So, this is probably the hardest round of Predictions to do. How do you know how each side will react to playing in empty stadiums? Who will benefit from the rest? Who will be rusty and take a while to find their rhythm?
Norwich 2-0 Saints
Norwich best hopes of being in the topflight next year was hoping the whole season would have been voided with relegation cancelled. They have six points to make up and surely this is one that they have marked as a ‘must win’?
Spurs 1-1 Man United
Jose has had 3 months to work with his squad, something you once would have called his speciality. If he can beat his former club, he will feel he can get Spurs into the Champions League. United were the in-form team before the break and have no reason to fear this game.
Watford 1-0 Leicester
Watford were one of the most vocal in not wanting neutral venues, although I don’t see how you have too much ‘home advantage’ if the stands are empty? I think they will win simply because they need the three points more. Leicester have won one in 5 but should have enough points on the board to have a second attempt at Europe’s elite level.
Brighton 1-1 Arsenal
I don’t think it took an expert to predict that our defence would have a lapse in concentration at the Etihad but, even for David Luiz, it takes some doing to make two goals and get sent off in the space of 25 minutes. It was like the Brazilian was making his best effort to get the club NOT to take up the year option on his contract.
Don’t let the defender’s antics overshadow that this was such a poor performance by Arsenal and it could affect our confidence this weekend. The only positive is, it was so bad it might convince the Kroenke family they need to invest if they want us back at the highest level. Or is that just wishful thinking?
West Ham 0-2 Wolves
Karren Brady was transparent, but at least she was honest when being one of the first publicly to campaign to void the season, meaning West Ham would stay up and get crucial TV revenue for another year.
Long term, I actually think the Hammers will benefit from the London Stadium being empty. You don’t want to play in front of their fan base when you are struggling. David Moyes though is yet to convince in his second spell in charge.
Cherries 3-2 Palace
Despite the blow of Ryan Fraser refusing to finish the season, Eddie Howe has enough attacking talent to stay up. This is one of a few home games I think are winnable for Bournemouth. Palace are the ideal opponents at the moment. They are virtually safe, so will play with freedom. It will be ‘you play we play’ and should be one of the most entertaining fixtures of the weekend.
Newcastle 0-0 Sheffield United
Poor Newcastle fans! The Toon Army have spent the break dreaming of a takeover that would make them into title contenders one day, yet now that’s far from certain after Saudi Arabia were ruled by the World Trading Organisation that they breached piracy laws. Now they have to go back to watching a side try to tip toe to safety in what probably will be a very dull game. Talk about a crash back to reality?
Villa 0-2 Chelsea
If Villa stay up by a point how controversial will it be that Goal Line Technology for the first time simply didn’t work on Wednesday? That was a rare clean sheet for the Villans. In fact, no team has conceded more goals then Villa, so Chelsea might have too much attacking talent, even though the future of the likes of Pedro and Willian are uncertain. Frank Lampard knows his side has wasted opportunities to consolidate 4th position so will see this as an ideal opportunity to fix things.
Everton 0-3 Liverpool
Liverpool can’t win the title this weekend which will be a relief to Boris Johnson. There couldn’t have been a worse game on the first weekend back for the government, in terms of a fixture that would have encouraged crowds gathering. If hundreds are ignoring social distancing rules on the beach or while protesting, then becoming champions for the first time in 30 years, at the home of your rival,s would have been enough for fans to not stay indoors. Without fans this won’t feel like a Derby and the leaders can play with freedom.
Man City 4-0 Burnley
So much for it being a good time to play the Champions? I thought it was wishful thinking. Burnley will equally show little ambition at the Etihad and City will again be a joy to watch.