Chelsea are not blowing teams away anymore. There’s a certain decline in their level of play in the last three league games. Manchester City should have blown Chelsea away with the avalanche of missed chances while Tony Pulis showed the whole league how to stifle Conte’s men in an unlucky 1-0 defeat and during the week, Sunderland were one, world class save away from getting a point against Chelsea. All these points to something – Chelsea are there for the taking. The defeat will definitely come at some point and Saturday away at Palace would be another hard game. Alan Pardew is back under pressure with just four points from the last nine. The key to stifling Chelsea is to station mobile wingers who make it difficult for Moses and Alonso to make those darting runs and force them to think about defending most of the time. Can Palace show the discipline needed to beat this Chelsea team? I don’t think so.
Middlesbrough have not been in great form themselves losing their last two but the calvary seems to have arrived in Swansea who are shipping goals left, right and centre. The home team can’t just afford to lose this one. Swansea beat Palace, then lose to Tottenham and then spanks Sunderland 3-0, question is which Swansea team will show up on Saturday? Its hard to discern but the odds are on a Middlesbrough win.
Stoke will miss Arnatouvic but with Leicester winless on the road since April, Mark Hughes will be confident his side can claim all three points here. All that effort against Manchester City only to lose at Bournemouth three days later, Ranieri’s men just look uninterested on their travels and that must change soon enough. Another defeat here and relegation is starting to become a real possibility.
After losing to Swansea and Chelsea in the last seven days, Sunderland have to beat Watford at home. It’s that straightforward. Anything less and they are in big trouble.
West Ham are bang in it now after four points from the last available six. Another win against Hull on Saturday and it’s good times again for Bilic’s men. Against a Hull team that has lost their last six away matches, the Hammers really have got to win and give themselves some breathing space.
Manchester United seem to have turned a corner after back to back league wins but we’ll find out if they are only circling around that corner if they don’t pick maximum points against West Brom. Make no mistake, this is going to be a tough game with the Baggies playing so well at the moment. They are seventh on the log, scoring goals for fun and red, Tony Pulis should take a lot of the credit. But Manchester United have their own form players too in Phil Jones, Pogba, Zlatan and Carrick. This one would be fun.
Southampton are struggling with Austin out injured. And I fancy Bournemouth to win this one. They are a good home team and are capable of the odd-looking victory.
Arsenal and Manchester City face off at the Etihad on Sunday with both teams needing all three points. A draw is no good for either team so I expect both teams to go for it. This one smells of goals all over.
Manchester City will miss Fernandinho and Gundogan in midfield. I really don’t think Guardiola will be confident in Fernando and Yaya to stay discipline in the middle. Arsenal have got the edge here. But the question remains over Ozil. He’s got that odd game in him when he can be frustrating. For me, top players can have a 9/10 game or a 5/10 but never a 2/10. When Ozil is not brilliant, he’s poor, really poor and Arsenal fan can only wish he’s up for this one.
Defeat at Everton has raised questions about Arsenal’s title credentials. And I think it’s fair game. This question will always be asked until Arsenal win the league. Because we’ve seen any times how it’s unwise to put your bet on Arsenal sustaining a title challenge. This should be an open game, end to end with goals. Not one to miss.
Burnley have 17 points on the log. 16 of them won at Turf Moor. The remaining one won away at Old Trafford. This tells the story – they are poor on their travels. I don’t know why. They can give any team a game at home but just can’t muster the same effort and desire in their away games. Tottenham have got their groove back, especially with Kane on the side and I just can’t call any other result than a home win for the London team.
And on Monday night it’s the Merseyside Derby. Everton have renewed confidence after their midweek win over Arsenal. If they played like they did in the second half against Arsenal, then they stand a chance. But if they sit off and allow Liverpool to attack them, they will be in trouble. Going forward, Liverpool are the best around at the moment, but they are suspect at the back and that should give Everton some hope.