With the FA Cup ties now moving into the business end, so is the Premier League as we embark on the next round of fixtures. With some clubs dropping points against unexpected opponents while others have simply continued their good form, there’s a lot to play for.
Swansea City v Arsenal
We kick off with two clubs who haven’t been in the best of forms recently barring the last week, which has seen them bounce back to winning ways. Bottom of the league table Swansea should be no problem for Arsenal, especially now as they are finally looking to play as a team again, with a more coherent performance under their belts due to the departure of Alexis Sanchez. This may also be the game Henrikh Mkhitaryan makes his debut, which makes it even more exciting for the Gunners.
However, Swansea can spoil the party here as they gained a massive three points against high-flying Liverpool in what was arguably their performance of the season. Just how they survived to keep a clean sheet will be something only Carlos Carvalhal will know. Another monstrous performance will be needed here to contain Arsenal, but with the poor away record the Gunners have, anything can happen.
Swansea 1-2 Arsenal
West Ham United v Crystal Palace
West Ham are having an up and down season so far, never truly looking like top-half candidates, but never looking as if they’ve escaped the relegation battle either. David Moyes has done really well in terms of results, helping the Hammers move out the bottom three and when they click, they really do click with Marco Arnautovic and Manuel Lanzini excelling. Five games without defeat could be six here, especially with new signing Joao Mario set to start.
Crystal Palace should have been pleased thinking they had finally taken that poor start out of their system but there were shades of their former mistakes against Arsenal in their last match. What should be of concern to Roy Hodgson is that Arsenal managed to score 4 in 22 minutes after the Eagles simply made too many mistakes. However, Hodgson has only lost one of his last 15 games in charge, so there is some hope here.
West Ham 2-2 Crystal Palace
Huddersfield v Liverpool
It’s been a glorious season so far for David Wagner but he must be concerned about slipping up too much. Huddersfield are now on a winless run of six games and have lost their last three. If this continues, The Terriers could be sliding all the way down to the relegation places. The best bet for Wagner will be to perform at home, where they have had many successes, including beating Manchester United, narrowly losing to Manchester City and beating West Brom with ten men.
Normally, this would be a banker for Jurgen Klopp’s men to seek and destroy the opposition but after that performance against Swansea, it’s clear to see that they will remain inconsistent this season. There’s almost no point in beating Manchester City if they cannot beat the lower teams, but I think the Reds will go back to winning ways here, even if it may be tough.
Huddersfield 2-3 Liverpool
Chelsea v Bournemouth
Chelsea may not be having the best of seasons so far in other competitions, but in the Premier League, they are doing enough to stake a claim for Top 4. Perhaps not what they were striving for after last season’s success but Antonio Conte must be proud of seeing Chelsea lose only once in their last 16 league games. With Michy Batshuayi looking in form too at the right time, barring he doesn’t leave, he could be a big threat here.
For Bournemouth, Eddie Howe appears to have turned things around as The Cherries are up to 13th in the table, having spent the majority of it in the bottom three. With 4 games without defeat, including an impressive 2-1 upset against Arsenal, they might be in the mood to add to Chelsea’s woes, although I really doubt they’ll get anything here.
Chelsea 3-0 Bournemouth
Everton v Leicester City
Everton’s last six games have been without a win and you’ve got to wonder when the next three points will come. Having signed Theo Walcott and Cenk Tosun, there seemed to be some more fight up front but unfortunately, they will need to turn draws into victories to save their season. Sam Allardyce is very good at fighting in the relegation zone but will need to get results soon.
For Claude Puel, it’s a different story here as his side are flying, even if they have had a few bumps down the road. With two wins in their last three, including a 0-0 with Chelsea that they really should have won, Leicester’s Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy are finding their feet again. If these two can keep it up, there’s no doubt they will cause more problems for Allardyce at Goodison Park.
Everton 1-2 Leicester City
Newcastle United v Burnley
In what has been a bleak campaign for The Magpies this season, what can be the silver lining in a dismal campaign so far is that they are not in the relegation zone. Having lost 13 of 24 games so far, it’s quite fortunate that they are hanging above it, due to goal difference. What Rafa Benitez needs is a run of wins and this can be the start of it. It might not be the easiest of games, but making St James’ Park a fortress would certainly help.
A few weeks ago Burnley were level on points with Arsenal for 6th and were looking like real candidates to push for a Europa League spot. However, a run of poor form has seen Sean Dyche’s side slip behind Leicester City into 8th. However, it’s still an incredible position to be in considering the stature of the club but The Clarets must get back to winning ways if they want to see Europe next season.
Newcastle 1-1 Burnley
Southampton v Brighton & Hove Albion
The Saints haven’t won a single game in their last eleven matches and find themselves two points from bottom-placed Swansea. The problem for Mauricio Pellegrino is that his side simply cannot keep a clean sheet. Except for a courageous one against Manchester United, Southampton haven’t stopped an opponent scoring since October.
For Brighton, they are facing similar problems as they are only a point above the opposition in this fixture. With only 1 win in 13, Chris Hughton must be hoping his side can cling onto results as they simply cannot score to save their lives. With only 3 goals scored in their last 9 games, they will be desperate to find the back of the net here. This may well be a relegation six-pointer in the making.
Southampton 1-1 Brighton
Manchester City v West Brom
After the defeat to Liverpool, you would have been right to think that could have been the result to completely derail Pep Guardiola and make him lose his grip on the title. However, all those doubts were swept away as Man City easily disposed of Newcastle with a Sergio Agüero hat-trick. Even though lots of people are just waiting for them to slip up, this is far too easy a fixture for that to happen.
West Brom could be quietly confident going into this game as they are finally starting to see results go their way, having finally ended their hunt for a victory against Brighton and sustaining that good form against Everton in the 1-1 draw. Added onto that with the defeat of Liverpool in the FA Cup and Alan Pardew could be looking at causing another upset here.
Manchester City 5-0 West Brom
Stoke City v Watford
The Potters are just hanging above relegation as they have only won three times in the last 14 games. With a run of games now which could really shape their season, this has to be a game which they take three points in. Paul Lambert started off his first home game in charge with a 2-0 victory over Huddersfield and must continue that here.
For Watford, the pressure is on as they now go five games without a win and only one victory in their last 13. Shockingly Marco Silva was shown the door and new manager Javi Gracia will be looking to make his mark here to keep The Hornets above the relegation zones. Even though they are 10th, remarkably they are only 3 points above their opposition and this will be a game to win for both sides.
Stoke City 1-2 Watford
Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United
The last game of January for these two clubs will be a big one as Spurs have a major test on their hands. If Mauricio Pochettino can find victory here, he’ll surely have helped City win the league, as well as boost Spurs’ chances of the Top 4. With four wins in their last six games, as well as 16 goals in those games, they will be going into this fixture with confidence. If Harry Kane and Son Heung-min continue their hot form too, this will be some game.
Jose Mourinho may have stated his side cannot catch Man City, even though he retracted that statement later, but the reality is if they can keep winning, they could have the slightest of chances. Three points is a must here, however, and with the form they’re in, they could very well get that here. It will be exciting to see Alexis Sanchez make his mark here too; one against a club he’s always been against.
Tottenham 1-2 Man Utd