Premier League Matchday 12: An Anfield Thriller Awaits12 min read
The biggest game of the season in the Premier League sees champions Manchester City travel to unbeaten league leaders Liverpool on Sunday.
Norwich City v Watford
The bottom two go head-to-head at Carrow Road on Friday evening in a game that neither side can afford to lose. The Hornets are still looking for a first win of the league season after their home defeat to Chelsea on Saturday and the last side to fail to win any of their opening 11 Premier League games was QPR back in the 2012-13 season. Rangers finished the campaign at the bottom of the table.
The Canaries have picked up just one point from a possible 18 since they beat Manchester City at the beginning of September, and I believe they will have to settle for a point in a tight nervous affair.
Tip: Game to finish in a draw
Chelsea v Crystal Palace
Crystal Palace have lost their last two home games, but they have already won at Old Trafford this season and came from 2-0 down to get a point at Arsenal in their last away game. The Eagles look sure to give Chelsea a severe test at Stamford Bridge, but I expect the Blues to keep all three points in this London derby.
You could argue that Chelsea were hanging on at Vicarage Road at the weekend, but if it wasn’t for the outstanding keeping of Ben Foster, Frank Lampard’s side would have been out of sight before the Hornets revival which was instigated by their hotly disputed penalty given by the VAR.
Chelsea have had more than their fair share of injuries and any club side in the world would miss World Cup winner N’Golo Kante, yet they have coped brilliantly with his continued absence and they are taken to cement their place in the top four.
Tip: Chelsea to win and both teams to score
Burnley v West Ham
Burnley have lost their last three and were not themselves at Bramall Lane on Saturday. I expect them to bounce back, however, against a West Ham side who have picked up just a solitary point from their last four league games against Newcastle, Sheffield United, Everton and Crystal Palace with three of those fixtures at home.
Both teams begin the weekend in the bottom half of the table, but I think it will be the Clarets who keep the points from a close, nervous game with few opportunities.
Tip: Burnley to win
Newcastle United v Bournemouth
A fabulous result for Newcastle at the London Stadium at the weekend, and I believe the Magpies will follow up that success against a Bournemouth side who have only scored once in their last four games although that was enough to beat Manchester United at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday.
It has taken a while for Steve Bruce to win over the Toon Army, but they are certainly enjoying their trips to the capital this term. United found the back of the net three times in the opening 45 minutes at West Ham on Saturday but one might be enough against the Cherries back at St James’ Park.
Tip: Newcastle United to win to nil
Southampton v Everton
The top two and the bottom four meet this weekend with the sides currently in 17th (Everton) and 18th (Southampton) playing at St Mary’s in a game which could have huge consequences for the losing manager.
Everton have had little luck with the VAR in recent games, but I remain a fan of the technology and am convinced it will improve the game in the long term. What is going wrong, however, is that decisions – some incorrect – are being made at Stockley Park.
I always envisaged the VAR would advise the on-field referee that he should check his pitchside monitor to decide whether he wanted to change his original decision on red cards, penalties or possible infringements in the build-up to a goal.
The VAR would only decide on offside decisions. Why should the VAR overrule the referee in the case of Watford’s penalty against Chelsea at Vicarage Road? The VAR should have advised the official that he may want to confirm his decision at the pitch side. I appreciate time is of the essence, but the referee should be the sole arbiter of subjective decisions.
My best wishes go to Andre Gomes who suffered such a horrific injury at Goodison on Sunday, but I do hope to see Son Heung-min’s red card downgraded to the original yellow on appeal. Let’s hope we see the excellent Gomes back in a blue shirt before the end of the season.
Getting back to the game at St Mary’s, and I would expect it to be a tense occasion on the south coast, but if there is to be a winner, I feel it will be the hosts who bounced back from their Leicester mauling to give the champions such a fright at the Etihad at the weekend.
Tip: Southampton – draw no bet
Tottenham v Sheffield United
Sheffield United are unbeaten on the road in the league so far this season but I expect Spurs to end that proud record on Saturday although they won’t have things all their own way against a Blades side who have been a revelation so far this term.
Spurs cannot afford any more slip-ups if they are to mount a serious challenge for a top-four spot and Mauricio Pochettino will hope to be able to call on the services of Harry Kane who missed Sunday’s draw on Merseyside through illness.
Tip: Spurs to win to nil
Leicester City v Arsenal
Leicester’s win at Crystal Palace on Sunday lacked the fireworks of their record-breaking success at St Mary’s, but it was another professional performance from Brendan Rodgers’ side who continue to go from strength to strength.
James Maddison created eight chances for his teammates at Selhurst Park while Jamie Vardy became the first player to reach double-figures in the league so far this term. The pair have been outstanding so far this term although it seems churlish to single them out given how well the Foxes have played as a unit so far this season.
Arsenal are likely to have their own opportunities at the King Power, but I think the hosts will keep all three points from what promises to be a cracker.
Tip: Leicester to win and both teams to score
Manchester United v Brighton
Manchester United are struggling to keep a clean sheet on the road in the Premier League but they can surely keep the points when Brighton are the visitors to Old Trafford this weekend.
The Seagulls have won their last three home league games but have not won on the road since their opening day success at Vicarage Road and United will be grateful of being back on home soil this week after a run of four successive away games in three different competitions.
Tip: Manchester United halftime/fulltime
Wolves v Aston Villa
Aston Villa beat a very young Wolves side in the League Cup at Villa Park last week, but Wolves can get their revenge at Molineux on Sunday in what should be another terrific Midlands derby.
Villa were the latest side to be undone by Liverpool’s never say die attitude last weekend, but they are making a good fist of their return to top-flight football. However, Nuno Espirito Santo’s side have scored in their last 10 league games and I fancy them to edge a thriller.
Tip: Wolves to win and over 2.5 goals
Liverpool v Manchester City
At first glance, you can’t see past an open entertaining classic at Anfield involving the two best sides in the Premier League and, arguably, in Europe, but I wonder if both managers would take a point now?
A draw would see Liverpool maintain their six-point lead over City while Pep Guardiola’s side would surely settle for a point with Aymeric Laporte out with a long-term injury.
In the hope that the sides don’t cancel each other out and they both go for the win, I believe it will be the Reds who extend their lead over the champions to nine points.
City will field two of Nicolas Otamendi, John Stones and Fernandinho in the centre of their defence and it will be hard for the visitors to keep Liverpool’s front three and especially the hugely influential Sadio Mane at arm’s length.
Anfield is sure to be rocking. The title will not be decided on Sunday, but a nine-point gap between the sides would be difficult for City to bridge given the form and ability of this Liverpool side – but nine points I expect it to be.
Tip: Liverpool to win
Michael’s weekend treble: Chelsea, Leicester and Spurs