Here are Dan’s EPL predictions for this weekend.
West Ham 2-1 Arsenal
Can anyone have confidence in us while we don’t know each week what state we will be in defensively?
Emery can’t even help their confidence by playing a settled back 4/5, every week. It’s two steps forward – one step back, in terms of who’s fit and who’s not, meaning lots of square pegs in round holes and the likes of Koscielny having to be rushed back. If he is fit, would it shock you if Arnautovic ran us ragged? Or if Carroll bullied our centre backs or Nasri felt motivated to get one over on us? If we miss out on the top 4 by a couple of points, I’ll blame how long it is taking to bring in a defender. One should have been at the Emirates on the 1st day of January.
Brighton 1-1 Liverpool
It shouldn’t be assumed Liverpool are going to bottle it based on losing to the champions, but it does make this weekend critical in the title race. Win and City go into Monday night 7 points off top. But Klopp knows if he fails to win suddenly, Pep has got the advantage mentally. It is so massive for the leaders to get through this Saturday. Brighton have it in them to frustrate the visitors, but will they show ambition to be more than just organised?
Burnley 1-0 Fulham
Burnley can put some day light between themselves and the visitors here. Fulham have decent attacking players, but I can see them yet again being bullied on their travels. Sean Dyche had to defend his physical tactics over the new year, but it’s simply his men going back to basics and funding the ethos which gave them so many admirers in the last couple of years.
Cardiff 0-1 Huddersfield
A must-win for the visitors? How many away games will they feel they can at least match the home side? It’s one of the few times Neil Warnock has to deal with fans showing up expecting a win. The reward would be going a massive 11 points ahead of David Wagner and I think the pressure might get to the Bluebirds. I had been impressed with Warnock all year but he let himself down with his rant about Clyne going on loan to Bournemouth, when he was led to believe the right back was heading to Wales. He’s been in the game long enough to know how these things work, and that selling and buying is ruthless, everyone is out for themselves.
Crystal Palace 2-2 Watford
My theory on these two is both perform better in the role of underdog, not comfortable to lead. Palace this week were close twice to getting a striker on loan, but regardless I think they will comfortably stay up.
Leicester 1-2 Southampton
It’s ironic Puel faces the Saints of all teams, making it two sets of fans who don’t like his style. That of course contradicts his league position which like on the South Coast was impressive. Having rested players in the FA Cup, the fans could turn on him making this a chance of an upset.
Chelsea 2-0 Newcastle
Who finishes 4th could very well come down to who acts quicker out of Chelsea buying a striker and Arsenal a defender. We can take hope from the Blues capable of dropping cheap points due to not having a 20-25m forward. Luckily, it’s Newcastle at the Bridge who will simply park the bus.
Everton 2-2 Cherries
After a tough set of fixtures at Xmas I thought Bournemouth would have responded, but are letting in soft goals at the moment, although Clyne on loan was smart. That will mean Evertonians showing up expecting goals. The problem is Goodison is very quick these days to go nervous if things don’t go their way. For Eddie Howe it’s about getting through the first 20 mins. Solanke barely kicked a ball for Chelsea or Liverpool in the Prem, so it’s 20 million on potential. But we were worried our under-age world cup winners would not get game time, you know Howe will give youth a chance.
Spurs 1-2 Man United
So, to clarify, Spurs have now moved their moving date back to WHL to March at the earliest? At what point do you hold your hands up and just write it off till next season? It’s not really going to feel special going into your new home with the campaign all but over. If United win at Wembley, the next week will be dominated by talk that Solskjaer should get the job full time. A loss and he may be written off. Yes, he’s had an easy start, but Jose wouldn’t have been able to get those players playing with smiles on their faces and taking risks on the ball. It’s the first big game in 3 years where you know Man Uth will attack and actually start their best players.
Man City 2-1 Wolves
Dynamics change depending on Liverpool result. If the champions have to win just to hang in there, this is a tricky game and wouldn’t shock me if due to pressure Wolves caused an upset. If, however Liverpool drop points, it will give City incentive to take back control of the title race. Remember Wolves won at Wembley, drew at Old Trafford and the Emirates and have beaten Chelsea and Liverpool….