The highlight games for this weekend’s action are WOLVES versus CHELSEA and NEWCASTLE versus MAN CITY. Our feature columnist, John Newsome previews these as well as all game-week 18 matches with his unique and insightful commentary. You can view all previous analysis from John’s regular column here: English Premier League Predictions For Saturday.
Please note all prices quoted below were correct at the time of publication
MANCHESTER UNITED v BRIGHTON
12.30 in England.
With his intellect and a savoir-faire, Eric Cantona famously said in a press interview, ‘When the Seagulls, follow the trawler, it’s because they think sardines, will be thrown into the sea, thank you, au Revoir
Well, the Seagulls are following the trawler up to Manchester to take on Ralph’s Roadsters, hoping that sardines are thrown onto the M6.
Manchester United’s midweek fixture against Brentford was postponed due to the Coronavirus pandemic, so this game at Old Trafford could go the same way. At the moment, it’s still on but depending on the situation, may get cancelled.
United sit 6th, in the table, with 27-points from 16-fixtures completed. Brighton didn’t draw on Wednesday, however, didn’t win either. The defeat against Wolves, at the Amex, by a 1-0 scoreline, means it’s now 11-fixtures without a win for Graham Potter’s men.
Those 11 have yielded 8-points from a possible 33, leaving Brighton in 13th-place in the Premier League table, with 20-points. The last victory for Harry and his Seagulls came against Leicester back in September.
Not to condone people who boo their team, it’s not a surprise. Maybe it’s a new nature call, that Seagulls make when they can’t nick chips of the punters.
Whatever it is, Graham needs to turn his team’s fortunes around, with the main problem, like most teams that struggle, is scoring goals.
Brighton were without Lewis Dunk, Shane Duffy, Adam Webster, Danny Welbeck and Neal Maupay, so there were mitigating circumstances.
In last seasons fixture in Manchester, between the two, the ex-United star, Danny Welbeck scored in the 1st-half to give Brighton an early lead.
Marcus Rashford replied after the break and with time running out, Mason Greenwood scored United’s winning goal to give the home team the victory by a 2-1 score.
888 Sport offer Manchester United at Odds On 4/7, the draw at 3/1 and 22/5 for Brighton to come away with all 3-points.
888 Sport offer 3/1 that Cristiano Ronaldo Scores First and 17/10 that Manchester United Win To Nil.
ASTON VILLA v BURNLEY
15.00 in England.
Stevie G’s Claret and Blues got a professional away-night victory at Carrow Rd on Tuesday, inflicting a defeat on the ex-Villa boss’s new club, Norwich by a 2-0 scoreline.
Jacob Ramsey scored the opener, just before the half-time whistle, with Ollie Watkins adding a 2nd, late on in proceedings, to give Aston Villa the victory in the Dean Smith Derby.
Mr Gerrard’s boys sit 10th in the table, with 22-points, going into this Game Week-18 affair. That’s 4-wins and 2-losses, in the 6-fixtures that Steven has taken charge of since arriving at Villa Park.
Burnley’s fixture against Watford fell at the final hurdle, being called off, late on Wednesday evening, due to the increasing COVID situation, which appears to be getting worse again, with the new Omicron variant causing chaos. There will be more fixtures cancelled which also could see the banning of fans and empty stadiums again, not just at the Etihad.
Burnley remain 3rd from bottom, with 11-points, 2-adrift of Watford but have now only played 15-times, having had 2-fixtures postponed.
At Villa Park last season, this fixture took place on the 17th of December (a day earlier) and as both teams were excited about the impending visit of Santa Claus, neither could muster up a goal, with the game finishing in a draw by a 0-0 scoreline.
888 Sport offer Aston Villa at Odds On 46/63, the draw at 14/5 and 7/2 for Burnley to come away with all 3-points.
888 Sport offer 4/1 that Ollie Watkins Scores First and 39/20 that Aston Villa Win To Nil.
SOUTHAMPTON v BRENTFORD
15.00 in England.
Southampton earned a point from an away day draw at Selhurst Park against Crystal Palace.
James Ward-Prowse, scored a superb free-kick to equalise an earlier Eagles goal. Armando Broja then scored a 2nd, before the break, to give Wreck-It Ralph’s boys a half-time lead.
The bad dog walker was on display, with Southampton unable to hold on to the lead, conceding an equaliser midway through the 2nd-half. With no further goals, both shared the points from a draw by a Desmond 2-2 scoreline.
The Peaky Blunders attire was at the Dry Cleaners after taking a soaking in the rain at the Emirates last week, with Ralph back in the track gear.
Southampton sit 15th in the table, with 17-points from the 17-fixtures completed.
Brentford had the midweek off, following the fixture against Manchester United, being cancelled due to a Covid outbreak at Old Trafford.
Thomas Frank’s Bees sit 12th in the table, with the same 20-points as Crystal Palace and Brighton.
Palace have completed the full set of 17-fixtures, whereas Brentford and Brighton have only played 16.
It’s 11-years ago, the 11th of December 2010, when the Bees last visited St Mary’s, for a league game between Southampton and Brentford. However, it wasn’t a Premier League fixture, nor a Championship game, the tie was in League 1, the equivalent of the old 3rd Division.
Brentford got the away-day victory by a 2-0 score, with goals coming from Gary Alexander and Charlie MacDonald.
Some notable players on display 11-years ago, were Morgan Schneiderlin, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert.
Morgan went on to fail at Manchester United and all of Alex, Adam and Rickie were signed by Liverpool.
888 Sport offer Southampton at Evens 1/1, the draw at 5/2 and 51/20 for Brentford to come away with all 3-points.
888 Sport offer 3/1 that James Ward-Prowse Scores Anytime and 19/10 that Ivan Toney Scores Anytime.
WATFORD v CRYSTAL PALACE
15.00 in England.
As mentioned earlier, Watford didn’t play in midweek due to the fixture against Burnley being postponed, 3-hours before kickoff, which did see a few of the Hornet faithful travel up the M6 to Turf Moor, before knowing the game was off.
Let’s hope the clubs do the decent thing and provide compensation for the girls and boys expenses.
It did mean that Claudio Ranieri’s men weren’t overtaken by Sean’s Clarets and remain just above the relegation places with 13-points, from 16-fixtures, 2-points more than Burnley, who have completed 15. Everyone else around the bottom teams have played 17-games.
Crystal Palace gained a point against Southampton at Selhurst Park, on Wednesday, from a draw by a Desmond 2-2 score.
Wilfried Zaha opened the scoring after 2-minutes but then the Eagles conceded twice before the break, to go into the dressing room trailing.
Jordan Ayew, scored his first goal in 15-months to give Patrick Vieira’s boys a draw from Mr Tutu’s favourite scoreline.
The point gained, leaves Crystal Palace in 11th-place, with 20-points from the full complement of 17-fixtures played. The same 20 as Brentford and Brighton.
It’s exactly 2-years ago, the 7th of December 2019, before the Coronavirus situation caused a few problems, that the Eagles ventured to Vicarage Rd, to take on the Hornets.
Both were under the guidance of different managers, with Hayden Mullins in temporary charge (again!) of Watford and Roy Hodgson at the Palace helm.
Unfortunately, the watching faithful for both teams weren’t witness to a goal, with the pre-Christmas fixture finishing in a goalless draw.
888 Sport offer Watford at 43/20, the draw at 12/5 and 23/20 for Crystal Palace to come away with all 3-points.
888 Sport offer 5/1 that Emmanuel Dennis Scores First and 21/10 that Wilfried Zaha Scores Anytime.
WEST HAM v NORWICH
15.00 in England.
West Ham suffered a defeat on Wednesday, away at the Emirates, against Arsenal, by a 2-0 scoreline. After a goalless 1st-half, the Hammers conceded twice to ultimately lose the game.
There was a saved penalty in the 2nd-half too, by the ex-Gunners goalkeeper, Lukasz Fabianski, which could have made the scoreline higher.
There’s just 1-win in 6, for David Moyes Boys, in the Premier League, losing-3 and drawing 2, meaning 5-points from a possible 18.
West Ham swap places with Arsenal, dropping down to 5th, with 28-points from 17-fixtures.
Norwich succumbed to a defeat at Carrow Rd on Tuesday, losing against Aston Villa in the Dean Smith Derby. A Villa goal, scored in each half, inflicted the loss on the Canaries, by a 2-0 score.
Norwich sit at the bottom of the Premier League table, with 10-points from the opening, 17-fixtures, still 3-away from safety.
That’s Dean’s 3rd-defeat in a row, since taking over, following a victory and 2-draws from the opening 3-games in charge.
It’s fair to say that the honeymoon period is over. It was August 2019, when the London Stadium last saw the travelling Canaries fly in. West Ham got the home victory by a 2-0 scoreline.
Sebastian Haller and Andriy Yarmolenko with the Hammers goals.
888 Sport offer West Ham at Odds On 1/3, the draw at 15/4 and 29/4 for Norwich to come away with all 3-points.
888 Sport offer 18/5 that Michail Antonio Scores First and 6/5 that West Ham Score in Both Halves.
***Premier League Team of the Week***
GOALKEEPER- Ederson- Man City
RIGHT-BACK- John Stones- Man City
CENTRE-BACK- Nathan Ake- Man City
CENTRE-BACK- Romain Saiss- Wolves
LEFT-BACK- Jarrad Branthwaite- Everton
MIDFIELDER- Phil Foden- Man City
MIDFIELDER- Trent Alexander Arnold- Liverpool
MIDFIELDER- Bukayo Saka- Arsenal
FORWARD- Jack Grealish- Man City
FORWARD- Riyad Mahrez- Man City
FORWARD- Kevin De Bruyne- Man City
STAR MAN- John Stones- Man City
LEEDS UNITED v ARSENAL
17.30 in England.
Whilst driving around the country on Tuesday night, John Newsome listened to the live commentary of Man City v Leeds United on the wireless. It was interesting (and very funny!) hearing the goals go in at the Etihad, 1,2,3,4,5,6,7.
Leeds didn’t start the fire, or the football and rolled over to allow City to rub their belly’s for 90-minutes. Most will lose against Man City, however, it’s the manner of the defeat that will worry some of the Marching On Together crew.
There are injuries at Elland Rd, that is affecting the way Leeds are playing and with January approaching, Marcelo Bielsa needs to get one or two replacements in. The defeat along the M62, leaves Leeds United in 16th-place, with 16-points.
After the game on Tuesday evening, there were the usual puddings who ring radio stations up and vent their anger because they can’t get on the Social Abuse sites.
One particular caller, astoundingly said that Kevin Blackwell was thought more highly at Elland Rd, than Mr Bielsa. The lad was straight back to his ‘special home’ and given his comforting medication.
That’s the opinions of some people out there, who surely, cannot actually believe that Neil Warnock’s best mate is thought better of than the Argentinian maestro. Marching On Together.
Arsenal got a comfortable victory against West Ham on Wednesday by a 2-0 scoreline.
The Gooners faithful at the Emirates were witness to their idols missing a penalty that could have made the scoreline more.
After a goalless 1st-half, Gabriel Martinelli opened the scoring to give Mikel Arteta’s men the lead. Pep 2, then introduced Emile Smith-Rowe, who gave Arsenal an injection of skill.
Alexandre Lacazette was brought down in the area, which not only resulted in a penalty but also saw the Hammers player receive a 2nd-Yellow Card and the ultimate early bath.
Alexandre dusted himself down and took the spot-kick, however, the ex-Gunner goalkeeper, Lukasz Fabianski saved Alex’s kick. That’s the 3rd-missed penalty in a row for the Gunners.
Emile Smith-Rowe scored a 2nd Arsenal goal, after the miss, to give the home team the victory by a 2-0 score. The win lifts Arsenal above West Ham, into 4th-place, with 29-points, a point more than the Hammers but a massive 8-adrift of Chelsea in 3rd.
It has been mentioned previously in this column that the Gunners are the best-placed team to finish in the Top Four, being the only ones out of the lot around them, not to be in midweek European action come February.
In last seasons fixture between the two, at Elland Rd, neither team troubled the scorers, with the game finishing in a draw by a 0-0 scoreline.
The only excitement, throughout the 90-minutes, was Arsenal’s Nicolas Pepe, receiving a straight Red Card, just after the break. Unfortunately, Marcelo’s Whites couldn’t take advantage of having the extra man.
888 Sport offer Leeds United at 11/4, the draw at 27/10 and slight Odds On 9/10 for Arsenal to come away with all 3-points.
888 Sport offer 7/2 that Bukayo Saka Scores Anytime and 17/10 that there are Over 3.5 Goals.
EVERTON v LEICESTER
12.00 in England.
Ex-Chelsea boss, Rafa Benitez, who’s not the most popular person at Goodison Park at the moment, somehow got his Toffees to gain a point, against his old employers, by a 1-1 score, on Thursday.
Before the game, at Stamford Bridge, the travelling Toffees, unfurled a banner which read, ‘Rafa Benitez, get out of our club’ Nice.
It’s unlikely that the draw will change the fans perspective of Mr Benitez but it’s not a defeat and that’s all that matters.
The brilliant point gained from having 11-men behind the ball gives Everton 19 and leaves them 14th in the table from the 17-fixtures.
Toffee Rafas and this morning’s papers say, ‘Get a booster jab!’
Leicester didn’t play in midweek, with the fixture against Tottenham, being called off due to the Coronavirus situation. The Foxes sit 9th in the table, with 22-points from 16-games played.
Brendan’s Wonderful’s got knocked out of the Europa League and relegated to the Europa Conference League, which prompted Mr Rodgers to comment that he didn’t really know what that was.
John Newsome has been saying that all season.
The Foxes have been drawn against Randers, that’s Randers of Denmark, not Rangers of Glasgow, with that playoff tie taking place in February 2022.
Lennon the pooch knew the Tottenham shirt with ‘Hoddle’ and ‘4’ on the back, it’s an old one, that Rod Stewart found in a charity shop, wasn’t going to be thrown at him this week.
Sir Roderick was in a happy mood after seeing his beloved Green and White Hoops score in the 97th-minute on Wednesday, getting a victory over Ross County (who?) by a 2-1 scoreline, in the Scottish Pub League.
It means that Celtic, remain 4-points adrift of the Glasgow rivals, Rangers, who themselves inflicted a defeat on St Johnstone (who?) by a 1-0 score, in their midweek Pub League game.
Lennon sat proudly in front of the gas fire, with a handful of treats, whilst Rod and the lovely wife Penny, sat watching Match of the Day, a glass of Pinot Grigio in hand.
There was a distant noise coming from down the street, which appeared to be, Carol Singers, singing the tune, ‘Oh come Brendan faithful, join us at the King Power, oh come, Mr Rodgers, to Le-E-eicestershire.’ Woof Woof!
James (pronounced Ham-Es, apparently) Rodriguez opened the scoring at Goodison Park when Leicester visited last season.
Youri Tielemans equalised after the break and with no further goals, the game finished in a draw by a 1-1 score. One wonders if it’s Jim or Him, to his mates back in Columbia.
888 Sport offer Everton at 7/4, the draw at 119/50 and 29/20 for Leicester to come away with all 3-points.
888 Sport offer 13/10 that Jamie Vardy Scores Anytime and 17/5 that Leicester Win To Nil.
WOLVES v CHELSEA
14.00 in England.
Wolves got back to winning ways on Wednesday, following no victories in 4-fixtures, which resulted in 2-draws and 2-defeats.
Romain Saiss, the Moroccan Maldini (Bruno’s words!) who was excellent throughout the game against Brighton, scored the solitary winning goal on the stroke of half-time to give Bruno Lage’s Gold and Blacks the victory by a 1-0 score.
It was the first Wolves goal scored in the 5-games played since inflicting a defeat on West Ham back in mid-November. There is only Norwich at the foot of the table, that have scored fewer goals than Bruno’s men.
The Canaries have scored 8, with Wolves getting 13, on their way to 24-points from the 17-fixtures, leaving the Gold and Blacks in 8th-place. The girls and boys celebrated the 1st-win in 5, by all having a pint of Bruno Lager.
Chelsea, surprisingly, could only muster a draw on Thursday against a beleaguered Everton team. After a goalless 1st-half at Stamford Bridge, Mason Mount scored, to give the home fans something to cheer.
Unfortunately for those faithful, Thomas’s Blue Engines conceded an Everton notch straight away. With no further goals, the game finished in a draw by a 1-1 score.
The point gained, leaves Chelsea in 3rd-place, with 37, now 3 adrift of Liverpool and 4 away from Man City. As of tonight, this game is still on but like the others, is subject to change.
This fixture at Molineux last term, took place almost a year to the day, on the 15th of December 2020.
Frank Lampard was still in the Blues hot, hot, hot-seat. With Nuno Espírito Santo overseeing the home team.
After a goalless 1st-half, Olivier Giroud opened the scoring for Chelsea, to give the away side a lead.
Daniel Podence equalised for the Gold and Blacks, before Supermarket man, Pedro Neto, scored the winner for Wolves, in the 95th-minute.
The defeat for Frank’s Blues, by a 2-1 scoreline, set in motion the paperwork, that was needed for Mr Lampard’s exit from Stamford Bridge, that occurred a month or so later.
888 Sport offer Wolves at 27/5, the draw at 3/1 and Odds On 1/2 for Chelsea to come away with all 3-points.
888 Sport offer 3/1 that Raul Jimenez Scores Anytime and 6/4 that Romelu Lukaku Scores Anytime.
NEWCASTLE v MAN CITY
14.15 in England.
Newcastle took a surprise lead at Anfield on Thursday, with the ex-Reds player, Jonjo Shelvey, scoring after 7-minutes.
Unfortunately, for Eddie and the Magpies, that just sparked Liverpool into life, who scored twice before the break and once in the 2nd-half to inflict the defeat on Newcastle, by a 3-1 away-night score.
The loss leaves Eddie’s men in 19th, with 10-points from the 17-fixtures completed.
Three points from safety, however, some of the teams around them, have played a game or two less. It’s fair to say that Newcastle are up against it and need some positive results over the next few weeks.
Again, as of publication this fixture at St James Park is still on but subject to change. In the words of Billy Joel,
Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, Kevin De Bruyne, Riyad Mahrez, Kevin De Bruyne’s back again, John Stones, Nathan Ake, City’s got a winning team.
The Etihad faithful (52,000), which is a surprise in itself, with it being a midweek fixture, saw their idols hammer Leeds United on Tuesday by a 7 (Seven)-0 scoreline.
The Magnificent 7 goals were scored by 6-different City players, with KDB notching twice. Who needs a Number 9?
Pep’s High Flying Blues sit proudly at the summit of the Premier League table, with 41-points from 17-fixtures. Like has been the case over the past few weeks, a point more than Liverpool and 2 ahead of Chelsea.
When John Stones plays, City Win To Nil. Rock and roller, cola wars, Leeds can’t take it anymore.
This was a Game Week-36 affair last season at St James Park, with Man City getting the victory from a very entertaining fixture that finished in a 3-4, away day scoreline. Yes, 3-4!
Emil Krafth, scored 1st for Newcastle, with Joao Cancelo and Ferran Torres replying for City.
Joelinton, equalised from the penalty spot, 6-minutes onto 1st-half stoppage time, to take both teams in level for the half-time cup of tea.
Newcastle were then awarded their own penalty that Joe Willock took. Joe initially missed the spot-kick, with Scott Carson, surprisingly in goal for Man City, saving the kick, however, the ball came back to Mr Willock, who converted the rebound.
Ferran Torres then scored twice to give Pep’s Blues the lead and also complete a superb hat-trick. A very entertaining, Friday Night of football, finishing in a 7-goal thriller. There may be 7-goals again today, another magnificent haul for City.
888 Sport offer Newcastle at 55/4, the draw at 59/10 and Odds On 3/17 for Man City to come away with all 3-points.
888 Sport offer 7/1 that Raheem Sterling Scores Two Plus Goals and slight Odds On 17/20 that Man City Win To Nil.
TOTTENHAM v LIVERPOOL
16.30 in England.
Tottenham’s midweek fixture against Leicester was 1 of 3, to be postponed due to a Covid outbreak.
Spurs sit 7th in the table, with 25-points from 14-fixtures completed.
With the horrendous Coronavirus situation getting worse, it will have a greater impact on football going forward, with some teams playing catch-up on others, Tottenham now have 3-games to fit in.
Liverpool, without the services of Virgil Van Dijk, got a professional victory against Newcastle on Thursday, by a 3-1 scoreline.
With most predicting 5,6 or 7-Reds goals it was actually Newcastle who scored 1st, with the ex-Liverpool Midfielder, Jonjo Shelvey smashing the ball past Alisson.
Diogo Jota equalised the early Magpies notch before Mo Salah got his obligatory goal, the Egyptian Kings, 15th of the campaign. Diogo is 2nd on the goal scorer list with 9.
It was left to Trent Alexander Arnold to complete the scoring, hitting a superb strike past the Newcastle ‘keeper.
The win gives Jurgen’s Reds, 40-points, 1 adrift of Pep’s Blues but now 3 more than Thomas’s Engines, who surprisingly, could only manage a draw, against Everton, in their midweek fixture.
At the moment this fixture is still set for Sunday afternoon, however, could fall victim to the Coronavirus situation, before the weekend is upon everyone.
In last seasons fixture at the Chas and Dave Memorial Stadium, Jurgen’s Reds got the away-day victory over Dracula’s Spurs, by a 3-1 score.
Roberto Firmino scored on the stroke of half-time, to take Liverpool in, leading at the break.
Trent Alexander-Arnold added a 2nd, which was quickly followed by a Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg strike, all within 4-minutes of the restart.
Sadio Mane put the game to bed by scoring Liverpool’s 3rd, to give the Reds the 3-points. At the time, Mr Klopp’s team had gone 5-games without a victory, drawing 3 and losing 2.
Three points, from a possible 15, that put a big dent in the Reds hopes of holding on to the Premier League title. Man City played 6-fixtures in that period, winning all 6.
888 Sport offer Tottenham at 41/10, the draw at 33/10 and slight Odds On 4/7 for Liverpool to come away with all 3-points.
888 Sport offer 3/1 that Mo Salah Scores First and 5/4 that there are Under 2.5 Goals.
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