The Premier League looks like to be as open as ever this season, but it is Manchester City on top of the pile with a game in hand who can be called favorites. Pep Guardiola’s men are aiming to pull away from pretenders as they face Sheffield United. Let’s have a look at those teams with the ability to grab three points off their opposition this week:
Everton v Newcastle
[ This is our one deadline game; we should have the confirmed lineups about an hour before match time for any Fantrax managers who care. ]
Everton had the chance to move into top four but failed in their 1-1 draw with Leicester. James Rodriguez hammered home a screamer and looks to be getting back to his form, which is a plus, and Carlos Ancelotti’s men haven’t lost in their previous eight fixtures, which shows momentum.
However, this game would mean even more to Steve Bruce who has lost five consecutive games and has more tough schedule coming up: Southampton, Chelsea and Manchester United. One may wonder if Steve Bruce will even be there for all those games.
Prediction: 2 – 0
Crystal Palace v Wolves
Palace had a tough game against West Ham, losing 3-2 and not displaying their best against David Moyes’ side. The Eagles have just one win out of their nine previous games, which clearly suggests a dip in-form, but they’re still 10 points clear of the relegation zone.
In the other camp, Raul Jimenez is working hard to regain his fitness. Wolves desperately need their clinical number nine back to overcome their difficulty getting the ball into the net. Nuno Santo’s men lack attack threat, which is why they are winless in their previous seven league games. Both teams have injury crises which may result in a low-scoring game.
Manchester City vs Sheffield United
One can feel Manchester City is slowly running away with the league. The best in-form team at the moment has won its previous seven league games, scoring 18 goals and conceding just one. Despite no Sergio Aguero or Gabriel Jesus, and even without Kevin de Bryune, Pep Guardiola still has enough firepower to make a decent sprint for the title.
Sheffield shocked the world by defeating Manchester United at Old Trafford. Now with two wins from three games, the Blades don’t really look all that bad for Chris Wilder, but they face the Citizens who are in some form right now, which suggests a difficult game on Saturday.
Prediction: 3 — 0
West Brom v Fulham
Both teams are staring relegation in the face, sitting 18th and 19th. Sam Allardyce, who was touted as ‘genius’ by Pep Guardiola for having the vision to save a team from relegation, faces Scott Parker who looks tough to beat lately, but whose draws have not lifted the Cottagers out of the drop zone. It will be interesting to see which team has the hunger and desire to grab a massive three points for them.
Arsenal v Manchester United
Given their impressive form of run, Arsenal can seek a Champions League spot in the table rather than relegation now. Manchester United suffered a terrible shock loss to last-place Sheffield United, but if Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer wants to put pressure on Manchester City, three points is a must.
The Gunners have three victories in four, but the Red Devils have been unbeaten away from home in over a year now.
Prediction: 1 –2
Southampton v Aston Villa
Ralph Hasenhuttl and Dean Smith deserve all the praise for the massive improvement they have engineered this season. However, with recent losses, Southampton and Villa have lost ground, which will make this game intriguing to watch as they both have enough talent to go for the win in this fixture.
Prediction: 2 – 1
Chelsea v Burnley
The Thomas Tuchel era continues after a stalemate draw on Wednesday against Wolves. Chelsea completed more than 800 passes in the game, which suggests something might be clicking for them, but it’s too early to say what as Tuchel needs time to set his own course. He chose experience over hungry youngsters in his first fixture, so it will be interesting to see his line-up and approach against Burnley.
One can also say facing Sean Dyche’s men right now is not the best feeling. The Clarets have been excellent lately, defeating Liverpool and coming from behind to win 3-2 at Villa. That puts them nine points clear of the relegation zone.
Prediction: 1 – 1
Leicester v Leeds
Despite not finding a winner against Everton, the Foxes are trying to keep up with the title hunt. Unfortunately, they look to be missing Jamie Vardy more than ever. The likes of James Maddison, Ayoze Perez and Harvey Barnes have been fair recently, but none of them is Jamie Vardy, so Brendon Rodgers will have to find new ways to threaten goal.
After a tough set of fixtures, Leeds managed to grab a victory against woeful Newcastle, giving them confidence moving into this fixture. Their all-out-attacking approach will play into the hands of the Foxes’ counter style, but without Vardy, that might not be as effective as before.
Prediction: 2 – 1
West Ham v Liverpool
The London club with most points is not Chelsea, Spurs or Arsenal but West Ham United. David Moyes has done a wonderful job, giving his side a taste of the top four at Selhurst Park, albeit only for a short time after they won their sixth consecutive match in all competitions.
On the other side, Liverpool grabbed control of Jose Mourinho’s Spurs with a 3-1 victory. It looks like the Reds’ front three have found the net again, but Jurgen Klopp still faces instability at the back. Joel Matip is sidelined further, which may help the likes of Tomas Soucek or Michail Antonio to capitalize.
Prediction: 1 – 2
Brighton v Tottenham
Brighton always looks like a promising team. Instead of the usual sit-back and look for the counter tactical approach, the Seagulls always attempt to play decent football. But they lack in converting, finding difficulty being clinical upfront, which leaves them near the relegation zone.
No Harry Kane for the next two-plus weeks for Spurs will cause unrest and problems for Jose Mourinho. Spurs picked up their first loss in nine games, but they’ve won only twice in six. Similar to Leeds at Liecester, Brighton will play into Tottenham’s hands, so watch for deadly counters that could finish the game sooner rather than later. But don’t bet the farm; anything can happen in the Premier League this season.
Prediction: 0 – 2
What are your predictions for the fixtures? Any specific match you’re looking forward to watching? What are your fantasy strategies for the week? Any popular player (or sleeper) whom you hope will earn you points? And whom are you adding? Please let us know in the comments below, and if you hear any late fitness news (e.g. positive Covid-19 tests), please share!