The previous weekend’s FA Cup games were an opportunity for managers to rest key players and John Newsome expects that many of the top stars will be back with a bang.
CHELSEA v LEICESTER
The Premier League returns after the weekends FA Cup games, with the teams who have won the last 2 Premiership titles paired together. Chelsea rested the majority of their players for that competition, so should be back to full strength with Morata and Hazard returning up front. Leicester did the same and both their FA Cup games finished 0-0. Chelsea played in what could well be the Premier League game of the season against Arsenal last time out and earned a point at the Emirates. Leicester will have Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez back and will come up against friends from their title-winning side in Ngolo Kante and Danny Drinkwater. That said, with Chelsea on a 6 game unbeaten run, they should be too strong for the Foxes and get all 3 points.
Home Win 3-1
CRYSTAL PALACE v BURNLEY
The common theme for most of these Premier League games is that the majority of the teams rested their players for the FA Cup so they all should be fresh. Crystal Palace have had all 3 results in their last 3 games, a loss against Arsenal, a draw against leaders Man City, plus a win against Southampton and are currently lying in the bottom half of the table amongst a group of teams just above the relegation places. Burnley are 7th at the moment but have not won in 5 so will see this game as one to try and get back to winning ways. However, Palace are resurgent at the minute and a draw is forecast.
HUDDERSFIELD v WEST HAM
Huddersfield lost away at Leicester on New Year’s day but are better at The John Smiths Stadium and are unbeaten here since losing to Chelsea in early December. West Ham are on the up under David Moyes and like Huddersfield are collecting the points to try and move away from the relegation places. They parked the proverbial bus against Tottenham last time out and gained a draw, but should be more adventurous against the Terriers. That said neither of the teams will want to lose.
NEWCASTLE v SWANSEA
Newcastle are amongst the group of teams hovering above the relegation places. They collected 7 valuable points over the Christmas period only losing to High Flying City which is no shame, but they have not won in front of their loyal fans since a 1-0 victory against Crystal Palace back in October. Rafa Benitez will want to spend in the transfer window and get players in to move away from the danger zone. Swansea are currently rock bottom of the Premier League and have appointed a manager who has no experience in this division. Carlos Cavalhal may be more useful at the Swans for when they are relegated to use his Championship experience – that’s for another day and although he has had a couple of weeks to work with the players, they will be without the influential Leroy Fer who was sent off in the FA Cup game. Newcastle should be too strong.
Home Win 3-1
WATFORD v SOUTHAMPTON
Both teams have hit a bit of a slump of late and will want to get back on track. Watford will have the services of Troy Deeney after his 4 game ban and they have missed him. He notched in the FA Cup and should start. Southampton are on a terrible run and are just outside the relegation places on goal difference. They have not won in 9 and unless they strengthen in the January transfer window, could get dragged into a relegation scrap.
Home Win 2-0
WEST BROM v BRIGHTON
West Brom are on the worst run of all the Premier League teams and have not won since August 2017 (they even lost against Stoke). The FA Cup brought welcome relief to their fans and they can use the confidence gained in that win, against Brighton. The away side have only won 1 out of the last 11 games but have collected points in a lot of drawn fixtures and this will be another tight affair with not many goals.
TOTTENHAM v EVERTON
An evening kick off in front of the BT Sports cameras – Tottenham and Harry Kane are in fine form at the moment and should be too strong for Everton. Kane scored another 2 goals in the FA Cup game and is on fire at the moment. Dele Alli is coming into form and this all bodes well for England and this summers World Cup. They have got used to playing at Wembley but it’s still a day out for the opposition and the Everton fans will want to make the most of their trip to the National Stadium. The Toffees have not won in 4 and have only managed one goal in those games, but this won’t be the one to get back to winning ways. The only saving grace for Everton is if Big Sam puts 11 men behind the ball and stifles Tottenham like David Moyes did with West Ham last time out.
Home Win 3-0
BOURNEMOUTH v ARSENAL
Bournemouth are another one of those teams hovering just above the relegation places, but they come off the back of a 3 game unbeaten run. Arsenal, as holders, were knocked out of the FA Cup on Sunday and won’t be happy. Arsene Wenger has to sit in the stands for this one, serving the 2nd of a 3 game touchline ban. Jack Wilshire has made his way back into the Arsenal starting 11, after some impressive displays of late. He had a loan spell at ‘the Cherries’ last season, but won’t do them any favours as he needs to impress to try and get back into the England set up for the World Cup.
Away Win 0-2
LIVERPOOL v MAN CITY
The 2nd of the Sunday games in front of the Sky Sports cameras and what a cracker of a game. This could be the match where Man City’s unbeaten run comes to an end as Liverpool will want to avenge the loss of the reverse fixture back in September. Liverpool were hammered that day 5-0 but were down to 10 men after Mane was sent off in the 37th minute, with the score at 1-0 so the final score may not have been a fair reflection of what would have happened. With Liverpool playing at Anfield they can cause an upset and beat Man City who are vulnerable at the back. Philip Coutinho has made his move to Barcelona and will be missed but if Salah is fit and alongside Firminho and Mane, Liverpool are in with a real shout. Gabriel Jesus is ruled out with a knee injury but there are others who can get the goals for the Citizens. However, this will be a high scoring win for the Reds.
Home Win 4-2
MAN UNITED v STOKE
Monday Night Football, again in front of the Sky Sports Cameras. Manchester United are a tricky side to predict of late. They have better players than most teams and a better squad but something is just not right at Old Trafford. Maybe there’s something going off behind the scenes which the fans don’t know about. Stoke have finally lost patience with ex-United star Mark Hughes and have sacked him. The problem for United now is the Stoke players will start to perform to try and impress the incoming new boss. That said, the Red Devils should still be too strong for Stoke and grab all 3 points.
Home Win 3-0
Contact John Newsome, with your own predictions, requests and feedback, at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org