Premier League Preview and Predictions: Key European Clashes

Premier League

We take a look at some of this weekend’s Premier League fixtures, including 2 big games at the bottom of the table, when Everton host Leeds, and Wolves welcome Bournemouth.

This Week’s Premier League Fixtures

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

Brighton v Fulham

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Brighton have a great shot of achieving a finish within European spots here. They sit in 6th, 4 points behind Spurs, but with 2 games in hand. Spurs are hard to predict this season and drop points in games where they really shouldn’t be, whereas Brighton are doing the opposite.

Brighton’s team is not full of big names or expensive players, but they work for each other. Brighton keep unearthing hidden gems, such as Mitoma, Ferguson, and more recently with his current form, Solly March, he has been brilliant in their last few games.

Last time out Brighton were held to a 1-1 draw at Selhurst Park against Crystal Palace. Brighton will feel completely robbed. They managed 17 shots, with 7 of those being on target, and took the lead through March. But Palace scored through James Tomkins, with what was their only shot on target throughout the 90 minutes, to salvage a point.

There are exciting times ahead for Brighton. They have some big games between now and the end of the season which will show everyone whether or not they are deserving of European football next season. They need to rise to the challenge here and close the gap on Spurs whilst they are faltering.

Fulham are another side who have surprised everyone and exceeded everyone’s expectations this season. Despite being on of the odds on favourites to go straight back down to the Championship, they sit level on points with Brighton, having played 2 games more than them.

The difference for Fulham this season is that their recruitment has been right, and Mitrovic has finally been able to adjust to life in the Premier League. His 11 goals in the Premier League have been vital in steering Fulham towards a potentially top 6 finish.

Fulham have been on a strange run in their last 5 games. They have won 2, lost 2 and drawn the other. In every game they have scored in, they have not conceded, and in every game they have conceded in, they have not scored, including their 0-0 draw at Chelsea.

Last time out, however, they won 2-0 against a resurgent Nottingham Forest, with goals from Willian and Solomon securing 3 points. They limited Forest to just the one shot on target, but only managed 3 themselves within the 90 minutes. A win is a win nonetheless, but it was far from convincing.

This game should be an absolute cracker. Two teams pushing for a surprising European spot, both exceeded expectations, and both level on points. I think Brighton’s home advantage will give them a big boost here, and their recent form has been much better than Fulham. An entertaining home win here.

Prediction: Brighton 2 – 0 Fulham

Everton v Leeds

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Everton’s honeymoon period came to an abrupt end in their Merseyside derby against Liverpool last week. They could not keep hold of the ball, only managed a shot on target, and looked second best throughout the 90 minutes.

Dyche will want to put that game behind him. Not many people will have been expecting Everton to go to Anfield and come back with 3 points. Their focus now turns to a crucial match against Leeds.

I still believe Dyche is a brilliant appointment for a side in the bottom 3. He guarantees points, whether the team plays well or not. He will drag Everton out of the bottom 3. He will turn them into a solid team that are hard to beat, which we saw against Arsenal.

This game against Leeds will be a good game to judge Everton. Nobody expected them to get anything against Arsenal or Liverpool, yet this is a game where they could, and potentially should, get points from. If Dyche gets another win here, I think Everton will cruise to safety.

Leeds are in trouble again. Jesse Marsch has been sacked, they sit one point above the drop zone and are in terrible form. They have not won in their last 9 games, drawing 4, losing 5. They have picked up some good points along the way, such as their 0-0 draw away against Newcastle, the 0-0 draw with Brentford and the 2-2 draw away against Man United.

Leeds need to start turning some of these draws into wins. They were 2-0 up against Man United, and dropped 2 points, conceding twice in the second half, and then lost 2-0 from 2 late goals against Man United again just days later.

Gnonto looks like the kind of player that Leeds need to get themselves away from the bottom 3. He causes issues. He is powerful, quick, can easily take a man on, and has an eye for goal.

Leeds need to hire right when employing their new manager. They need someone who can stabilise them at the back, whilst making the most of their attacking players. The wrong decision here will send them back to the Championship. It will be interesting to see what happens here.

A strong performance from a Dyche team should win this against a team with no manager, no win in 9, and a team that typically struggle defensively. A win for Everton here would be huge as they would leapfrog their opponents, and climb out of the relegation zone. A solid home win should be on the cards here.

Prediction: Everton 2 – 0 Leeds

Wolves v Bournemouth

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Wolves continued their upturn in form with a brilliant 2-1 win against bottom-of-the-table Southampton. The first half ended up being a total nightmare for Wolves. Carlos Alcaraz scored his first goal for The Saints, and things went from bad to worse when Mario Lemina received a red card, forcing Wolves to play with 10 men for the remaining 60 minutes.

The second half proved more fruitful for Wolves. A Bednarek own goal hauled Wolves back level with 18 minutes to play, before João Gomes scored his first goal for Wolves, giving the 10 men all 3 points.

Wolves are now 5 points clear of the bottom 3, and have a great chance of increasing that gap when they face Bournemouth. Their team is far too good to be lingering around the bottom of the table, and Lopetegui has completely transformed their fortunes. They looked like a team that were dead and buried, struggling to score goals and leaking them at the back, but now they look much stronger.

Bournemouth are an extremely hard watch at times this season. When they could score goals for fun, their defence caved in and cost them results, but now, it seems the exact opposite. They are not conceding as many, but are struggling to score, especially away from home.

In their last 7 games, Bournemouth have only scored in 2, both which resulted in draws. They have not scored a Premier League away goal since they played Leeds at the start of November, where they lost 4-3. The week, when Bournemouth ran riot against Everton twice, seems a long time ago now.

It is not entirely all doom and gloom despite their lowly position and poor offensive and defensive record. Their January signing Dango Ouattara has hit the ground winning, claiming 2 assists in their last 3 games.

He looks like a key player for them going forward into this relegation fight. If they can keep him fit, and get back to their goal scoring ways, we could see Bournemouth climb out of the relegation zone.

They did manage to hold Newcastle to an impressive 1-1 draw in their last game. Despite being dominated on the ball they more than matched their opponents and were well worth the point they gained.

This game should be a routine home win for Wolves here. Their form is better, their record in front of goal and defensively is better, their manager has filled his team with confidence and belief, and Bournemouth are awful away from home.

Prediction: Wolves 2 – 0 Bournemouth

Newcastle v Liverpool

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Who would have thought that either of these teams would be in the position they are in at the moment? Newcastle pushing for a top 4 finish and a Champions League position, and Liverpool sat in 9th, 8 points behind Spurs in 5th. It will be an interesting finish to the season for both these sides.

Newcastle have hit a bit of a stumbling block as of late. They have drawn their last 3 games, one 0-0 and two 1-1s. Newcastle dominated the ball at Bournemouth last week, yet fell behind from Sensei’s first goal for Bournemouth. Newcastle kept pushing and got their equaliser through Almiron, his 10th of the season.

Newcastle could not find a winner, as they have been unable to do in recent weeks, and their goal scoring touch seems to be evading them as of late. In their last 6 games they have only scored 3 goals, which is uncharacteristic of them.

Bruno Guimarães has certainly been a big loss for Newcastle. Since his injury, Newcastle have struggled to win games, have struggled to score goals, and keep clean sheets. They will be hoping he comes back and performs as he did before his injury.

Liverpool ended their 4 game winless run with a brilliant derby day win against Everton, cruising to a 2-0 win. Their new signing Coady Gakpo got his first goal for the club, with a simple tap in at the back post, to ensure Liverpool came away with 3 points.

This win needs to kickstart Liverpool’s season. They need to carry on from here, and finish the season strongly. They will be relying on the teams above them to slip up to enable them to finish within the Champions League places, but they need to focus on their own results first.

There are a lot of rumours surrounding Klopp and his staying or leaving Liverpool at the end of the season. I believe he is the best man for the job, despite their struggles this season. He recent few years with Liverpool, and his success, cannot be forgotten. If there is one man to pull Liverpool out of this, it is Jurgen Klopp.

This is an intriguing tie. Which Newcastle will turn up, and which Liverpool will turn up? The answer to this question ultimately decides the outcome of this game. If Liverpool are even slightly off their game, Newcastle will take full advantage. Another draw here for me.

Prediction: Newcastle 1 – 1 Liverpool

Man United v Leicester

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Man United come into this game off the back of a double header against Leeds. United started at home, and were sluggish from the start, conceded around 40 seconds after the start of the game, through an effort from Leeds star Gnonto. Things went from bad to worse after the half time whilst, when Varane put through his own net to make it 2-0 to Leeds.

United undoubted player of the season so far hauled them back into the game, Marcus Rashford getting on the scoresheet again with just short of half an hour to be played. Forgotten man Jadon Sancho rescued United a point just 8 minutes later, hauling United level in an extremely entertaining encounter.

United then travelled to Leeds, and clearly learnt their lessons from the previous game against them. There was not a slow start or an early goal for Leeds this time round, but United did leave it late to secure all 3 points. Rashford scoring his second goal against Leeds in a week, before wonderkid Garnacho sealed the 3 points, and ensured a happy return back to Old Trafford.

Are Man United in the title race? They are only 5 points behind Arsenal and Man City, and with Arsenal dropping points in recent weeks, and Man City having blips throughout the season, I would not rule them out just yet.

Are Leicester City back? They followed up their stunning 4-2 win against Aston Villa with a resounding 4-1 win against a hopeless Tottenham Hotspur. Despite falling behind for the second game running, they managed to turn it around before the end of the first half.

Iheanacho and Maddison both continued their goal scoring form, scoring against both Villa and Spurs. Now Leicester’s stars are coming back from injury, they are certainly back to their attacking best.

They now sit in 13th, following 7 points from a possible 9, and whilst a top 6 finish is practically out of the question, they will be hoping for a strong end to the season in hope of finishing in the top half of the table, rather than being dragged back into the relegation fight.

This should be a fantastic game. United are performing well, Leicester are back to their best, and both teams are scoring freely at the moment. This could go either way, depending how each side turns up, but a score draw should be on the cards here.

Prediction: Man United 2 – 2 Leicester

Other Predictions

  • Aston Villa 0 – 2 Arsenal
  • Brentford 2 – 1 Crystal Palace
  • Chelsea 2 – 0 Southampton
  • Nottingham Forest 1 – 4 Man City
  • Tottenham Hotspur 1 – 1 West Ham

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