The Premier League is back! Here are my first predictions since the World Cup by Dan Smith
I don’t mind this idea of a Winter World Cup.
If it was in the summer like it is traditionally, we would be waiting for weeks for more football.
After watching the thrilling Final between Argentina and France, I simply can’t wait for more football.
Different clubs will be impacted in various ways depending on how many of their players went to Qatar, and how successful they were.
The break will upset some team’s momentum, while others would have benefited from the rest.
Some talents have returned to England Injured, while others have to mentally cope with disappointment, or if your Argentinean, transition from the high of lifting the World Cup to coming back down to reality.
The likes of Jürgen Klopp will complain about the hectic schedule, but it’s worth pointing out that those who played in Qatar would have equally been playing every few days domestically if the World Cup wasn’t happening.
In fact, those not called up by their Nations have had a month off that they wouldn’t normally have had.
With each club facing their own unique World Cup hangover it makes it so hard to predict how each will fare over the Xmas period….
But here I go….
Brentford 2-0 Spurs
Not just saying this because it’s Spurs, but if there is a club who might suffer a reaction from Qatar it’s them.
Hugo Lloris just lost in the Final, Harry Kane has to live with his penalty miss, while Richarlison is side-lined.
The World Cup overshadowed the news that Ivan Toney has been charged for over 260 breaches of betting rules.
In retrospect it’s a good job he didn’t get called up by Southgate and it’s fascinating if he starts on Boxing Day.
I just think Spurs might take their time getting going over the festive period
Crystal Palace 1-0 Fulham
Selhurst Park can be one of the best atmospheres in the division most of the time.
Throw in the fact Eagle fans would have just had Xmas Day and have missed their football for a month, they can be the 12th man on Monday
Everton 1-1 Wolves
Julien Lopetegui took over at the perfect time.
He’s had a month to work with the majority of his squad on the training pitch and implement fresh ideas.
That makes Wolves an unknown quantity in the short term.
Both teams need a goal scorer in January.
Leicester 2-2 Newcastle
Two teams who didn’t want the Prem season to go on pause as they both found form.
Earlier in the season, Leicester might not have believed they could win this game, while any other campaign Newcastle wouldn’t take the initiative in this fixture.
Could be one of the most entertaining games of the day.
Saints 1-1 Brighton
Nathan Jones is another manager who timed taking his new job well.
He’s had a month to implement his principles which is vital, as the Saints squad had a very unique way of playing under Ralph Hasenhuttl.
Villa 2-1 Liverpool
No coincidence that Villa’s two best performances of the season came in Unai Emery’s first two matches.
Another manager who would have loved having a month to put across his ethos on the training pitch.
When Villa fans are happy, Villa Park becomes a tough place for opposition to play at.
If I’m Martinez and I’m partying in Argentina, I’m not sure I’m in a rush to get back to Birmingham?
Arsenal 1-0 West Ham
I don’t see why most of our representatives at the World Cup can’t play here.
Being top of the table, I would be disappointed if we didn’t have each one eager to play on Boxing Day.
I maintain we need a goal scorer in January to maintain a title bid, but the chance to send Man City to Leeds 8 points behind us is too big a motivation.
What I love about the Emirates this season, is the atmosphere is so good it can now impact the result and get us over the line.
Chelsea 2-1 Cherries
Chelsea had lost three Prem fixtures in a row and haven’t won in 5 so maybe needed a breather to regroup.
I’m delighted the Cherries have new owners; the club being sold explains while the previous regime didn’t invest much in the summer.
I believe their new custodians will do so in January, but I’m shocked they haven’t used this break to get in a full-time manager.
Bournemouth is a lovely place to live and if now they are willing to be competitive in the market, it’s a good job for someone.
Man United 1-0 Forest
Gone on the days where the Theatre Of Dreams was a fear factor.
Instead of a comprehensive win against a team in the bottom three, I still see a more workman-like manner of performance.
That’s where they are at, at this moment.
They can win without playing well.
Leeds 1-1 Man City
This might be thinking with my heart, but if we can open an 8-point gap between us, and suddenly the Champions going to Elland Road under the flood lights isn’t easy.
Defensively they might not be able to cope with a Haaland who is fresh and eager to kick a ball.
Leeds though will give it a go in front of their own fans and City will concede chances.
Maybe wishful thinking?
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