Thursday, February 29, 2024

Premier League Preview And Predictions: Are Liverpool Back?

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Mar 10, 2023

We take a look at some of this week’s Premier League fixtures, including a big game at Craven Cottage when European hopefuls Fulham welcome league leaders Arsenal, and a massive game for Newcastle to see whether they can revive their European push with a game at home against a revived Wolves.

This Week’s Premier League Fixtures

Bournemouth v Liverpool
Everton v Brentford
Leeds v Brighton
Leicester v Chelsea
Tottenham Hotspur v Nottingham Forest
Crystal Palace v Man City
Fulham v Arsenal
Man United v Southampton
West Ham v Aston Villa
Newcastle v Wolves

Bournemouth v Liverpool

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Where do you begin with Bournemouth? I have been complaining about them in recent weeks due to their lack of goal threat, and they go to Arsenal and take the lead within the first 10 seconds of the game. They then make it 2-0 just after halftime, and it looks like they are on course for an incredible result.

Then, the Bournemouth of old reared its ugly head again. At the start of the season, Bournemouth was free-scoring, but could not defend, and this cost them points against Spurs and Leeds in back to back thrillers. The same happened again here, conceded 3 goals in the last 30 minutes, including a 97th minute winner from Reiss Nelson.

Bournemouth needs to find the happy medium between their all-or-nothing approach, or their defensively solid approach. They now sit at joint bottom of the league with 13 games left to play, and the teams around them pick up points. If Bournemouth does not start winning games, they will quickly find themselves adrift.

What on earth happened at Anfield last week? You would have been forgiven for thinking that United may have won this game considering the form of both sides. I thought it would be a close game but with United shading it. I do not think anyone would have predicted a 7-0 win for Liverpool.

The question is, was Liverpool that good or were United that bad? The answer, a mix of both. Liverpool was brilliant going forward. They attacked with pace and intent, they were patient when they had to be, and everything clicked and seemed to fall in place nicely for them.

United was shocking, and it did play into Liverpool’s hands heavily. Fernandes’ reluctance to track back, mixed in with Luke Shaw’s worst game in recent memory, gave Liverpool an even bigger advantage. This will give Liverpool the confidence now to achieve, what previously was, an unlikely top 4 finish.

This surely can only go one way. Bournemouth is bottom of the league, and Liverpool is coming into this off the back of a 7-0 win against one of their biggest rivals. Surely an easy away win here.

Prediction: Bournemouth 0 – 4 Liverpool

Everton v Brentford

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Everton was unfortunate to not get a win against Nottingham Forest at the weekend. They went in front twice, through a Gray penalty and a Doucoure header, both being scored just before the half-hour mark, only to be pegged back twice by Forest’s inform man, Brennan Johnson. His second, a lovely curling effort, forced Everton to drop two points, which would have taken them out of the bottom 3.

I keep saying week after week, Sean Dyche guarantees you points at this level. A point away against a Forest side that has been brilliant at home lately is a good result for them. The fact that they should probably have won, and that they will be disappointed to have not won, shows how far Dyche has taken this team already.

There are a lot of teams involved in this relegation fight, and Everton just needs to focus on themselves and keep picking up points. Winning and home, and going for draws away from home will see them pick points up. They could do with being a bit more defensively solid, which Dyche will drill into them, as he hates his team leaking goals.

Brentford continued their brilliant home form with a big victory over European hopefuls Fulham. Brentford has only lost once at home this season, that game being their 3-0 loss against league leaders Arsenal. Brentford, like Fulham, has an outside chance of achieving a European spot, which would cap off an incredible season for them.

Ivan Toney scored his 15th Premier League goal of the season, this time from the penalty spot. He is such a big player for Brentford, and it is so important for a team to have someone they can rely on from the penalty spot. Toney has not yet missed from the spot, scoring all 10 of his Premier League penalty kicks.

It will be an interesting back end of the season for Brentford. A top-half finish is a great achievement, but their players, and manager, want more, and with teams above them faltering, they have every chance of closing the gap. Even if they fall short, it has still been an incredible season for them, and they can build on that progress next year.

This could be quite a difficult game to call. Everton is at home, and Dyche will want a defensively resolute display. Brentford is pushing for Europe, but it could still be a tricky game for them. I think both sides will cancel each other out with a score draw.

Prediction: Everton 1 – 1 Brentford

Crystal Palace v Man City

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This has the opportunity to be an absolute cracker of a game. Crystal Palace always seems to turn up against Man City, especially when they are at home. Crystal Palace has such an exciting, attacking team, and it always has the ability to hurt teams, especially when they turn up. The crowd will certainly be up for this one as well.

Palace has been in dire form lately, however. They have not won in their last 9 games, a run stretching all the way back to a 4-0 home loss against Spurs. In that time, they scored just 4 goals and conceded 11. They have had some strange results considering the fact they are out of form, however. They picked up points against Liverpool and Man United, they should have beat Brentford away but only came away with a point, and were the better team against Brighton, yet only came away with a point again.

Last week, they faced Aston Villa away from home in a game that lacked any quality. Aston Villa only managed one shot on target, whereas Palace, who went down to 10 men after Doucoure picked up a second yellow, did not manage a single shot on target. For a side oozing with attacking talent, that is criminal.

Palace is slowly getting dragged into this relegation fight. Weeks ago they looked relatively safe, but every other team has been picking up points, and there is now a 5-point gap between them and 18th-placed Everton. Vieira needs to get back to winning ways and quick. Palace has been a mainstay in the Premier League in recent years, and their team is too good to go down.

I am not sure why Man City always seem to struggle against Crystal Palace. Earlier in the season, at The Etihad, City found themselves 2-0 down against Palace after 21 minutes and finished the half without a goal. After the restart, Bernardo Silva kicked the game back into life, before a Haaland hat trick within 19 minutes gave City a 4-2 win.

Man City followed up their routine win over Bournemouth with a good win at home against Newcastle. They restricted Newcastle to very little, and star boy Phil Foden gave City the lead with a tidy finish after 15 minutes, continuing his impressive form in front of goal. Bernardo Silva made sure the home side would come away with all 3 points after 67 minutes, netting his 4th goal of the season, and City’s second of the game.

5 points still separate City and Arsenal, but City is definitely in this for the long haul. City has shown time and time again that they, probably, perform best at this stage of the season in the league. We saw it when they pipped United to the title on the final day of the season, and we saw it when they took Liverpool all the way to the final game last year. They are relentless, and they will continue to put pressure on Arsenal week after week.

This could be a perfect time for City to come to Selhurst Park, against an out-of-form Crystal Palace. This game all rests on how Palace decide to play. If they turn up, this will be a brilliant game, if not, then City will be taking home an easy 3 points. Clean sheets have been hard to come by lately for Man City, and I think this will continue here, but they will still come away with the win.

Prediction: Crystal Palace 1 – 3 Man City

Fulham v Arsenal

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Fulham’s run of 4 games without a loss came to an end at the weekend, as they lost 3-2 away against Brentford. Brentford is a tough team to play, especially when they are at home, and it was a good test for Fulham and their European spot ambitions. The game could really have gone either way. Both sides had plenty of shots, whilst Fulham dominated the ball. This is just one of those games that Fulham will have to chalk off and look past now.

Manor Solomon has been in fine form as of late. His goal against Brentford made it 4 games in a row that he has scored. He has had a massive impact since joining Fulham, and he has really carried them through their last few games. He is now Fulham’s joint second top goal scorer in the Premier League, with Mitrovic being first on 11.

Fulham has been a brilliant, welcome addition to the Premier League this year, unlike the others years when they participated. They have been exciting to watch, are a very attacking side, and have done brilliantly so far this season. A top-half finish for them is an incredible achievement, let alone to be chasing a European spot. This is crunch time for them, they either put down a marker for everyone else to see, or they fade away and drop out of the race for European football.

What a game Arsenal had last week, they really went through the motions. To concede in the first minute of any game is bad, especially against a team sitting at the bottom of the league. At 2-0, it was embarrassing for Arsenal, they were expected to breeze the game, but they were not performing.

Winning games when not playing your best football is the sign of champions however, and Arsenal showed their credentials by turning the game on its head, going on to win 3-2 courtesy of a Reiss Nelson rocket in the 97th minute. A win here may not have been huge for Arsenal under normal circumstances, but to come back from 2-0 down with 30 minutes left to play, and then win the game, made the result seem 10 times bigger. The players and the fans certainly showed this, and Nelson’s goal sparked jubilant scenes on and off the pitch.

Arsenal are 5 points clear of City, but they are going to get pushed all the way. City is relentless in these situations and Arsenal will not be able to slip up. Even a draw piles the pressure onto Arsenal. The game at The Etihad against City and Arsenal is going to be massive. But if Arsenal can keep a 5-point gap between themselves and City until that point, a defeat will not be overly detrimental.

This should be a very entertaining game. It is a massive test for both sides, for Fulham’s European contention and Arsenal’s Premier League title aspirations. I think this will be a close one and will be separated by a sole goal. I think Arsenal will shade this, but it will be anything but comfortable for them.

Prediction: Fulham 1 – 2 Arsenal

Newcastle v Wolves

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It just is not happening for Newcastle at the moment, is it? They have now suffered back-to-back 2-0 defeats in the Premier League, which has shot their chances of a top 4 finish. They have dropped down into 6th, with Liverpool and Spurs jumping above them, but they do have a game or two in hand on every team above them. They need to get back to winning ways if they want to keep their chances of achieving a Champions League spot alive.

Newcastle is still doing a brilliant job. For them to be in the top 6, and to reach a cup final, is still an incredible achievement, but they need to regroup and get back to winning ways, otherwise all their hard work this season will be undone. Their game against Man City last week was always going to be a difficult one for them. They did not create much, and the issues they have faced in recent weeks recurred again, wasting chances in front of goal.

Newcastle has a big few games coming up. They play Wolves and Nottingham Forest, and then have a huge game against Man United. Their top 4 fate could be decided in these next few weeks. Liverpool is picking up points, and the teams below them are hot on their heels.

Wolves are also in the indifferent form at the moment. In their last 5 games they have won 2, lost 2 and drawn 1, and now find themselves 5 points above the relegation zone. They are picking up points in games where they should be beaten and are dropping points in games where they really should be winning.

They lost at home against an extremely poor Bournemouth side, then went and got a point against an informative Fulham team. They held Liverpool until the 73rd minute and went on to lose, and have now picked up an impressive 1-0 at home against Spurs. Wolves’ were phenomenal defensively against Spurs. Spurs registered 21 shots in that game, but Wolves limited them to just 6 on target. Since Lopetegui took over, they have been brilliant defensively, and they showcased this here.

Wolves are not safe yet, so they cannot let up. Despite them sitting 13th, they are still in this relegation dogfight with 9 other teams, all of whom are picking up points at different stages of the season. A run of losses for Wolves could see them dropping back down the table, but a few more draws and wins could see them open up a comfortable gap.

This is a hard game to call. Newcastle is struggling, especially in front of goal at the moment. It is a perfect time for a side to come and play them, and Wolves could benefit from this. Wolves are getting stronger and stronger each week, and defensively they now look solid. This could easily go down as a 0-0 bore draw, but I have a feeling Wolves will sneak this, piling further misery onto Newcastle.

Prediction: Newcastle 0 – 1 Wolves

Other Predictions

  • Leeds 0 – 2 Brighton
  • Leicester 1 – 1 Chelsea
  • Tottenham Hotspur 2 – 0 Nottingham Forest
  • Man United 2 – 0 Southampton
  • West Ham 1 – 1 Aston Villa

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