Premier League Matchday 18: Spurs Can Take Fourth Spot8 min read
An opportunity for the chasing pack to cut into the lead of Liverpool at the top of the Premier League this weekend with the Reds currently in Qatar for the FIFA Club World Cup.
Everton v Arsenal
Arsenal only had one shot on target against Manchester City at the Emirates on Sunday, and that was in the opening minute of the game. The Gunners cannot play as badly at Goodison in Saturday’s early kick-off although I think Everton will edge a game between two clubs who, at the time of writing, are both looking for a new permanent manager.
The Blues have picked up four points in two games under caretaker Duncan Ferguson and, although they are struggling with injuries, I expect them to win back-to-back home league games.
It will be fascinating to see if either club appoint a new manager before the weekend with Carlo Ancelotti reported to be Everton’s preferred choice and former Everton and Arsenal midfielder Mikel Arteta, seemingly, in pole position to take over at the Emirates.
Tip: Everton to win
Aston Villa v Southampton
Villa have lost six of their last eight league games and a win for the Saints at Villa Park would see the midlands club drop into the relegation places.
Southampton have picked up more points away from home (8) than at St Mary’s (7) so far this term, but I believe the hosts will edge a tight, nervous affair.
Jack Grealish missed a penalty at Bramall Lane on Saturday, but the Villa skipper is key to the chances of Villa maintaining their elite-level status this term.
Tip: Villa to win
Bournemouth v Burnley
Both these sides picked up valuable 1-0 wins at the weekend with Bournemouth’s victory at Chelsea arresting a five-game losing streak.
Eddie Howe will be delighted with his clean sheet at Stamford Bridge, while Newcastle failed to have a shot on target at Turf Moor against a Burnley side who had lost their last three before the visit of the Magpies.
I feel the Clarets will be too resilient and strong for a Cherries side who are struggling to create opportunities despite that excellent win in the capital last weekend.
Tip: Burnley to win
Brighton v Sheffield United
Sheffield United put their unbeaten away league record on the line at the Amex against a Brighton side who dominated the M23 derby at Selhurst Park on Monday until Wilfried Zaha’s late equaliser.
Graham Potter has changed the style and footballing philosophy at Brighton, and he has done a tremendous job. That said Chris Wilder has also done a magnificent job at Bramall Lane and whose Blades side currently sit proudly in seventh place in the table.
I can’t split the teams and feel it will be honours even on the south coast.
Tip: Game to finish in a draw
Newcastle United v Crystal Palace
Both sides are struggling for goals and Newcastle failed to have a shot on target for the third time this season at Turf Moor last weekend.
The Magpies are a different proposition at St James’ Park, however, although I think they may have to settle for a point against a Palace side who are, arguably, better away from home and came from behind to get a point at home to Brighton on Monday.
Tip: Game to finish 1-1
Norwich City v Wolves
Norwich have only won one of their last 12 league games and I feel Wolves, who must still be wondering how they lost to Spurs on Sunday, will return to winning ways at Carrow Road despite the Canaries picking up a terrific point at the King Power on Saturday.
Adama Traore is now providing the quality to go with his blistering pace and strength for Wolves and his development has been a big plus for the Molineux outfit this season.
Tip: Wolves to win
Manchester City v Leicester City
Leicester’s eight-game winning league run came to a halt against Norwich at the King Power on Saturday, and I think the champions will follow up their impressive win at Arsenal on Sunday when third entertain second at the Etihad.
Kevin de Bruyne’s display at the Emirates was world class – irrespective of the current form and confidence of the opposition – and his continued fitness will be paramount for Pep Guardiola’s side as they chase silverware on four fronts in the second half of the season.
Tip: City to win and both teams to score
Watford v Manchester United
Watford had their opportunities at Anfield last weekend, but they have picked up just nine points from their opening 17 league games so far this term. In the history of the Premier League just 9 teams have picked up nine, or fewer, points at this corresponding stage of the season. All have been relegated.
Manchester United failed to build on their brilliant performance at the Etihad when they struggled to break down Everton back at Old Trafford last weekend, but I expect them to have too much quality at Vicarage Road for Nigel Pearson’s side.
Tip: United to win to nil
Tottenham v Chelsea
The last Premier League game before Christmas is a cracking London derby with Frank Lampard going head-to-head with his former manager Jose Mourinho at Stamford Bridge for the first time.
It is worth noting, however, that Lampard’s Derby County won a League Cup tie at Old Trafford on penalties last September when Mourinho was manager of Manchester United.
Chelsea have lost four of their last five in the league while Spurs have won three of their last four and I think it will be the hosts who take maximum points from what promises to be an entertaining game between these two great rivals.
Tip: Spurs to win 2-1
Michael’s weekend treble: Everton, Manchester City & Manchester United