Liverpool vs Everton, Arsenal vs Man City, Inter vs AC Milan, West Ham vs Spurs, Villa vs Leicester and Man Utd vs Newcastle.
The scramble for domestic dominance continues across Europe this weekend, with some scintillating UEFA Champions League and Europa League action gracing our screens in mid-week, for the first time this year. From the Premier League to the Milan Derby in Serie A, we bring you all the prediction guide you crave this weekend.
LIVERPOOL VS EVERTON
SATURDAY, 20 FEBRUARY, 18:30 (GMT+1)
Liverpool head into the Merseyside derby with Everton on Saturday evening looking to build on their return to form in the Champions League in mid-week, winning 0-2 away at RB Leipzig. But can they replicate that performance in the league?
Jurgen Klopp’s team delivered a solid 75 minutes last time out in the Premier League against Leicester, but were hard done by individual errors, as the Foxes rallied back with 3 goals in 5 minutes – first coming in the 79th – to win 3-1, condemning the reigning champions to their third consecutive loss in the league.
The Reds also hold an unwanted record of making the most errors leading to goals (8) this season, while Everton on the other hand, are the league’s most lethal in front of goal with a shot conversation rate of 15.56%.
These statistics might leave Liverpool fans wary, especially when considering the team’s ongoing defensive frailties, but with Everton having had to play four games in just 10 days, I expect Liverpool to have more, especially in attack, than their local rivals. But Liverpool’s depleted defence, Everton might as well cancel them out.
If you are looking to stake on bookings and sending offs, then this is the perfect fixture. With 22 sending offs in 57 Premier League games between them, this is officially the most ill tempered game in the division’s history. Also considering how the reverse fixture transpired at Goodison Park, with Jordan Pickford clattering into Virgil van Dijk’s knee and ruling the influential defender out for the rest of the season, there must be someone who has not forgiven someone. A red card is 4/1 with most of the popular bookmakers.
Thiago, who himself was injured by a strong tackle from Richarlison, will expectedly be all up for it. Despite missing a sizeable portion of the season thus far, the Spaniard is up amongst the dirtiest tacklers in the division, with 22 already since the turn of the new year. He represents good value if you’re looking for a persistent yellow card hoarder.
FULLTIME SCORE PREDICTION: LIVERPOOL 2-2 EVERTON.
BET OPTION: THIAGO ALCANTARA TO GET BOOKED.
WEST HAM UNITED VS TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR
SUNDAY, 21 FEBRUARY, 13:00 (GMT+1)
West Ham have enjoyed a good run of form in recent weeks, sitting 5th on the log, ahead of Liverpool as a write this. The reason I would be wary of going all out on them is the fact that Hammers’ team doctors are still sweating on the fitness of main goal threat Michail Antonio’s.
Tomas Soucek though is another goal threat from midfield. Declan Rice also stepped up to dispatch a penalty in their last fixture against Sheffield United. With Jesse Lingard also in the mix, along with the likes of Jarrod Bowen, Saïd Benrahma and Pablo Fornals, there should be enough firepower to cope in case Antonio is ruled out again.
Benrahma’s loan from Championship high-flyers Brentford has now been made permanent, and with the box office loan acquisition of England International Lingard from Manchester United till the end of the season, along with bargain signings Soucek (from Slovan Liberec) and Bowen (from Hull City), I am seriously buying into David Moyes’ system. The Scotsman has created a well-oiled machine and has invested shrewdly in players willing to prove a point.
Whether or not they can handle the division’s most elite teams is another angle to consider. However, with Spurs picking only 11 points from a possible 33 in the last 11 games, I’m uncertain about their status in that category, at the moment. One thing I’m certain about though, is this will be a very close game.
West Ham are the team in form here for sure, but David Moyes would head into this fixture knowing he has never defeated Jose Mourinho in all of his 15 attempts.
Having waxed lyrical about this West Ham team thus far – and I know you can understand why – I think Mourinho will maintain his record of never losing to Moyes, albeit not doing enough himself to snatch an away win.
Heung-Min Son and Harry Kane are still the league’s deadliest duo this season. When they click, they can be unplayable for the opposition. Kane has assisted his South Korean teammate 9 times already this season and I would back the Englishman to do so once more on Sunday afternoon.
FULLTIME SCORE PREDICTION: WEST HAM 1-1 TOTTENHAM.
BET OPTION: HARRY KANE TO ASSIST HEUNG-MIN SON.
ASTON VILLA VS LEICESTER CITY
SUNDAY, 21 FEBRUARY, 15:05 (GMT+1)
Aston Villa started the season on the front foot. Thoughts of their 7-2 and 0-3 victories over Liverpool and Arsenal respectively, in the opening stages of the season keep flashing back every time I see them in action. Only a few weeks back, they looked like legitimate contenders for one of those Champions League places, but does their recent dip in form, especially in attack, suggest they might have overachieved?
Playing at home is usually and should be an advantage, but against a Leicester side who have conceded only once in their previous five outings, I am tilting towards Brendan Rodgers’ men to continue their fine vein of form on the road, at Villa Park.
The Foxes have created a brick wall under the tutorage of their Northern Irish manager, with the likes of Wesley Fofana, Johnny Evans, and especially the return of Caglar Soyuncu to full fitness. Wilfred Ndidi’s crisp tackling abilities in front of the back four has also been a key component of their playing style.
I think Leicester’s quality, both in defence and attack, along with Villa’s recent frailties in attack, gives the Foxes an edge. They might as well go as far as keeping yet another clean sheet on the road, potentially making it a fifth in the last six games.
FULLTIME SCORE PREDICTION: ASTON VILLA 0-1 LEICESTER.
BET OPTION: LEICESTER TO SCORE FIRST.
ARSENAL VS MANCHESTER CITY
SUNDAY, 21 FEBRUARY, 17:30 (GMT+1)
Pep Guardiola’s men are on a role right now. The team from the blue half of the City of Manchester definitely look like a team in the mood to roar their way to the title this year. Victory against Everton in mid-week took their tally to 17 consecutive victories in all competitions, their 12th in the league.
Do Arsenal have the quality to end it though?
Predicting a win might seem farfetched, but a draw seems like it. Mikel Arteta has been changing the usual cliché “Arsenal style” we’ve known for years, under Arsene Wenger and more recently, Unai Emery. As much as the Gunners have not lost their knack for kicking it freely with guile and composure, it is their ability to hold it tight at the back while disrupting the opposition’s flow, that leaves their fans dreaming big, heading into a box office fixture like this one.
If they can manufacture the same formula as they did in their FA Cup semi-final fixture, where they expertly disrupted City’s flow and stopped them finding the back of the net, then I can see them upsetting the odds here. But sorry Arsenal fans, my head doesn’t think that will happen. I think City will stifle Arsenal for most of the game and with the sort of form they boast right now, they will score at least once.
Also, don’t neglect the fact that games between this season’s top six have mostly ended in barren draws. I know it’s probably tricky to jump on a 0-0 score line as a goal ruins all interest, but a low scoring game is likely.
FULLTIME SCORE PREDICTION: ARSENAL 0-1 MANCHESTER CITY
BET OPTION: BOTH TEAMS TO SCORE?(NO)
MANCHESTER UNITED VS NEWCASTLE UNITED
SUNDAY, 21 FEBRUARY, 20:00 (GMT+1)
This looks a banana peel for Manchester United, doesn’t it?
Heading into their emphatic 4-0 win at Real Sociedad in the Europa League on Thursday night, the Red Devils had recorded just one victory in their last four Premier League outings. To think that those games included games where United fell 1-2 to the league’s bottom side Sheffield United at home, losing a first half advantage to draw 3-3 with Everton, before being held 1-1 at West Brom makes me wonder whether or not United are headed for a bad patch, similarly to all their top-six rivals who have also encountered a dip at some point this season.
How long can Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s men continue to hold onto second spot?
Newcastle on the other hand have not had the best season so far, even though they sit 6 points above the relegation zone. Manager Steve Bruce has come under a lot of scrutiny, with a huge section of the Room Army wanting him sacked, but they’ve slowly got themselves back to playing with a bit more purpose, especially in attack.
They’ve got Miguel Almironplaying as the 10 now. It’s somewhat of a diamond formation with the former MLS bagsman exploiting pockets of space in between attack and midfield. If they attack as they did against Chelsea the other night, where they registered 10 shots at goal – albeit losing the game 2-0 – and considering they are averaging 12.5 shots, with an xG of just under two goals per game, I expect them to at least get a goal in this fixture.
Even though their main goal threat Callum Wilson is out of contention for this one, playing fit again Allan Saint-Maximin into spaces on the wings will be a handful for Manchester United’s defence, especially fullbacks Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
You can explore so many different angles to this game but perhaps backing Newcastle with a two-goal handicap win would be the safest, smartest bet.
For your bet to come true, Newcastle have to either lose by a single goal margin, win outrightly or draw the game.
If you placed the same bet on Manchester United’s last 16 matches, you would have been smiling to the bank on every single occasion!
FULLTIME SCORE PREDICTION: MANCHESTER UNITED 2-1 NEWCASTLE.
BET OPTION: NEWCASTLE (0-2) HANDICAP WIN.
AC MILAN VS INTERNAZIONALE
SUNDAY, 21 FEBRUARY, 15:00 (GMT+1)
Last but certainly not least, we head to Italy where Inter have leapfrogged local rivals Milan, climbing to first place on the Serie A standings.
Milan have held on to top spot for most of the season, but a recent dip in form has seen them finally lose their unbeaten streak in the hands of reigning champions Juventus, before falling like a park of cards in the game vs Atalanta, conceding thrice on both occasions, before narrowly losing their last league game 2-1 at relegation candidates Spezia.
They also dropped points in their Europa League game at Red Star Belgrade on Thursday, having lost the lead twice to draw 2-2 with the Serbian outfit.
If recent results are anything to go by, then Milan are certain to concede in this game, especially with the form of the big Belgian, Romelu Lukaku Bolingoli, who has found the net four times in his last three outings.
Inter hold a point’s advantage over their arch rivals, after defeating Lazio at San Siro in their last game. Antonio Conte’s team have lost just once in 18 games, winning four and drawing one of their last five games in the league.
One of the most intriguing thing about this game, is the fact that it technically isn’t a home fixture for Milan, as seen on paper. Both teams share the same home ground, and with games being played behind closed doors nowadays, it should be a level playing ground on Sunday afternoon.
An Inter win will be a huge statement of intent in their quest for a first Scudetto since 2010. Opening a four-point advantage over their rivals will also be a huge motivating factor.
Also, with Inter completely out of Europe this season along with the fact that Milan have had to make the trip all the way to Eastern Europe, just two days before this gigantic fixture doesn’t help their quest.
FULLTIME SCORE PREDICTION: AC MILAN 1-3 INTER MILAN.
BET OPTION: ROMELU LUKAKU TO SCORE AT ANYTIME.
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Mubarak Mohammed Zakari He prefers to be known not as just a Sports Journalist; but as a "modern broadcaster" because of his ability to create content for visual, audio and print media. He co-hosts a football podcast with a growing audience from 17 countries across the globe.