Fulham, a club that will surely be plying its trade in the Championship again, next season, head over to the eastern side of London in the opening fixture of gameweek 27. John Newsome assesses their chances against West Ham and looks at the other 7 matches taking place. You can view all previous analysis from John’s regular column here: English Premier League Predictions For Saturday.
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WEST HAM v FULHAM
A very rare occurrence in the Premier League, not only is there one Friday Night game with this London Derby but also a second Friday Night game down in South Wales when Cardiff entertain Watford. The bonus for the 2 London clubs is they don’t have to travel far in the Friday evening rush hour traffic.
West Ham have drawn their last 2 games and have now not won a Premier League game in 4. Mark Noble scored a 1st-half penalty in the 1-1 draw against Crystal Palace prior to the FA Cup weekend and as they were unceremoniously dumped out of the FA Cup in the previous round, have had 2 weeks off so should be fresh for this Friday Night visit from their London rivals Fulham.
Fulham themselves were dumped out of the FA Cup in the 3rd Round, so have also enjoyed 2 weeks break since their 3-0 defeat against Manchester United. The Cottages are 2nd from Bottom of the Premier League 8 points from safety so a win is needed at the London Stadium if they have any chance of survival with games running out.
This reverse fixture back in December at Craven Cottage finished with an emphatic 2-0 victory for the Hammers. Robert Snodgrass and Michail Antonio got the Bubbles goals in the 1st-half giving them a great win against their London rivals.
Bet 365 offer West Ham at Odds On 9/10, the Draw at 11/4 and 13/5 for Fulham to come away with all 3 Friday Night points.
Bet 365 offer 12/5 that West Ham Win to Nil and 7/4 that West Ham Score in Both Halves.
Home Win 2-0
CARDIFF v WATFORD
The 2nd of the Friday Night Football and the Watford faithful have the arduous task of travelling to South Wales in the Friday Night traffic to take on the Bluebirds.
Cardiff played in an emotional game at St Mary’s last time out. Emiliano Sala will be finally laid to rest prior to this game against Watford. Rest In Peace Emiliano. Cardiff are out of the FA Cup so will be rested and fully recharged for the visit of the Hornets. Against Southampton, the Bluebird’s took the lead through Sol Bamba midway through the 2nd-half and looked like they were going to hang on for a great win until Southampton equalised in the 91st-minute. Neil’s boys weren’t finished and the Saints let their guard down thinking the game was over. Kenneth Zohore got the Bluebirds winner in the 93rd-minute given Neil and his boys a famous win taking them out of the relegation zone and above Southampton. While there are games left Cardiff will fight until the end to try and stay in the Premier League for another season which will ultimately be a fitting tribute to Emiliano Sala.
Watford beat Everton in the Marco Silva Derby prior to the FA Cup games which will definitely have pleased the Watford faithful. Andre Gray came on as a 2nd-half substitute and got the solitary goal in the 1-0 victory against a struggling Everton side. That took the Hornets 4 points ahead of the Toffees.
Watford progressed to the Quarter-Finals of the FA Cup and are one of the 6 Premier League teams left in the last 8 of that particular competition and with Cardiff already out of the FA Cup, Cardiff should come into this game fresher than Watford after a 2-week break.
This game back in December at Vicarage Rd finished 3-2 in favour of Watford. The surprise in that result was the Hornets were comfortably leading 3-0 with goals from Gerard Deulofeu, Jose Holebas and Domingos Quina. With 10 minutes left in the game, Cardiff staged a comeback with goals from Junior Hoilett and Bobby Reid but unfortunately, time ran out and Cardiff lost the game.
Bet 365 offer Cardiff at 2/1, the Draw at 11/5 and 11/8 for Watford to come away with all 3 Friday Night points.
Bet 365 offer Evens 1/1 that there are Over 2.5 Goals and 9/2 for Troy Deeney to Score the First Goal.
Away Win 1-2
BURNLEY v TOTTENHAM
Early Saturday afternoon kick-off live on Sky Sports.
Both teams were knocked out of the FA Cup in the 4th-Round so will be fresh for this fixture after the break. However, Tottenham, have played in the Champions League but will still have had a 10-day rest so both should be fit and firing and raring to go and there is a chance Harry Kane could make an appearance after injury.
Burnley got a great result on the South Coast against Brighton last time out prior to the FA Cup weekend. Chris Wood got a couple and an Ashley Barnes penalty gave the Clarets a comfortable 3-1 victory over the Seagulls. What was strange was Chris Wood had scored his 2 goals before the penalty but for whatever reason didn’t take the spot-kick to get his hat-trick. The Premier League have also got to have a look at themselves. The Burnley faithful had to endure a 600 mile round trip and over 10 hours of travelling there and back which for a Saturday afternoon 3.00 PM kickoff is bad enough in itself, but the Premier League decided to put the game on at 5.30 PM for TV commitments so it would have been way after midnight before the Clarets and their loyal fans arrived home. The win would have made the journey easier to take but the Premier League could do more to help considering that on the same day, Crystal Palace took on West Ham at 3.00 PM. Could they not have played in the 5.30 PM kickoff? Both in London and both would have been home just after the final whistle.
The same can be said for this early Saturday Afternoon kickoff. Tottenham and their faithful have to make the long journey North to get there for 12.30 PM. Admittedly it’s better to travel early on a Saturday than late but maybe the Premier League need to re-jig their fixtures and consider the fans. Tottenham beat Leicester prior to the FA Cup break 3-1. The scoreline looks as if Tottenham won convincingly but in truth, it was much trickier than the score suggests. Davinson Sanchez gave Spurs the lead going into the break. Christian Eriksen scored the 2nd for Tottenham but just prior to that goal, Leicester missed a penalty and a couple of clear cut chances. Leicester did eventually score to make it 2-1 before Son Heung-Min scored in the 91st-minute to give Tottenham all 3-points. Tottenham are outside contenders for the Premier League title but Man City and Liverpool would have to completely implode to gift Spurs the title, however, hats off to Mauricio Pochettino for consistently getting a performance out of his squad especially without Harry Kane and Dele Alli.
This reverse fixture back in December gave the Turf Moor faithful a nice day out at Wembley. The Clarets were holding on for a great point until Christian Eriksen scored a 91st-minute winner for Tottenham making the long trip back North an arduous one for the Clarets.
Bet 365 offer Burnley at 4/1, the Draw at 11/4 and Slight Odds On 2/3 for Tottenham to come away from Turf Moor with all 3 points.
Bet 365 offer 3/1 that Tottenham Score a Penalty and 40/1 that Burnley Miss a Penalty.
Away Win 0-2
BOURNEMOUTH v WOLVES
Bournemouth have lost their last 2 Premier League games after winning the previous 2. The 3-0 defeat at Anfield prior to the FA Cup weekend wasn’t too much of a surprise, as most teams lose against Liverpool and Bournemouth need to put that to bed and try and get back on track against a very good Wolves side.
Wolves were one of only 7 Premier League teams that played in last weekend’s FA Cup and are now one of the 6 Premier League teams left in that competition after only 1 of the Premier League teams were knocked out of the FA Cup over the weekend. With their League position safe, could be a great route to go down to try and get silverware.
Last time out in the Premier League they had to wait until the 95th-minute to score in the 1-1 draw against Newcastle. Big Willy Boly got the equaliser at Molineux to earn Wolves a point. There are 6-points separating The Cherries and The Gold and Blacks so Eddie knows a win will reduce the gap between the two clubs, however, Nuno will want to continue his great season and go all out for a great away win.
Back at Molineux in December, Wolves got the better of Bournemouth beating the Cherries 2-0. Raul Jimenez and Ivan Cavaleiro got the goals for the Gold and Blacks that day.
Bet 365 have this pretty even and offer Bournemouth at 17/10, the Draw at 9/4 and 8/5 for Wolves to come away with all 3 points.
Bet 365 offer 3/1 that there are Over 3.5 Goals and 9/4 Raul Jimenez Scores Anytime.
NEWCASTLE v HUDDERSFIELD
Newcastle were leading Wolves at Molineux last time out and were looking good for all 3-points until Wolves got a very late equaliser. Isaac Hayden was the Magpies scorer against Wolves. New signing Miguel Almiron came on in the 2nd-half and got 19-minutes under his belt which will please the Toon Army. Over the FA Cup weekend, Newcastle headed out to Spain and played a Club Friendly against CSKA Moscow. With clubs clamouring for a winter-break because apparently it’s needed to improve England’s chances of winning a World Cup, why is it that Clubs who can give their players a rest choose to play a game out in Spain. Surely it would have been better to have a couple of days rest. The winter-break will come in over the next few years but will it be a break or will it be an excuse for the teams to head overseas and play in lucrative friendlies.
Huddersfield remain rock bottom of the Premier League with just 11-points after their latest defeat at home against Arsenal. What probably pleased new boss Jan Siewart and the Terriers faithful was they weren’t hammered against the Gunners and only lost 2-1. What they won’t be happy with was they failed to score again at home as their goal was the result of an Arsenal own goal. It was the beginning of January when Huddersfield scored a goal themselves and this really is the ultimate reason they lie at the bottom of the Premier League table and are certainties for relegation.
With both teams out of the FA Cup in the earlier rounds, both will be fresh for this fixture at St James Park. In West Yorkshire, at the John Smiths back in December, a Salomon Rondon goal was the difference between the 2 teams struggling at the wrong end of the Premier League table.
Bet 365 offer Newcastle at slight Odds On 4/5, the Draw at 12/5 15/4 and for Huddersfield to come away with all 3 points.
Bet 365 offer 7/4 that there are Under 1.5 Goals and 8/5 that Newcastle Win to Nil.
Home Win 1-0
LEICESTER v CRYSTAL PALACE
Late Saturday afternoon kick-off live on BT Sports.
Leicester are struggling at the moment and have not won a game of football in 6 now including an early exit of the FA Cup to League 2 side Newport County. That exit from round 4 of the Cup has given Claud Puel a 2-week break to reinvigorate his beleaguered players. Against Tottenham at Wembley last time out, although the Foxes lost 3-1, the scoreline doesn’t tell the whole story. After going behind in the 1st-half, Leicester were awarded a penalty and as Sheffield Superstar Jamie Vardy wasn’t on the pitch at the time, it was assumed James Maddison would take the spot kick. Claud Puel decides to send Jamie on as a substitute and the confident Vardy took the ball off Maddison and with his 1st touch was supposed to put Leicester level, unfortunately for Leicester and Jamie, Hugo Lloris saved the penalty. There are rumours around the King Power that Mr Vardy and Mr Puel are not seeing eye to eye and that penalty miss won’t have done much to mend the frosty relationship. Harvey Barnes has been out on loan a couple of times this last few seasons and had starred for West Brom and the mighty Barnsley FC. After being recalled back to Leicester he is getting a good run in the team. Harvey did have an excellent chance to score when he was put clean through but again Hugo Lloris came to the rescue of Tottenham and prevented Harvey from scoring. Jamie Vardy did eventually get on the scoresheet to make the score 2-1 and give the Leicester faithful a brief hope of a comeback but with time running out, Tottenham put the game to bed and scored a 3rd running out 3-1 winners. From the outside, it looks like Claud Puel is introducing youth to the team and slowly easing out the old timers like Jamie and Wes Morgan. That’s Claud’s prerogative but Jamie is only 32 and has still a lot to offer for at least 3 more season’s.
Last week, the world lost a true legend of the game. Leicester and England’s World Cup-winning goalkeeper Gordon Banks sadly passed away aged 81. Mr Banks won the League Cup with Leicester and was a true gentleman. Like Leicester’s current Sheffield boys Harry Maguire and Jamie Vardy, Mr Banks hailed from Sheffield himself and a true Yorkshireman who won the World Cup in 1966 with England. The only English goalkeeper who can ever say that. In 1970 whilst defending their trophy in Mexico, Mr Banks made one of, if not, the greatest save of all time getting his hand onto a Pele header which for all purpose was in the net. Pele shouted “Goal” as Mr Banks somehow dove the length of the goal line and tipped the ball over the bar. As was the ilk of that era, it was rumoured that his teammate Alan Mullery said to Gordon “you should have caught that Banksy!” A few expletives followed. What’s often missed about the 1970 World Cup defence of their title is in the Quarter-Final, England were beating West Germany 2-0 but succumbed to 2 late goals and with the game going into extra time, in the sweltering heat of Mexico, England ran out of steam and eventually lost 3-2. What also is often missed, is Gordon Banks didn’t play in that Quarter-Final, he was laid low through illness. Chelsea goalkeeper Peter “The Cat” Bonetti took over in goal and although was a very worthy replacement for Mr Banks, was culpable for a couple of goals against West Germany. What would have happened if Gordon Banks was playing in that Quarter-Final? There’s no certainty that England would have beat West Germany or progressed to the Final, but what is certain, taking Gordon Banks out of any lineup will definitely weaken a side. Thanks for the memories, Mr Banks.
Crystal Palace are 1 of the 6 Premier League teams still in the FA Cup after beating Doncaster and progressing to the Quarter-Finals of that particular cup competition. Palace are unbeaten in the last 3 Premier League games gaining a good point last time out against London rivals West Ham at Selhurst Park. Wilfried Zaha got the equaliser for the Eagles after falling behind against West Ham and the point moves them up to 13th in the Premier League table. Whilst that sounds a comfortable position, Roy’s men are only 3-points above Southampton who are currently in the Bottom 3 which shows how tight it is at the wrong end of the table so every point is vital. Wilfried Zaha is vital to Crystal Palace but his petulant behaviour which saw him sent off against Southampton and serve a 1 game ban, seems to be a negative part of his game. He always appears to feel he is hard done by, always throwing himself to the floor, as if he is being constantly fouled and targeted. What Wilfried needs to do is stay on his feet or if fouled, bounce straight back up and show his immense skills against his opponents not throw his arms around as if everyone and everything is against him.
At Selhurst Park back in December, Crystal Palace beat Leicester 1-0 with Luka Milivojevic getting the solitary goal.
Bet 365 offer Leicester surprisingly as slight favourites at 8/7, the Draw at 9/4 and 12/5 for Crystal Palace to record a double over Leicester and come away with all 3 points.
Bet 365 offer 7/4 that Jamie Vardy Scores Anytime and 7/2 that Leicester Win to Nil.
Home Win 2-0
ARSENAL v SOUTHAMPTON
Sunday Afternoon Football, however, not on TV. Both teams made an early exit from the FA Cup so both have had a weekend off and should be fresh for this Sunday battle, however, Arsenal will have played twice in the Europa League before this fixture so depending on team selection, fatigue could be a factor.
Arsenal narrowly beat a struggling Huddersfield side 2-1 away from the Emirates. The surprise in that scoreline was Arsenal scored all 3 goals. Alex Iwobi and Alexandre Lacazette put the Gunners 2-0 up in the 1st-half and looked comfortable against the Terriers. Sead Kolasinac scored an own goal in the 93rd-minute giving Huddersfield a glimmer of hope but time ran out and Arsenal gained all 3-points.
Southampton fell into the relegation zone after losing to a late Cardiff goal last time out. Losing 1-0 and with time running out, Jack Stephens scored an equaliser and what he and the Saints faithful thought was a goal to give them a well-deserved point. However, Cardiff immediately went up the other end got a 93rd-minute winner which leapfrogged the South Wales team above the Saints dropping Wreck-It Ralph’s team into the relegation places.
At St Marys back in December, Southampton got a surprise 3-2 victory over Arsenal. Danny Ings scored twice in the 1st-half with Henrikh Mkhitaryan replying for the Gunners. Henrikh Mkhitaryan then brought the scores level just after the break and with the game petering out into a draw, Charlie Austin got a late winner for the Saints.
Bet 365 offer Arsenal at Odds On 2/5, the Draw at 15/4 and a massive 6/1 for Southampton to repeat the victory and come away with all 3 points.
Bet 365 offer 6/4 that Arsenal Win to Nil and 11/8 that there are Under 2.5 Goals.
Home Win 2-0
MANCHESTER UNITED v LIVERPOOL
Early Sunday afternoon kick-off live on Sky Sports and what a cracker of a game between these 2 North West Heavyweights. This is a great hors d’oeuvre before the Carabao Cup Final between Man City and Chelsea which is played later on in the afternoon.
Manchester United easily beat Fulham 3-0 in their last Premier League game. Paul Pogba got a couple and an Anthony Martial goal gave United the win against a very poor Fulham side.
United were well beaten by Paris Saint Germain in the Champions League. The main points taken from that game were not necessarily the loss but the injuries to Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard and the frustrating sending off of Paul Pogba. Paul deserved to be sent off, that is not in question but the manner of his sending off was a significant factor. The PSG manager Thomas Tuchel did a number on Pogba and had Marquinhos man-mark him all game frustrating Paul to the point where he flipped and got himself a 2nd-yellow card and ultimately a red. The problem with that for United is, not only does Paul miss the 2nd-leg in Paris, not only are Anthony and Jesse going to struggle to make this important game against Liverpool, but teams if are savvy, will copy Thomas Tuchel and know that they have to stick someone very close to Paul Pogba and negate the influential midfielder. It was also evident that Ole’s United rely on pace and without Anthony and Jesse using their pace to bring United out of defence, the gap left meant Paris Saint Germain could capitalise on the weak defence and ultimately came away from Old Trafford with the win. If Jurgen or for that matter any of the opposing managers picks up on this then United could become vulnerable. On the other hand, Ole and the coaches need to come up with plan B, C or any other way to make United the team they once were. All the roads that lead to struggles bring them back to where they need, some reassurance in their own depth, only they can see, but let others feel, peace in their mind is so happy to find as United get back on track with a head start back to winning.
Manchester United themselves lost a legend this week. Eric Harrison who worked as the Youth Coach at United for Over 30-years sadly passed away aged 81. Eric is widely regarded as the coach that brought through the Class of ‘92. Gary Neville, Phil Neville, Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes and David Beckham all were in the United youth team that Eric Harrison coached. In that Class of ‘92 were also other great players who didn’t make it at Old Trafford such as Ben Thornley, Keith Gillespie and BT Sports own Robbie Savage. What’s forgotten about Mr Harrison is that he not only brought those great players of the ’90s through but was at United from 1981 and developed players such as Mark Hughes, Mark Robins, Norman Whiteside, Clayton Blackmore and the great Deiniol Graham who furthered his career at Barnsley FC. A great member of the United backroom team and a true United legend. Thanks for the memories, Mr Harrison. Another test for Ole after his brilliant start has United interim boss. The loss against PSG was a setback but Ole’s job application for full-time boss shouldn’t be defined by that game or this game against Liverpool. Ole is the best man for the job, there simply isn’t anyone else out there. Forget Mauricio Pochettino, he’s happy at Wembley, White Hart Lane or wherever Tottenham call home. Give Ole the job full time. Ole will lose games, Sir Alex Ferguson lost games, Mauricio loses games. It’s the nature of the business. United are in the best place possible since Sir Alex retired. A couple of decent signings and United will come good again under Ole.
Liverpool comfortably beat Bournemouth 3-0 at Anfield prior to the FA Cup weekend. Sadio Mane, Georginio Wijnaldum and Mo Salah were the goal scorers that day. It’s neck and neck at the top of the Premier League with Man City and Liverpool constantly swapping places at the top. Both are on the same points with City at the top on goal difference. Whilst City are favourites to win the title, they have played a game more than Liverpool, put simply, if Liverpool win every one of their remaining 12 Premier League games, then Jurgen’s Reds will be crowned Champions. There will be a lot of twists and turns before the end of the season and this game against United won’t be the defining game that decides the title race, but a win against their fierce rivals will go along
way in Liverpool’s race to their 1st Premier League title. One thing that will be evident is United should put up a better fight than their display at Anfield in December prior to Dracula’s departure from Old Trafford.
Both teams played midweek. United played against Chelsea in the FA Cup and Liverpool played against Bayern Munich in the Champions League. United played their Champions League game a week earlier so, in effect, Liverpool should be fresher having only played 1 game since their last Premier League fixture.
At Anfield back in December, the 3-1 victory for Jurgen and his Liverpool side spelt the end for Jose Mourinho and his reign at Old Trafford. Jesse Lingard had cancelled out Sadio Mane’s opener in the 1st-half and both teams went in at the break level. However, Lingard’s goal was really just a consolation and Liverpool took control in the 2nd-period when Jurgen introduced Xherdan Shaqiri in the 70th-minute. Within 10-minutes of entering the game, Xherdan scored 2 superb goals giving Liverpool a comfortable 3-1 victory over a lacklustre Manchester United team. Within 48 hours of that defeat, Dracula was removed from his position as Head Coach of United and Ole came in and rescued his beloved Red Devil’s.
Bet 365 offer United at 11/5, the Draw at 12/5 and 6/5 for Liverpool to come away with all 3 points.
Bet 365 offer 11/4 that United Score in Both Halves and 6/1 that Marcus Rashford gets the First Goal.
Home Win 3-2