Silly season started early this year, with Liverpool overpaying for a centre-back, before scamming Barcelona out of an outrageous sum of money for Coutinho. You have to wonder, how many over-inflated fees will be paid this month, although perhaps the fact that the title race is over, will persuade the big teams to hold back until the summer. Liverpool and Manchester City is the standout game of the weekend and will no doubt be an absolute classic, given the footballing philosophies of the respective teams. Here is how I see that and the rest of the games going down:
Chelsea vs Leicester
Everyone in the Premier League is pissed off: Man City is running away with it, which means that everybody else has to keep themselves entertained in some way. Conte has decided that the best way to do this, is by getting into a spat with Mourinho, describing him as little and fake amongst other things. Apart from ensuring that we remain top-4, the cups are probably going to be our focus from here on in, so it’s possible that Conte will rest some players, with this game sandwiched, between two big games against Arsenal. However, we still will have enough for Leicester at home, with the most likely score being 2-1 to Chelsea.
Crystal Palace vs Burnley
It’s amazing to think that Palace didn’t manage a single goal or point in their first 7 games, and are now sitting in 14th, which only goes to show what an amazing job Hodgson has done since his appointment. Burnley is also having a stunningly good season, which means that this game could go either way, my instinct, however, is that it will end up in a 1-1 draw.
West Ham vs Huddersfield
Moyes is another new manager, who has done a pretty good job if you don’t hold the dreary football that he plays against him (I do), West Ham seem like they will probably be safe this season. However, I think that they will lose 2-1 to eleventh place Huddersfield, who are defying all the doom and gloom that surrounded them at the start of the season.
Newcastle vs Swansea
Two of the worst teams to watch in the league square off in a match that you can almost guarantee will be decided by a single goal. The smart money is on it going to Newcastle, because Swansea plays as if they couldn’t score in a brothel, thus with great regret: 1-0 Newcastle.
Watford vs Southampton
Southampton is the surprise of the season for all the wrong reasons: a previously stable Premier League club, that got ideas above their station, sacked a successful manager and are now hovering above the relegation zone. Though, you have to assume that they will be OK, as long as they spend the £75 million quid that they stole from Liverpool well. Still, they won’t win this game: 3-1 to Watford.
West Brom vs Brighton
Alan Pardew isn’t the right answer to any question and replacing Mr dependable, Tony Pulis with him, still rates as one of the worst decisions that I can remember a Premier League club making. West Brom continues to flounder under Pardew, and it’s starting to look like their love affair with the Premier League may be coming to an end this season. Brighton on the other hand, continue to hover around mid-table, which is why I believe that they will secure a vital 2-1 away win.
Tottenham vs Everton
If all things were equal then you would expect, Tottenham to win this game. However, the kind of football that Big Sam plays is anathema to Tottenham, which in turn may cause them problems: it’s easy to imagine Everton putting in a dogged defensive display, before stealing a late equalizer. The other story-line in this game is the battle between England’s past and England’s future, with Kane being the league’s top-scorer and Shrek enjoying a renaissance on Merseyside, having banged in an impressive 10 goals. Despite all of this I think Spurs will probably win, with 2-1 being the most likely score.
Bournemouth vs Arsenal
Arsenal scored a fluky late wondergoal against Chelsea, preventing us from getting a well-deserved three points. Bournemouth away is the kind of game that they tend to drop points in, however, unfortunately, I don’t see that happening this time around: 2-1 Arsenal.
Liverpool vs Manchester City
Liverpool fans are famous for living in the past: constantly droning on about their former glories, instead of facing the reality, that they haven’t won anything for almost three decades. Liverpool, the club decided to join them in that time-warp this week: beginning when their star South American striker was accused of racially abusing a rival player (Luis Suarez anyone?) before they then sold their other star South American to Barcelona. I personally think that £142 million for Coutinho is pretty good business and I would be horrified if Chelsea paid that amount for him, but that probably won’t help Liverpool against City, who can’t stop winning. Still, I think it will be an exciting and close game, which means that I am plumping for a 2-2 draw.
Manchester United vs Stoke
Stoke is terrible and somehow managed to lose to the 'stadiumless' basket case that is Coventry City, which doesn’t bode very well for their chances against Man United. As much as I would like to see them turn over the Mancs, it just doesn’t seem very likely, which is why I am predicting a 4-0 win for Mourinho’s men.