Premier League Matchday 28: Wolves To Move Up To Fifth?9 min read
Eight Premier League fixtures this weekend but the highlight is arguably The League Cup Final at Wembley on Sunday as holders Manchester City bid to lift the first piece of silverware in the English domestic season for the fourth time in five years.
Norwich City v Leicester City
Leicester to win and both teams to score
Only three of 15 sides who have had 18 or fewer points at this corresponding stage of the Premier League season – 26 league games – have avoided relegation and it is hard to see how Norwich can escape the drop this term.
If they are to manufacture a Great Escape, they must start winning their home games, but Leicester need the points to cement their place in the Champions League places although they have now lost three of their last five league games following their narrow home defeat to Manchester City at the weekend.
I would be surprised if we didn’t see opportunities at both ends at Carrow Road, but I expect to see the Foxes return to winning ways on Friday evening.
Brighton v Crystal Palace
Game to finish 1-1
Brighton have drawn their last three league games, but they again showed their resilience to come from behind to pick up a valuable point at Bramall Lane on Saturday. The reverse fixture finished 1-1 at Selhurst Park back in December and I think it will be honours even back at the Amex on Saturday.
Palace returned to winning ways – their first in eight games – against Newcastle at the weekend but they have only scored twice in their last four games and I don’t expect we will see many goals in the M23 derby in Saturday’s early kick-off.
Bournemouth v Chelsea
Chelsea to win
Bournemouth won the reverse fixture 1-0 at Stamford Bridge back in December and have won their last couple at the Vitality Stadium, but I think Chelsea will build on their well-deserved home win against Spurs on Saturday and pick up another valuable three points.
The Cherries didn’t have the rub of the green at Turf Moor on Saturday, but they begin the weekend just two points above the drop zone and have the small matter of a visit to Anfield in their next league game.
Newcastle United v Burnley
Under 1.5 goals
Two sides who go into the game at St James’ Park in contrasting form. Newcastle have won just one of their last nine league games and have failed to score in their last three.
Burnley, on the other hand, have picked up 13 points from their last five games and their 37 points at this stage of the season – after 27 matches – is a club record for the Premier League.
No side has scored fewer goals than Newcastle (24) so far this term and I don’t believe we will see many opportunities. One goal might be enough at either end.
West Ham v Southampton
Southampton to win
West Ham very nearly caused a shock at Anfield on Monday and they will go into the game with Southampton at the London Stadium with renewed optimism having run the champions-elect so close earlier in the week.
Southampton were much too good for Aston Villa at St Mary’s at the weekend, however, and are arguably a better side on the road. I’m not convinced the Irons’ performance at Anfield is the turning point in their season and they begin the weekend in the drop zone. I think the Saints will take all three points in front of a tense, nervous home crowd.
Watford v Liverpool
Liverpool to win to nil
Liverpool have not been at their best in recent games, but they keep finding a way of winning league games – the stuff of champions – and their record-breaking season shows no sign of abating having come from behind to beat West Ham at Anfield earlier in the week.
Watford had their opportunities at Old Trafford on Sunday but were ultimately well beaten and are fighting for their Premier League lives. I expect a tight game with few opportunities but believe the Reds will take maximum points from a low-scoring affair.
Everton v Manchester United
Everton to win
United were flattered by the margin of victory against Watford at Old Trafford on Sunday and face another tricky game at home to Club Brugge in the Europa League on Thursday with the tie still in the balance after a 1-1 draw in the first leg.
Everton had the opportunities to get at least a point at the Emirates on Sunday and the burgeoning partnership of Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin and remarkable return of Andre Gomes were plus points for the Blues who have improved significantly under Carlo Ancelotti.
Goodison Park is never an easy place to go to and get a result, and I expect the hosts to keep the points from what promises to be a terrific game.
Tottenham v Wolves
Wolves draw no bet
Wolves travel to Barcelona for the second leg of their Europa League tie with Espanyol on Thursday evening, but they have a four-goal lead from the first leg and I expect Nuno Espirito Santo to rotate his squad in Spain ahead of their trip to London on Sunday.
Spurs were well beaten at Stamford Bridge at the weekend and they are badly missing the goals and quality of Harry Kane and Son Heung-min. No club side in the world could be as effective without, arguably, their two best players.
Wolves have kept three successive clean sheets in the league, and they will leapfrog Spurs in the table with a win. If there is to be a winner at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, I feel it will be the visitors.
Carabao Cup Final: Aston Villa v Manchester City
Manchester City -2
The last time Manchester City played a domestic Cup Final they hit Watford for six in the FA Cup back in May and I would be surprised if Aston Villa were able to stop City lifting the first domestic trophy of the season for a third successive year.
City were good value for their win at the King Power Stadium at the weekend and, while they have the small matter of a trip to the Bernabeu in the Champions League midweek, they should have too much quality for a Villa side who were poor at St Mary’s last weekend.
City have won the last four games between the sides by an aggregate score of 17-1 and I think we will see another emphatic win for Pep Guardiola’s side on Sunday.
Michael’s weekend treble: Leicester City, Liverpool and Chelsea