Pressure mounting at EPL summit

Newcastle 0 Man Utd 1

Louis Van Gaal waxed lyrical about his team’s risky approach after it helped end Utd’s six game barren run. The games against Chelsea and Swansea should be used as a template to break down opposition defences. The record champions must surrender some control in exchange for creating suspense in opposition boxes. This will be a difficult game but the Red Devils edge it.

A. Villa 1 C. Palace 1

Palace played like lost sheep in the absence of dynamic duo Yannick Bolassie and Yohanne Cabaye. Whether they will have recovered in time for this mid-week fixture is key to the outcome. With Villa desperate for points and Alan Pardew’s Palace among the top five away sides in the division, a stalemate is a logical outcome.

Tottenham 2 Leicester 1

After scoring in 17 straight matches, Leicester have gone 270 minutes without finding the net. This is down to teams doing their homework on the duo of Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy. Harry Kane will outduel Vardy.

Swansea 1 Sunderland 0

Swansea are a totally different proposition to the bedraggled Swans that won just one out of 12 in the final three months of Gary Monk’s reign. Swansea gave Man Utd a mighty scare, before succumbing to Wayne Rooney magic. I expect Sunderland to make life extremely difficult. However, I trust Gylfi Sigurdsson and Andre Ayew to settle it.

Man City 3 Everton 2

These two sides love to attack. They also cannot defend well. City have conceded a goal in all but one of the 12 matches they have played without Vincent Kompany. With Romelu Lukaku in the form of his life and Gerard Deolefeu creating for fun, we are guaranteed goals. Sergio Aguero and Yaya Toure are key for the title favourites.

So’ton 1 Watford 1

Saints boss Ronald Koeman is in foul mood. This is reflecting badly on the team as they appear nervous not to make mistakes. With Sadio Mane intransigent and Graziano Pelle off-form, the onus will be on Shane Long to make the difference. Sadly for Koeman, Victor Wanyama’s enforced absence means control will be amiss.

Bourne’th 2 West Ham 2

The Cherries’ 4-3 win over West Ham at Upton Park is one of the surprise results. The Championship winners are in good form, having lost just one of their last six, but so are the Londoners who are unbeaten in seven. Dmitri Payet remains a massive creative force while Andy Carroll rarely loses an aerial duel.

Chelsea 2 West Brom 0

Chelsea’s four-match unbeaten run is their longest. The champions were at their clinical best in disposing of Crystal Palace with the usually lethargic pair of Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas setting Upton Park alight with their energy. Obi Mikel’s introduction is protecting the back four better.

Liverpool 2 Arsenal 1

Curiously, Liverpool play their best football without an out-and-out striker, unless that forward is Daniel Sturridge. The 18-time champions destroyed both Chelsea and Man City with Roberto Firmino playing as a false forward. This system allows the Reds to dominate midfield with their full pitch pressing game. I see a Liverpool win.

Stoke 2 Norwich 1

Mark Hughes must rotate his players more as the rigours of Premier League football are draining Ibrahim Afellay, Bojan Krkic and Xhaerdan Shaqiri of their energy. I would not play all three simultaneously especially since Joselu and Jonathan Walters are better physical specimens. I expect Norwich to have a go at the Potters in vain.


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