Paulsy’s Premier Picks – Match Week 18

The postponements of games have come thick and fast this past match week and this weekend as I write this piece only four fixtures are scheduled to go ahead. I see all sides of the argument regarding trying to play on or halt all fixtures till Boxing Day at least but ultimately I lean towards the latter.  With Premier League COVID protocols changing it makes sense we let teams reset for a small period of time and then from there any cases which may occur can be isolated as players will be social distancing and tested daily. With the vaccine we do have to try and live with this awful virus and it serves as a layer of protection. Fingers crossed the four matches give us the same quality as the ten which should have taken place.

Leeds United v Arsenal

I wrote last time out about Dan James needing to play well, help his team win a match but it didn’t happen and now he is injured. His absence will now surely mean Joe Gelhardt will start for Leeds, he’s been impressive making cameos off the bench, the home fans need a hero to brighten up their fortunes. Arsenals last away defeat was to struggling Everton, it would not surprise me if they leave Elland Road with no points. The first goal is always vital but never more so in this match. Leeds cannot afford to go behind, the fans will get on their backs. Arsenal are capable to score quick goals so could be two or three in front within a blink of the eye. Bukayo Saka was unplayable Wednesday night against West Ham, if he plays anywhere near that level poor Cody Drameh will be in for a long night.

One for your FPL – Bukayo Saka £6.2m

Bet Select – Over 2.5 goals

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Wolverhampton Wanderers v Chelsea

Out of all the games being played this weekend this one is most likely to be called off with Chelsea suffering numerous COVID positives, mainly due to forward players including Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner. Kai Havertz missed the game Thursday night against Everton, but is now testing negative so will be available, surely a starting place for him as the Blues need a goal presence. Wolves will be sensing this is as a great chance to beat the European champions seeing as they’ve not conceded many lately and of course Chelsea are lacking strikers. Raul Jimenez is back from suspension and after his disappointing sending off last week when playing City, he will want to make amends. The issue for Wolves will be penetrating the Chelsea defence, Thiago Silva marshals the unit superbly, it does not matter who is alongside him as he drags them to his level. One player producing a moment of magic could decide this one, even with absences the blues have more men with that type of talent.

One for your FPL – Ross Barkley £5.2m

Bet Select – Chelsea win

Newcastle United v Manchester City

Newcastle rested key players on Thursday at Anfield, but for this game unfortunately Eddie Howe’s side, both Bernardo Silva and João Cancelo are back for the visitors who just beat Leeds 7-0! This game always produces goals and the lion’s share are going to be scored by City. It’s hard to see who can beat the champions at the moment, they’ve bounced back from the Palace defeat with a passive aggressive performance level that only a team who controls the ball and tempo could do. If he starts Jack Grealish could be the panto villain of the piece, the spaces out wide at St James’s Park suits his direct running and undoubtedly he will be fouled a great deal. The one Newcastle threat they pose in Allan Saint-Maximin could be missing but that could also be a blessing in disguise as you can rest him up for potentially more winnable games in the future as this one screams away win.

One for your FPL – Jack Grealish £7.6m

Bet Select – Man City win and over 3.5 goals

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Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool

Spurs re-enter the playing arena to, bar Man City, the worst opponent you can come across in the Premier League. Weakened by the loss of Virgil Van Dijk, Liverpool still can select the best two wide forwards in the league in the form of Mo Salah & Sadio Mane. Those two defend from the front for the team and it’s hard to see how any of the Tottenham back line can handle them on a pure one-on-one basis. That being said Antonio Conte will game plan, which is fair enough but the players out there need to see that plan through. It’s hard to see Spurs players doing that, these days they are a bunch of individuals trying to be a unit. January will see Conte recruits coming in.

One for your FPL -Takumi Minamino £5.1m

Bet Select – Liverpool win

This week is the smallest acca odds (unsurprisingly) at 26.66/1. Fingers crossed all games occur as last minute cancellations are a killer. Football is many people’s one release whether it be in the stadium or watching on tv, without it many feel lost! The structure is needed and if we are to lose a game week so be it but losing it without a return date due to COVID will be a nightmare for so many.
Stay safe everyone and reach out to anyone if feeling lonely.