This Premier League weekend will show us will Liverpool keep going as a sole leader in the fight for the title or Manchester City will reduce the 4 current points gap. another interesting battle is the one for the top 4, where Chelsea and Arsenal look as the contenders to take the 4th place.
West Ham United vs Arsenal
I have a lot of sympathy for the Manuel Pellegrini managed Hammers. They have been steadily improving as a team and despite that the fact that many of their key players are injured, currently sit 10th in the table.
Arsenal are just a bit short of the team Unai Emery would like to have in his first season in charge. The points that Gunners could have won on their visit to Southampton and Brighton, would bring them into the top 4. But even now Arsenal are just 3 point behind the 3rd places Chelsea. I think that Arsenal have progressed under Emery and I expect them to win 3 points at London’s Stadium.
Arsenal to win: 1:2
Brighton & Hove Albion vs Liverpool
Liverpool have lost at Ethan and someone might expect them to have hard time in the Premier League in January, but I don’t think so. Why? Any loss to Manchester City wasn’t hard to project. City aren’t the team they were last season, but they are still good enough to beat any club at any moment. Pep Guardiola’s side played a good football against Liverpool, but they needed Sergio Aguero to create a chance out of nothing and to score a goal that very few other strikers could. He has made the difference for City in the first half. During the second one Liverpool outplayed Manchester City, especially in the final 20 minutes. City were very lucky that Liverpool’s defence made a mistake which allows Leroy Sane to shoot and score.
I think that if Liverpool play at the same level they used to do so far this season, they will be able to win on their visit to Brighton. The Seagulls are a solid team at home and will put a fight, however.
Liverpool to win: 1:2
Burnley vs Fulham
Burnley have a good record against Fulham at home. Tom Heaton is expected to keep his place in goal for Burnley. Phil Bardsley and Matt Lowton are expected to be in the match day squad, while Robbie Brady is suspended.
Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa is available for selection for Fulham, but Alfie Mawson remains sidelined. Calum Chambers is expected to play.
Burnley to win: 2:1
Cardiff City vs Huddersfield Town
I think that Cardiff will win this fixture as they have proven to be a more competitive side than Huddersfield this season. Unless the Terriers turn their performance upside down and start winning games immediately, I see them playing in the Championship next season.
Cardiff manager Neil Warnock is giving a late fitness tests to Victor Camarasa and Harry Arter. Kenneth Zohore, Jazz Richards, Kadeem Harris and Danny Ward are all ruled out.
Jason Puncheon who came on load from Crystal Palace is expected to make his Premier League debut for Huddersfield. Christopher Schindler returns to contention. Jonas Lossl is expected to start as goalkeeper. Aaron Mooy, Danny Williams, Abdelhamid Sabiri and Tommy Smith are all out.
Cardiff City to win: 1:0
Crystal Palace vs Watford
Palace have started picking up points and look stable at the moment. Watford are a better team than them, but it looks to me that the Hornets will not win at Selhurst Park.
Christian Benteke is available for Crystal Palace for the first time since September. Defender Pape Souare is out, however.
Andre Gray and Christian Kabasele have returned to training for Watford. Defender Sebastian Prodl is the only absentee for the Hornets.
Crystal Palace to win: 2:1
Leicester City vs Southampton
After winning some points under their new manager, the Saint are back in the relegation zone. Leicester isn’t the best place to visit if you need to pick up points and I don; think that Southampton will make it.
Leicester City are without Jonny Evans. Southampton are without strikers Danny Ings, Charlie Austin and Michael Obafemi. Ryan Bertrand is also unavailable, despite that he has returned to training. Midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg is suspended while Maya Yoshida is away on international duty with Japan at the Asia Cup.
Leicester City to win: 2:0
Chelsea vs Newcastle United
Chelsea have they ups and downs this season and lack consistency, something that would make them to miss the top 4. However, the Blues are good enough to win 3 points against Newcastle.
Alvaro Morata is an injury doubt for Chelsea. Ruben Loftus-Cheek is also out, while Cesc Fabregas will not be be in the squad ahead of his likely move to Monaco.
Newcastle’s manager Rafael Benitez has a serious injury problems. Federico Fernandez, Mohamed Diame and Jonjo Shelvey are doubtful for the Magpies trip to Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea to win: 2:0
Everton vs AFC Bournemouth
It looks to me that Everton are underperforming a bit and Marco Silva needs to find a way to finish the season at highest possible position in the table. Everton have spend too much money this summer, to finish 10th or 11th.
The Toffees have no new injury worries. Ademola Lookman who scored in the FA Cup win over Lincoln may be considered as replacement of Theo Walcott. Lucas Digne, Andre Gomes and Richarlison are expected to play after being rested last weekend.
Callum Wilson, Joshua King and Ryan Fraser will undergo late fitness tests ahead of the Bournemouth’s trip to Goodison Park.
Strikers Wilson and King missed their FA Cup loss to Brighton last weekend, while winger Fraser have been injured during the game.
Nathaniel Clyne who joined the Cherries from Liverpool could make his league debut for Bournemouth, but the other new signing Dominic Solanke will not be in the match day squad. Simon Francis, Adam Smith and Lewis Cook are also sidelined.
Everton to win: 3:1
Tottenham Hotspur vs Manchester United
This is the first real test for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as Manchester United manager. He has revitalized the Red Devils and they look much better now. However, I think that on their visit to Spurs, United are very likely to understand how far behind are they in their team development this season.
Tottenham will have to assess Lucas Moura before the fixtures. Eric Dier and Victor Wanyama will miss the game. Jan Vertonghen and Mousa Dembele are back in training, but need to improve their fitness before returning to the match day squad.
Paul Pogba’s return is major boost for Manchester United. Marcos Rojo is injured, Chris Smalling is a doubt and Eric Bailly is suspended.
Tottenham to win: 3:1
Manchester City vs Wolverhampton Wanderers
Wolverhampton are one of the teams who could disappoint City, but I think that the Pep Guardiola’s men will find a way to win this fixture. It is very important for them that Sergio Aguero is playing at his beset at the moment.
Aguero and Vincent Kompany are expected to play for Manchester City. The very important midfielder Fernandinho is also expected to make it in the starting line-up after being rested for both cup games taht City played. Benjamin Mendy and goalkeeper Claudio Bravo are still out.
Wolverhampton have no injury worries. Rui Patricio, Matt Doherty and Romain Saiss are back in the squad after being rested for Monday’s FA Cup game against Liverpool. Nuno Espirito Santo should decide whether to start with Diogo Jota or Ivan Cavaleiro.
Manchester City to win : 2:1