Premier League Predictions: Matchweek 28
Tuesday, February 26th
Wolves 2-0 Huddersfield
Unbeaten in their last eight games in all competitions, Wolves will relish an opportunity to extend their streak to nine against lowly Huddersfield. Nuno Espirito Santo’s men have torn up the Premier League this season in a form rarely seen by a newly promoted side. Huddersfield, however, has embraced the role of Premier League punching bag.
Once again, Huddersfield will play the victim in the latest assault by Wolverhampton. Wolves will win this one comfortably. Also, an interesting statistic that puts Huddersfield’s season in context, the Terriers would have to win every game for the rest of the season to stay up – if Liverpool did that they would win the league.
Everton 1-0 Cardiff
Two teams in woeful form collide this week in Wales. Everton has lost five of their last six matches, heaping more scorn on the heavily criticized Marco Silva. Cardiff, however, is coming off of a 5-1 defeat to Watford.
Silva said of his approach to the game, “We have to look at each match as a final for us, playing with confidence is the main thing for us now.”
Sure, Marco. Treat an away match in late February against Cardiff as a Cup Final. I’m sure that will do the trick.
Regardless of his team’s approach, they will benefit from Cardiff’s Oumar Niasse absence. Niasse, an Everton loanee, is restricted from playing against his parent club.
Everton, therefore, shall have the upper hand in this matchup. A weakened Cardiff squad that is coming off a crushing defeat to Watford will present a pitiful challenge.
Brighton 1-2 Leicester City
16th place Brighton travel up the table to play 12th place Leicester at the King Power. Leicester, who fired Claude Puel over the weekend, will be overseen by Mike Stowell and Adam Sadler – first team coaches in the Leicester side.
Brighton will treat the match as an opportunity to take points off of a shaken Leicester. Hughton’s men have only won 2 points since the start of the year, a poor return for a team struggling to keep above water in the relegation race.
Leicester, however, has the potential to react positively to their manager’s sacking. If they perform to the quality of their squad, they should have no trouble overcoming a Brighton side that is quickly losing its grip on their safety. Playing at home, Leicester will have the edge, taking the match in a tedious affair.
Burnley 1-1 Newcastle
Burnley extended their unbeaten streak to eight following a 2-1 victory against Tottenham over the weekend. Sean Dyche and his squad will be eager to capitalize on the momentum with a win against Newcastle.
Though they were playing Huddersfield, Newcastle fired on all cylinders in their last match. Benitez finally seems somewhat content with his squad and his ability to mold their actions on the pitch.
Both teams enter this match in an impressive form that starkly contrasts with their early season woes. Newcastle and Burnley will collide with one another in a game that will end with an even scoreline, a point for both sides.
Wednesday, February 27th
Bournemouth 1-2 Arsenal
Arsenal will approach their contest with the Cherries Wednesday in the shadow of the looming North London derby. Stuck in a battle for Champions League football with Chelsea and Manchester United, Arsenal needs to string consecutive wins together if they hope to carve out their own space towards the top of the table.
Playing at the Emirates should give the Gunners the boost needed to power past Bournemouth and head into their matchup with Spurs with momentum on their side.
Fulham 1-3 Southampton
Southampton host Fulham in this Wednesday’s edition of the relegation rumble. Sitting seven points above Fulham, the Saints must take this opportunity to separate themselves once-and-for-all from the bottom of the table.
For Fulham, a win would not be enough to take them out of the relegation zone, but it would draw them tantalizingly close to Southampton as the season enters the final ten games.
In the reverse fixture, Ranieri led Fulham to a 3-2 victory at Craven Cottage in his first match at the helm. Though both teams’ struggles have continued since replacing their managers, Southampton has shown signs of improvement. Their improved form will carry them over a Fulham side who need to start reasoning with relegation.
Watford 0-3 Liverpool
Playing their game in hand against Manchester United on Sunday, Liverpool left Old Trafford with a single point. A result that would have been favorable in years past, Liverpool’s goalless draw felt like a defeat.
The Reds will have an opportunity to snap their string of draws with a win against a resolute Watford this Wednesday.
The Hornets recently beat Cardiff City 5-1, continuing their pursuit of Wolverhampton for the seventh-place spot in the Premier League table. Deulofeu, who scored three goals in the victory, will hope to keep his hot streak against a Liverpool defense that has been continuously ruthless in allowing their opposition to score.
Liverpool’s front three, on the other hand, must perform better than they did against Manchester United. In that fixture, the only shot on goal from Salah, Firmino, or Mane came in the form of a wayward free kick taken by Salah.
Firmino, however, may not get a chance to redeem himself as he was sidelined with an injury during the match. Klopp will likely start Shaqiri in midfield or Sturridge in the attack to fill the gap left by the Brazilian striker.
Though Liverpool should come away with three much-needed points, Watford will put up a fight. After all, Liverpool has lost much of its mid-season momentum as Watford has picked up steam. Despite their recent success, however, Watford will fall to the Reds in this matchup as Liverpool regain their title-chasing form.
Manchester United 2-3 Crystal Palace
Though Manchester United defended well enough to secure a draw against Liverpool, they suffered multiple injuries along the way. Mata, Lingard, Herrera, and Rashford were the casualties, leaving United with a limited lineup for Wednesday’s match.
Crystal Palace, on the other hand, are flying at the moment. Coming into the fixture against United, the Eagles are unbeaten in their last six matches. After their latest victory, a 4-1 funeral for Claude Puel’s Leicester side, Crystal Palace seem to have found stability. With the addition of Chelsea loanee Michy Batshuayi, Crystal Palace no longer have to rely solely on the production of Wilfried Zaha.
Palace has a serious chance at an upset this Wednesday. They are playing at home against a weakened United and have the momentum to carry them over the line. It will take more than a few decisions to go their way and balls to spin in their favor, but Crystal Palace will beat Manchester United at Selhurst Park.
West Ham 0-4 Manchester City
Having won their last six meetings with the Hammers, Manchester City has little to worry about this Wednesday. Coming off their penalty shoot-out victory against Chelsea in the Carabao Cup Final, City is playing their most efficient and lethal football of the season. West Ham will present the next domino for Guardiola’s men to tip over in their chase for Liverpool and the Premier League title.
Tottenham 1-2 Chelsea
Two teams enter this competition that are suffering shocking defeats after periods of optimism. Spurs, who many considered actual title contenders before the weekend, slipped against Burnley, suffering a 2-1 loss. Even with Harry Kane back in the lineup, Spurs were unable to secure even a point at Turf Moor. Pochettino will be demanding a response at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea, who many expected to be severed in half by Pep’s men, put up a valiant fight against Manchester City for an entire 118 minutes in Sunday’s Cup Final. However, a sideline row between Kepa and Sarri, the likes of which football has never seen, along with a heartbreaking loss in the penalties that followed, left Chelsea with few positives to take away from the match.
Playing at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea will hope to repeat their 2-1 victory against Spurs from the League Cup semi-final. Also, after losing their first match of the season by three goals against Tottenham in December, Chelsea will hope to regain their dropped points in a revenge match against their London rivals.
Though Sarri deployed a false-9 formation that featured Hazard in the center of a three-man attack against City, he will likely revert to his favored 4-3-3 with Higuaín at the tip of the spear. Also, Emerson Palmieri and Ruben Loftus Cheek deserve starts following impressive performances in the Cup final.
Tottenham have had Chelsea’s number of late, winning three straight matches against the Blues before their January defeat. Chelsea, however, will benefit from Tottenham’s loss against Burnley, using their opponents' lack of desire for the title and security of being in the top 4 to their advantage. Chelsea will come away as surprising victors in a match they desperately need to win to silence the critics and stabilize their dressing room.