Jamie Vardy’s goal drought continues, although only the post denied him against Manchester City at the weekend. The 33 year-old always silences his doubters in the end and hapless Norwich’s attacking style should provide him with plenty of opportunities, on the break, when Leicester visit East Anglia on Friday. The Canaries already look relegated, but always appear to have a genuine attacking threat when going forward. John Newsome looks ahead to this match and all of the others in game-week 28. You can view all previous analysis from John’s regular column here: English Premier League Predictions For Saturday
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NORWICH v LEICESTER
Friday Night Football live on Sky Sports.
This opening Game Week Twenty-Eight fixture kicks-off at 20.00 PM in England.
This is a shortened Premier League week of games, due to Man City and Aston Villa taking part in the Carabao Cup.
So their opponents Arsenal and Sheffield United have a weekend off.
Norwich remain rooted to the foot of the Premier League table following yet another defeat on Sunday.
Daniel Farke’s boys suffered a 3-0 defeat away at Molineux against a very good Wolves team that were unrelenting in the way they ate up the little Canaries.
Norwich have only accrued 18-points from their 27-Premier League games and are 7-points from safety.
The realism of relegation is beginning to dawn on the Carrow Rd faithful who look like they will be heading back to the Championship after this 1-year stint at the top table.
If or when the inevitable happens, it’s hoped that the hierarchy stick with Daniel as the German is a charismatic character and has the tools to get Norwich back up if the stars in the team are not sold off for mega-bucks.
Leicester will feel slightly aggrieved following the 1-0 defeat against Man City in the late Saturday Afternoon kickoff and Brendan will direct his frustration straight at the dreaded VAR.
At one end of the pitch, in the 1st-half, the Foxes were denied a penalty when the ball appeared to have struck the arm of Kevin De Bruyne.
VAR didn’t want to get involved in that particular instance, however, at the other end in the 2nd-half, the ball clearly struck the arm of Denis Praet which resulted in VAR informing the on-field referee, Paul Tierney that he should award a penalty.
Despite the controversy, Kasper Schmeichel did actually save the penalty so, in truth, no real harm done.
Leicester did concede later to ultimately lose the game 1-0 and remain 3rd-in the Premier League with 50-points, 7-points less than City but importantly, 6-points more than Chelsea and the chasing pack.
Whilst Brendan was directing his anger towards the dreaded, in reality, the Foxes did have chances to score and the usually reliable Jamie Vardy actually thought he’d done just that in the 1st-half but Jamie’s strike hit the City post and came out.
Leicester should fancy their chances in this fixture to get back to winning ways.
At the King Power in mid-December, Norwich came away with a point following a 1-1 draw.
Teemu Pukki scored 1st for the Canaries but a misjudged attempt at a save resulted in Norwich’s ‘keeper Tim Krull turning the ball into his own net.
Both goals in the 1st-half.
Betway offer Norwich at 16/5, the Draw at 3/1 and slight Odds On 31/40 for Leicester to come away with all 3-points.
Betway offer 11/8 that Teemu Pukki Scores Anytime and 14/5 that Jamie Vardy Scores First.
Away Win 1-3
BRIGHTON v CRYSTAL PALACE
Early Saturday Afternoon Football live on BT Sport, kicking-off at 12.30 PM in England.
The Seagulls v The Eagles, in what’s commonly known as the M23 Derby.
Brighton played out their 4th-draw in the past 5-Premier League games on Saturday, getting a well-earned point from their long travel up North to Sheffield.
Neal Maupay equalised an earlier Blades goal to take both teams in level at the break.
With no other goals in the 2nd-half, the Seagulls came away from Bramall Lane with their 3rd, 1-1 scoreline out of the 4-draws.
The point gained leaves, Brighton, with 28, sitting just outside the relegation places and 5-points less than today’s opponents.
Crystal Palace earned 3-valuable points in their 1-0 victory against Newcastle on Saturday in what most will say was not the best of entertaining games.
Patrick Van Aarnholt with the solitary goal just before the half-time whistle.
Palace were awarded a free-kick just outside the area which Patrick despatched superbly to take Roy’s Boys in at the break in front.
With not much action in the 2nd-half, other than Wilfried Zaha getting pulled down at the end resulting in a Newcastle sending off the game fizzled out with Palace getting the victory.
It’s rumoured Roy Hodgson has been offered a new contract extension and is considering signing.
Roy will be 73-years old, come the start of next season and despite Roy’s England debacle, should be afforded tremendous respect for the contribution he has made in the game.
Whilst Palace may not be the most exciting of teams, the Eagle Ultras antics being sometimes more enjoyable than the players, with Roy at the helm, Crystal Palace won’t be relegated, which is probably what the owners rely on.
Palace have 33-points and sit just below mid-table in the Premier League and whilst not the highest of positions and points gain, is only 6-points less than Tottenham who lie in the Europa League place.
Both shared the points when these teams met at Selhurst Park back in mid-December.
After a goalless 1st-half, Neal Maupay put Brighton ahead early after the restart.
Wilfried Zaha equalised for the Eagles and the game finished in a 1-1 scoreline.
Betway offer Brighton at 21/20, the Draw at 11/5 and 3/1 for Crystal Palace to come away with all 3-points.
Betway offer 15/8 that there are Under 1.5 Goals and 7/1 for a 0-0 Scoreline.
NEWCASTLE v BURNLEY
The 1st of 3, 15.00 PM kick-offs in England.
Newcastle suffered a 1-0 defeat against Crystal Palace on Saturday, the 2nd-successive loss in the Capital for Steve Bruce’s boys, following last weeks 4-0 defeat against Arsenal.
The Magpies have accrued 31-points and will feel that the usual 40-point safety mark is reachable and that there are 3-worse teams than them.
However, Steve Bruce just needs not to get complacent and keep one eye on the teams below.
The Clarets will be a tough ask but after back-to-back visits to London, Big Brucey’s boys are back at St James Park and will want to put on a show for the excellent Toon Army.
Newcastle will be without the services of new January signing and superbly named Valentino Lazaro.
Big Val did almost complete his 1st, 90-minutes for his new side but unfortunately, with time running out, decided to bring Wilfried Zaha down when Big Wilf easily went passed the new boy, resulting in a slightly earlier bath than his teammates.
Steve has a lot of players missing and another January signing, Danny Rose was taken off midway through the 2nd-half, hopefully, just a tactical decision as Danny has found life in a Newcastle shirt, a bit tough at the start but is a good player and the old adage ‘form is temporary, class is permanent’ should come through for Danny.
From the last few games, it appears that Newcastle’s main struggle is scoring goal, failing to score in the last 3-Premier League outings.
Joelinton has only managed 1-goal in his time at Newcastle, which, for a man who cost £40 Million, is simply not good enough, despite Big Brucey sticking up for him.
Of cause Steve has to say positive stuff about his player, however, a little bit of honesty wouldn’t go amiss sometimes and a bit of a verbal kick up the backside from the gaffer might kick-start Joelines career.
Burnley are the current form team along with Liverpool with the Clarets last 5-Premier League games yielding 13-points.
The latest being a comfortable, if not controversial, 3-0 victory against Bournemouth where the dreaded VAR got busy again.
Bournemouth scored a perfectly good goal that no one, the players on and off the pitch, the management and even the watching fans had a problem with, yet bizarrely, VAR got involved and deemed the Cherries midfielder Philip Billing had touched the ball with his arm in the build-up.
From the many replays and different angles, it still wasn’t clear whether it did strike Phil’s arm but VAR, who must have been bored and were rumoured to be watching the ITV Racing, informed the on-field referee Mike Dean that the goal should be ruled out.
In a conversation later, VAR were heard saying that they had placed a bet on a horse in the 3.15 at Ascot called ‘Cherry Bakewell’ that had lost and were so annoyed, ruled out the Cherries goal.
After a goalless 1st-half, Matej Vydra scored his 2nd-goal in successive weeks, justifying Sean Dyche’s decision to start Matej, with the Clarets 1st-goal.
Minutes later VAR then awarded Burnley a penalty for another handball.
Ridiculously though, the decision was given after Bournemouth had gone up the other end and scored, what they thought, was an equaliser.
Burnley didn’t care and Jay Rodriguez converted the penalty.
Dwight McNeil put the game to bed late on scoring a superb individual goal to give the Clarets a 4th-victory from 5-games, the other being a 1-1 draw against Arsenal.
Burnley jump up to 9th-position in the Premier League table, with 37-points.
When these teams met at Turf Moor in December, Chris Wood got the solitary goal early in the 2nd-half to give Sean’s Clarets a great 1-0 victory over Steve’s Magpies.
Betway offer Newcastle at 8/5, the Draw at 2/1 and 2/1 for Burnley to come away with all 3-points.
Betway offer 13/10 that there are Over 2.5 Goals and 9/4 that Matej Vydra Scores Anytime.
Away Win 0-3
BOURNEMOUTH v CHELSEA
A 15.00 PM kick-off in England.
Bournemouth were the unfortunate victims, if that’s not too strong a word, of the dreaded VAR on Saturday, at Turf Moor with some ridiculous decisions coming from Stockley Park.
After an initial goal from Josh King was ruled out for an apparent handball by Philip Billing, another goal from Harry Wilson was chalked off when it looked like Adam Smith had handled the ball in his own area.
The play was brought all the way back and a penalty was given against the Cherries.
Burnley were already leading 1-0, so after thinking Bournemouth had equalised, within minutes, Eddie and the Cherries were losing 2-0 after the Clarets dispatched the spot-kick.
Both incidents were debatable especially, the Billing one as the ball hit his shoulder, no Burnley player argued that he had hand-balled it and no Burnley fans behind the goal were complaining, everyone just assumed it was a goal.
VAR was brought in to clear up errors and help the on-field referee, not to get busy and rule out perfectly legitimate goals.
The 2nd-incident could be argued more in that the ball did touch Adam Smith’s arm, however, Mike Dean played on and with Bournemouth breaking away and scoring it did look harsh to cancel the goal and award Burnley a penalty.
Burnley scored a 3rd-later to ultimately inflict a 3-0 defeat on Bournemouth, leaving the Cherries with 26-points, just 2-more than West Ham who occupy the 3rd-relegation place.
Eddie is not panicking just yet and has a group of players that should be good enough to stay up, however, Big Eddie just needs to get a result after 2-successive defeats, both notably away from the Vitality, so it will be good to get back home.
Frank Lampard’s Chelsea got the better of Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham in the early Saturday Afternoon kickoff at Stamford Bridge last time out.
After not starting for quite a while, Olivier Giroud got the nod from Frank to start and rewarded the gaffer by starring in the 2-1 victory, even getting the opening goal.
Marcos Alonso made it 2-0 in the 2nd-half with a superb strike.
A late consolation goal for Tottenham which was credited to the Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger did give the Blues faithful a nervy final few minutes but ultimately Chelsea held on for a famous victory over ex-boss Jose Mourinho.
The dreaded VAR were once again involved in an incident which should have seen Tottenham’s Giovani Lo Celso sent off for a horror challenge on Cesar Aspilicueta. The dreaded decided that this was an accident and informed the on-field referee, Michael Oliver that no Red Card should be shown.
What was further remarkable and just continued to make a mockery of the decision was that the bosses of the referee’s, the PGMOL (Professional Game Match Officials Limited) changed their minds about the decision made by the VAR and said that this was a human error.
A human error! which is basically what the VAR was brought in to eradicate.
What’s a bugbear for many and most is the on-field referee still refuses to look at the pitch-side monitor.
This is simply baffling and does not make sense.
The monitors are there, the referee is metres away and just needs to look with his own eyes.
If Michael Oliver, who, bearing in mind that he was lauded earlier in the year when he went over to the monitor in an FA Cup game, had checked the Lo Celso challenge himself, there would not be any controversy if he sent Giovani off.
For that matter, if Michael had not sent Giovani off, then although controversial, it would be his decision and not a guy in an industrial unit, miles away.
Top and bottom of the situation is VAR needs sorting.
The victory for Chelsea keeps them in 4th-place in the Premier League, with 44-points, 3-points above Manchester United and 4-more than Tottenham.
Frank Lampard’s Chelsea will have entertained Bayern Munich in the 1st-leg of their Champions League knock-out game, which takes place on the Tuesday prior to this fixture.
At Stamford Bridge back in mid-December, a solitary Dan Gosling goal late in the game gave a struggling Bournemouth side a surprise 1-0 victory over the Blues.
Betway offer Bournemouth at 15/4, the Draw at 11/4 and slight Odds On 3/4 for Chelsea to come away with all 3-points.
Betway offer 7/2 that Josh King Scores Anytime and 7/2 that Olivier Giroud Scores First.
Away Win 1-3
WEST HAM v SOUTHAMPTON
The final 15.00 PM kick-off in England.
West Ham put up a spirited fight at Anfield on Monday, even taking the lead in the game against Liverpool, however a couple of bad mistakes by Lukasz Fabianski ultimately lead to another defeat.
After falling behind early on in the game, Issa Diop equalised to take the teams in level at half-time.
Pablo Fornals gave the Hammers the lead after the break.
Then followed a couple of bizarre unlucky moments for the Bubbles faithful.
A speculative shot from Mo Salah looked to be no trouble for Lukasz but a lack of concentration resulted in the Polish ‘keeper letting the ball through his arms and legs and into the back of the net ultimately gifting a Reds equaliser.
A few minutes later a deflected shot looped over Fabianski into the path of the Liverpool forward to tap home.
The game finished in a 3-2 defeat for David Moyes that keeps his side in the bottom three of Premier League table.
Maybe the positive that can be taken from the defeat is that West Ham did put up a fight against the Champions elect and should have the confidence to take into the next few games.
Southampton got a great 2-0 victory against Aston Villa on Saturday with goals from Shane Long and Stuart Armstrong at either end of the game-sealing the win.
Shane got the 1st goal early in the 1st-half but with time running out, Villa got a corner and using a poker term, went ‘all in’ with Pepe Reina going up to add extra height to the attack to try and get an equaliser.
Fortunately for the Saints, the ball eventually broke to Stuart and with Poor Pepe treading water, trying to get back into his goal, Stu calmly finished making the game safe.
The much-needed 3-points came after 2-successive Premier League defeats, as well as an FA Cup loss, in between, giving Ralph Hasenhuttl’s team 34-points for the season so far, which is 9-points above the relegation zone.
There are rumours that Wreck-It Ralph is going to be offered a new 3-year contract, once the Saints are mathematically safe.
When these 2-teams met in December at St Mary’s, a single Sebastian Haller goal, gave West Ham a much needed 1-0 victory.
West Ham, by the way, were still under the guidance of Manuel Pellegrini who lasted a further 2-games after that at St Mary’s before David Moyes took over on New Years Day.
Betway offer West Ham at 13/8, the Draw at 5/2 and 8/5 for Southampton to come away with all 3-points.
Betway offer 7/2 that Mark Noble Scores Anytime and 14/5 that Danny Ings Scores First.
WATFORD v LIVERPOOL
Late Saturday Afternoon Football live on Sky Sports, with this game kicking-off in England at 17.30 PM.
Watford remain in the relegation places following Sunday’s 3-0 defeat against Manchester at Old Trafford.
After a great start to Nigel Pearson’s reign at Vicarage Rd, the Hornets have gone 5-Premier League game’s without a victory and with 24-points are in the drop-zone, however, only a point from safety so all is not lost.
The problem now for Nigel is Jurgen’s Reds are the visitors.
Liverpool could quite consider themselves extremely lucky to continue their unbeaten streak at Anfield on Monday night after a narrow 3-2 victory against West Ham.
Georginio Wijnaldum opened the scoring for the Reds after just 9-minutes.
West Ham were quickly back on level terms and with no further goals in the 1st-half, both teams went in level at the break.
West Ham then took the lead to bring a bit of excitement to the proceedings as Liverpool have very rarely looked troubled at home this term.
A speculative shot from Mo Salah seemed to be going straight into the arms of the Hammers ‘keeper who somehow inexplicably let the ball go through his legs into the goal.
The final 15-minutes resulted in an onslaught from the Reds and the dominance paid off following another stroke of luck that saw the ball loop over the defence into the path of Sadio Mane to tap home the winner for Liverpool and keep them on course to remain unbeaten throughout the season.
With 26-victories from 27-games, the other being a draw against Manchester United, it leaves Jurgen’s Reds with 79-points, 22-points more than Man City and 11-points from the magical points tally that will confirm their 1st-Premier League title and the Reds 1st-top-flight title in 30-years.
This reverse fixture at Anfield back in December was Nigel Pearson’s first game at the Watford helm.
Mo Salah scored 2-goals, one in each half, to give Liverpool a 2-0 victory.
Betway offer Watford at 11/2, the Draw at 15/4 and Odds On 9/20 for Liverpool to come away with all 3-points.
Betway offer 6/5 that Sadio Mane Scores Anytime and 7/5 that Liverpool Win To Nil.
Away Win 0-2
TOTTENHAM v WOLVES
Sunday Afternoon Football kicking-off at 14.00 PM, however, not a live TV game in England.
Jose Mourinho headed back to Stamford Bridge last Saturday and came away with his Dracula tail between his legs following a 2-1 defeat against his old club Chelsea.
The apprentice tamed the master with Jose’s protege Frank Lampard getting the better of his old boss.
After trailing 2-0 and with time running out, and inspired substitution from Jose, well that’s what he reckons, when Mr M brought on Erik Lamela midway through the 2nd-half, lead to Spurs pulling a goal back.
Erik went on a mazy run and his cross come shot was deflected into the Chelsea goal to give the travelling Lilywhites hopes of a comeback.
Not to be, as time ran out, with the defeat meaning Tottenham couldn’t close the gap on the Blues and lost a place in the Premier League table with Manchester United’s subsequent victory the next day.
Tottenham have 40-points, 4-behind Chelsea in 4th-place and 1-behind United.
There are rumours circulating that Dracula Jose is up to his old tricks and is starting to suck the life out of the Tottenham players which happened at his spell at Old Trafford.
To be fair to Jose, his Spurs team are lacking a cutting-edge after the loss of Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min and with Dele Alli having an indifferent spell, who just appears to be lacking confidence (Jose!) Tottenham and Jose could find the run in an arduous one.
Wolves beat struggling Norwich comfortably on Sunday getting a great 3-0 victory at Molineux.
It’s fair to say that Nuno’s Wolves simply devoured the little Canaries.
Diogo Jota scored 2-goals in the 1st-half-hour of the game, with Raul Jimenez adding the 3rd after the break.
The dreaded VAR tried to spoil the Gold and Black party but couldn’t find evidence of wrongdoing in the goals so had to resist in interfering.
Wolves will have been to Spain before this fixture in the 2nd-leg of their Europa League tie with Espanyol which they take into that game, a healthy 4-0 lead, so Nuno could realistically leave a few players at home, in preparation for this trip to the Chas and Dave Memorial Stadium.
Jose got the better of his fellow Portuguese counterpart Nuno when these 2-met at Molineux back in December.
Lucas Moura gave Tottenham a 1st-half lead.
Adama Traore levelled the scores midway through the 2nd-half and with 90-minutes up on the clock, it looked like the points would be shared, however, Jan Vertonghen scored in injury time to give Jose the Portuguese bragging rights.
Betway offer Tottenham at 11/8, the Draw at 11/5 and 11/5 for Wolves to come away with all 3-points.
Betway offer 15/4 that Erik Lamela Scores Anytime and 9/2 that Raul Jimenez Scores First.
Away Win 1-3
EVERTON v MANCHESTER UNITED
Early Sunday Afternoon Football live on Sky Sports.
Everton put up a decent fight at the Emirates on Sunday with Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison equalising 2-Arsenal goals to take both teams in level at the break.
Unfortunately, for the Toffees, the half-time strategy from Carlo Ancelotti went out of the window within seconds of the restart, when the Gunners got a 3rd-goal and ultimately the winner with Everton succumbing to a 3-2 defeat.
The loss leaves Everton with 36-points in 11th-position in the Premier League table, a point less than Arsenal but significantly 5-points less than today’s opponents.
There was a lot of Toffee Talk that Everton could gatecrash the European party but in truth, it is unlikely they will, considering the form of Wolves, Sheffield United, Tottenham and today’s opponents.
Manchester United recorded back-to-back Premier League victories on Sunday with a comfortable 3-0 win against Watford.
New boy Bruno Fernandes confidently converted a penalty just before the break, with a Jorginho style hop, skip and jump to send Ben Foster the wrong way.
Anthony Martial made it 2-0 after the break, with Mason Greenwood rounding off the scoring midway through the 2nd-half.
As well as back-to-back victories, there was also a draw thrown in, in between the 2-wins, resulting in 7-points from 9-available which is the 1st-time United have gone 3-games without a defeat this season.
A few months back, it was stated that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a number of phases to achieve, to get United back somewhere near the top table that they have been so accustomed too.
Phase-1 was signing a Centre Back and a Right Back plus an attacking threat as well as getting rid of a couple or three bad eggs who were not conducive to United’s progression.
All happened up to January.
Phase-2 was getting in a player who will enhance the quality already at Old Trafford.
Phase-3 is to progress in the Premier League table to get as high as possible, maybe win the FA Cup and go as far as possible in the Europa League potentially winning the competition to get into next season’s Champions League if not via the league position.
Phase-4 is in the future, this summers Transfer window, where Ole needs at least 3, if not 4-quality new signings to give them a chance of closing the gap on Liverpool and Man City next season.
Easier said than done but Phases 1 and 2 are complete, Phase-3 is in progress and Phase-4 is on the horizon.
Jadon Sancho, Killian M’Bappe, Erling Braut Haaland are all potential signings for United, which would cost Millions but United have those Millions and Ole needs to spend to match Jurgen and Pep.
Jadon and Erling are both currently at Borussia Dortmund, with Erling only arriving at Dortmund in January this year.
Money talks and a couple of hundred Million pound or euros could easily see both Jadon and Erling depart for Manchester Airport.
That’s for the summer, for now, Ole will be hoping for a victory at Goodison Park where United, historically do well.
United will have played against Club Brugge in the home tie of the Europa League, currently, 1-1, so all to play for in that particular competition.
At Old Trafford back in December, stand in Toffees gaffer Duncan Ferguson masterminded a superb 1-1 draw after the departure of Marco Silva.
Victor Lindelof scored an own-goal to put Everton in front at the break.
Mason Greenwood levelled for United midway through the 2nd-half to give both teams a share of the points.
Betway offer Everton at 6/4, the Draw at 12/5 and 9/5 for Manchester United to come away with all 3-points.
Betway offer 12/5 that there are Over 3.5 Goals and 6/4 that Anthony Martial Scores Anytime.
Away Win 1-3