Paul Merson has made his predictions for this weekend’s fixtures (Picture: Sky Sports)
Paul Merson has made his predictions for this weekend’s Premier League games with Chelsea hosting Leeds United, Arsenal’s taking on Southampton, Manchester United travelling to Norwich City and Liverpool welcoming Aston Villa to Anfield.
Chelsea take on Marcelo Bielsa’s revitalised Leeds in search of a much-needed victory after the Blues lost just their second Premier League match of the season against West Ham last Saturday, before following that up with a disappointing 3-3 draw against Zenit St Peterbusrg in the Champions League.
The loss against the Hammers meant that Chelsea dropped to third place in the table – two points behind current leader Manchester City and one adrift of Liverpool.
The west London club look set to be without several key players for the crucial clash, with Trevoh Chalobah, Ben Chilwell, N’Golo Kante and Jorginho all missing Wednesday’s game against Zenit on Wednesday, while Mateo Kovacic was also unavailable after contracting Covid-19.
Manchester United travel to bottom of the table Norwich City on the back of seven points from their last three top flight matches against Chelsea, Arsenal and Crystal Palace.
Chelsea need to get back to winning ways this weekend (Picture: Getty)
The fixture will be Ralf Rangnick’s first away game in the Premier League since he became the Red Devils’ interim boss last month.
Norwich won’t be a pushover though, with the Canaries only losing one of their last five Premier League matches – winning two and drawing two of those fixtures.
Meanwhile, Arsenal head into their clash against Southampton looking to bounce back from their disappointing defeats against United and Everton in their last two matches.
Former Chelsea star Willy Caballero, 40, looks set to make his Saints debut at the Emirates Stadium after joining the club on a short-term deal earlier this week following injuries to first-team goalkeepers Fraser Forster and Alex McCarthy.
Elsewhere, Steven Gerrard returns to Anfield with his Aston Villa team to take on Liverpool, while Manchester City face Wolves and Leicester City host Newcastle United.
Merson has backed Chelsea and United to pick up comfortable victories and has also made his predictions for the rest of this weekend’s fixtures with SportsKeeda.
Brentford vs Watford
This is a massive football game for both teams. Brentford have got some tough fixtures coming up this month.
Ivan Toney is still out with Covid-19 and won’t play this game.
He’s a big miss for them. If Toney plays, I give them every chance. Without him, I don’t see how they’ll hurt Watford.
Brentford will likely go after this game and that will play into Watford’s hands.
This could be a bad result for Brentford, and I’m predicting a crucial victory for Claudio Ranieri’s Watford this weekend.
Prediction: Brentford 1-2 Watford
Manchester City vs Wolves
I don’t see Wolves scoring a single goal against Manchester City.
They can hold on for quite a bit and have been tight at the back, but they just aren’t able to find the back of the net.
I thought Wolves did very well against Liverpool last week, but they’ve got to take their chances when they push forward.
Bernardo Silva is at the top of his game and is doing very well for himself.
Mahrez, Sterling, and De Bruyne have been untouchable in the team in the past – now, Bernardo Silva is the talisman.
Pep Guardiola has been pretty fortunate in that sense.
I think Bernardo Silva’s the best Portuguese player in the Premier League at the moment. It isn’t even close, is it?
Make no mistake – he’s never going to achieve the heights Ronaldo has scaled in his career.
Merson thinks that Bernardo Silva is the best Portuguese player in the Premier League (Getty)
At the moment, however, you’d be hard-pressed to look past Bernardo Silva.
With the talent Pep Guardiola has at his disposal, I’m going to go with a very comfortable victory for Manchester City.
Prediction: Manchester City 2-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Chelsea vs Leeds United
This is a big game for Chelsea. They were poor against a West Ham side that wasn’t really going anywhere and have a few defensive issues to fix at the moment.
Mendy has been absolutely outstanding so far but made a mistake against West Ham – Tuchel will just have to let it go at this point.
Chelsea still have miles too much for Leeds, and they did give them the run-around last season.
Leeds haven’t been major goalscorers in the Premier League this season and I think Chelsea will go back to keeping a clean sheet in this game.
Prediction: Chelsea 3-0 Leeds United
Liverpool vs Aston Villa
Aston Villa will cause Liverpool a few problems along the way this weekend, but will their defence turn up?
Steven Gerrard’s biggest problem at the moment is consistency – can they step up for a full 90 minutes?
They managed it against Crystal Palace, but not against Brighton and Leicester.
Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane played 60 minutes in what effectively was a dead rubber in the Champions League, and fair play to them.
Who wouldn’t want to play at the San Siro? I think Liverpool have too much quality for Aston Villa and should be able to win this game.
Prediction: Liverpool 3-1 Aston Villa
Steven Gerrard will make his Anfield return this weekend (Picture: Getty)
Arsenal vs Southampton
This is a huge Premier League game for Arsenal. These are the games they have managed to win this season.
You don’t really know what you’re going to get with Southampton. One minute they’re good, and the next, they’re not.
I think Aubameyang will start again this weekend, but he needs to work hard. His form has taken a dip.
Arsenal have a lot of youngsters at the moment and as captain, he needs to set an example.
When he works hard, Arsenal are very good, and that shows how the youngsters look up to him. He’s the catalyst for the team and the young kids in the squad respect him.
Mikel Arteta will realize that this is a crucial game. If they win this fixture, it puts them in a nice position.
They can kick on after this game and have a few nice fixtures coming up.
I’m going to go with an Arsenal victory this weekend.
Prediction: Arsenal 2-0 Southampton
Merson has backed Arsenal to beat Southampton this weekend (Picture: Getty)
Norwich City vs Manchester United
Manchester United rested many of their key players in the Champions League this week.
They’ve gone a couple of games without defeat and it now seems all rosy again at Manchester United.
We’ve seen this a lot, with both Manchester United and Arsenal – they go on impressive unbeaten runs.
If United win this game, they’re right back in the top-four hunt.
They’ve had a set of challenging games over the past month, but what follows hard fixtures? Easy fixtures.
Premier League fixtures come quickly over Christmas and I don’t think Manchester United will have much of a problem against Norwich.
Prediction: Norwich City 1-3 Manchester United
Burnley vs West Ham United
Burnley are a hard team to beat and they most likely won’t go down this season. A lot depends on Cornet’s fitness this weekend.
He wreaked havoc against Newcastle and I thought Burnley would go on to win. After he picked up his knock, their attack disappeared.
This is another big game for West Ham. They got a massive result against Chelsea last week and have been excellent this season.
West Ham have a big team and have been very strong at set-pieces.
You need to defend well when you go to Burnley and I think David Moyes will pick up another victory here.
Prediction: Burnley 0-2 West Ham United
Leicester City vs Newcastle United
Newcastle have got to highlight the importance of this game.
At the start of the Premier League season, you’d think this would be a tough game for them.
Now, you’re going to Leicester expecting to score at least one goal.
There’s no point playing for a draw – Newcastle need to have a go, score goals, and hope their defenders keep it tight.
They’re in trouble at the moment and they need to make this game count.
Leicester are all over the place at the moment but with Newcastle’s problems this season, Brendan Rodgers should be able to lead his team to a victory.
Prediction: Leicester City 2-1 Newcastle United
Merson has backed Leicester to beat Eddie Howe’s Newcastle (Picture: Getty)
Crystal Palace vs Everton
Crystal Palace are in a situation where they’re playing well but can’t seem to win a game at the moment.
They keep playing well and losing – that worries me, because when they do start playing badly, they’ll definitely lose.
Injuries have been a massive concern for Everton in the Premier League. Calvert-Lewin is a big miss for them, and I’d make a little bit of an excuse for them because he does improve Everton.
They’ll be a different team when he’s back, but will they be able to keep him?
I don’t think Everton are very good at the moment.
They were very fortunate to win the Arsenal game, and I don’t think they’ll be able to defeat Crystal Palace this weekend.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 2-1 Everton
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Original Post: metro.co.uk