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City To Fall Further Behind?


Apr 1, 2023 2:18 am

We take a look at some of this weekend’s Premier League games after the international break, including a high-stakes game at The Etihad where Man City entertain Liverpool, and some crunch games involving some of the sides at the bottom of the table.

This Week’s premier League Fixtures

Man City v Liverpool
Arsenal v Leeds
Bournemouth v Fulham
Brighton v Brentford
Crystal Palace v Leicester
Nottingham Forest v Wolves
Chelsea v Aston Villa
West Ham v Southampton
Newcastle v Man United
Everton v Tottenham Hotspur

Man City v Liverpool

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What a game to kick the Premier League back off with. These two sides have so much recent history, and whilst circumstances may be different for Liverpool this season, we should still see a highly entertaining and feisty encounter this time around. City needs points to stop Arsenal from opening up a potential 10-point gap, and Liverpool needs to claw their way into the top 4.

City signed off before the international break with a slender 1-0 win away against Crystal Palace. It was a routine win, restricting Palace to no shots on target, but they did not make their dominance pay. They relied on a 78th-minute penalty to win the game, despite creating a multitude of chances. They will have to be better than this against Liverpool.

This is the reason City brought Haaland in, to make the difference in these tight games. Yes, he scored from the penalty spot, as you would expect him to, but many players before him have missed in these situations. He carries and thrives off the pressure. It is an unbelievable effort from him to score 28 goals so far this season, and I would expect him to easily clear the 30-goal mark before the end of the season.

The pressure is not just on Haaland, however. It is on the squad as a whole. They cannot afford to drop points in this title race, especially not when Arsenal play Leeds at home after City’s game against Liverpool. Any dropped points between now and the end of the season could deal a fatal blow to City’s title hopes. They will have to play this one carefully as Liverpool will be aware of their situation.

I have said it time and time again this season, but Liverpool is such a confusing side this season. One week they beat one of the inform teams in the league, and their fiercest rivals, Man United. Not only do they beat them, but they absolutely demolish them 7-0, making it look like men against boys. On the back of that high, they travel to strugglers Bournemouth and go and lose 1-0.

The lack of consistency is extremely concerning, especially considering their last few seasons where they were so hard to beat. Yes, Liverpool has struggled with injuries this year, but every team goes through a phase of dealing with blows to key players. Van Dijk, and the rest of their defence, have not been the same. They have been easy to beat, and nowhere near as solid as in previous years.

I have no doubt that Klopp will be able to turn their fortunes around, but he needs this to happen fast. If Liverpool finishes outside the top 6 this season, it represents a massive step back for them. They only really have the Premier League to focus on now, so we may see the best of Liverpool again. This is a tough game for them to pick up some much-needed form, however.

I never want to predict a game that involves Liverpool, as it never turns out well for me. I think City have this one. Against Liverpool in previous seasons, City has been so wasteful with their chances, but with Haaland, this should change. The indifferent form of Liverpool gives City an advantage, but The Reds always turn up for these kinds of games. I am going to go with a City win, but Liverpool should make this an entertaining tie.

Prediction: Man City 2 – 1 Liverpool

Brighton v Brentford

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Both these sides have been the ‘surprise package’ of the season, alongside Fulham. I do not think anyone expected either of these sides to be where they are at this stage of the season. They are both playing good football and have picked up some brilliant wins along the way. This should be an intriguing game of football.

Brighton earned a slender 1-0 win against Crystal Palace in their last game before the international break, thanks to a Solly March goal. This is what I have enjoyed about Brighton this season. They have players that you would not typically expect to perform overly well in the league, let alone for a team fighting for a European spot. Yet players like March and Mitoma are performing week in and week out for them.

I thought Brighton might have dropped off slightly after Trossard left in the January transfer window for Arsenal, but this has not happened. They might be less creative, and the goals may not be coming as fluently as they did when Trossard was in the team, but they are still winning games, and at the end of the day, that is all that matters. With Brighton’s scouting team, I believe any player in their squad could leave, and they would have a replacement sorted straight away who would impress.

I would love to see Brighton in Europe next season. I think they will fall just short, and through no fault of their own. It will be interesting to see how they perform next season. Will they spend in the transfer window to try and establish themselves as a team that can push for Europe each season? Or will they trust their current squad and scouting system? It will be an interesting summer for this Brighton side.

Brentford has been impressive this season. They have been difficult to beat, especially at home. They have only lost a single game at home all season, and have been so solid since then. Home form is massive for any team, and when you are not losing at home, you are typically doing well in the table. Just how long can this run go on for though? The really only ‘difficult‘ games they have left at home are against Newcastle and Man City.

Ivan Toney got his first England cap the other day, which was brilliant to see. He thoroughly deserves it, especially after netting 16 goals this season. I fully expect him to break the 20-goal barrier this season, and I would love to see him get a proper run in the England squad at some point, whether that be in friendlies or in a competitive context.

This is a hard game to call. Both sides doing brilliantly, playing good football, and are hard to beat at the moment. Home advantage could give Brighton the edge here, but we have seen Brentford travel to Man City and win. This all comes down to who turns up on the day. I am going to stick my neck out and say Brighton will nick it, with Mitoma to continue his fine form and get on the scoresheet.

Prediction: Brighton 1 – 0 Brentford

Nottingham Forest v Wolves

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Another massive game this week, but at the opposite end of the table. Two teams who are not in the relegation zone, but trying to put some much-needed points between themselves and the bottom 3. This could provide the springboard for either side to push on and finish clear of the relegation zone.

Nottingham Forest has disappointed me deeply in the second half of the season so far. They bounced back from a poor start shortly before, and after, the World Cup break, and looked like they were on for a mid-table finish. They made themselves hard to beat and ground out results. Now, they look like a shadow of their former self. They have gone back to how they were at the start of the season. Easy to beat, toothless up front, and unable to pick up a win.

They were rather unfortunate not to get anything out of their game with Newcastle before the international break. They lost 2-1 at home courtesy of a 93rd-minute Isak penalty. They managed to create few chances in this game, and the chances they created, were not taken. Brennan Johnson has gone rather quiet recently, and he needs to step it up again to help Forest get up the pitch, and get back to winning ways.

Wolves on the other hand, spent a long time in the bottom 3, and now look like the most likely team to get clear of a relegation fight before the end of the season. Lopetegui has come in and transformed Wolves to an extent. He has got them back to winning ways, and they are actually capable of scoring goals now.

Their form before the international break shows some cause for concern. Back-to-back losses against Newcastle and Leeds halted their slight progress. The result against Leeds will hurt more, as they finished the game with 9 men, with Jonny and Nunes both receiving red cards in that game. In a game where they had a chance to put another 3 points between them and a relegation rival, they bottled it and threw the game away.

Both these sides have lost their way recently, which makes this game even more important. A draw represents a good point for both sides, but it will not help either of them. They both need 3 points to drag themselves further away from the bottom 3, but I cannot see either side going all-out for a win in this game. Either a bore 0-0 or a score draw is on the cards here.

Prediction: Nottingham Forest 1 – 1 Wolves

West Ham v Southampton

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Talking about big games at the wrong end of the table, this is absolutely huge for both sides. 18th v 20th, with a win, almost guaranteeing either side finishes the day outside of the relegation zone, depending on other results. This is a must-watch this weekend.

West Ham picked up a crucial point after drawing 1-1 with Aston Villa in their last game. They created enough chances and may have felt unfortunate not to come away with all 3 points, but a point is better than none when you are in the bottom 3 and struggling. They need to follow this up with a win, as a loss here would knock their confidence massively.

I have said all season about West Ham performing well in Europe and not being able to transfer that form over to the Premier League, and they have done it again. They smashed AEK Larnaca 6-0 on aggregate. They lost 4-0 against Brighton then bounced back and won 2-0 away from home against Larnaca. Then after drawing with Villa, they beat Larnaca again 4-0 at home.

These results must provide them with a springboard to winning in the Premier League. This game is a perfect chance, against the bottom of the league, to continue their good form. It is vital that they get a positive result out of this game.

Southampton finally showed a bit of fight in their last game, which will give them, and their supporters, confidence going forward. They drew against Spurs, in a frantic game which finished 3-3. They came from behind early in the second half to make it 1-1, before Kane and Perisic gave Spurs, what looked like, a routine 3 points. Southampton had other ideas, as Theo Walcott reduced the deficit, with James Ward-Prowse netting a 93rd-minute penalty, securing Southampton an unlikely point.

Like West Ham’s European performances, this needs to provide Southampton with a springboard to go on and win games in the Premier League, and this game presents a good opportunity to do that in. Yes, they are away from home, but they could easily nick a win here if West Ham does not turn up.

This will be another game where both sides will not go all out for a win. Neither side can afford to lose this game, but both sides desperately need to win it. After beating Larnaca 4-0, I can only see West Ham winning this game, keeping Southampton rooted to the bottom of the table for another week of fixtures.

Prediction: West Ham 2 – 0 Southampton

Other Predictions

  • Arsenal 2 – 0 Leeds
  • Bournemouth 0 – 1 Fulham
  • Crystal Palace 0 – 1 Leicester
  • Chelsea 2 – 1 Aston Villa
  • Everton 1 – 1 Tottenham Hotspur
  • Man United 2 – 1 Newcastle

Premier League

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