Premier League Predictions: More disappointment for Arsenal, Newcastle to get one over their old rivals, and a dull draw in Manchester
Mark Young casts his eye over the pick of the fixtures from what promises to be another fascinating weekend of Premier League action.
Everton 2-1 Arsenal
Fresh from an impressive display in knocking Chelsea out of the FA Cup last Saturday, Everton have a lunchtime kick-off against Arsenal this weekend.
Romelu Lukaku – who usually has a good time against Arsenal – scored twice against his former club last weekend and he will be a huge threat to a shaky Gunners back line.
Arsene Wenger’s side played okay at the Camp Nou on Wednesday night, but the inevitable elimination from the Champions League has followed a poor league run and elimination from the FA Cup.
It could be another disappointing weekend for the Gunners.
Crystal Palace 1-1 Leicester City
Leicester City ground out a 1-0 win on Monday night against Newcastle United and have a deceivingly tough test at Selhurst Park this weekend.
Alan Pardew’s Crystal Palace have not had things their own way and are yet to win in the league since December, but Selhurst Park can be a fortress at times and they would like nothing more than to ruin Leicester and Jamie Vardy’s party like they did coming from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 with Liverpool when the Reds were on a title charge a few years ago.
Shinji Okazaki netted a stunning overhead kick on Monday to earn the Foxes all three points, but Leicester were tested by Newcastle. If they had been playing a side with a little more conviction points may have been dropped.
The finish line is slowly appearing in the distance for Claudio Ranieri and his team, but they may have to be happy with a point this weekend, leaving them at least three points clear at the top of the table.
West Brom 1-0 Norwich
West Brom go into a home match with relegation threatened Norwich with seven points from their last three games and have to be favourites against the Canaries this weekend.
The Baggies defeated Manchester United two weeks ago and, after taking two points off Leicester and beating Crystal Palace in a five goal thriller, the Baggies are bouncing once again.
It is certainly a different story for Alex Neil’s Norwich, but they can take heart from a 0-0 draw at home to Manchester City last weekend.
Goals and clean-sheets have been in short supply for the Canaries and they haven’t won since a home win against Southampton at the turn of the year.
Clean-sheets and goals could also be in short supply on Saturday.
Newcastle 3-2 Sunderland
In what could almost be defined as a relegation play-off, Rafa Benitez takes charge of his first Newcastle game against their closest and most bitter rivals in Sunderland.
There always seems to be a twist with management when it comes to these fixtures, but usually from the other side. The Magpies will be hoping that the Benitez effect begins in game two of his reign.
To Newcastle’s credit they looked more organised than they have done for most of the season on Monday against Leicester. The defence still looks shaky, but going forward Newcastle do have players that can turn up for the big occasion.
Sunderland have slowly given themselves a chance of safety under Sam Allardyce with Jermain Defoe’s goals helping hugely, but Allardyce has pointed out that clean-sheets keep getting away from his side… and Sunday could be no different.
Two poor defences with two talented attacks means it could be raining goals in the North East, with the feel-good factor back at St James’ Park for now.
Manchester City 1-1 Manchester United
This Sunday’s Manchester Derby will not be one with both clubs challenging for the title, but one potentially looking to give the other a knockout blow in terms of a top four place.
City currently sit where United want to be, with Louis van Gaal’s side no doubt taking pleasure from Vincent Kompany and Nicolas Otamendi both going off injured during the week against Dynamo Kiev.
United have also been in European action in Manchester this week, so both could probably do without this fixture.
City have failed to score in their last two games, with goals being a struggle for United for a big chunk of the season.
Despite City’s defensive injuries and United’s lack of attacking prowess both sides should still be able to score, but they may just eventually cancel each other out in a result that is likely to do more harm than good for both sides.
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