Premier League match-week 18 predictions and preview
Neil and Niall square off once again in the Britwatch Prediction league
The festive feast of football continues as we reach the last stage of the first round of fixtures with Man City vs Tottenham leading the bill. Our writers have their thoughts on all 10 matches, but which one will prove to be more right than the other?
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Leicester City vs. Crystal Palace (Saturday, 12:30)
Niall: Coming in off four straight wins, Leicester seem like the side that won the Premier League title two seasons ago. Palace will be buoyant after their late turnaround against Watford, but I feel Leicester will be a little too much in their current form.
Prediction: Leicester 3-1 Crystal Palace
Neil: Both sides are in a run of good form here, with the Foxes having won the last four league games, whilst the Eagles now unbeaten since their narrow 1-0 loss to Spurs at Wembley. Palace’s dramatic win shows the fight that boss Roy Hodgson has instilled in them, but a trip to the King Power may be a bridge too far the visitors. Leicester should just about nick this one, but it should be an open game.
Niall: Arsenal will be disappointed with their mid-week performance against West Ham, but they can recover against an out of form Newcastle side. The Magpies are in free-fall and they will find themselves fighting to stay in the division if they are not careful. I can not see Arsenal losing this one, and I believe they will win comfortably.
Prediction: Arsenal 3-0 Newcastle
Neil: The hosts are now without a win in three, having drawn back-to-back away games against Southampton and West Ham respectively. As the Gunners return home for the first time since defeat to David de Gea-inspired Manchester United, the Magpies roll into North London having taken just a single point from their least seven outings in the league. Arsenal have lost their edge in recent weeks, but surely that will return in what should be a comfortable win.
Niall: High flying Burnley make the difficult trip down south to meet a Brighton side who are struggling to find victories at the moment. The Clarets are in really good form in contrast, and despite the AMEX being a tough away day, I think Burnley will edge this one by a single goal.
Prediction: Brighton 0-1 Burnley
Neil: It is now just two points from six games for Chris Hughton’s men as they now entertain a Burnley side in the previously incomprehensible position of fourth in the Premier League standings. It is difficult to back against the Clarets right now, but a trip to the AMEX will no be a simple task with the hosts themselves desperate to return to winning ways. I can see both sides scoring here, in what has all the hallmarks of a draw.
Niall: I liked the way Chelsea responded to their shock loss to West Ham in mid-week. They looked more like a top side again when they defeated Huddersfield, and they should be back on track. Southampton were poor mid-week, and that result could destroy much of their confidence. Therefore I think Chelsea will grab a comfortable win at home.
Prediction: Chelsea 2-0 Southampton
Neil: The Blues responded to their shock defeat to an improving Hammers side emphatically in midweek, putting Huddersfield to the sword, but only coming home 3-1 winners. The Saints were on the receiving end of sweet justice as far as Claude Puel was concerned, and ahead of games against Chelsea, Spurs and United before the new year, the visitors may be looking over their shoulders nervously by Saturday evening. It could be attack versus defence here, but in any scenario a Blues win in more than likely.
Niall: Two struggling sides meet at the BET 365 stadium looking to move clear of the relegation pack. Stoke are in a rut whilst West Ham are looking better under David Moyes. The Hammers have looked solid in their last two games, but for some reason I think Stoke will nick a result against form.
Prediction: Stoke 2-1 West Ham
Neil: The Potters have shipped 16 league goals in their last seven games and as wins become a rarity, boss Mark Hughes is coming under pressure once more in the Potteries. The Hammers are showing signs of significant improvement under Moyes taking four points from games again Arsenal and Chelsea and travel to the Midlands in confident mood. Javier Hernandez has a knack of scoring against the hosts, and if he starts the Mexican could be in for more favour here. I am going to tip West Ham for the spoils here.
Prediction: Stoke 1-2 West Ham
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Niall: Watford’s mid-week collapse was embarrassing to say the least, but Marco Silva’s side are still a good side who should finish inside the top half. Huddersfield do not travel well, and though I think they can grab a rare away goal, I believe Watford’s firepower will be a little too much.
Prediction: Watford 3-1 Huddersfield
Neil: The Hornets have had their sting taken from them over the course of the last week, suffering losses at Burnley and dramatically at Selhurst Park on Tuesday night. The Terriers with their away tribulations continuing, will not be relishing a trip to Vicarage Road against a home side who will want to respond after a tough week and with much of their creativity coming from defensive players – despite Watford’s blip in form – the hosts should get their first win in four this time around.
Niall: The main event of the weekend sees Manchester City host a Spurs side who struggle against top six opposition. All signs point to a 16th straight City victory, but there is a little something inside of me that thinks this amazing winning run will end here. I do not think Tottenham will have enough to beat the Citizens, but Mauricio Pochettino is a smart manager and I think he can work something out to gain a credible away draw.
Neil: The game of the weekend sees the league leaders hosts Spurs with what will be an 11-point lead before kick-off at the Etihad. Recording a record 15-straight top-flight wins, Pep Guardiola’s men are re-writing the history book as every day passes. Tottenham seem to have put their blip behind them and are now within touching distance of a top-four place again. This should be a cracker for Saturday teatime, but again I can only see a home win as the outcome.
Niall: West Brom put in a good performance in mid-week to gain a credible draw at Liverpool, but we all know how hit and miss the Reds can be. Manchester United are a much more functional unit that Liverpool despite not having their attacking flair. I think that will help the Red Devils eek out a win and close the gap to the top.
Prediction: West Brom 0-2 Man United
Neil: The Baggies put in a resilient performance against Liverpool at Anfield, at what is now one of West Brom’s favourite tourist attractions given their recent record there. The Red Devils are still coming on the end of good fortune or tour-de-forces from de Gea, but travel to the Hawthorns still lacking goals on the road. Alan Pardew has begun drilling his men since taking over, but is still goalless and without a win. Whilst I do see them opening their account on Sunday, the visitors should have too much punch to prevent a home loss.
Niall: This match could be the most entertaining match of the weekend. Bournemouth like to play expansive, and we all know what Liverpool are capable of despite their troubles in front of goal in their past two games. I predict goals, and I think we will get a very entertaining score draw.
Prediction: Bournemouth 2-2 Liverpool
Neil: The Cherries were unfortunate in the extreme to leave Old Trafford empty-handed on Wednesday night, and ahead of the visit of the Reds will need again to a full-throttle to keep up with the visitors. After a rare outing without either scoring of contributing, Mohamed Salah will be eyeing another goal or two at a stadium that has seen a rash of goals between both sides. This could be game of the weekend, but I am still tipping Liverpool to just about come out on top.
Niall: All of a sudden, there is confidence at Goodison Park and so there should be after recent results. Swansea are bottom for a reason, and whilst I think they are capable of playing better than their current form, I think the smart money is on an Everton win.
Prediction: Everton 2-0 Swansea
Neil: Talk of crisis at Goodison Park was clearly premature, with Sam Allardyce having taken seven points from nine in his first three games in charge of Everton. Whilst the Toffees climb the table, Swansea are beginning to look doomed. With just one win in nine games, the Swans are desperate need of Christmas cheer but sadly, with the form the hosts are in I can only see one outcome, with the in-form Wayne Rooney looking for his sixth goal in four outings.
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