have conceded the most goals in the opening 5 minutes of a game out of all the teams in the Premier League this season, and these slow starts are costing them dearly.

Klopp is the right man to steer Liverpool out of this. They are in a transition season of sorts, some players are on the verge of leaving the club, and the replacements have not yet been brought in. Their only chance of qualifying for the Champions League next year is either finishing in the top 4, which is a big ask at the moment or winning the Champions League this season.

A win for Liverpool could give them the confidence going forward to push for a top 4 spot, and they could finish the season strongly. They are still missing a lot of key players due to injury, but Klopp needs to adapt his tactics and play to the strengths of the players that are fit, as currently, they are woeful to watch.

Everton on the other hand got a massive victory last weekend, beating Arsenal 1-0, handing Dyche his first win as Everton manager, in his first game, against the team top of the league. He could not have hoped for a better start to his tenure than that.

Dyche is a very good appointment for Everton. He is used to working on a shoestring budget, as he did when he managed Burnley in the Premier League. He sets his teams up to be hard to beat and defensively solid. His style of football may not be the most attractive, but right now Everton needs points, and Dyche guarantees that.

This is a big test for Everton. They never seem to do well against Liverpool, let alone at Anfield. They could and should have beaten Liverpool in the reverse fixture earlier in the season, but Liverpool is there for the taking this season, and Everton is capable of causing an upset.

Yet another game that could really go either way. If Liverpool turns up, they win, maybe not by a big score line, but they will eventually wear Everton down and get a goal. If they do not turn up, Everton will take full advantage, and I would not be surprised to see another set-piece goal.

My head tells me Liverpool will win this, but something is willing me to believe that Everton will get another win here. Either way, this will be an interesting game no matter what the result.

Prediction: Liverpool 1 – 0 Everton

Other Predictions

  • Crystal Palace 1 – 2 Brighton
  • Fulham 1 – 1 Nottingham Forest
  • Bournemouth 0 – 2 Newcastle
  • Leeds 1 – 3 Man United
  • Man City 2 – 0 Aston Villa

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