The Premier League is back! This is what we have been waiting for, so fasten your seat belts for the roller-coaster ride we are all going experience.
Not much can prevent Liverpool from being crowned as the English champions for the first time in 30 years. Well, if Manchester City loses to Arsenal then the Reds’ weekend becomes even better as the European champions can clinch the title in their first game back (derby day against neighbors Everton on Sunday). However, there are other issues that need to solved, such as the relegation battles... and who earns European spots for next season, and how the drama will end up for the world.
Let’s take baby steps and remind ourselves of what’s on the table for this week and who is facing whom in round 30:
Wednesday 17 June
Villa has a tough task ahead: Their remaining matches are coming against top-seven clubs. The good news for them is that John McGinn returns to fitness after six months out and will be important for Dean Smith’s side to survive.
Sheffield have been the most surprising team so far, and on the plus side for them is that their captain Billy Sharp, vice-captain Oliver Norwood and David McGoldrick have signed contract extensions. Manchester United’s loanee Dean Henderson has also. Sheffield should be favored to win, but who knows anything in these current circumstances if fitness ends up playing a major role or the empty stadium may impact the performance of one team.
· Aston Villa have lost their last 4 matches
· Sheff Utd have scored at least 2 goals in 5 of their last 6 matches against Aston Villa in all competitions
· Aston Villa have conceded at least 2 goals in their last 4 matches
Prediction: 2 — 0
Manchester City vs Arsenal
Pep Guardiola can call himself the current English champion if his side defeats Arsenal for the win. With no injury reported, even Leroy Sane and Aymeric Laporte are available. Laporte has been vital for the Citizens as he led the side to an undefeated seven league appearance start to this season.
On the other hand, Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta meets his former boss, Interestingly, he has just lost one of his ten Premier League games. Plus, he has somehow managed to tweak his defensive tactics, and he has an almost fully-fit squad too, including a fit Kieran Tierney available.
· Man City have won their last 6 matches against Arsenal in all competitions by an aggregate of 17-2
· Arsenal have drawn their last 5 away PL matches
· Man City have won 28 of their last 33 PL home matches
Prediction: 3 – 1
Friday 19 June
Last place Norwich have struggled throughout the season so far but can try to put pressure on those on top and near them. Timm Klose is ready for Farke’s defensive options while Sam Byram and Onel Hernandez are not available. While, Southampton sit 14th in the table and the return of Nathan Redmond from injury can be a major boost for coach Ralph Hasenhüttl.
· Southampton have lost 4 of their last 6 PL matches
· Norwich has just 1 win out of their 6 PL matches
· There have been under 2.5 goals scored in Norwich’s last 4 home game
Prediction: 0 – 0
Tottenham Hotspur vs Manchester United
This is going to be an interesting game to watch as Jose Mourinho tries to prove a point to his former Red Devils side. But could Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer prove to be the winner? United might just get to see the midfield pairing that they have been eagerly awaiting: Bruno Fernandes and fit-again Paul Pogba. With Marcus Rashford also fit, the Devils will be dangerous in attack. Phil Jones is the only injury , but that shouldn’t be a major concern.
For Spurs, Son Heung-Min and Giovani Lo Celso are still doubts, but Delli Alli is confirmed to be suspended.
· Man Utd are undefeated in their last 5 matches
· Spurs have scored at least two goals in each of their last three home matches.
· Rashford, Pogba back for United and Spurs’ Harry Kane is fit too.
Prediction: 1 – 3
Saturday 20 June
The Foxes have had a great season despite slipping from the title race back in December. However, the revelation of Harry Maguire’s replacement Caglar Soyuncu has been vital, as have been the Jamie Vardy goals and the vision of James Maddison. Securing a top four spot is becoming a concern, with just four wins in previous 13 matches, but a Champions League qualification and the FA Cup final or win would make their season great.
The Hornets are somehow unexpected on the day, but they defeated Liverpool, Man United, Aston Villa and Wolves after hiring Nigel Pearson, who has been transformative for them.
· Watford have kept a clean sheet in 5 of their last 7 home matches
· Leicester have won just 2 in their previous 6 matches
· Watford have scored at least 2 goals in 5 of their last 6 home matches
Prediction: 1 – 1
Brighton vs Arsenal
Mikel Arteta will have to make intelligent rotation of his players with the extra subs allowed to make now, as he will be coming from a tiring Manchester City game just four days on, while Brighton will be fresh to take advantage. Graham Potter’s Seagulls are just two points clear of the drop zone. They always find ways to perform even though their results seems to differ, but they need a win to boost their confidence for the tough schedule ahead.
· Brighton have failed to win their last 9 matches
· There have been under 2.5 goals scored in Brighton’s last 6 home games
Prediction: 0 – 0
West Ham vs Wolves
Despite the return of David Moyes, who replaced Manuel Pellegrini, the West Ham side still seems to struggle. The Hammers are not far from the drop zone, so they need to play for results just to survive.
Meanwhile, Wolves are contenders for the European spots. Nuno Espirito Santo prefers to keep his regular players on the pitch more than most, so expect his regulars to to have been strengthened by the break.
· Wolves have won just 2 games of their last 6 matches
· West Ham have lost 4 fixtures in the previous 6 matches
Prediction: 0 – 2
Bournemouth have had a difficult season and sit in the drop zone. Their defense has been especially shambolic, and they have a tough schedule ahead (e.g. Wolves, Manchester United, Tottenham and Leicester).
Crystal Place have been interesting to watch, now sitting on the 11th spot. The Eagles can still dream of landing a European spot, but the journey ahead won’t be easy: six of nine matches come against top-five sides.
· Crystal Palace have won their last 3 matches
· Bournemouth have won 3 and lost 3 in their previous 6 matches
Prediction: 0 – 1
Sunday 21 June
Newcastle vs Sheffield United
Newcastle’s is going to be safe, but not in a European spot. Lately, the headlines have talked more about their club takeover than its performances. The Magpies will likely prefer to play safe to just be in a stable position and also face Manchester City in the quarter finals of the FA Cup.
Sheffield will be returning from the match against Aston Villa that can change the dynamics of the fixture depending on their player’s fitness level.
· There have been fewer than 2.5 goals scored in 11 of Sheff Utd’s last 12 games
· Newcastle have just won once, lost twice and drawn thrice in their previous six matches
· Newcastle have kept a clean sheet in their last 3 home matches
Prediction: 1 – 1
Aston Villa vs Chelsea
The Villains will be another team coming from a mid-week game, and Chelsea will definitely aim to punish that. Lampard’s young side has enough talent to rotate for the rest of the season and will aim for a top-four European slot, all the better to attract someone like Timo Werner from RB Leipzig.
· There have been over 2.5 goals scored in 5 of Chelsea’s last 6 games
· Chelsea have just won 2 from their previous 6 games
Prediction: 0 – 3
Everton vs Liverpool
Everton will hope that the break helped players to understand the Carlos Ancelloti philosophy, but Liverpool will be too hungry for victory. If Manchester City loses against Arsenal, and if the Reds win this derby, the celebration will start that very Sunday. Klopp’s side have been more than deserving to clinch their 30-year long awaited Premier League title. It’s fantastic to see them dominate a tough league by a social-distancing 25+ points.
· Liverpool have won 19 of their last 20 matches
· There have been over 2.5 goals scored in Liverpool’s last 3 games
· Everton are undefeated in their last 7 home matches
Prediction: 0 – 4
[All stats sourced from Opta and WhoScored]
What are your predictions for the fixtures? Any specific match you’re looking forward to watching? What are your fantasy strategies for this week? Any injury-back player you aim to add in your FPL squad? And who is being displaced? Please let us know in the comments below!