C. Palace 1 Tottenham 1
The rails have really come off Crystal Palace’s wagon. Four defeats on the bounce would have been unfathomable with talisman Yanick Bolassie in the side. That said, the Londoners are not a team to sit down and feel sorry for themselves. They are coming out all guns blazing to force the issue against a young and inconsistent Spurs outfit.
West Ham 1 Man City 2
Even without crocked captain Vincent Kompany, Man City have kept two clean sheets in a row. That should hold them in good stead when they visit Slaven Bilic’s unpredictable Hammers. The attacking trident of Sergio Aguero, David Silva and Kevin de Bruyne will outduel Ener Valencia, Dmitri Payet and Andy Carroll in a thrilling contest.
Sunderland 2 Bournemouth 2
This is a tricky one. Sunderland’s veteran front runner Jermaine Defoe, who has scored five in the last three games, guarantees the Black Cats goals. Whether that will be enough to see off a Cherries side buzzing with intent is another matter altogether.
Arsenal 2 Chelsea 1
Successive draws away to Liverpool and Stoke City have put the brakes on Arsenal’s title charge but not dampened the enthusiasm emanating from North London. Both points were won with ‘blood and iron’. Chelsea are Arsenal’s bogey team, so how they cope will be a good pointer to their progress. I am going for a home win on account of Chelsea’s bedraggled defending.
Norwich 0 Liverpool 1
Liverpool were the better team in clashes with giants Arsenal and Manchester United, only to end up with a solitary point. I disagree with pundits, who are accusing Jurgen Klopp of omitting Christian Benteke to the team’s detriment. Failure to win was down to missed chances. I think the German coach’s good work will be rewarded with victory over the Canaries.
Man Utd 2 Southampton 1
A win is three points, no matter how it comes. Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal’s record champions have put together an unbeaten run since the turn of the year. No wonder the beleaguered Dutchman is talking up United’s chances of having a tilt at the title. As long as captain and striker Wayne Rooney is scoring goals, you can’t say ‘impossible’.
West Brom 1 Aston Villa 0
Remi Garde has been able to inject a fighting spirit into his troubled Villains. They pushed joint leaders Leicester last weekend until they scrapped an equaliser. Problem is Garde cannot afford to go gung-ho as he did at Villa Park where he fielded three strikers as he could be massacred. A narrow Brummies victory is on the cards.
Everton 3 Swansea 1
Everton are a joy to watch when in full flight. Kevin Mirallas’ freshness has added a dimension to their attack. Swansea registered a very welcome victory last Monday but they are not equipped to handle Romelu Lukaku, Mirallas and Ross Barkley. Budding star John Stones will be immense.
Leicester 1 Stoke 1
Leicester continue to confound the pundits with their effortless football. Though I feel Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez are tiring from the rigours of the Foxes’ title chase, I think Claudio Ranieri’s side have enough in store to stay in the mix. The Foxes’s mid-week FA Cup exertions will have left them with very little in the tank.
Watford 1 Newcastle 1
One month ago, this would have been a cast-iron home victory. In the intervening period, Newcastle have found their groove whereas Watford strikers have developed cold feet. Quinque Sanchez Flores is seeking to arrest the four-game losing streak but he will come up a determined Magpies side. I am calling a goals-filled stalemate.