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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 December 2018

Premier League predictions: Man City to earn a point at Chelsea, United to hammer Crystal Palace

This week Steve Luckings gives his predictions of the results of the Premier League, seeing wins for Tottenham, Southampton, and Newcastle United.

Kevin De Bruyne, right, scored a stunning goal to open the scoring for Manchester City against Shakhtar Donetsk. Lee Smith / Reuters
Kevin De Bruyne, right, scored a stunning goal to open the scoring for Manchester City against Shakhtar Donetsk. Lee Smith / Reuters

Huddersfield Town 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur

Why? The first competitive meeting between these two sides in 45 years will be a close affair with the odd goal in it. Huddersfield have kept four clean sheets in their opening six Premier League games of the season but they face a Spurs side buoyed by a midweek Uefa Champions League win in Cyprus and who are turning into a formidable away team. Harry Kane scored a hat-trick in the win over Apoel and with 25 Premier League goals so far in 2017 will be looking to add to that tally at the John Smith’s Stadium.

Bournemouth 2-2 Leicester City

Why? I predict a high-scoring draw based on the fact that both Bournemouth and Leicester struggle to keep clean sheets. In their combined 12 league outings so far Bournemouth have shipped 11 goals while Leicester have conceded 12. Jamie Vardy’s pace and Shinji Okazaki’s worker bee mentality means Bournemouth’s defenders cannot afford to relax at any point in the game but in Jermain Defoe and Josh King they have enough pace and subtlety to trouble Wes Morgan and Harry Maguire.

Manchester United 5-0 Crystal Palace

Why? Wayne Hennessey’s goal offers little more than target practice at the moment, with the Welshman at fault for at least two of the goals scored by Manchester City last time out. Christian Benteke’s absence is a major blow to Palace’s survival hopes with news this week that the Belgian striker is expected to miss six weeks after he sustained ligament damage in the 5-0 defeat to. United are unlikely to offer up much sympathy, with Romelu Lukaku, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial no doubt anticipating the chance to burgeon their goals record for the season. Expect a big score in United’s favour.

Stoke City 0-2 Southampton

Why? Stoke were abject in the 4-0 surrender at home to Chelsea, conceding after just 90 seconds and finishing the match without any recognized centre-backs. Bruno Martins Indi failed to finish the game meaning Darren Fletcher ended up being the player terrorized by a weaponized Alvaro Morata and the Dutch defender remains a major doubt for the visit of Southampton. Mauricio Pellegrino’s side put the frightners up Manchester United in last week’s 1-0 at St Mary’s, doing everything but score as they lay sieged to the United goal in the final 20 minutes. The Argentine’s ideas look to be getting across to his players with every passing game. They just need to start converting chances.

West Bromwich Albion 1-1 Watford

Why? Watford have lost four of their past five visits to The Hawthorns, but the Hertfordshire club are on an upwards curve under new manager Marco Silva, winning 11 points from six Premier League games so far to sit sixth. Goals have been a problem for West Brom under Tony Pulis, highlighted by the fact this will be the Welshman’s 100th game in charge in which his side have scored only 100 goals. Hal Robson-Kanu and Jay Rodriguez impressed as a front two in the 2-0 defeat of Arsenal and could lead to a long-term change of thinking from Pulis’ usual deployment of one striker.

Chelsea 2-2 Manchester City

Why? The news of Sergio Aguero’s car crash in Amsterdam, in which the Manchester City striker reportedly suffered a fractured rib, has denied us the chance to see him go head-to-head with Alvaro Morata, the Chelsea striker whose six goals this season see him level at the top of the scoring charts alongside the Argentine and Romelu Lukaku. In Aguero’s absence Gabriel Jesus will most likely be restored to Pep Guardiola’s team bursting with goals this season. City have scored 29 goals in all competitions this term, conceding only three, and they face in Chelsea a team whose manager Antonio Conte is fuming at the scheduling of this fixture just three days after their Champions League win over Atletico Madrid.

West Ham United 2-0 Swansea City

Why? Slaven Bilic will be both encouraged and disappointed by his side’s response to going 3-0 down to Tottenham Hotspur last time out. Spurs were well worth their lead but Javier Hernandez’s goal put the wind in his side’s sails that almost resulted in an unlikely comeback. Renato Sanches has failed to uproot any trees since his eye-catching signing on transfer deadline day and the Portuguese midfielder may not be best suited for a game that will call for dogs of war rather than pedigree pooches.

Arsenal 2-0 Brighton & Hove Albion

Why? Arsene Wenger is using his squad to superb effect in the Europa League, blending the experience of Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott - players not getting as much game time as they would like - with excitable youth eager to impress in Ainsley Maitalnd-Niles and Reiss Nelson. This is allowing him to keep the likes of Laurent Koscielny, Alexis Sanchez and Alexandre Lacazette fresh for Premier League engagements. The latter looks lethal when presented with chances in or outside the box.

Everton 1-1 Burnley

Why? Never let it be said that Ronaldo Koeman is not afraid to hold his hands up when he has made a mistake. After denying Oumar Niasse a locker room at Finch Farm, a shirt number, forcing him to train with the reserves and not adding him to Everton’s Europa League squad list, the Dutchman summoned the Senegalese from the bench last week and the striker duly obliged with both goals in Everton’s come-from-behind win against Bournemouth. Koeman will surely persist with Niasse in attack but it is behind him where the real problems lie. Wayne Rooney has flickered with form; Gylfi Sigurdsson seems to have left his back at Swansea. Should Burnley win this match, they will have surpassed their away Premier League points tally for the whole of last season (seven).

Newcastle United 2-0 Liverpool

Why? This match brings together Anfield’s past and its present. Rafa Benitez, manager of Liverpool the night they claimed the most improbable of European Cups in Istanbul in 2005, up against Jurgen Klopp, the German who oversaw their most recent outing in the competition on Tuesday, a 1-1 draw against Spartak Moscow. Benitez won 134 points in his opening 74 Premier League games as Liverpool manager. In comparison, Klopp has won one point more in his first 74 league games as Liverpool manager (135). The big test for Klopp’s side this season was always going to be how they performed in matches after midweek European games. They drew 1-1 at home to Burnley in their first league game after playing Sevilla in mid-September.