2022 kicks off with a bang, 12 hours into the New Year The Emirates hosts a battle which could see the visitors go 11 points clear for at least 24 hours.
Arsenal v Manchester City
Since leaving City Arteta has been schooled by his former employer every time, not even registering a goal in the league meetings. Maybe its a good thing he will be missing from the side-lines for this fourth v first meeting. City came away with the points Wednesday night when facing a resolute Brentford while Arsenal will be well rested after their game was postponed. The Bees would have shown many around the league how to execute a defensive game plan when playing the champs. The Gunners possess more attacking ability so can potentially hurt Peps side on the break with Smith-Rowe aiming to score in his fifth successive league game. The right side of the home teams defence will be targeted due to the volume of players missing in that position, keeping that sector tight will be prevalent so Kieran Tierney on the left will be the option to offer attacking thrust from deep. Raheem Sterling stayed on the bench in midweek so I expect him to start and has scored in his previous three games against Arsenal, fourth time lucky must be a good bet.
One for your FPL – Raheem Sterling £10.7m
Bet Select – Arsenal win
Watford v Tottenham Hotspur
This sole 3pm PL game surely has goals in it, unfortunately as we have seen lately Watford usually are the unit who concede the majority of them. Kane, Son and Moura are on fire at the moment and will be baying to hit the net so many times at Vicarage Road. Davidson Sanchez was a embarrassment last weekend when completing with Wilf Zaha, he is one of the physically strongest defenders in world football but he flung himself to the floor like a rag doll. I could see him getting sent off this weekend if he tries those antics again.
One for your FPL – Lucas Moura £6.5m
Bet Select – Spurs win
Crystal Palace v West Ham United
Form has been patchy for both sides recently and a massive factor is the lack of squad depth, of course many sides in the Premier League have been left short. In both these teams cases when all fit they are top ten sides but a few cogs go missing they cannot compete like they want too. Soucek being back in the goals is ominous for everyone around the league, his attacking form has been lacking this season but if he hits last seasons levels then more wins could be coming for the Hammers. If Gallagher and Zaha start for Palace they have a chance but West Ham led by Rice and Bowen seem the stronger of the two.
One for your FPL – Jarrod Bowen £6.6m
Bet Select – West Ham win
Brentford v Aston Villa
Ollie Watkins faces his old club but not at the ground he had great times playing at, the venue is the new Community Stadium, I am sure the home fans will give him a great welcome but the major fear is that he will take a momento in the form of a goal or two. Gerrard should be back in the dugout for the visitors and after the defeat last time out to Chelsea his team needs a pick up. Villas midfield has been the most impressive improvement since the new regime came in, Norgaard and Janelt coming back in for Brentford will ensure this match up will be BOX OFFICE! Mings being absent for Villa will not be a great loss and surely offers a chance for someone to take his spot.
One for your FPL – Ivan Toney £6.6m
Bet Select – Double Chance Brentford or Draw
Everton v Brighton & Hove Albion
Brighton’s last week has been excellent, four points from a home win over Brentford and away draw with Chelsea boosts morale all over for The Seagulls. History supports the home side with five wins from nine games while the two wins for Brighton have both came at home. Recent form by Everton is lacklustre at best, it’s hard to see them outperforming or dominating a well drilled Brighton led so well by Graham Potter. Lamptey will look to continue his form and get back to the level where many observers saw him as a potential England player. Calvert Lewin taking on Dan Burns will not determine the result but it’s a good duel. I am surprised Rafa is still in charge at Goodison Park, potentially defeat here and in the FA Cup could push the board over the edge.
One for your FPL – Marc Cucurella £5m
Bet Select – Brighton win
Leeds United v Burnley
2021 has ended awfully for Leeds, this is as good a game as possible for them to start 2022 with a win despite so many key men still being out injured, ill or suspended. This is the first six pointer of the year and with around seven or eight sides probably being involved in a relegation fight it won’t be the last. Burnley are desperately out of match practice and will look at a draw as positive,result. Leeds need Raphinha to step up as always but this time lead them to a much needed win.
One for your FPL – Raphinha £6.5m
Bet Select – Draw
Chelsea v Liverpool
If this game goes ahead (at the time of writing the away side have been hit with a few COVID cases) it will surely be a typical elite club cagey affair. It’s a battle of strengths with Chelsea defensively top notch while Liverpool can field Salah and Mane within their forwards, both are in unreal form. The Egyptian especially will want to get back to scoring form following his misfire during the week versus Leicester. One of these teams needs to win so the challenge to City continues, drawing will benefit the defending champs. Both coaches have been very vocal lately seemingly moaning about everything which happens a change of tone in 2022 will be welcoming.
One for your FPL – Kai Havertz £7.8m
Bet Select – Double Chance Chelsea or Liverpool
Manchester United v Wolverhampton Wanderers
Despite negative comments in the press mainly leaked by players the results have generally been favourable since Rangnick took over at Old Trafford. The culture at the club will change and needs to so sustained success can be achieved. I am a fan of Harry Maguire, ultimately he will prove to the fans he deserves to play for their great club, of course the price tag was over inflated but aren’t all transfers? The Utd frontline will view this as a favourable match up as the Wolves defence are dogged and resolute but lack pace. The issue will be getting the ball to the frontline as Wolves midfield are adept at keeping the ball for long periods.
One for your FPL – Harry Maguire £5.4m
Bet Select – Man Utd win
Fingers crossed the first round in 2022 is full of goals like the post. Christmas Day matches. If you follow my bet selects the odds with SkyBet are 582.4/1, good luck.