If Ole Gunnar Solskjær fell into the Manchester Ship Canal, he would probably emerge with a salmon in his mouth right now! The Norwegian takes his men to Craven Cottage, on Saturday. Does John Newsome think that the Cottagers have any chance of halting the rejuvenated Red Army? He shares his thoughts on all game-week 26 fixtures. You can view all previous analysis from John’s weekly column here – English Premier League Predictions For Saturday.
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FULHAM v MANCHESTER UNITED
Early Saturday afternoon kick-off live on Sky Sports.
Fulham lost again last time out, across London at Selhurst Park. It was said that Claudio Ranieri was going to come into Craven Cottage and not only take the Cottages out of the relegation zone but win the Premier League. Sometimes some people say the funniest of things. It was never going to happen. Claudio took Leicester to the top of the Promised Land but that was the result of a Perfect Storm and will never happen again. Whilst a tremendous achievement, what was missed was that Mr Ranieri didn’t necessarily do that much to win that particular title. The Leicester squad was already there, the players were already there, Nigel Pearson had already assembled a great group of players. Granted Mr Ranieri brought those players together but what was missed about that season was Pep was not at City, Liverpool were at the infant stages of Jurgen’s reign, Chelsea were Chelsea and Manchester United were in decline. All in all the top clubs took their eye off the ball and allowed Leicester to nick the title. A brilliant achievement which can never be taken away from Claudio but in truth a one-off which will never be repeated. To suggest he can now do the same at Fulham is ludicrous and Fulham will be relegated as they are simply not good enough. The 2-0 defeat against Crystal Palace left the Cottages 7 points from safety and with games running out, Fulham should start preparing for life in the Championship.
Manchester United beat Claudio’s Premier League winners Leicester last time out. Ole has revitalised United and should be given the job full time. A few of the ex-players, for example, Paul Ince, have suggested that anyone could have inspired United after Jose had left. The thing is that suggestion could never be proved as Ole was the ex-player appointed and has done what every United fan wanted. Granted, what Paul is saying is that Dracula Jose had sucked the soul out of the Manchester United players and it wouldn’t have really taken much to inspire the players to perform better but every individual is different and maybe Paul Ince, Steve Bruce or Mark Hughes could have easily done the same as Ole, however, those said players could have done the opposite and United could have gone backwards. It’s all irrelevant as Ole is the chosen one and should be given enormous credit for getting United back somewhere near to where the Old Trafford faithful want to be. Maybe Paul Ince, Mark Hughes or Steve Bruce could have walked into Old Trafford and instantly took a dislike to Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford or the worse scenario possible, a dislike to David De Gea. Ole did what David Moyes didn’t and got Mike Phelan involved. Mr Moyes first error within minutes of setting foot at Old Trafford was to get rid of Mike and Rene Meulensteen. A simple decision like that designed his future at United. Imagine Mark Hughes at Manchester United, it’s not worth thinking about, a great United player but managing Manchester United? Would he be able to get on board with Paul Pogba? Steve Bruce at United? Again a legend but Steve would have brought his own staff in and United wouldn’t have progressed. It’s easy to say anyone could have done what Ole has done and in principle that’s true but in reality, could anyone? Ole was the right person at the right time. Someone who has bided his time at United came on as a substitute many times so knew how to be a team player and knows about egos but didn’t have one himself. Paul Ince, Steve Bruce and Mark Hughes were never that person, they were all picked in the first eleven, they all had egos themselves and would probably have brought their own people with them which Ole hasn’t. So yes it’s easy to say anyone could have done what Ole has done but it’s a misconception and United fans should embrace Mr Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and thank the United hierarchy for appointing the Baby Faced Assassin. Give Ole the job, forget Poch or whoever’s name pops up this week. Ole is the answer. Ole, Ole, Ole.
This reverse fixture back at the beginning of December finished in a rare victory for Jose’s men in one of his final games before he sucked the life out of United and departed Old Trafford. Ashley Young, Juan Mata, Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford scored United’s goals in the 4-1 victory. Aboubaker Kamara got Fulham’s consolation.
Bet 365 offer Fulham at 4/1, the Draw at 3/1 and Odds On 3/5 for United to come away with all 3 points. Which basically means for every £5 wagered a £3 profit is made which on current form is real value.
Bet 365 offer 5/4 that United Score in Both Halves and 15/4 that Marcus Rashford Scores the First Goal.
Away Win 0-3
WATFORD v EVERTON
Watford played out a 0-0 Draw on the South Coast of Brighton last Saturday. That point keeps the Hornets in 8th position in the Premier League table which is a great return for Javi Gracia’s men. Big Troy Deeney got another 90 minutes under his belt but the big fella hasn’t scored in 5 games now and will want to get back to banging in the goals for Watford to help them push on for a possible Europa League place.
Everton were beaten again on Saturday at home in front of an increasingly disgruntled Toffees faithful. Marco Silva is under pressure to change the fortunes of his Everton team who lack an identity at the moment. Andre Gomes got a goal back for Everton against Wolves after Wolves had taken the lead early in the game. Just before the break Wolves scored a 2nd and midway through the 2nd-period Wolves added a 3rd and ran out easy 3-1 winners. Idrissa Gueye was left out of the squad after having his head turned on Transfer Deadline Day.
His proposed dream move to Paris Saint Germain didn’t materialise. Marco will need to get Idrissa back on board pretty soon and get his Toffees winning again. Unfortunately, this visit to Vicarage Rd won’t be an easy ask for Everton and the Hornets faithful will no doubt make their feelings known to ex-boss Marco Silva. Marco needs to maybe take some earplugs with him. These 2 teams lie 8th and 9th respectively with just a point separating them so a win for either side will be very important in the race for a Europa League place.
One of the highlights of the loss against Wolves on Saturday was the introduction of a Black Cat. It was one of the rare occasions one of the Everton contingent ran in behind the Wolves defence. The cat made a last minute Bosman move on Transfer Deadline Day from Sunderland. Possibly the significant factor that the Toffees faithful can take from that little interruption was when the cat was running about, the Wolves players were in full discussion between themselves whilst the Everton players just stood in silence waiting for the game to restart.
In December at Goodison Park, this reverse fixture finished in a very entertaining 2-2 draw. Richarlison opened the scoring for the Toffees before the unfortunate Seamus Coleman scored an own goal and Abdoulaye Doucoure put Watford ahead just after the break. The Hornets looked like they were going to get the win and all 3 points until Lucas Digne scored a very late equaliser. What will have annoyed Marco Silva is the Toffees had a chance to beat his former club when they were awarded a penalty.
Unfortunately, Gylfi Sigurdsson missed the spot-kick and Marco had to settle for a point.
Bet 365 offer Watford at 13/10, the Draw at 12/5 and 2/1 for Everton to come away with all 3 points.
Bet 365 offer 11/5 that there are Over 3.5 Goals and 11/2 that Troy Deeney Scores the First Goal.
Home Win 3-1
SOUTHAMPTON v CARDIFF
Southampton are now unbeaten in their last 5 Premier League games after Saturday’s hard-fought draw away against Burnley. Nathan Redmond put Wreck-It Ralph’s new look Saints in front just after half-time and it looked like Southampton were going to come away from Turf Moor with all 3 points until Burnley got an equaliser in the 94th-minute. A good point for the Saints but they still hover just above the relegation places and only 2 points above today’s visitors so this really is a game that both teams need to win.
After 4 winless games for Cardiff, they probably got the result of the weekend beating Bournemouth 2-0 in front of an emotional crowd at the Cardiff City Stadium. Bobby Reid got both goals in the win against the Cherries scoring a penalty early on in the game and then making it a double just after half-time. A great win for Neil Warnock and the Bluebirds after an emotional couple of weeks with the loss of Emiliano Sala. Developments have continued in the search for Emiliano after his plane went missing and it’s now known that his plane went down over the English Channel. Leandro Bacuna made his debut for Cardiff coming on as a late 2nd-half substitute. Cardiff are currently in the bottom 3 of the Premier League but are only 2 points behind Southampton so a win for Neil’s boys will take them above Ralph’s Saints and out of the relegation places.
This reverse fixture back in December finished with a rare victory for Neil’s Bluebirds. Callum Paterson got the solitary goal in the 1-0 victory in Ralph Hasenhüttl’s first game in charge of the Saints.
Bet 365 offer Southampton at Odds On 5/7, the Draw at 13/5 and 15/4 for Cardiff to come away with all 3 points.
Bet 365 offer 11/4 that Southampton Win and there are Under 2.5 Goals and 22/1 that Cardiff Miss a Penalty.
Home Win 2-0
CRYSTAL PALACE v WEST HAM
Crystal Palace easily beat their London rivals Fulham on Saturday 2-0. What was most surprising was Palace got a rare victory without the services of Wilfried Zaha after Wilfried missed the game through suspension. A 1st-Half Luka Milivojevic penalty and a late Jeffrey Schlupp goal gave the Eagles the 3-points and moved them further away from the relegation zone. Roy Hodgson’s men won’t be relegated as there are at least 5 teams that are worse than Crystal Palace but Roy’s objective is to climb the Premier League table as high as possible to give their loyal fans something to sing about.
West Ham got a great point on Monday Night Football in front of their Iron faithful denting Liverpool’s title challenge. It could be argued Liverpool’s goal in the 1-1 draw shouldn’t have counted due to James Milner being 5-yard offside, however, Michail Antonio was only allowed to equalise due to Mark Noble fouling Naby Keita. So a draw was a fair result. Marco Arnautovic didn’t play due to a slight injury and ex-Liverpool forward Andy Carroll came on in the 2nd-half but Virgil Van Dijk had him in his pocket. The Hammers are relatively safe in 12th position in the Premier League 6 points ahead of the Eagles so a win for either of these London rivals will go along way in securing their status in the Premier League for next season.
At the London Stadium back in December, this reverse fixture finished in a great 5-goal thriller with the Hammers beating the Eagles 3-2. James McArthur opened the scoring for Palace before West Ham blew Palace away in the 2nd-half. Robert Snodgrass, Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and Felipe Anderson made it 3-1 before Jeffrey Schlupp pulled a goal back making the last 15 minutes a nervy time for the Bubbles who held on for the win.
Bet 365 offer Crystal Palace at Evens 1/1, the Draw at 23/10 and 14/5 for West Ham to come away with all 3 points.
Bet 365 offer 6/1 that Crystal Palace Score a Penalty and 4/1 that West Ham Score in Both Halves.
LIVERPOOL v BOURNEMOUTH
A rare Saturday 3.00 PM kick-off at Anfield sees the Premier League table-toppers entertain Eddie Howe’s Cherries.
Liverpool’s title hopes took a dent on Monday Night Football away at the London Stadium. It could be argued the 1-1 draw against West Ham was a terrible result but in the cold light of day, it is a point gained away from home and the Scousers shouldn’t get too downhearted just yet. Man City will have played a game extra prior to this fixture against Bournemouth and at worst Liverpool will be on the same points as City with a game in hand. James Milner was stood that far offside in the build-up to Liverpool’s opening goal that he had to pay on the turnstile to get back in. How the linesman didn’t flag is a mystery, what is certain is James was allowed to cross the ball to Sadio Mane who coolly slotted home in the 1-1 draw against the Hammers. Mark Noble blatantly fouled Naby Keita in the build-up to the Bubbles equaliser giving Michail Antonio a free run on goal to score. Both mistakes would have been at least questioned by the Video Assistant Referee when it is introduced next season. Those in favour of VAR would say the right decisions would have come through, both goals would have been disallowed and the game would have finished in a draw. Those not in favour of VAR would say that the mistakes equalled themselves out, both goals stood and the game finished in a draw. Virgil Van Dijk found something in his pocket when he got back to the changing rooms, the something was Andy Carroll who came on for the final 15 minutes and didn’t get a kick against Big Virgil who was different class. There’s a long way to go yet in the race for the title and there will definitely be a few more twists and turns before the season is decided. The Liverpool faithful should calm down and stay patient and get behind their beloved Reds.
Bournemouth were brought back down to earth in the Saturday evening kick-off away at Cardiff. After obliterating Chelsea in the previous game, Eddie Howe and his Cherries headed to South Wales full of confidence but came away with their tails between their legs after Cardiff beat Bournemouth 2-0. A trip to Anfield to face table Toppers Liverpool is probably not what Bournemouth need after that defeat against Cardiff but Eddie will have his team set up correctly for this clash. Unfortunately, Callum Wilson will be missing after recuperating from a minor knee operation which should hopefully give him a run of games towards the end of the season. Bournemouth are a different side with Callum and are a different side with David Brooks who himself is now injured and will be missing for about a month. The Cherries need Callum and David back as soon as possible otherwise their season may end up petering out after a superb start.
This reverse fixture back at the Vitality in December finished in a resounding 4-0 victory for Liverpool. Mo Salah was on fire that day and scored a superb hat trick running rings around the Cherries defence in particular Steve Cook who had a torrid early afternoon culminating in scoring an own goal. Bournemouth have failed to score a goal in the last 3 Premier League games against Liverpool.
Bet 365 offer Liverpool at Odds On 1/5, the Draw at 6/1 and a massive 11/1 for Bournemouth to come away with all 3 points.
Bet 365 offer 23/20 that Sadio Mane Scores Anytime and 7/1 that the Scoreline is 3-0 to Liverpool.
Home Win 3-0
HUDDERSFIELD v ARSENAL
What can be said about Huddersfield, rooted to the foot of the Premier League, can’t score goals and hammered 5-0 by Sarri-ball at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. Is Jan Siewart regretting his move to West Yorkshire? The Terriers are going to be relegated and will play life in the Championship next season and more than likely will renew their Yorkshire rivalry with the Mighty Barnsley FC who are on a march in League 1. Huddersfield were never going to beat Chelsea but the Terriers faithful were hoping that they weren’t going to concede 5 goals against a struggling Chelsea side. The plus point for Huddersfield was that Aaron Mooy played the full 90-minutes after missing the last 7 Premier League games through injury. Aaron is vital to Huddersfield but if they are relegated a few Premier League clubs could and should swoop for the Australian midfielder who wouldn’t look out of place in any of the Top Flight clubs. Huddersfield are now winless in 12 games and a visit from the Gunners is not what they need.
Arsenal went to the Etihad and were simply outplayed by Man City losing 3-1 and will relish this trip to West Yorkshire to try and get back to winning ways. Laurent Koscielny did equalise the first of the Sergio Aguero hat trick which blew the Gunners away. With Manchester United and Chelsea both winning, the Gunners slip to 6th in the Premier League table and a Top 4 finish is going to be a tough ask. Maybe the best thing Unai Emery can do is concentrate on Arsenal’s pursuit of the Europa League to guarantee a place in next season’s Champions League.
The surprise in the scoreline in the reverse fixture back at the Emirates in December was that the Gunners only beat the Terriers 1-0 and Huddersfield shut out Arsenal for 83 minutes until Lucas Torreira broke the hearts of the Huddersfield faithful and made their long trip back up the M1 an arduous one.
Bet 365 offer Huddersfield at 9/2, the Draw at 16/5 and Odds On 6/11 for Arsenal to come away with all 3 points.
Bet 365 offer 7/4 that there are Over 3.5 Goals and 3/1 that Arsenal Win Both Halves.
Away Win 0-3
BRIGHTON v BURNLEY
Late Saturday afternoon kick-off live on BT Sports.
Brighton shut out Watford last time out and earned a great point in the 0-0 draw. The Seagulls are slowly gaining enough points to steer clear of a relegation battle but find themselves only 3 points above Burnley so this should be a crunch game between the 2 clubs. Chris Hughton was pretty quiet in the January Transfer Window and is happy with his squad who should be good enough to stay in the Premier League for a 3rd consecutive season.
Burnley themselves earned a vital point on Saturday drawing 1-1 against Southampton. With time running out, Burnley were awarded a dramatic 94th-minute penalty which Ashley Barnes kept his nerve and coolly slotted home to earn a great point in front of the Clarets faithful. Old stager Peter Crouch who surprisingly signed for Burnley in the January Transfer Window came on for the final 15-minutes which will probably be a theme in the remaining games left in the season.
This reverse fixture back at Turf Moor in December finished 1-0 in favour of the Clarets. James Tarkowski got the solitary goal in the 1st-half giving Sean Dyche’s men the vital 3 points.
Bet 365 offer Brighton at slight Odds On 12/11, the Draw at 9/4 and 11/4 for Burnley to come away with all 3 points.
Bet 365 offer 6/1 for a 1-1 Scoreline, 6/5 that Glenn Murray Scores Anytime and 100/30 that Peter Crouch Scores Anytime.
TOTTENHAM v LEICESTER
Early Sunday afternoon kick-off live on Sky Sports sees the Foxes head to Wembley to take on outside Premier League title contenders Tottenham.
Outsiders because Tottenham are getting the results without the performance and without Harry Kane and Dele Alli. Against a resilient Newcastle at Wembley last Saturday the game looked to be heading towards a drab 0-0 draw until Son Heung-Min took a speculative shot which surprisingly found its way into the Newcastle goal. The Newcastle goalkeeper should have done better and cleanly saved the shot but somehow let the ball through his fumbling hands gifting Tottenham all 3-points. That win and the resulting Liverpool draw leaves Tottenham just 2-points behind City and 5-points behind Liverpool and that is 6 Premier League wins from the last 7 games. What’s also a surprising stat in the Tottenham results is that they either Win or Lose and don’t Draw. In the 25 Premier League games played, Tottenham have won 19 and Lost 6 so when Spurs play, it’s usually entertaining. Like, Liverpool, Tottenham are now out of the FA Cup so will play fewer games than Man City in the run in which may or may not prove a factor. Mauricio Pochettino would probably still want to be in Jurgen’s shoes but with 13 games to go, all he can do is keep his Tottenham boys going until the end.
Leicester have only gained 1 point from a possible 12 and Claud Puel is again under pressure from some of the Foxes faithful. Manchester United beat Leicester 1-0 at the King Power on Sunday and whilst the performance couldn’t be in doubt, a couple of substitute decisions left the fans confused. Needing a goal to get back into the game, on the hour mark, Claud decided to replace influential midfielder James Maddison with another midfielder Rachid Ghezzal, leaving the forward Kelechi Iheanacho on the bench for a further 20-minutes. James was not happy. It’s little decisions like these that give the fans an excuse to show their disgruntlement. Leicester may not have won and Kelechi may not have scored in the half hour or so he should have been on the pitch as the replacement for Maddison but to give him only 7-minutes when a goal was needed, does seem bizarre.
Tottenham beat Leicester 2-0 back in December at the King Power. Son Heung-Min and Dele Alli got the Spurs goals either side of the break.
Bet 365 offer Tottenham at Odds On 3/5, the Draw at 13/5 and 5/1 for Leicester to come away with all 3 points.
Bet 365 offer 11/8 that Tottenham Score in Both Halves and 2/1 that Leicester Win Either Halves.
Home Win 2-1
MAN CITY v CHELSEA
Late Sunday afternoon football live on Sky Sports.
Man City or rather Sergio Aguero blasted Arsenal away on Sunday at the Etihad. Aguero opened the scoring in just the 1st-minute giving City the perfect start. Arsenal hit back straight away but Sergio scored a minute from the half-time break giving City the lead heading into the 2nd-half. Sergio rounded off his hat- trick on the hour mark and Pep’s Citizens held on for all 3-points in their pursuit of Liverpool at the top of the Premier League table. What made the result even sweeter was just over 24-hours later, Pep sat in front of his 55-inch Curved TV and watched Liverpool only take a point away from their trip to the London Stadium. The gap between the 2 North West Heavyweights is just 3 -points and with City playing Everton on Wednesday Night in a rearranged game due to them playing in the Final of the Carabao, it’s highly plausible that City will be Top of the Premier League before Liverpool play again. The thing that could aid their rise to the top, which in truth is not, is the Everton faithful would rather City win the title than their fierce Merseyside rivals so every time City score the Toffees maybe cheering too.
Chelsea got back to winning ways last time out after their terrible loss against Bournemouth. Whilst the brilliant 5-0 win in front of the Blues faithful at Stamford Bridge was just what Sarri-Ball required, the win was only against a very poor Huddersfield side who although will give their all and who’s fans sing regardless, are simply not good enough. Gonzalo Higuain and Eden Hazard got a couple each and David Luiz made the score 5-0 against the Terriers giving them the win. Chelsea are now just 2-points ahead of 5th placed Manchester United and with United taking on struggling Fulham, a defeat against City could result in Chelsea dropping out of the Top 4.
In December at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea surprisingly inflicted the 1st defeat of the season on Pep’s Citizens. N’Golo Kante and David Luiz were the goal scorers for the Blues that day. Despite that great victory over City, Chelsea appear to have gone backwards so this game at the Etihad may prove a more difficult proposition.
Bet 365 offer City at Odds On 5/11, the Draw at 7/2 and 11/2 for Chelsea to come away with all 3 points.
Bet 365 offer 6/1 that City Win from Behind, 8/1 that Gonzalo Higuain gets the First Goal and 5/2 that David Silva Scores Anytime.
Home Win 3-1
WOLVES v NEWCASTLE
Monday Night Football live on Sky Sports to bring Game Week 26 proceedings to a close.
Wolves easily beat Everton 3-1 at Goodison Park last time out and have won their last 3 Premier League games. A Ruben Neves penalty got Wolves off to a great start on Merseyside and after Everton had equalised, Raul Jimenez made it 2 before half-time. Leander Dendoncker rounded off the scoring giving Nuno Espirito Santo a great 3-points against his fellow Portuguese manager Marco Silva. Wolves find themselves in 7th position in the Premier League only 5-points Away from Arsenal and could quite conceivably get into the Europa League places. One thing is for certain is they won’t be relegated.
Newcastle are live on TV for the 3rd game in a row and the Toon Army will be hoping to see one of their new signings after Miguel Almiron wasn’t ready to face Tottenham at Wembley. Their other new recruit Antonio Barreca made a brief cameo against Spurs and will be pushing for a start. At Wembley in the early Saturday afternoon kickoff, Newcastle put in a great shift and were hanging on for a point when the Magpies goalkeeper let a tame shot through his hands gifting Tottenham all 3-points. That would have been the 2nd disappointment the Toon Army had to suffer at Wembley after hearing the sound of “£5.50” for a pint of beer. There were waves and waves of the faithful shouting “Hoo Much ?”
After 2 good wins including a surprise victory against Man City, the loss against Tottenham was a bit of a step back but Rafa’s boys will come again.
At St James Park back in December Ayoze Perez cancelled out Diogo Jota’s opener and with the game petering out looking like it was going to finish in a draw, Matt Doherty scored a 94th-minute winner for Wolves sending the Molineux faithful ecstatic. Newcastle were reduced to 10-men after DeAndre Yedlin was dismissed early in the 2nd-half.
Bet 365 offer Wolves at Odds On 5/7, the Draw at 13/5 and 15/4 for Newcastle to come away with all 3 points.
Bet 365 offer 6/5 that there are Over 2.5 Goals and 15/4 that Raul Jimenez Scores the First Goal.
Home Win 2-0