The highlight games for this week’s action are BURNLEY versus MANCHESTER UNITED and ARSENAL versus CRYSTAL PALACE. Our feature columnist, John Newsome previews these as well as all game-week 17 EPL 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.
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SHEFFIELD UNITED v NEWCASTLE
Early Tuesday night football with a start time of 18.00 in England live on Sky Sports.
These 6, midweek fixtures are a combination of 5, Game Week-18 affairs that have been unusually split into 2, sets of 5 and the re-arranged tie from Game Week-1, between Burnley and Manchester United that was postponed because of United’s unsuccessful venture into Europe last term.
At the start of this preview, Chris Wilder is still in residence at Bramall Lane, however, that could change, with rumours about that Happy Chris has walked away from his position.
It’s unlikely the heir-achy at Sheffield United would sack Chris as he’s the reason the club are in the Premier League but he will also be the reason that the Blades are relegated which looks a certainty now after 15-defeats from 17-fixtures. Usually, a team need 40-points to survive, 38, at least. United have 2!
Realistically, Happy Chris needs to achieve at least 9-victories from the remaining 21-games, with a few draws thrown in but unless Lionel and Cristiano fancy a new life in the Steel City, that’s unlikely to happen.
What the biggest surprise for the Blunt faithful is how much it has changed from last season when Sheffield United were the surprise packages from the promoted teams, with Norwich heading straight back to the Championship and Aston Villa, the 3rd of the 3-sides that came up in 2019, staying up by the skin of their Dodgy Del Boy watch, coincidentally with the ghost goal, not registering on Michael Oliver’s Goal Line Technology watch, being against Sheffield United.
When asked where James was going to watch the latest defeat against Crystal Palace, the little Swinton Blunt replied, ‘From behind the sofa!’
With EveryTip predicting an Eagles victory by a 2-0 scoreline, it wasn’t a surprise to see the final result being a 2-0 win for Roy’s Boys. The fixture wasn’t probably one of the hardest to predict.
Maybe the only surprise was, with both of Palace’s goals coming in the 1st-half, there weren’t any more after the break.
Since the result, speculation has grown that Chris Wilder has gone, however, for the time being, Happy Boy is still the boss of Sheffield United.
Before this fixture against Newcastle, the Blades take on Bristol Rovers in the FA Cup, which could give them a chance to get a victory but a defeat may just set in motion, the procedure, for Mr Wilder to clear his desk and start heading towards the Job Centre.
Newcastle themselves suffered a defeat in Game Week-17, succumbing to a 2-1 loss against Leicester at the King Power Stadium on Sunday.
After a goalless 1st-half, the Magpies conceded 2-goals that prompted Steve Bruce to introduce Andy Carroll with 10-minutes remaining.
Big Andy promptly scored his 1st-Newcastle goal in 10-years, which in itself is a remarkable stat but when dissected, can offer up reasons. Andy left Newcastle in January 2011, to join Liverpool for a record fee of £35 Million.
The Big Fella then rejoined the Black and Whites in August 2019, so the ‘10-year’ stat is diluted somewhat with 8 of those 10-years away from St James Park.
Since August 2019, Andy has only played 28-times, with most being as a substitute, so although the stat, that says the first goal in 10-years, is correct, it proves that stats can be used to make a story sound better.
In truth, Andy should be playing more, whether for Newcastle or West Brom, where it is possible that Mr Carroll could head, to join up with Sam Allardyce.
Steve Bruce and his boys head down to the Emirates, to take on Arsenal in the FA Cup, before this Premier League fixture, however, Newcastle don’t have a good record in that particular competition and the starting eleven may differ immensely from the eleven playing at Bramall Lane. Andy Carroll may just get a start in North London.
The Toon Army headed for a Thursday night out in Sheffield, back in December 2019, a long time before the Coronavirus had introduced itself and saw their beloved Magpies get a great 2-0 away-day victory.
Allan Saint-Maximin and Jonjo Shelvey scored either side of the break to give ex-Sheffield United and Wednesday boss Brucey a win against Chris Wilder, who wasn’t happy. Little James wasn’t happy either.
Jim was at first, not bothered about the Coronavirus, because, as he says, if he can’t pronounce Coronavirus or spell it, it’s not real and James struggles to spell VAR and confuses that with RAV, so he’s no chance with Coronavirus. It’s a good job he doesn’t work on Toyota’s.
When asked about the Coronavirus outbreak, Jim went out and bought a load of limes for some reason, bless him.
Bet 365 offer Sheffield United at 7/5, the draw at 11/5 and 21/10 for Newcastle to come away with all 3-points.
Bet 365 offer 15/8 that Callum Wilson Scores Anytime and 15/4 that Newcastle Win To Nil.
Game Week-1 (Concludes)
BURNLEY v MANCHESTER UNITED
This rearranged fixture kicks-off at 20.15 in England live on Sky Sports.
Burnley beat Sheffield United last time out, by a 1-0 scoreline, Ben Mee with the solitary winning goal.
That was last year (technically a week ago but still last year!) as the Clarets New Year’s fixture against Fulham was postponed due to an outbreak of the Coronavirus that has cancelled the last 2-Fulham fixtures.
Sean Dyche’s boys have 16-points but significantly from only 15-fixtures whereas the majority of others have played 17. Fulham have only played 15-times too, so with 11-points, their position in the drop-zone could appear false.
Burnley have to play both United and Liverpool in two of the next 3-fixtures so will have a say on who finishes January, top of the pile. Sean’s men host MK Dons in the FA Cup before this fixture.
Imagine this scenario, Manchester United beat Burnley at Turf Moor and go top of the Premier League table for the first time since Sir Alex left in 2013. That scenario will come true if Ole’s Wheels do in fact get the victory against Sean’s Clarets.
The Old Trafford faithful, both cardboard and real will be virtual dancing in the streets of London hoping they get to see the champions-elect before the end of the season.
Whilst it is, at the minute, just a scenario, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is probably in the best possible position for a long time. That said, Brendan Rodgers, Ralph Hasenhuttl, Carlo Ancelotti and of cause Dracula, are in the same position as Ole, with Liverpool wavering and Chelsea stood still.
Pep’s High Flying City look the ones to be the favourites and to use a horse racing analogy, are comfortable on the bridle at the moment, just sitting in the slipstream of Liverpool, United and the rest.
Liverpool will always be a force at Anfield, yet the away form may just be Jurgen’s downfall, which leaves the door open for Ole and the others.
It’s been a regular narrative of this column over this season that OGS won’t win anything if he continues to pick Fred and Scott McTominay.
Whilst that may not be an exact rule of thumb, admittedly Fred and Scott were in the team that beat Aston Villa last time out, Ole left them out of the victory against Wolves, included the two in the draw against Leicester and left them out of the Carabao Cup victory against Everton.
OGS then reverted to type and instead of picking the same eleven that beat Everton in the Quarter-Final, picked Fred and Scott, who were none existent in the defeat against the Noisy Neighbours.
This is not to try and prove a point, every Manchester United fan wants to see United victorious whether Fred and Scott are playing or not, however, it’s just an observation that the Zebra Devil’s appear to be stronger without Fred or Scott or if only one from the two is selected.
If this column is proven wrong and United win games regularly with Fred and Scott sat in midfield, then no one more will be happier.
Only time, team-sheets and the final results will tell whether Ole gets it right but the facts don’t lie, United are better without Fred and Scott and John Newsome will stick to his belief that Ole won’t win anything if Fred and Scott McTominay are in the starting eleven. Watch this space or better still read this EveryTip column.
Against Aston Villa, it was a suggestion that Anthony Martial had a quiet game, whether that’s true or not, doesn’t alter the fact that Big Tony Marshall scored United’s opener in the 40th-minute, to settle the cardboard nerves.
Villa equalised on the hour-mark but within a couple of minutes, Ole’s Wheels were awarded a penalty following a challenge on Paul Pogba.
The so-called pundit’s verdict was Double P went down to easy, maybe, maybe not but the dreaded VAR did have the chance to overturn the penalty, yet stuck with the on-field referee, Michael Oliver’s decision.
When United are awarded a penalty (quite regularly!) and Bruno Fernandes is about, it usually results in a goal, that’s why it’s always worth a pound on Bruno scoring anytime.
United held on for the victory against Villa by a 2-1 scoreline that elevated them up to 2nd in the table, with the same 33-points as Liverpool, knowing that after all the Game Week-17 fixtures were played, Liverpool would probably be 3-points ahead but United would have a game in hand.
With Liverpool’s subsequent defeat on Monday Night Football against Southampton, both Liverpool and Manchester United have 33-points but significantly Ole’s Elephants have this game against Burnley, in hand to give them the chance to go clear at the summit of the Premier League table.
What could be the cherry, on the icing, on top of the cake, is Ole takes on Jurgen at Anfield after this fixture.
Whilst the game is at Anfield and Liverpool seldom lose at home, United will go all out to change that and at worse come away with a draw to remain at the top.
After that, it’s anyone of Ole, Jurgen, Pep, Ralph, Carlo and Jose that could be lifting the trophy come May. Frank maybe will be down the concrete by then. If Fred and Scott play at Anfield, United won’t win! Manchester United entertain Watford in the 3rd-Round of the FA Cup.
United comfortably beat a struggling Clarets, post-Christmas 2019, at Turf Moor, with goals from two of the three Triple Ms (Marcus, Mason and Martial). Anthony Martial opened the scoring just before the half-time whistle.
United left it late to seal the 2-0 victory with Marcus Rashford getting the 2nd in the 95th-minute, to keep Ole’s Wheels on track.
Coincidentally, Burnley went to Old Trafford, just 4-weeks after the game at Turf Moor and beat Ole’s Wheels by the same 2-0 away-day scoreline.
Just over 12-months later, not much has changed, however, Burnley are under new ownership, so Sean will be looking for a few bob for new signings, with Lionel Messi rumoured to be looking at 3-Bedroom Terraces in the Lancashire town.
Bet 365 offer Burnley at 6/1, the draw at 7/2 and slight Odds On 4/9 for Manchester United to come away with all 3-points.
Bet 365 offer 11/10 that Bruno Fernandes Scores Anytime and 6/5 that Manchester United Score in Both Halves.
WOLVES v EVERTON
Another 20.15 kick-off in England live on Sky Sports too. Wolves played in the most entertaining game of the New Year coming away from the Amex with a point following a draw from a 3-3 scoreline.
Brighton took the lead early in the tie but goals from Romain Saiss, Ruben Neves and a Seagulls O-G, gave Nuno’s Gold and Blacks a half-time lead.
The bad dog walker was on show on the South Coast with Wolves, unable to hold onto the lead, when Brighton scored twice to give both teams a share of the points from the 3-3 draw.
Nuno’s men sit 13th in the table with 22-points, 7-adrift of today’s opponents.
Wolves have only accrued 9-points from a possible 30, which, for a team that are lauded for their style of play and brilliant players, isn’t really good enough, so Nuno Espírito Santo needs to get back to winning ways.
Wolves host fellow Premier League outfit Crystal Palace in the FA Cup this weekend which will probably see numerous changes from the usual eleven on show from each team.
The Toffees ruined everyone’s New Year’s Day Accas by allowing, through sentiment, old boss David Moyes to get a victory by a 1-0 scoreline.
With the game against West Ham entering the final 5-minutes and both teams looking to go home with a point, Everton conceded a late goal to ultimately lose the game against Moyes Hammers.
Cenk Tosun got another 12-minutes of action after being introduced back to his Goodison Park mates following a loan move to Crystal Palace and a few months on the sickbed. Cenk came on for Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who is struggling in front of goal. It’s now 7-games since the Sheffield Superstar 2, has notched.
Carlo will be wanting his main striker to get back to scoring ways pretty soon as he, more than anyone, will know that this year’s title is up for grabs.
Although the Toffees lie 7th in the table, Carlo’s Blues do have 29-points, just 4, behind Liverpool and Manchester United, with Everton having a game in hand over 3 of the 6 teams above them. Everton host Rotherham in the FA Cup before this trip to the Midlands.
This fixture last season was a post-lockdown affair taking place in an empty Molineux, with Wolves getting a comfortable victory by a 3-0 scoreline. Raul Jimenez scored just before the break to take Nuno’s men in leading.
Leander Dendoncker then added a 2nd within minutes of the restart before Diogo Jota rounded off the scoring late on in proceedings.
Bet 365 offer Wolves at 29/20, the draw at 11/5 and 2/1 for Wolves to come away with all 3-points.
Bet 365 offer 5/1 that Dominic Calvert-Lewin Scores First and 10/3 that there are Over 3.5 Goals.
MAN CITY v BRIGHTON
Late Wednesday afternoon football with an 18.00 kick-off in England live on BT Sport.
Man City are slowly going about their business after a slow start to the 2020/21 Premier League season.
In all competitions, Pep’s Blues are unbeaten in 12-games, the latest being a comfortable victory over the Numpty Neighbours in the Carabao Cup Semi-Final.
In the previous Premier League fixture, what looked like a tricky tie, down at Stamford Bridge, turned out to be a stroll in the park, with City gaining a professional victory by a 3-1 scoreline.
The most annoying thing that happened is Man City conceded a goal in the 92nd-minute when bets were placed that City would Win To Nil.
Goals from Ilkay Gundogan, Phil Foden and Kevin De Bruyne gave Pep’s High Flying City a 3-0 advantage at the break.
With the game entering injury time, it looked like it would be another clean sheet when John Stones is chosen in the starting eleven. Unfortunately, that record went when Chelsea scored a late consolation.
John was in the eleven against Manchester United on Wednesday and didn’t concede, even scoring a rare goal himself. That’s 9 of the past 10-fixtures that City haven’t conceded when Johnny Boy starts. Keep an eye out for the team sheet then place a cheeky bet that City Win to Nil if the Barnsley Stone starts.
Man City are currently 5th in the table with 29-points, 4-behind Liverpool and Manchester United but significantly having only played 15-times, 1-less than United and 2-less than Jurgen’s Reds.
This fixture kicks off a day after United’s game against Burnley, so a victory for Ole’s Wheels would leave Pep’s Blues 7-points behind United but with 2-games in hand, which they have on Liverpool who don’t play in Game Week-18 until the following week, strangely, after their Game Week-19 encounter.
Man City entertain Birmingham at the Etihad in the FA Cup that could see a few new and old faces take the field in Pep’s starting eleven.
Brighton are the draw specialists at the minute, achieving a point in 5 of their last 8, fixtures, the other 3, being defeats and have not gained a victory since late November 2020 against Aston Villa. Ironically, 2 of the draws were against the top side Liverpool and the bottom team Sheffield United.
The New Year’s fixture was probably the game of the weekend with the Seagulls coming back from being 3-1 down against Wolves, scoring twice to earn a point from a 3-3 scoreline.
Arron Connolly scored first to give Graham Potter’s boys an early lead. Wolves then scored 3-times to put them in front at the break. The unfortunate Seagulls defender, Dan Burn scored one of the goals, then gave away a penalty, that helped the Gold and Blacks take the half-time honours. Neal Maupay and Lewis Dunk scored for Harry’s men in the 2nd-half to gain a point from a very entertaining 3-3 draw.
Although a point gained, Brighton do sit in a precarious position at the minute, in 17th-place in the table with 14-points, 3-more than Fulham who are in the final relegation spot but have only played 15-fixtures, 2-less than the Seagulls.
So Fulham will feel it’s them who are in prime position to get out of the drop-zone and see Brighton replace them. Graham needs to see his boys convert those draws into victories, easier said than done but it is as simple as that.
The Seagulls head to Wales to take on Newport in the weekend’s FA Cup 3rd-Round. The good thing about this seasons FA Cup is that the ties have to finish on the day and no replays. Whilst a few moan about that, it is the way forward. Get it out of the way in one day!
Last season’s fixture at the Etihad in late August 2019, a long time before the Coronavirus had spoilt fun, Man City got a brilliant 4-0 home victory against the travelling Seagulls. Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero scored to give City a 2-0 lead at half-time.
Sergio added his 2nd and City’s 3rd after the break before the Bernardo of the Silva’s made it 4-0 with 10-minutes to go to give Pep’s Boys a Game Week-4 win, in front of just over 54,000 fans. Those were the days.
Bet 365 offer Man City at Odds On 2/11, the draw at 11/2 and 13/1 for Brighton to come away with all 3-points.
Bet 365 offer 3/1 that Raheem Sterling Scores First and 12/5 that City Score a Penalty.
ASTON VILLA v TOTTENHAM
Sky Sports are showing this late Wednesday game at Villa Park with a start time of 20.15 in England.
Aston Villa lost last time out, suffering a New Year’s Day defeat at Old Trafford by a 2-1 scoreline.
Dean Smith will feel a little aggrieved that Villa didn’t come away with at least a point after Bertrand Traore had equalised an earlier United opener.
Minutes after Bertrand’s goal, it was adjudged that Douglas Luiz had fouled Paul Pogba, resulting in a penalty, that was converted, leaving the Claret and Blues trailing.
The defeat leaves Villa, 8th in the table, with 26-points but Dean’s men have only played 15-fixtures due to a couple of postponements, so will feel the position is false, especially being 3-points adrift of today’s opponents who have played 2-games more.
A victory for Aston Villa will lift them above Jose’s Spurs and Dean’s Clarets will still have the 2-games extra to play.
Tottenham currently sit 4th in the Premier League with 29-points, the same 29 as Man City, Southampton and Everton, however, Dracula’s boys have a slightly superior goal difference on the others. Aston Villa take on Liverpool in the 3rd-Round of the FA Cup.
Spurs comfortably beat Leeds United in the New Year’s fixture with 1st-half goals from Harry Kane, via the penalty-spot and Son Heung-Min, plus a Toby Alderweireld strike after the break.
Dele Alli was on the bench but didn’t get his boots muddy with Dracula choosing not to give the lad any minutes.
With Jose sucking the life out of (insert name here-Joe Cole, Iker Casillas, Luke Shaw, Marcus Rashford, etc) now Dele and Mauricio Pochettino now in at Paris Saint Germain, Young Alli could just be booking a Euro-Star for a trip to the French Capital.
Tottenham beat Brentford in the Semi-Final of the Carabao Cup to set up a final against Man City, renewing the old La Liga rivalry between the ex-bosses of Real Madrid and Barcelona. Spurs take on Marine in the FA Cup, before this Premier League tie.
Marine are a team based in Merseyside and are in the 8th-tier of English football. A different set of Tiers, not to be mistaken with the Tiers/Tears set out by Boris Johnson.
The ex-Liverpool star Jamie Carragher has sponsored the Marine lads for this game which is a great gesture by the Sky Sports pundit. Last season’s fixture at the Chas and Dave Memorial Stadium was the opening day game of the protracted 2019/20 campaign.
For 70-minutes, in Aston Villa’s debut game in their return to the Top Flight, Dean Smith’s Villa were the better side with John McGinn getting the early goal to give Aston Villa the lead at the break.
Unfortunately, the unleaded ran out of the Villains tank on the 73rd-minute, when Tanguy Ndombele equalised for Spurs.
Harry Kane then scored twice to give Mauricio Pochettino’s boys a great 3-1 victory and an opening day defeat for the Claret and Blues.
Bet 365 offer Aston Villa at 13/8, the draw at 11/4 and 11/8 for Tottenham to come away with all 3-points.
Bet 365 offer 13/8 that Jack Grealish Scores Anytime and 4/1 that Harry Kane Scores First.
ARSENAL v CRYSTAL PALACE
A 20.00 kick-off in England live on Sky Sports, bringing to a close the first 5-fixtures of a split, Game Week-18.
After defeats against Burnley and Everton, plus a draw against Southampton, added to a Carabao Cup exit against Man City, Arsenal have now 3-Premier League victories in succession most noticeably against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Last time out, the Gunners comfortably beat West Brom by a 4-0 scoreline, in their New Year fixture. Kieran Tierney, who can only kick with his left-foot, opened the scoring with a superb strike from, surprisingly, his right-peg. Note to KT, start using the right-foot more!
Bukayo Saka added a 2nd before half-time that knocked the stuffing out of Big Sam’s Baggies in the snow of the Hawthorns.
Alexandre Lacazette then scored twice after the break to give Mikel Arteta his 3rd victory in a row and move his Gunners up to 11th in the table, with 23-points and more importantly, away from the relegation zone.
Bukayo Saka is fast becoming an important member of the Arsenal team and at 19-years old, has a great future ahead both for Man City and England.
Obviously, that’s just a bit of mischief but Arsenal do need to be careful as Bukayo will become a target for a lot of clubs. Arsenal entertain Newcastle in the FA Cup before this midweek London Derby.
Crystal Palace got probably the predicted result of the New Year by beating Sheffield United by a 2-0 scoreline has put in this EveryTip column last week. Some score-lines are quite difficult to foresee but the Eagles to beat the Blades was an easier one.
Jeffrey Schlupp scored after 4-minutes then, unfortunately, got himself injured and had to be replaced just before the half-time whistle.
Eberechi Eze came on for Big Jeff and made an instant impact running 70-yards past the laughable Blunt defenders who were like Moses parting sea, allowing Double E to casually pass the ball into the back of the Sheffield United net.
With no more goals after the break, Palace held on for the predicted victory. Roy’s Boys have 22-points from 17-fixtures and sit in 14th-place in the Premier League, just behind Wolves who have the same 22 and a point adrift of today’s hosts.
So a victory for either will see a significant move up the table. Palace head to Wolves in the weekend’s FA Cup tie where a few of the fringe players should get an outing.
When these two last met at the Emirates back in October 2019, Unai Emery was still at the Arsenal helm, overseeing a very entertaining 2-2 draw.
Sokratis and David Luiz had given Arsenal an early 2-0 lead before 10-minutes had been played. Unfortunately for the Gooners, the bad dog walker was in residence at the home of Arsenal.
Luka Milivojevic scored a penalty, as he always does, before half-time, with Jordan Ayew getting the equaliser after the break to give both teams a share of the points, in one of Unai’s final games in charge of the Gunners.
Bet 365 offer Arsenal at slight Odds On 1/2, the draw at 3/1 and 11/2 for Crystal Palace to come away with all 3-points.
Bet 365 offer 10/3 that Alexandre Lacazette Scores First and 4/1 that Luka Milivojevic Scores Anytime.