Aston Villa to stop Manchester United? Bournemouth to beat Tottenham? Crystal Palace to hold Chelsea? Charlie Nicholas is back with midweek Premier League predictions.
I am looking forward to this one. Chelsea are tremendously unpredictable. They beat Manchester City, had the West Ham defeat, and then initially struggled against Watford.
Is there a reason to keep Olivier Giroud out? I don’t think there is. You have to play him. Tammy Abraham is back and is fresh but he can be erratic – Giroud is tried and trusted.
Palace have some good days, bad days, but Wilfried Zaha does not do enough. You cannot change him or his ability but how much do they need a number nine? They were interested in a goalscorer but they have never really found one. Are they going to seriously go out and get one? Until they go and do that, they do not have too much to build on, apart from shape and organisation. This can frustrate big teams, and particularly Chelsea who are not patient.
This is my game and it should be a cracker. Rather than creative ability, Palace will stifle and try to play on the counter-attack. Everybody will begin to question the top four race again, but Chelsea will stumble here.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: 1-1 (7/1 with Sky Bet)
Norwich have gone. There are no comments coming out, but their heart and soul has been ripped out. Daniel Farke is trying his hand at everything but it is not good enough.
All the pressure is on Watford. West Ham have a four-point gap, Aston Villa are playing well enough but are not getting goals or results. Watford do not look sharp, I watched Etienne Capoue and he made so many rash decisions and mistakes.
When Nigel Pearson came in, this team were solidly together. It is a must-win for Watford, and this is the game that they will have pencilled in as a potential to give them a gap to the relegation zone. They look unlikely but there will be fight in their belly.
Watford will need a goal in the first 20 minutes, but because of their lack of confidence on the ball, they might struggle to get going – they have badly missed Gerard Deulofeu.
Watford vs Norwich
July 7, 2020, 5:30pm
Ismaila Sarr is on the edge in games, but I would put him alongside Troy Deeney or try to get him involved more behind the frontman. I do expect them to get there. It may be slow and awkward but they will get this game over the line. They need to get a result here badly.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: 2-0 (13/2 with Sky Bet)
The games that are coming now are all ones of real significance. Leicester have a real handful. They got over the line against Palace but it did take them until the second half and decent tactics to get the points. It was vital that they got the win with this game coming up.
Wolves stumbled against Arsenal but Manchester United and Chelsea are waiting for Leicester to slip up. There is some real drama still to unfold here. Before the break, I would have fancied Leicester to take something from Arsenal.
Arsenal have formed a bit of momentum. It is still not right at the back but it is better. Emiliano Martinez is playing well and Sead Kolasinac on the left side of a back three is keeping it balanced. Kieran Tierney has been looking stronger and fitter. When Arsenal have wing backs, they can hit the byline and can be dangerous. It is where the danger is.
The intent was there from Tierney for Bukayo Saka’s goal. Playing higher up the pitch can allow you to pin teams in. Cedric Soares deserves to be in the team too.
Dani Ceballos is unpredictable. He has lovely ability, energy, but he and Granit Xhaka are weak defensively. That is the reason why you have a back five. They are not holding as they cannot tackle but they can get on the ball.
Injured James Maddison may not make it for Leicester, which will be a big bonus for Arsenal. Even with Alexandre Lacazette scoring, I still think Eddie Nketiah will start. Saka can play anywhere, and scoring was ace for him off the back of the new contract, but I’m not sure whether he was at his best in that right-sided position. You could switch Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang with him.
Arsenal vs Leicester
July 7, 2020, 8:00pm
Aubameyang is two goals behind Jamie Vardy now in the race for the Golden Boot, so he will be keen to get things going again. Eddie’s pace gives teams problems, but at the same time, they have earned the right to be in the team. The goal helped Lacazette but I would not be surprised if he did not make it.
Leicester need Maddison. Congratulations to Vardy on his 100th goal. He will give Arsenal problems in behind and it will be a game that is full of mistakes, but it will be a thrilling 90 minutes.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: 3-2 (25/1 with Sky Bet)
How on earth did Manchester City not beat Southampton? It was a massive result for Southampton but they got away with it. Alex McCarthy had a fabulous game.
It is great to see the pressure off Newcastle. I have always been a fan of Steve Bruce. He wants to play two up front but the modern way is three up top or one in behind. Great coaches end up with great players and they can adjust. Steve Bruce has worked wonders with a bit of both.
Newcastle have been battling hard for survival and they have completed it, but there is no pressure after the FA Cup match between these two. We saw what happened in the FA Cup tie, but how much have Man City missed Sergio Aguero? Gabriel Jesus cannot buy a goal, but David Silva and Bernardo Silva are seriously talented players.
When Kevin De Bruyne is left out, what a difference he makes to the team, although he sometimes can so easily contribute off the bench. Surely Jesus will get an opportunity to score more goals in this one. It will be fairly convincing victory for Man City.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: 4-0 (8/1 with Sky Bet)
Super 6: Super 6 for Newcastle?
Currently unbeaten in six Premier League matches, Newcastle face the daunting trip to Manchester City, who will be angry following their 1-0 loss to Southampton. Will you be part of the 1% tipping them for victory? Play for free, entries by 6pm Wednesday.
The fight for the top four is immense, but so is the battle for the European spots. At best I thought Arsenal could finish seventh or eighth, but all of a sudden they are on the brink of finishing even higher depending on how the remaining games unfold.
Sheffield United earned a good point at Burnley and now they are in that fight for the European spots after a poor start since the break.
Wolves were disappointing against Arsenal. They let Adama Traore get on the ball and try to to use his pace and power to cause problems but it never worked. The wing backs were suffocated, and Arsenal knew the strengths that Jonny and Matt Doherty possessed. When they cannot get through the middle they play with width. Arsenal managed that well, but it will be interesting to see what Sheffield United do.
Sheff Utd vs Wolves
July 8, 2020, 5:30pm
Chris Wilder’s side play the same way, but by nature, it is a back three against back three. Who has the most potency up front? I still think Wolves do. I still feel Wolves have enough to make the top four. Everybody has had set backs so far, except Man Utd. I expect Wolves to bounce back just because of what they have up front.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: 1-2 (9/1 with Sky Bet)
Super 6: A game of fine lines?
Just four points separate the two sides, with the pressure on Sheffield United to lift themselves back into the European places. Only 17 per cent of Super 6 players are backing them to get the three points. With £250k up for grabs, who will get the nod? Play for free.
It is the clash of the Clarets! Again, Burnley are sitting comfortably in mid-table, potentially another team who could be threatening Europe.
West Ham’s early performances were a bit off but they were making mistakes at the back, and that was what was catching them out. Michail Antonio has pace and power, he is good in the air and at holding it up too. He is a guaranteed number nine if West Ham can keep him fit, and he has done a great job since the restart.
Pablo Fornals is a grafter but technically he should be doing better. Jarrod Bowen has been performing well, and Tomas Soucek has made a difference. Declan Rice has been as consistent as ever. I have been impressed at the way they have performed in the last couple of games.
Burnley are still unpredictable and perhaps picked up a couple of injures against Sheffield United, so risks may not be taken with another match at the weekend.
West Ham have a golden opportunity to just about hit the safety button. Andriy Yarmolenko could produce a bit of magic to get West Ham over the line here.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: 2-1 (8/1 with Sky Bet)
Super 6: Hammer blow to be landed?
A West Ham win would most likely secure them Premier League football for another year, with 29 per cent of Super 6 entrants opting for a 2-1 home victory at the London Stadium. Where will you play your cards, with £250k on the line?
Brighton are just about there. You look at the 27-point mark with Aston Villa and Bournemouth, and then Watford on 28. Brighton will be after one more win, but I would say one point could be enough unofficially.
Liverpool were poor against Villa. I understand it is hard to get motivated when the job is already done, and there is no crowd to inspire them either. They have just won their first Premier League ever and have been such heroes.
Do they think the records are important? I think Jurgen Klopp is tempted to play a few youngsters through the week. Some players look tired, like Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson who look knackered.
Brighton vs Liverpool
July 8, 2020, 8:00pm
Mentally, it is the demands of everything that gets you there. Sometimes the crowd can carry you along, but I think they may make a few changes. Mohamed Salah looks out of sorts, but Roberto Firmino makes such a difference when he plays. I still think they will be good enough to take home the points if Klopp does make the changes.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: 1-2 (15/2 with Sky Bet)
Super 6: No stopping the champions?
Despite their lacklustre performance against Aston Villa, Liverpool edged closer to Manchester City’s 100-point record. Only the 94 per cent of Super 6 players are backing them to add three more points to their total at Brighton. Play for free, entries by 6pm Wednesday.
It is a quick turnaround for teams at the moment. Bournemouth will be a bit fresher but the way games are panning out, it could probably be an advantage. Tottenham v Everton was so boring – Everton did not try a leg until the last five minutes.
Tottenham brought Toby Alderweireld back into the side. Was it a surprise that they kept a clean sheet? Everton were so bad. Looking at the breakdown of what Tottenham look like is quite hard to do. They are now in behind Arsenal in eighth.
I was thinking Harry Kane needed games to get fitness, but he was still blowing hard in the last 15 minutes. He has not got a rest. The likes of Dele Alli and Lucas Moura can get a rest as they can rotate those players in behind Kane. He cannot have that luxury. The energy levels look ragged as these matches are constant.
The Carabao Cup and FA Cup allows players to get a rest, but there is no time for resting here. Jose Mourinho probably needed the result more than anyone against Everton.
Bournemouth should have a bit of confidence from the two goals they netted at Old Trafford. The importance of Callum Wilson is massive. He is back from suspension, will have the freshness on his side and could be the difference.
B’mouth vs Tottenham
July 9, 2020, 5:30pm
I do think Tottenham look tired, and Mourinho probably does need to make changes. He does not like doing that though, but the evidence is there.
There have been some surprising results since the restart, and there may be another one here. If Wilson comes in, he could make all the difference. Tottenham look ordinary and they look tired, but they could spring into action, as Bournemouth are there for the taking, but they have to go after it, and go after the first goal. Bournemouth will blow the bottom of the table wide open again.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: 2-1 (14/1 with Sky Bet)
Southampton have come out of the traps firing. Ralph Hasenhuttl was glowing about Southampton’s win over Manchester City being their best ever home performance. I don’t think it was, as Manchester City could have blown them away. What I will say is for a team that did get battered 9-0 earlier in the season to then go and beat the former Premier League champions is a remarkable turnaround.
Southampton have energy in the team, Danny Ings is as threatening as ever, and defensively they have improved too.
Carlo Ancelotti has done a decent job, especially with the amount of players he is getting a response from. Jordan Pickford looks like he has too many mistakes in him, while Lucas Digne has been consistent. Michael Keane is improving slowly, and I am still not sure about Mason Holgate’s best position.
In midfield, Andre Gomes is a decent player but was awful at Tottenham. He gets physical and loses his way sometimes. Richarlison has been good but Dominic Calvert-Lewin needs to get back in the goals.
Gylfi Sigurdsson needs to start fitting into an Ancelotti-type team. He looks as if the system does not suit him. What can he do? I think it does suit him. Everton pass through midfield, but he should be getting on the ball more often. He was a top class footballer and he has not lost it, but he needs to be more involved.
I am sure Ancelotti is confused too, but what is there to change currently? They have to get full backs higher up and feed Calvert-Lewin with more chances, and even get Sigurdsson closer up to him – if they do not, Everton’s season will just dwindle out. They are still mediocre, but I do not see a lot in this game.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: 1-1 (11/2 with Sky Bet)
I have said that the one team who have not faltered has been Man Utd. They should have won at Tottenham but their restart has been full of pace, power, great finishing – Anthony Martial now has 15 in the Premier League.
Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood are scoring again too. The movement is exciting up top, but we know they can be cold too, Martial in particular. Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes have worked a treat, and so it is going well. Momentum can carry you along nicely, and they have earned that with their performances recently.
Aston Villa are due a break I think. They played well against Liverpool and should have gone ahead on a couple of occasions but did not take their chances, and could not make the most of their counter-attacks. They rely on Jack Grealish, by far their most talented player. John McGinn does not seem to be able to retain the ball, nor is he getting hold of the ball.
A Villa vs Man Utd
July 9, 2020, 8:00pm
I do think they are due something, and it might be this one where they get something back from it. I do not know how I am coming up with two goals for Aston Villa, but there is something in my head saying that the relegation scrap will go right down to the wire. If they go and win at West Ham later on and they stay up they will take it all day long, but I have a feeling they may get something from this one.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: 2-2 (20/1 with Sky Bet)