Manchester City is now first in the league, after defeating Arsenal 3-1 during the week. They should be able to retain their place at the summit with a victory over Nottingham Forest this weekend.
Since their defeat to Tottenham Hotspur, City has beaten Aston Villa and Arsenal, scoring three times in each. They have had six different goalscorers in both games and Erling Haaland dispelled the myth that they play better without a striker with a great finish against the Gunners.
There are problems off the field for the Citizens, with alleged breaches of financial rules. However, Pep Guardiola has created a siege mentality and it will be very difficult to stop his side now.
Nottingham Forest has not been on a bad run of form recently, they have won three of their last five games but did suffer a 2-0 defeat to Fulham last time out.
They are 14th in the division and six points above the drop zone. The club’s decision to stick with Steve Cooper looks to have paid off and is an example to other teams who have a ‘hire-and-fire’ approach to their managers.
Forest has done well recently but as they showed in their 5-0 aggregate defeat to Manchester United in the EFL Cup semi-finals, they are still a long way from the top sides.
Score prediction: Nottingham Forest 0-3 Manchester City
Aston Villa vs Arsenal, Saturday February 18, kick-off 12:30
Arsenal needs to bounce back from their defeat to Manchester City, Mikel Arteta‘s side still has a game in hand but they cannot afford any more slip-ups.
The Gunners have not won in their last three games. They have lost to relegation-threatened Everton and drawn with Brentford. The loss against City could prove to be crucial in the title race.
It will be interesting to see if Arteta sticks with Takehiro Tomiyasu in the side, after the defender’s error that led to Kevin De Bruyne‘s opener for City on Wednesday night.
It is not all doom and gloom for the Gunners, with Bukayo Saka dispatching his penalty against Guardiola’s side. Saka has shown immense bravery to become his club’s spot-kick taker after his miss for England in the shootout defeat to Italy in the final of Euro 2020.
For Aston Villa, former Arsenal manager Unai Emery has steadied the ship since taking over from Steven Gerrard. They are currently 11th in the table but have lost their last two games. It is worrying that they have conceded four to Leicester City and three to Manchester City, especially as they have World Cup-winning goalkeeper, Emiliano Martinez between the sticks.
Score prediction: Aston Villa 0-2 Arsenal
Everton vs Leeds United, Saturday February 18, kick-off 15:00
Everton could leapfrog Leeds United with a win this weekend. Home advantage will be massive for Sean Dyche‘s side who beat Arsenal in his first game in charge at Goodison Park. This followed a defeat to Liverpool in the Merseyside derby and this match against Leeds is a real six-pointer.
Dyche is a good fit for the Toffees at the moment, in their quest to survive relegation. Leeds on the other hand is still without a manager, following the sacking of Jesse Marsch. Former Futsal coach, Michael Skubala has been leading the side and results have been mixed. They drew with Manchester United at Old Trafford but suffered defeat to them at Elland Road.
The club has announced that Skubala will still be in place for this weekend’s game and the following match against Southampton. Both games are huge in the relegation battle but Leeds does need to appoint a permanent manager soon. Their first-choice targets have not come in, which is not a good sign.
Leeds’ side now includes two of the U.S. men’s national team’s midfield, in Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams. Both get stuck in and are players who you need in a relegation fight.
Score prediction: Everton 2-2 Leeds United
Last weekend’s predictions vs actual results:
Arsenal 1-1 Brentford
Arsenal 1-1 Brentford
Leeds 1-2 Manchester United
Leeds 0-2 Manchester United
Liverpool 0-1 Everton
Liverpool 2-0 Everton
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