With the FA Cup 3rd Round taking centre stage next week, The Big Kick Off brings you the latest round of Premier League Match Predictions for Matchweek 21.
We get underway on Saturday lunchtime with the New Year’s Day clash between Arsenal and Man City the first match of the eight – so far – surviving fixtures.
The standout match this weekend is on Sunday, when Chelsea host Liverpool at Stamford Bridge. And both teams will be looking for better results than they achieved in Matchweek 20!
So what did we learn in Matchweek 20?
Well, first of all, the title race looks all but over.
In the latest betting to win the title, Pep’s men are 1/12 (1.08). Basically, they are unbackable.
This is because City now has an 8 points lead over closest rivals Chelsea at the top of the table.
Third-place Liverpool are 9 points behind but do have a game in hand. Win that, and they will close the gap to 6 points.
We also now can confirm that we have seen the return to form of Harry Kane.
The England striker found the net in his third match in succession. And only a tight VAR call, prevented Kane from scoring a brace against Southampton!
And at Old Trafford on Thursday, we discovered that United players actually can put a shift in when they want to.
There was no real visible sulking on view this time around. This might be down to the fact that Bruno Fernandes was serving a ban for persistently getting booked.
Also, it was notable that Marcus Rashford was an unused substitute against Burnley.
United manager Ralf Rangnick expressed his disappointment in the team that sulked its way to an undeserved point at St James’ Park on Monday.
So Rashford’s non-inclusion on Thursday could be seen as a direct accusation of who Rangnick believes is causing some of the problems.
Although in fairness to the England striker, I don’t believe he is the only one.
Matchweek 21 Premier League Match Predictions
Now let’s get on with our match predictions for Matchweek 21 of the Premier League.
First of all, we’re already down to eight fixtures, with Leicester v Norwich and Southampton v Newcastle already falling foul of covid.
Don’t be too surprised to see one or two more fixtures get the chop either.
Arsenal v Man City – 12.30pm Saturday
The Gunners have won their last four matches. A run that has seen them climb into the top 4.
In recent weeks they have beaten Norwich, Leeds, West Ham, and Southampton.
Prior to that, they’ve lost to Everton, Man Utd, and Liverpool. Take out Everton, and therein lies the problem.
The Gunners can’t beat the top sides.
City is on a roll at the moment. They have won 10 matches in a row, and are now a betting certainty to win the Premier League title.
Is City due a slip-up? They weren’t at their usual best in their 1-0 win away to Brentford on Wednesday night.
Add to that the fact Arsenal has just had a few days off, and could this be their chance to finally beat a top-ranking side for the first time in what seems like living memory?
They may well cause an upset, but I’m not backing it.
- Verdict CITY WIN
Watford v Spurs – 3pm Saturday
The Hornets got thrashed 4-1 at the hands of West Ham on Tuesday night and they are now in danger of going straight back down.
They will soon be losing striker Dennis to the Africa Cup of Nations, and at the moment, he is their only shining light.
In their five matches, since they beat fellow strugglers Manchester United (sorry Utd fans), the Hornets have lost five in a row, conceding 15 goals in the process.
As for Spurs, they are now seven unbeaten under Conte in the Premier League, and they look like their swagger has returned.
The London club also has Harry Kane scoring again, and that I feel will play a part in yet another defeat for Watford on Saturday.
- Verdict – TOTTENHAM WIN
Crystal Palace v West Ham – 5.30pm Saturday
The final match on Saturday is a London derby between two teams who have both been shown indifferent form of late.
Both did have comfortable wins in midweek though.
Palace made short work of Norwich, beating them 3-0 on Tuesday. While West Ham thrashed Watford 4-1 on the same night.
This match could have any of three results. Which is why I’m sitting on the fence and going for a draw!
- Verdict – DRAW
Brentford v Aston Villa – 2pm Sunday
Of the three promoted teams, Brentford seems to be the only one who is currently making a fist of things.
The Bees may have lost to Man City on Wednesday, but they didn’t capitulate.
They have lost their last two matches though, and on Sunday they face an in-form Villa side who was beaten by Chelsea last weekend, but has been in decent form of late.
In the past this season, I have had my fingers burnt betting against Brentford. And while I’m aware that could happen again on Sunday, I’m still backing Villa to win.
- Verdict – ASTON VILLA WIN
Everton v Brighton – 2pm Sunday
The Toffees haven’t played since 16th December, and no one really knows what to expect when they do return.
They weren’t exactly in good form before the recent postponements!
We also don’t know what sort of team they might be able to field on Sunday.
As for the Seagulls, they recently managed to beat Brentford 2-0, ending an 11 match run without a win. They followed that up with an impressive 1-1 draw away to Chelsea in their next match.
This one is hard to call, but I’m going for Brighton to get another positive result.
- Verdict – BRIGHTON WIN
Leeds v Burnley – 2pm Sunday
This is the sort of match that makes predicting outcomes such fun.
I say that in jest!! There is little to no form to go on for either side, and neither has been consistent when they have played recently.
Leeds has home advantage, while for me Burnley has the know-how when it comes to Premier League survival.
So which side of the debate will prevail? Home advantage, or survival know-how?
I’m going to go with the Clarets.
Thursday night’s match at Old Trafford got some miles in the legs for Sean Dyche’s team after a two-week break, and I think that might be enough to see them defeat Bielsa’s struggling Leeds team.
- Verdict – BURNLEY WIN
Chelsea v Liverpool – 4.30pm Sunday
The big fixture of the weekend, and it’s second against third, and more good news for Man City, as someone or both, will drop points.
Chelsea in particular has dropped too many points of late. They appeared to be on their way back to form, but were then held to a 1-1 draw at home to Brighton last Wednesday.
As for Liverpool, they’ve not been at their best recently either. Mohamad Salah was always going to find it hard to maintain the out-of-this-world form he has shown for most of this season.
Therefore when he has a slight off day and misses a penalty, as he did against Leicester, we’re all shocked.
The simple facts of the matter are that Salah can’t maintain that impeccable level forever.
And when he drops, so does Liverpool.
I think the big winners here will be Manchester City, and the match will be a draw.
- Verdict – DRAW
Man Utd v Wolves – 5.30pm Monday
The final match before the FA Cup break sees Man Utd take on Wolves at Old Trafford.
This is one of those fixtures where I’m siding with the home team, but with some reservations. And then after all that, the home team will probably go on to win easily!
To explain in more detail, I can see Wolves causing United plenty of problems.
They will be well organised, will sit back, and are just the sort of team that United has struggled against in recent years.
I can see United winning a scrappy match 1-0, or maybe Wolves even scraping a draw.
So that means United will probably win four or five-nil, and make a complete mockery of my prediction. Either way, home win!!
- Verdict – MAN UTD WIN