After a rather strange week of Premier League action behind closed doors, it’s straight back into the next round of matches and Brand Ambassador Michael Owen again shared his thoughts exclusively with BetVictor on what we might expect.
Leicester to win and both teams to score
Leicester City v Brighton
Leicester would have thought they’d done enough to collect all three points when they scored in the 90th minute against Watford at the weekend and will have been disappointed to have conceded an even later equaliser.
Brighton, on the other hand, will have been buoyed by their late, late winner against Arsenal on Saturday which is only the second time in 58 games in the Premier League where they have won after conceding the opening goal.
However, Leicester have won 4 of their 5 Premier League meetings between the clubs, scoring 2 goals in each of those wins and I feel that Leicester will have too much for Brighton in this first game of matchday 31.
Anytime goalscorer - Son Heung-Min
Tottenham Hotspur v West Ham
Jose Mourinho was understandably disappointed at the 81st minute penalty awarded against his side on Friday which gave Manchester United the chance to level up the match and deny Tottenham a huge three points in their quest to secure a place in the top four.
It means that Spurs are now without a win in their last seven games in all competitions.
West Ham’s 0-2 defeat to Wolves at the weekend means they have now lost six of their last eight games in the Premier League and in fact have only recorded one win in their last ten.
I still fancy the Irons to climb away from the relegation zone but with Son Heung-min and Harry Kane back for Spurs after their injuries and with Dele Alli available again after his one match suspension, I feel that Spurs will squeeze to an important home win in what is sure to be a tight, cagey affair.
Half time/Full time - Man United/Man United
Manchester United v Sheffield United
Manchester United’s point at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium on Friday means that they are now unbeaten in their last 12 games in all competitions (won eight) and have pretty much picked up where they left off prior to the lockdown.
Sheffield United on the other hand, will be playing their third game in a week and they certainly haven’t been able to get back to pre-lock-down form. Their 3-0 defeat at the hands of Newcastle United was their biggest loss since losing by a similar score to Middlesbrough back in August 2018.
Back to back matches without scoring a goal will undoubtedly have knocked the Blades’ confidence and with a relatively small squad to choose from as well as the absence of on-loan keeper Dean Henderson due to the conditions of his loan move, I fancy Manchester United to continue their impressive form with a relatively comfortable 2-1 home victory.
Under 2.5 goals
Newcastle United v Aston Villa
Three second-half goals saw United move eleven points clear of the relegation zone and gave them their biggest home win in the Premier League for over a year. I’ve said before that I think Steve Bruce is doing a great job and another win will surely secure their place in the Premier League for yet another season.
Aston Villa were beating Chelsea 1-0 at half-time last time out but were beaten by two goals in two minutes midway through the second half and that may well have damaged belief and confidence The Villans are now in deep trouble at the wrong end of the table and with games running out, they look to be facing an immediate return to the Championship. They have failed to keep a clean sheet away from home this season and I fancy a fired-up Newcastle to earn another three points which will move their tally beyond 40 points and almost certain safety.
Wolves to win to nil
Wolves v Bournemouth
Wolves continue to put in impressive performances and I can’t help but admire the job Nuno Espirito Santo is doing at the club. Their 2-0 win over West Ham at the weekend sees them move to 46 points and they have now kept a clean sheet in five of their last six Premier League games.
Bournemouth were in a pretty awful run of form prior to the break and they haven’t shown any signs that they are capable of turning that around since the restart. They were well beaten by an impressive Crystal Palace on Saturday and I certainly won’t be changing my pre-season prediction of the Cherries slipping through the relegation trap-door at the end of the season.
They have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last thirteen Premier League matches and I fancy a comfortable 2-0 victory to the Wanderers.
Match to end in a draw
Norwich City v Everton
Norwich is another team who look as though its relegation fate is sealed and they were well beaten (3-0) by a lively Southampton. That was the fourth defeat in five games and their manager Daniel Farke has admitted that their confidence is “not at the top-level”
Everton continue to look as though they are on the up and Carlo Ancelotti looks to be a great fit at Goodison Park. Despite a rather dour 0-0 Merseyside derby, Everton will be pleased to have kept a clean sheet and extend their unbeaten run at home to eight Premier League matches.
On the flip side, the Toffees are now without a win in four Premier League games and given that Norwich are fighting for their lives and have had a couple of extra days rest, I’m going for a 1-1 draw in this tricky encounter to call.
Liverpool -1 handicap
Liverpool v Crystal Palace
Liverpool picked up another point against Everton which was their first goalless draw in 39 games in the PL and in fact, since their last visit to Goodison Park back in March 2019. That point means, at the time of writing, they now only need 5 more to guarantee their first Premier League title. There’s no doubt that they’re not playing at their fluent best and that was also the case, prior to lock-down. However, they have built such an unassailable lead that winning the title can surely only be a matter of time.
Crystal Palace certainly won’t be gifting anything to Liverpool as they are on a great run themselves and will be looking to finish as high in the table as possible. They easily dispatched Bournemouth in their first game back after the break and have now won four Premier League games on the spin. One more would equal the club’s best ever in the competition and would match the exploits of 1992 and 2014.
However, I think that Liverpool will have now shaken off any rustiness and even without a roaring crowd behind them at Anfield I fancy an entertaining game with Jurgen Klopp’s men taking all three points.
Either Draw - 0-0 or 1-1
Burnley v Watford
Watford earned a creditable draw against Leicester City last time out and despite their perilous position when Nigel Pearson took the helm, I do think they will have enough points at the end of the season to avoid relegation.
Burnley are a quality side, well-established in the Premier League now and seemingly on course for a comfortable mid-table finish this season. That is no small feat given their awful start to the season and I think this game a ‘low-scoring draw’ written all over it.
Over 2.5 goals
Southampton v Arsenal
The Arsenal rebuild job looks to be a big one and back to back defeats since the re-start look to have put paid to any hopes they may have had about Champions League qualification.
I’m sure that Mikel Arteta will have been in no doubt about the size of the task in front of him when he took the manager’s job and will be looking for greater consistency and fewer mistakes between now and the end of the season.
Southampton enjoyed a comfortable 3-0 win away at Norwich in their first game after the re-start and only Liverpool and Manchester City have won more away games in the Premier League this season. However, things are not so rosy at home and despite Danny Ings becoming the first Saints player to score more than 15 goals in a Premier League season since James Beattie in 2002-03 I feel that Arsenal will bounce back with an important win.
Correct score 2-2
Chelsea v Manchester City
After hammering Burnley 5-0 on Monday night, Manchester City sent a clear message to everyone that they aren’t going to take their foot off the pedal between now and the end of the season.
They have won six of their last seven matches against Chelsea, in all competitions, but I think this Chelsea side look made of sterner stuff than some of the Chelsea teams of recent times.
Chelsea showed real character in coming from a goal down at Aston Villa at the weekend and they have plenty of promising young talent as well as a nice mix of seasoned pros.
Both teams have a goal threat everywhere you look and I really do think we could be in for a treat to round off Matchday 31. I’m going for an entertaining 2-2 draw.