After a lacklustre non-event of an international break, the Premier League is back this weekend commencing the busiest time of the season. By the time we get to New Year’s Eve, nine match weeks will have occurred!
Leicester City v Chelsea
Lunchtime Saturday starts a trend for this weekend, the result seems obvious but you wouldn’t be surprised if the other side won. In this case the head says Chelsea but in front of the home fans Leicester have a chance. Tuchel’s team selection needs to be vibrant and energetic, risking anyone with a injury concern like a Lukaka will back fire on them. The squad is rich with talent, the form of Loftus-Cheek and Hudson-Odoi has shown that lately. Public enemy number one will be former fox Ben Chilwell who will be aiming for a goal which counts this time after his dramatic disallowed effort in last seasons FA Cup Final. The cup final match winner Tielemans is doubtful for this game, his influence on his side is on a par with midfield maestros like Modric at Madrid or Ratakic when at Barca, without him they do not tick.
FPL PLAYER TO WATCH – Ademola Lookman (£6m)
BET SELECT – Chelsea win
Aston Villa v Brighton & Hove Albion
Not sure this is a ideal first game for Steven Gerrard, no doubt the home fans will be buzzing but The Seagulls are a tough cookie. Four draws from their last five games show they are never out of a game, the Liverpool game could have been a win for the away side quite easily. The new coaching team at Villa Park will not have enough time to implement their mindset so a Villa player needs to step up to gain the win. John McGinn or Leon Bailey seem like the two players who could drive the team on but I have a feeling one of the promising crop of youngsters around the squad with their youthful, sprightly energy could be the hero. Robert Sanchez will be a massive loss for Brighton, the teams flow from the back starts with him.
FPL PLAYER TO WATCH – Jacob Ramsey (£4.5m)
BET SELECT – Over 2.5 goals
Burnley v Crystal Palace
Both teams performances when last playing home and away were undoubtably their best of the season, both are bang in form, this is going to be a battle. Palace possess the silky, pacy mode of play while Burnley are the rough housers. Cornet gives the Clarets something different, a similar style to a few Palace players but he will find it tough going up against Marc Guehi and Tyrick Mitchell. England debutant Conor Gallagher will be the class act in the midfield area, Josh Brownhill will be in for a tough day! Of course the first goal is so important in a match but the second in this one will be the winner.
FPL PLAYER TO WATCH – Michael Olise (£5.4m)
BET SELECT – Palace win
Newcastle United v Brentford
Much like the other new managers this weekend this game is too soon for Eddie Howe to make much of a mark on his new squad. With Newcastle though bar Saint-Maxmin and Wilson the players are purely not good enough, you can place a bow tie on a poo but it’s still a poo! Howe has his work cut out till the transfer window opens, this game will be on his radar for a win though. Talk of attacking football from the Toon boss will have to wait, three points are vital. Recent result form has been poor for Brentford but injured players are returning and they always have a plan. A forgotten narrative is the fact Ivan Toney is returning to his old club who never gave him a chance, what a day for him to return to goal scoring? David Raya’s replacement Alvaro Fernandez has been poor so far, he will hope he can keep a clean sheet as long as possible Saturday why the outfielders nab a goal or two.
FPL PLAYER TO WATCH – Saman Ghoddos (£5.3m)
BET SELECT – Double chance, draw or Brentford win
Norwich City v Southampton
Dean Smith to Norwich has disaster written all over it, he’s bumbled his way through his managerial career at Brentford and Villa and now arrives at Carrow Road as a downgrade on Farke. Targeting Hussenhuti would have made more sense but then maybe they do like being a yo yo side? The visiting Saints have more than enough defensively to resist any early game charge by the Canaries. The best the home fans can hope for is a heroic rear guard performance like the Brentford game as Saints hold numerous attacking threats. Adam Armstrong will be looking to score in successive games for the Saints, his ability to take shots on with either foot from anywhere in or around the box could be the X Factor in this match.
FPL PLAYER TO WATCH – Jan Bednarek (£4.4m)
BET SELECT – Southampton win
Watford v Manchester Utd
I fear for the Hornets in this game, the plan will be counter attack but the home fans surely will be excited at the thought Utd are there for the taking. The atmosphere in the stadium will breed errors in judgement by the home side and the big game individuals for the away team will capitalise numerous times. It’s not often Utd play at 3pm on a Saturday, away from the live TV coverage Ole and his troops can just play football, the dysfunctional superstars are at Vicarage Road and need to kick off this busy period by putting on a show.
FPL PLAYER TO WATCH – Alex Telles (£5m)
BET SELECT – Man Utd win over 3.5 goals
Wolverhampton Wanderers v West Ham
The Hammers have been so impressive while winning their last four games, visiting Molineux will not phase them, winning is a habit and they expect to feed their habit again this weekend. Wolves had a good run till the defeat by Palace but even the defending champs lost to them. Set pieces could be key in this game, Soucek has been quiet goalscoring wise this term, it’s time for him to impact games with goals again. Hwang has looked very lively for Wolves but the West Ham defence have been imperious this season. His partnership being built with Jimenez will need to do what many other forwards have failed to do to the Hammers, score multiple times to get a win. It’s hard to see past a West Ham win and top four talk continuing.
FPL PLAYER TO WATCH – Said Benrahma (£6.4m)
BET SELECT – West Ham win
Liverpool v Arsenal
If you know a Arsenal fan it’s been unbearable since their form improved, a title win is possible to them. As mentioned earlier this game is another where a Liverpool win seems certain but if the Gooners won would you be surprised? Smith-Rowe is playing as well as any PL player currently, his duel against Trent-Alexander could be game defining. Aubameyang likes to play off the left too so the overloads on the weakest Liverpool defender will create numerous chances. As well as the Arsenal youngster Rowe is playing, he will never emulate the ability of his counterparts, Mr Salah and Mr Mane. These two studs are the biggest test to the Arsenal backline this season, I feel like I’ve seen this game before and it usually ends in Anfield crowd celebrating numerous goals. This match up is why Saturday night football should exist.
FPL PLAYER TO WATCH – Alex Oxlaide Chamberlain(£5.8m)
BET SELECT – Over 3.5 goals
Manchester City v Everton
Rafa Benitez has had an extended spell to plot and plan for this match up, the big question mark is does he possess the players to follow his instructions, probably not. Early season match winners Townsend and Gray are now regressing to the norm and the Toffees defence is so porous. The lack of striker will not be a detriment for the home side in this match up, the continual nimble movement of the City creative unit will flummox Everton and they will tire the defence in the end to concede. Sterling or Foden should be the big benefactors with goals in this game. Calvert-Lewin is a huge loss for the away side but I would not be surprised if he ended up joining City during the next two windows, he offers something they don’t have in the build up and has proven he can score top flight goals.
FPL PLAYER TO WATCH – Phil Foden (£8.3m)
BET SELECT – Man City win
Tottenham Hotspur v Leeds Utd
Before Nuno was sacked this game in the Super Sunday slot seemed like a dud but now Conte is in charge this could throw out fireworks, on the touch line at least. Both managers of these sides are renowned fiery characters and the win is equally vital to push on their seasons. Raphina is carrying all the forward threat currently, Rodrigo is trying but the sooner Bamford as the link man returns the better. Worrying for Leeds is Kane scored a bucket load for England over the last week. If he feels happier with the Spurs situation now, we could surely see one of his hot streaks in the league. One goal in the league so far could turn into 15 by the New Year with these nine games being played.
FPL PLAYER TO WATCH – Diego Llorente (£4.4m)
BET SELECT – Draw
Excitement for this weekends PL games is high and I am sure the matches will not disappoint. If you follow my predictions the acca on Sky Bet is 2209.67/1.