Strangers Chelsea are back from the Club World Cup, and we have a full complement of matches this weekend, so here goes with our Matchweek 26 Premier League match predictions from The Big Kick Off

Yes, Thomas Tuchel’s team are the new Club World Cup champions, having beaten Palmeiras 2-1 in last Saturday’s final. This was the Blues’ first world club win, and they have won every trophy available to them under the ownership of Roman Abramovich, so a huge congratulations to them.

I don’t see them adding another Premier League title to their collection this season though. Chelsea are now 16 points behind Man City, although they do have one game in hand.

Elsewhere, Liverpool are still hanging in there in the title race. Jurgen Klopp’s men are 9 points behind with a game in hand, and they look to be back to their best. 

As good as Man City have been this season, they can’t afford any slips, as Liverpool are still just hanging in there. 

Anyway, with a rare full quota of matches this weekend, let’s get straight into our Premier league match predictions for Matchweek 26. 

West Ham v Newcastle – Saturday 12.30pm

Newcastle, on a three match winning run, visit London to take on West Ham. 

Star of the last two wins for Eddie Howe’s team, Kieran Trippier is out injured, which is a massive blow to the Geordies.

As for West Ham, they’re still doing okay, if not quite as well as earlier in the season. 4 points from matches against Watford at home and Leicester away is decent enough, and in Jarrod Bowen, they have one of the form players in the Premier League.

I feel this will be either a home win or a draw, and I’m going to go for the home team to shade it.

  • Verdict – WEST HAM WIN

Arsenal v Brentford – Saturday 3pm

The Gunners held out well to beat Wolves with 10 men, and were criticised for celebrating like they’d just won the league.

It did end a poor run of form for Arsenal, and a home match against Brentford is the ideal opportunity for Arsenal to record back-to-back wins and get some momentum going again.

Arsenal will also feel they owe Brentford for the defeat the Bees inflicted on them on the opening day of the season.

As for Brentford, they did end their run of five successive defeats when they drew 0-0 with Crystal Palace last Saturday. But they have been struggling lately, and I expect to see those struggles continue.

  • Verdict – ARSENAL WIN 

Aston Villa v Watford – Saturday 3pm

Steven Gerrard will be disappointed with the manner of last weekend’s defeat to Newcastle. Villa never really got going in the match and were well beaten in the end.

It was very unlike Villa under his leadership.

As for Watford, they are now three matches without a goal under Roy Hodgson, and it’s really hard to see any light at the end of the tunnel.

They’ve picked up just 2 points from the last 33 available.It really does look dire for the Hornets. 

I can only see Villa bouncing back with a win.

  • Verdict – VILLA WIN

Brighton v Burnley – Saturday 3pm

I thought the Seagulls were very unlucky to leave Old Trafford with nothing on Tuesday. 

Graham Potter’s team seems to be back at the high level they were showing at the start of the season. The winless run they went through pre Christmas is now well and truly behind them.

As for Burnley, they’ve had some good results lately, draws with Man Utd and Arsenal spring to mind. But they just can’t win matches, and that’s what they desperately need at the moment.

I feel with Brighton’s decent form along with home advantage, it’s going to be another disappointing day for the Clarets.

  • Verdict – BRIGHTON WIN

Crystal Palace v Chelsea – Saturday 3pm

I don’t feel Palace are playing too badly at the moment, but they are not picking up the results. 

Earlier in the season they were pretty ruthlessly despatched by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, and I can only see the newly crowned World Club Champions winning again.  

The break from Premier League action may well have done the Blues a favour. 

  • Verdict – CHELSEA WIN

Liverpool v Norwich – Saturday 3pm

The Reds are looking ruthless again, and now look back to their best. Diogo Jota may be injured, but apart from that, Liverpool are back up to their full contingent.

Norwich have had a decent few weeks, but back-to-back matches with Man City and Liverpool are the last thing you need in a relegation fight.

Pep’s City thrashed the Canaries last week, and there is now a gap opening between the bottom 3 and Newcastle.

Another bad defeat here, coupled with Newcastle getting something at West Ham, could be a massive setback to the Canaries chances of staying up. 

  • Verdict – LIVERPOOL WIN

Southampton v Everton – Saturday 3pm

The Saints have a great home record, and are currently on a great run of form.

In their last three fixtures, they’ve taken 5 points from matches against Manchester City, Manchester United, and Spurs. That’s a good run in anybody’s book.

Everton had a great and much needed win over Leeds last Saturday, ending a four match losing streak.

I would expect the combination of Lampard’s influence and the new signings made in January to see Everton improve. But I don’t see it being enough to beat the Saints.

I’m going for Southampton to just edge this, although the draw wouldn’t be a huge shock.

  • Verdict – SOUTHAMPTON WIN

Man City v Spurs – Saturday 5.30pm

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been dreading making Spurs predictions, as it’s difficult to know which version is going to turn up.

Thankfully, that’s not a problem this week, as it doesn’t matter which version turns up, they are getting beat.

City have recovered well from their dip in form. The draw at Southampton and 2-0 win over Brentford weren’t the greatest of results by City standards, so Pep must have been mightily relieved to put four past Norwich last Saturday, and five past Sporting in midweek. 

It must be stressful at times being a Man City fan!

  • Verdict – MAN CITY WIN 

Leeds v Man Utd – Sunday 2pm

Three rare events occurred at Old Trafford on Tuesday night. Ronaldo scored, United kept a clean sheet, and they even managed to win the match.

Quite how, I’m not sure, as it was far from convincing from Ralf Rangnick’s men.

As for Leeds United, they had a shocker away to Everton last weekend. 

So far, they’ve managed to pick up the odd win here and there that has seen them just keep themselves ahead of the relegation zone.   

I do think they are the sort of team who might play into the hands of Ronaldo and co though, and I can see Manchester United winning this one with some to spare.

  • Verdict – MAN UTD WIN

Wolves v Leicester – Sunday 4.30pm

Wolves recovered brilliantly from their home loss to Arsenal by going down to London and beating Spurs 2-0.

As good as that win was, Spurs aren’t in great shape at the moment, and I don’t think the result suddenly changes much at Molineux.

Wolves are having an excellent season though. They are measly at the back, and they are scoring just enough goals to keep the wins coming.

As for Leicester, their topsy-turvy season continues. They look decent one week, and then awful the next. 

They’re hampered by injuries, and they’ve also forgotten how to defend set pieces. 

I did spot signs of improvement in their 2-0 defeat away to Liverpool, and also in their 2-2 home draw with West Ham.

The Foxes still have goals in them, only Liverpool (twice) have stopped them scoring recently, and I can see them sneaking a draw here.

  • Verdict – DRAW

Our Matchweek 26 Premier League Match Predictions article is written by Dean Etheridge. You contact him on LinkedIn, or see more of his work on his football betting website.