Bournemouth (H) vs. Liverpool (A)
I’ll start by saying that the 3-1 win for Liverpool over Burnley on Wednesday was fairly unconvincing, and to be honest, many of their wins this campaign have been. It took a late rally by Liverpool to get this result, and they had to sub on Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino to do it. If they can’t get production out of their second-string players, December could be a tough month for them, as there are so many games in the month. However, in their last two meetings with Bournemouth, they have won them by a combined score of 7-0, so recent history would tell us that Liverpool should handle this fixture easily.
That being said, Bournemouth look very different this season than they did last season. They currently sit at 7th in the table and appear at the moment to be a legitimate top-10 team. They score 1.67 goals/game, but they still give up 1.47, which is their main problem. Despite the defense being viable this season, it’s still not that great, and I think that will end up costing them against Liverpool. It doesn’t help that they have lost 4 out of their last 5 games and seem to be regressing to the mean slightly. They’ll keep it within reach but won’t be able to handle the Liverpool attack for 90 minutes.
Score Prediction: 2-1 Liverpool
Arsenal (H) vs. Huddersfield Town (A)
For Arsenal, this fixture comes at a great time for them, as they just got done with facing Spurs and Manchester United within 4 days of one another. This fixture seems like it should serve as an opportunity for Unai Emery to rotate his squad a bit and keep his stars healthy while cruising to a comfortable victory. And, in all likelihood, it will be. Arsenal are scoring 2.27 goals/game while Huddersfield allow 1.73, so one would think this could be a long day at the office for Huddersfield. And while Arsenal’s defense isn’t great, Huddersfield’s strikers still have not scored a goal among them this season. I don’t think this one needs much more explanation.
Score Prediction: 2-0 Arsenal
Burnley (H) vs. Brighton and Hove Albion (A)
For all the trash I talked about Burnley in my last article, they weren’t half bad against Liverpool on Wednesday. They were very defensively disciplined and looked very much more like the Burnley we saw last season that made it to the Europa League. However, they just couldn’t handle Liverpool’s better attackers once they were subbed on. They didn’t really stand much of a chance with a tired defense against a fresh Mo Salah and Bobby Firmino. Despite this, though, they did show signs of improvement. They had a couple of great chances for goals, one of which they capitalized on. Most of those, though, they were offside (which isn’t surprising seeing how many times they get to try at goals in an average game). Anyway, this week they go up against Brighton, a much more physical, gritty side than Liverpool, and I don’t think they’ll fare that well.
Despite the fact that Shane Duffy, Glenn Murray, and Jose Izquierdo will probably miss this game for Brighton, I still think they end up being stout enough defensively on corners to handle Burnley’s very set piece-based attack. That being said, it is entirely possible that the probable starter, Leon Balogun, loses his assignment on a set piece and it ends up in a goal. His inexperience is something concerning, but ideally Lewis Dunk helps him with that, as well as having the experience of Tuesday when he was forced into action after Duffy was sent off. I also think their attack will be just fine without Murray, and in fact I think it might be better. Florin Andone has come out of the gates firing, with goals in each of the last two games, the former being his first goal for the club. With him and whoever else Chris Hughton decides to start on Saturday up front, they should be able to take advantage of an overall porous Burnley defense and have another productive result.
Score Prediction: 2-0 Brighton
Cardiff City (H) vs. Southampton (A)
This match seems pretty irrelevant on first glance, but it will probably have a big impact on the relegation battle in the league this season, as Cardiff sit in 16th with Southampton in 18th. The fact that Cardiff are even in 16th surprises me, though, as many, including myself, did and still do consider them at high risk for relegation. Despite my opinion, though, Cardiff have been getting better results as of late. Over their last 5 games, they are 2-3, but two of their losses were 1-0 to top-10 sides in Everton and Leicester. Despite this uptick in form recently though, they still seem to have a distinctly Championship-level side, and should find their awful form from the beginning of the season again soon enough. That might have started with the 3-1 loss to West Ham on Tuesday, and if it did then Cardiff fans might want to hold on to their hats (or rather, they would probably throw them at the ground in frustration).
Southampton, on the other hand, come off of a 3-1 loss of their own to Spurs, but seemingly in a better position than Cardiff. Despite being two spots lower than Cardiff in the table at present, most would probably agree that Southampton have the more talented of the two sides. Most would also probably agree that Ralph Hasenhuttl is a better manager than Neil Warnock. These two things matter more in the long-term right now for Southampton though, as Hasenhuttl still needs more time with the team before they can really adapt to hs style. Right now, their main priority needs to be preparing for the second half of the season with Hasenhuttl and leaving the first half behind them. In the short-term, this game to me has boring written all over it from a neutral’s perspective.
Score Prediction: 0-0
Manchester United (H) vs. Fulham (A)
On first glance, this seems like an easy win for United. Facing the 20th place team in the Prem shouldn’t be that hard right? It shouldn’t be, but this is 2018-19 Manchester United. Every game is nerve-wracking. You know it’s been a bad season for United when 8th is a position that makes this season look better than it’s been. Quite literally every game is possible for United to lose this season, including this one. However, I don’t think they will because for as bad as United have been this campaign, Fulham have been exponentially worse. They have the worst defense in the league and an attack that cannot support it enough to be able to get results. In the end though, I don’t really have much to say about this game because United have been so turbulent this season. They can look really good, but it only seems to be in flashes. If they have one of those flashes in this game, they will win comfortably. If they don’t though, they could struggle a bit as they tend to do when a flash doesn’t occur. I will say this though: if United do lose this game, Jose Mourinho should not have a job by Saturday evening. If he can’t beat a side struggling as much as Fulham are, he can’t have that position anymore.
Score Prediction: 2-1 United
West Ham United (H) vs. Crystal Palace (A)
This matchup features two of the more underperforming teams in league, or maybe I should say more disappointing teams in the league. First, West Ham. It doesn’t help when one of your marquee signings goes down injured early in the season, but when you spent as much money as you did to get to 13th in the table, it’s something that needs to be improved. Now, by no means am I saying West Ham spent money poorly in the summer, it’s too early to even think about saying that. What I am saying is that West Ham is a side that is extremely inconsistent and that needs to be getting consistent performances from people other than Felipe Anderson and Marko Arnautovic. Until they make themselves into a consistent side, they’re always going to be extremely difficult to pick.
On the other side, Crystal Palace has done anything but enjoy this campaign so far. They sit 15th in the table, and they are coming off a brutal 3-1 loss to a 10-man Brighton side from the 25-minute mark or so onward. Despite this result, their defense has been half-decent this season, sitting at 1.33 goals allowed/game. It’s the attack that is lacking immensely, sitting at .73 goals scored/game. It seems sometimes as if their attacking strategy is to give the ball to Wilfried Zaha in the box and let him draw a penalty. They need to get their attack straight or they will be in serious danger of being relegated. I don’t see the attack being any better in this game than it has been for the majority, even against a below-average defense.
Score Prediction: 2-1 West Ham
Chelsea (H) vs. Manchester City (A)
The marquee matchup from this matchday, this fixture would have probably been much more enticing earlier in the season, or rather anytime from a couple weeks ago back to the beginning of the season. I only say this because Chelsea seem to have lost it a little in the past couple of games. They had an embarrassing loss to Spurs, followed by a 2-0 win against the worst team in the league (Fulham), which was promptly followed by another embarrassing loss, this time a 2-1 to Wolves. Now don’t get me wrong, I’d rather lose to Wolves than to Fulham, but Chelsea should not be losing to Wolves in the first place. I get that they were rotating players, but a Chelsea squad rotating players still has massive amounts more talent than Wolves (especially because Eden Hazard started!). So while this appears like a great matchup, I don’t trust Chelsea right now to really challenge Manchester City.
As for the Citizens, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they’ve won all of their last 5 Premier League games while scoring at least 2 goals in every one of them. In fact, over their last 5 Prem games, City has scored 18 goals and conceded 4. Ridiculous. There’s a reason they average 3 goals/game, and it’s because bar Liverpool, nobody is really close to being at their level in the Prem right now. Like I said earlier, I don’t really trust Chelsea right now to challenge Manchester City, and the more I look at the numbers the more I agree with the numbers.
Score Prediction: 3-1 Manchester City
Leicester City (H) vs. Tottenham Hotspur (A)
I would like to take this time to congratulate myself on a perfect prediction from Wednesday, as I said Leicester and Fulham would play to a 1-1 draw and that is exactly what happened. I’m basically just a prediction genius at this point (none of my other predictions were exactly correct I don’t think). Now on to the actual analysis of this match. As I mentioned for Wednesday’s game, Leicester’s attack has been flat for some time now, and there’s no reason to believe they can break the Spurs defense easier than the Fulham defense. So, in terms of goals for Leicester, I don’t see very many.
On the opposite side though, Spurs’ attack has been pretty hot, despite their fairly tame start to this campaign. In their last 5 Premier League games, they have scored 2 or more goals 4 out of the 5. They stomped on Southampton on Wednesday, winning 3-1, and I’m tempted to predict a similar result in this one. But, when looking at the numbers, Spurs’ defense only allows 1.07 goals/game, and seeing as Leicester could only put one past a horrendous Fulham defense on Wednesday, there is no reason for me to believe that they will put any by the Spurs’ back line Saturday.
Score Prediction: 2-0 Spurs
Newcastle United (H) vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers (A)
Both of these sides are probably feeling pretty good about themselves right now. Newcastle won three straight before their loss to West Ham, but they drew Everton this past week, putting them back on track. The biggest problem for Newcastle, though, is that those three wins were the only three they have had all season. Despite that though, I can’t help but think that Rafa Benitez has somehow found a way to get that extremely budget team to play decent football. Their options are very thin in basically every position, but Rafa has seemingly put together a functioning team from what seems like almost nothing.
As for Wolves, I mentioned their poor form in the last article and somewhat wrote them off facing Chelsea on that kind of form.
Then they promptly laughed in my face in the process of beating Chelsea.
For that reason alone, I’m tempted to pick them in this matchup. Despite having not played well before the Chelsea game, it does take a ton of effort to beat Chelsea, especially when Eden Hazard is starting. But I just can't get over the fact that they lost to Cardiff and Huddersfield in back to back fixtures (not to mention Huddersfield shut them out!). Wolves also have the advantage in just about every statistic, which should lead me to pick them.
Score Prediction: 1-1
Everton (H) vs. Watford (A)
Despite some ups and downs to begin the season, Everton are now in 6th in the table, which is obviously a great thing for them. However, through recent weeks, their attack, much like Leicester’s, has been fairly flat. Everton haven’t scored multiple goals in a game since early November against Brighton. This was shown this past match where they drew 1-1 with Newcastle, a result that a 6th place team should not be playing to. Again drawing similarities to Leicester, if Everton can only put one past Newcastle, what can they do against the big sides in England? The answer is that it doesn’t matter this week because Watford are not one of the big sides in England last I checked.
In fact, last I checked, Watford were in free fall. They were great at the beginning of the season, as Jose Holebas and others were playing out of their minds while Watford sat close to the top of the table for some time. But as time has passed, Watford has been the team to suffer from regression to the mean more than anyone else. They now sit in 11th place, having given up multiple goals in each of their past three matches. It also seems to be all-or-nothing for the Hornets, as they have won 6, drawn only 2 and lost 7 this season. This line is leading me towards a result for one team, and from what I’ve said here, it should be pretty obvious who that team is.
Score Prediction: 1-0 Everton