The international break was a bore fest, the only highlights being Italy losing, Gareth Bales match winning performance versus Austria and Christian Eriksen continuing to astound everyone with his form. BT Sport brings us the first game and it’s a intriguing top v bottom battle.
Liverpool v Watford
Facing Liverpool at home is never ideal, the threat seems even greater right now off the back of the recent internationals. Numerous members of the home squad encountered disappointment over the last week and will be seeking retribution domestically.
Watford need to perform like they did at Old Trafford defensively while hoping to get a goal on the break. Sarr, Dennis and King can hurt the Liverpool backline, my confidence is lacking when it comes to the hornet defenders, currently halting any permutation of Salah, Diaz, Firminho, Mane or Jota is nigh on impossible for any team in Europe.
Roy Hodgson will know this game will not seal or be the cause of their fate but he will hope at the end of this weekend they are still in touching distance of their relegation rivals.
FPL Player to Watch – Andy Robertson £7.3m
Bet Select – Liverpool win
Brighton & Hove Albion v Norwich City
The Seagulls' form is awful, not just the results but the performances on the pitch are nowhere near PL standard. Sitting on 33 points right now should just be enough of a buffer over the other teams in the relegation dogfight.
One more win should see them safe and it could occur this Saturday over Norwich. If they lose though serious questions need to be asked if they will win another game and give hope to teams like Watford, Burnley, Everton, Leeds or Brentford that they can leap frog them.
Tariq Lamptey facing off with Brandon Williams will be a great English battle and he will be key if the home side wins. The games between the two sides have been low scoring affairs but with both sets of centre backs being so slow I have a feeling the attackers can create some decent chances on goal.
FPL Player to Watch – Tariq Lamptey £4.5m
Bet Select – Over 2.5 goals
Burnley v Manchester City
Very much in the mould of the midday kick off this game will not define Burnley’s relegation fight and it’s hard to see the home side gaining anything from the match. Ben Mee is missing again for the Clarets but more alarming is that he’s likely to miss a few more games too! If any other home players are not fully fit it would not be surprising if they miss this one.
City of course can rest numerous stars and still field a great side but away at Turf Moor is not one of those occasions. After drawing to Palace this result needs to be a statement performance especially as Liverpool play first.
Raheem Sterling screams match winner, if Pep continually plays him during the run in I am sure he will lead them to the title.
FPL Player to Watch – Raheem Sterling £10.5m
Bet Select – Man City win
Chelsea v Brentford
This West London fixture is a David v Goliath match but back in October the Bees were terrific with their home support fully behind them, they definately pushed the world champions to the limit despite a loss.
If a positive result is to be gained at Stamford Bridge, Thomas Frank needs to pull out the perfect tactical display as Thomas Tuchel is the master of the one off situation. Player match ups are always key like Toney v Rudiger, but how the game is structured and executed gives a team the edge.
Conceding first and from corners have been Brentford’s kryptonite all season, neither can occur Saturday. Lukaku playing for the home side will give them a edge as if he can play off Jansson he will cause the away sides captain all sorts of trouble.
Three defeats on the trot for Southampton while two wins in a row for Leeds, makes this game a coin toss. Elland Road will be rocking but the ongoing concern is their sides' lack of firepower to kill off games may be the defining factor again.
Both teams like to press industrially non stop and that squeeze will offer chances in front of goal so I fancy both teams to score, it’s hard to see a outright winner though. Ward Prowse as always will be the key man for his side and whether it’s via a set piece or penalty he can silence the home fans.
The international break may have come at the wrong time for Leeds but at least their creative leading man Raphinha will be available after his COVID lay off. Out wide defensively is a major weak spot for the home side while it’s the visitors strength.
FPL Player to Watch – Kyle Walker-Peters £4.8m
Bet Select – BTTS
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Aston Villa
This final 3pm kick off sees eighth take on ninth and both clubs hold major ambition to eventually gain European qualification via league position on a consistent basis. The narrative that Wolves defence is water tight was blown away following the capitulation against Leeds. They were rattled, losing Jimenez was a blow but they gave the goals away.
Villa will analyse that game and feel with Watkins, Ramsey and Coutinho they have more than enough pace or flair to breach the home sides defence. The game in October was a five goal thriller and I fully expect another match like that but Villa winning this time.
FPL Player to Watch – Jacob Ramsey £4.8m
Bet Select – Aston Villa win
Manchester United v Leicester City
Saturday finishes with the weekends one heavyweight match-up and it cannot be a surprise that Leicester go into it unbeaten over the course of the last three contests. Harry Maguire being booed has been a major talking point this week, it would not be a surprise if he scores against his old side.
His form has not been that bad, the teams' has been and he cops all the negative vibes. When they lost to Atletico Madrid, Robbie Savage jumped on any Maguire incident but never pulled up Fred, Telles or Dalot. Jadon Sancho is another maligned player currently, he has picked up a lot since he initially joined United and will look to be the standout creative talent on the pitch.
James Maddison will look to take that mantle but it would not be a surprise if Matic starts the game to blunt the Leicester man. Pressure needs to be applied by Man United on the other Champions League contenders who play Sunday and Monday if they want to challenge for the spot.
FPL Player to Watch – Jadon Sancho £8.9m
Bet Select – Manchester United win
West Ham United v Everton
Frank Lampard leads his troops against one of his former sides, they have changed a lot since his day but then the same can be said for David Moyes.
The resilience shown by the Hammers squad means they are in every game while Everton can only perform for short periods, when they are on a down spell the opposition always seem to punish them. Declan Rice will enjoy dominating the away sides' midfield, not one of them can compete with him and this is the key reason why Everton are sleep walking to relegation. The defence is not protected and the forwards receive no decisive support.
Continual European activity may curtail West Ham’s league challenge over the next month or so but not this week. The London Stadium will bare witness to a strong display, pushing one of the longest serving top flight clubs towards the Championship.
FPL Player to Watch – Declan Rice £5m
Bet Select – West Ham win
Tottenham Hotspur v Newcastle United
After a incredible run of wins Newcastle come into this game losing the last two, a positive being both defeats being one nil.
First and foremost Eddie Howe will be looking to get bis side back to scoring goals, it’s about time Chris Woods started to hit the net. His opposite number though is the best number nine in the league and this year Harry Kane shown a swag that he will score every match.
The head to head is so close with Spurs holding the lead 23-22, I can see the home side extending to 24 wins but over the coming years surely Newcastle will overtake them as they bring in more world class talents.
FPL Player to Watch – Harry Kane £12.5m
Bet Select – Spurs win
Crystal Palace v Arsenal
This game promises to be very entertaining, the fans in Selhurst Park always make the atmosphere wild under the lights but both sets of players are capable to have all viewers on the edge of their seats.
It’s doubtful that Zaha will be available for the home side but with Olise and Eze getting better every week Ben White and co will face a busy evening. Arsenals England men Smith Rowe and Saka are different to the Palace men but will cause equal disruption to the home sides defenders.
Conor Gallagher is non-stop in midfield and his match up with Thomas Partey promises to be a rivalry for years to come in the Premier League. Xhaka has been a good boy for too long a petulant tackling display must be due. The meeting earlier in the season was a draw and I favour that result again.
Only one midweek fixture and it’s a potential game changer at the bottom of the table. If the weekend results go as planned then their will be no change prior to this game but a Burnley win here would see them go to within a point of Everton.
It’s hard to see Everton pulling a result out of the bag at Turf Moor, someone like Richarlson needs to put the team on his back and pull them through. FPL fans will be all over this match due to the volume of Burnley games coming soon with Weghorst expected to be the danger man, his style of play suits the away sides defenders though so it could be Cornet who stars.
FPL Player to Watch – Maxwel Cornet £5.9m
Bet Select – Burnley win
Odds for this weeks acca fall in at 3061/1, good luck if you follow my picks. I will also be lodging my usual bookings acca of Matt Cash and Conor Roberts, it’s not come in yet but they are two of the most reckless tacklers in the league surely my luck will align soon?
Have a great football weekend, 32 will be even better as first v second collide at the Etihad.