Here are this week’s predictions from Dan. Usually he predicts Arsenal to drop points away from home (and to be fair he has usually been right!), but does he think things will be different this time around, thanks to the Freddie Effect?
Newcastle 0-2 Man City
At 1-0 down to Chelsea, the Champions were heading to be a massive 12 points behind Liverpool, so they showed great mental strength to win in the end. A chance to close that gap to 6 (if only for a few hours) will be enough to ward off any complacency. Rafa Benitez was famously negative in this fixture when he was the Toon boss and I can see no different from Steve Bruce today.
Burnley 1-1 Crystal Palace
Palace should have got something against Liverpool and will hope after his first goal of the season Zaha is back to his best. The problem with the Eagles is consistency. They have the individual talent and physicality to match the home side.
Chelsea 2-0 West Ham
Over the years, even really poor West Ham teams were motivated for games against Spurs and Chelsea, as they knew what it meant to their supporters. To be so easy to beat last Saturday in a game that is so special to every Hammer is criminal. If they play like that at the Bridge, they will get well beaten.
Liverpool 3-0 Brighton
With a hectic fixture schedule ahead, this is an ideal game. Liverpool can overpower Brighton and then take their foot off the pedal. A lot been made of how often they have to play in December, but managers are too protective of their players, making it sound impossible to play every few days when that has been going on for years.
Let’s be honest, their trip for the Club World Cup is a Mickey Mouse trophy designed as a marketing opportunity for those involved. If Klopp was that worried about his players welfare, he could have pulled out of the domestic cups like Man United did in 2000.
For the record, even without the congestion, he still fielded weak teams in last season’s League and FA Cup. It’s funny how burn out isn’t an issue when clubs spend their summers touring round the world, something they will do more of if a big winter break is introduced.
Spurs 3-1 Cherries
If West Ham was an ideal first away game for Jose, he maybe would have picked the Cherries as an ideal first home game in the League. He knows they will try and play and haven’t got that physical edge to park the bus. Eddie Howe switched to a back 5 last weekend in a bid to rediscover form. It is always worrying when a manager gets to the end of November and starts playing around with his formation.
Saints 2-0 Watford
Massive game, you would really worry about whoever lost this. I thought Watford had turned the corner with their win at Norwich, but the manner of their defeats since puts their confidence back to square one. It’s hard not to compare their confidence with the Saints who had the chance to kill off Arsenal, albeit the pressure is on them this weekend. I think Watford have better players, but you can’t rely on them to battle at the moment.
Norwich 1-2 Arsenal
Given how many awful away performances we have produced in the last couple of years, it’s hard to make a fair case for usbut we need the FreddieEffect to come into play. Apart from in terms of defending, Norwich really are out of depth at this level. Freddie just needs to not over complicate things. Sometimes it’s as simple as put out your best attacking talent and let them win you the game.
Wolves 1-1 Sheffield United
I always back Wolves to drop points after Europe as they don’t have the squad to cope. Plus, Sheffield United are no mugs, not a team you want to be giving a week to prepare while you’re travelling to Portugal.
Leicester 2-1 Everton
Silva is now hanging on game by game. I think there is no stay of execution for the Toffees Boss. To get a result at the King Power, you need a strong mentality, which I’m not sure every Everton player has.
Man United 1-0 Villa
Another example of where the fear factor is gone at Old Trafford. I expect United just to have enough to grind out a win, it won’t be exciting, it will be workman-like, won maybe by a moment of magic. That is pretty much where they are at the moment.