The weekend approaches and here are the EPL predictions from the resident Just Arsenal tipster, Mr Dan Smith. He was unhappily correct that the Gunners would lose at West Ham last week, but he is a little more positive this week…..
Wolves 1-2 Leicester
Puel looks like a man on the ropes, like someone accepting that his worst case is another big payoff. Once at that stage it’s when and not if you are sacked and it could happen if beaten here. It’s strange though that the Foxes always pull a result out of the bag when they need to. I maintain Wolves struggle when favourites.
AFC Bournemouth 2-2 West Ham
2-0 flattered Everton last Sunday, if the Cherries play at those levels most weeks, they will win more then they lose. Talk of 50 million for Wilson? It would be financially irresponsible to turn that down, a fee which safeguards your future. Did anyone else think on paper West Ham had a better midfield then us? Arnautovic seemed to be saying goodbye to the London Stadium when subbed off last Saturday but he’s the type of character who will be doing that to force the move. The Hammers are in a position where they can wait until a deal suits them. Even if the Austrian wants to sulk till the summer it’s not like they will get relegated.
Liverpool 1-0 Palace
If Liverpool win the title, they will look back at last weekend as one of the critical moments. Having lost to City all that mattered was bouncing back to get a win. 0-0 at half time at a physically hard Brighton, they grinded out 3 points in a manner which will help them in the run in. If they win this Saturday and then they can take a two week break to have a breather. Palace have individual talent so you like to see them have a go at Anfield and treat this as a free swing.
Man United 3-0 Brighton
David De Gea produced the goal-keeping performance of the season at Wembley. As expected, this week the talk is of Solskjaer getting the job permanently. I still think you need to assume the United board would have discussed what would happen if the interim manager does well? Do they let that cloud their long-term viewpoint, say, for example, Pochettino? Being caretaker boss is a different job criterion to the gig full time. I make the Red Devils the favourites to get top 4 now, their momentum is going in the opposite direction to us.
Newcastle 0- 1 Cardiff
Nightmare game for the Toon. The city is so passionate about football just to see their name under that red line will make Saint James Park apprehensive and hard for the players to play in front of. Credit to Rafa for refusing to talk anymore about the ownership issues, realising it’s not lifting the mood. Neil Warnock can use the negativity to his advantage.
Southampton 2 -1 Everton
I know they won but there was something quite worrying about Everton last weekend. They treated Bournemouth at home like it was a cup final. Whether it be Silva being warned on the bench, 5 yellow cards or the crowd, it is clear the pressure is getting to them. Silva is hardly giving off the impression of a man in control or confident he will achieve the club’s ambition. Be interesting if they concede the first goal, if they had last Sunday you felt they would have sunk.
Watford 2-1 Burnley
Burnley somehow won their last game without having a shot on target. They will need to play better to get a result here, but Sean Dyche will be pleased to see his men showing some resilience again, you feel they have gone back to basics. Watford are currently the best of the rest, but the next step is to cope with expectation of winning these games
Arsenal 1-1 Chelsea
Strangely I get least concerned about these types of games then us playing at West Ham.
It would be very Arsenal-like to play well this weekend but ultimately, I don’t think we will finish in the top 4, we always have that random away performance in us. By the time we kick off, Man United could be ahead of us and only 3 points behind Chelsea, meaning a nervous atmosphere round the Emirates. We need a defender, they need a striker in the last week of January. Sarri seems to be demanding signings, Emery just looks like a yes man.
Huddersfield 0-4 Man City
City could kick off 7 points behind Liverpool but if they could have picked an away fixture for today it would be this one now that Huddersfield have no manager. The task for Pep is to ensure his players don’t assume this will be too easy. Wagner leaving affects Huddersfield is devastating more than just the short term. In an era where managers are strictly coaches, Wagner’s personality meant he had a massive input on the day to day running of the club. It’s a blow as they were set up where relegation was prepared for only as a worst-case scenario, believing they had the man to take them straight back up. Players would have stayed under him in the Championship.
Fulham 1-3 Spurs
Harry Kane is out till March, Son must go to the Asia Cup. That will affect Spurs but probably not this Sunday. It will encourage the Cottagers and give them hope but defensively it will be asking too much. I didn’t see Spurs as title contenders anyway but not having Kane will cost them in the other cups.