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Friday, March 1, 2024

Paul Merson’s predictions for Manchester City vs Arsenal and other Premier League GW 33 fixtures

The Premier League is back with a round of midweek fixtures this week, and we’re set to witness an exhilarating end to what has been a brilliant season so far. Manchester City and Arsenal are locked in a title race and will face each other in what could become the most decisive game of their league campaigns.

This season reminds me of when I won the league title in 1989. We took a lead but dropped points against Derby and Wimbledon, and then had to go get a result at Liverpool. Arsenal have run out of a bit of luck, and they’ll need to make sure that they don’t lose this game.

Brighton can give Manchester City a game next month but they will be deflated after their FA Cup exit. With teams playing for their lives in the Premier League, the last few matches will be difficult and very different from the first 30 games of the season.

The relegation battle still involves as many as eight teams at the moment and changes every other week. Here are my predictions for this weekend’s round of crucial Premier League games.

Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Premier League
Crystal Palace v Wolverhampton Wanderers – Premier League

I watched Wolves the other day and they should have defeated Leicester. They sat back and didn’t have too many ideas – they did go up with a goal but lost the game in the end.

I think there will be goals in this game, and I don’t think Wolves are going to sit back. The team that wins this game could be out of trouble in the relegation battle. I don’t see either of these teams getting relegated this season.

Prediction: Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-2 Crystal Palace

Aston Villa vs Fulham

Brentford FC v Aston Villa - Premier League
Brentford FC v Aston Villa – Premier League

Fulham have turned it around with victories against Everton and Leeds, and they’ve pulled it off without Mitrovic. Their season was starting to fizzle out but they’ve steadied the ship now.

Ollie Watkins wasn’t at his best against Brentford on Saturday, but the last ten minutes were dominated by Aston Villa. Their record of scoring in every match under Unai Emery is still intact, and I’m backing them to win this game.

Prediction: Aston Villa 2-1 Fulham

Leeds United vs Leicester City

Leeds United v Leicester City - Premier League
Leeds United v Leicester City – Premier League

Leicester pulled off a phenomenal result last week. They were 1-0 down to Wolves and with the way they’ve been playing, completing a comeback and winning the game will give them so much confidence.

Leicester made some changes against Wolves, and I think they needed to do that. They’ve got Leeds and Everton up next and if they win both games, they’re safe. This is a big week for them.

This is a huge football match, and it’s a hard one to call. Leeds have conceded 11 goals in their last two home games. I think Leeds will be very cagey this week. They play gung-ho football at home, but I don’t think they’ll do that this time. I think we’ll see a draw in this match.

Prediction: Leeds United 1-1 Leicester City

Nottingham Forest vs Brighton & Hove Albion

Brighton & Hove Albion v Manchester United: Emirates FA Cup Semi Final
Brighton & Hove Albion v Manchester United: Emirates FA Cup Semi Final

Nottingham Forest did all right against Liverpool and were a lot better than everyone thought they would be, but their defending was atrocious. If you don’t win any of your away games, you’ve got to win at home.

Brighton just crashed out of the FA Cup. With the way they lost and how long it took, they’ll be deflated. Forest could have a chance, because Brighton will have to pick those players up and get them to play again. They’ve just played a penalty shoot-out in a semi-final and lost.

This is a different game now, and the timing matters a lot. I’m backing Nottingham Forest to pull off a shock win this week.

Prediction: Nottingham Forest 1-0 Brighton & Hove Albion

Chelsea vs Brentford

Real Madrid v Chelsea FC: Quarterfinal First Leg - UEFA Champions League
Real Madrid v Chelsea FC: Quarterfinal First Leg – UEFA Champions League

This is a big game for Chelsea – a derby against one of the lesser teams in West London. Chelsea have got to go and win this for the fans, and you’d hope the players would understand that. I don’t mean any disrespect to Brentford, but Chelsea losing this game would be a massive blow to their stature as a club.

I’ve been saying it since day one – Chelsea need to get a manager in. I’m not sure their players are too bothered, and some of them are on their way out. They’re top players, and there will be takers. We’re already in April, and I still don’t think anyone at the club has figured out what Chelsea’s best team is. That’s been their season in a nutshell, and it’s very worrying.

I think Carlo Ancelotti is the perfect candidate to take over at Chelsea. He’s been there before and they need someone of that stature, but I’m not sure he’ll come back. Pochettino is another candidate, but Chelsea will have to be careful. He could get it done with young players at Tottenham, but failed to win the league at PSG – how many managers have done that? He’s been out of work for a long time.

Chelsea need someone to steady the ship for the next year or two. We’ve seen it before in the Premier League – all the incredible work they’ve done over the past twenty years could very quickly fizzle out.

Brentford have hit a brick wall at the moment and are on one of those runs where they aren’t getting over the line. They’re on a bad run, and this game could be interesting. I’m not too confident when I say this, but I think Chelsea could go on to win this game.

Prediction: Chelsea 2-1 Brentford

West Ham United vs Liverpool

Real Madrid v Liverpool FC: Round of 16 Second Leg - UEFA Champions League
Real Madrid v Liverpool FC: Round of 16 Second Leg – UEFA Champions League

Liverpool are in a position where they may as well try and win every match – a draw is no good. They do not want to be in the Conference League and will want to finish in fifth place.

The shackles are off for Liverpool at the moment and they’re looking good. If you’re a professional footballer, the one thing you can bottle up is confidence. They’ve got that back now, and they’re looking dangerous.

I think West Ham’s result yesterday will give them enough confidence to go on and win the Conference League. If you’re Liverpool, you do not want to be playing against West Ham now.

Newcastle’s victory yesterday was the nail in the coffin for Liverpool’s Champions League hopes. They would’ve hoped for a draw in that match. This is going to be a great match, and I’m going to go with a Liverpool draw this week.

Prediction: West Ham United 2-2 Liverpool

Manchester City vs Arsenal

Arsenal FC v Manchester City - Premier League
Arsenal FC v Manchester City – Premier League

This is a game that Arsenal cannot lose. If they lose, it’s all over, and Manchester City can even afford a slip-up. There’s still a lot of football to be played, but Man City are on a roll. They do have to face Real Madrid in the Champions League, however, and if they lose over two legs, it could knock their confidence.

Nathan Ake hasn’t been playing for City – he’s kept Saka in his pocket in the last couple of games and he’ll be a big miss. Leroy Sane and Kingsley Coman got to Man City when they faced Bayern Munich and were really dangerous. Arsenal are strong down both their flanks with Saka and Martinelli and could cause them a few problems.

Arsenal played Fabio Vieira instead of Jorginho last week, and I thought that was unbelievable. They’ve brought Jorginho in to be a calm head in big matches. I didn’t think the game against Southampton was a foregone conclusion, and to keep Jorginho on the bench was a big mistake.

Southampton wouldn’t have believed their luck when they saw Jorginho on the bench. He sits in, dictates play, and controls games. With Holding playing instead of Saliba, Arsenal needed protection from their midfield – not people getting turned. Arteta hasn’t done a lot wrong this season, but he made a mistake there.

Arsenal have gone and tried to win every match this season, but you can’t go to Man City and play gung-ho football. The season might catch up with City, and Pep Guardiola has already said that they’re tired. When he starts saying it, the players start believing it.

If this game ends in a draw, Manchester City will have to win both their games in hand to take the lead. It’s a bit like when you’re 5-3 down in tennis, and you need to hold your serve and make sure you don’t break. Man City have been outstanding, but people do get nervous and the pressure can get to them.

Arsenal get too confident at times, and they should have steamrolled West Ham and Southampton. You can’t drop points like that when you’re playing for a league title. They do have the players to hurt Manchester City, however, and I think they can get a result here.

Prediction: Manchester City 1-1 Arsenal

Southampton vs Bournemouth

AFC Bournemouth v Southampton FC - Premier League
AFC Bournemouth v Southampton FC – Premier League

This is a huge football match. Bournemouth would’ve thought they were safe when they beat Tottenham, but they went on to lose to West Ham. If they lose this game, they’re in trouble again.

Southampton have to win this match – there’s no question about it. If they win, they’ve got a chance. They’ll be disappointed with the draw against Arsenal, because they had the win in their hands.

If Southampton can win this game, it’ll give them something to fight for. If they lose, I think they’ll be relegated. I’m going to back Southampton to keep their season going and win this match.

Prediction: Southampton 2-1 Bournemouth

Everton vs Newcastle United

Newcastle United v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League
Newcastle United v Tottenham Hotspur – Premier League

Everton are in real trouble at the moment. They got a result against Palace the other day, but I look at their remaining fixtures and worry for them. The only way they can save themselves is by drawing their way out – I can’t see them winning a match at the moment.

Newcastle are virtually in the Champions League now, and they might take their eyes off their campaign. They’ve got to make sure they don’t lose too many games, and that could work in Everton’s favour.

Everton are a hard team to beat, and they play a certain way. They need to get out of the bottom three as soon as possible, by either points or goal difference. They need to nick a few draws here and there, and I think they can pull it off this week.

Prediction: Everton 1-1 Newcastle United

Tottenham Hotspur vs Manchester United

Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League
Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur – Premier League

This is a hard game to call. Tottenham were atrocious last week. They’ll have to be careful – if they lose this game, I don’t see them getting into Europe.

The defeat against Newcastle will have probably made Harry Kane’s mind up. I don’t see how he stays at the club after that. That was a big game, and a chance to close the gap and get into the Champions League. I always thought Kane would stay at Tottenham, but that defeat would’ve been the last straw.

Both teams play the same way – they sit back and attack on the counter, and I don’t think much will happen. Manchester United can kill a game as well – they were second-best at times against Brighton but they were comfortable. Credit where credit’s due – they’re now in a final.

I’m worried that Tottenham don’t have a manager, and I don’t see how they can come back from their defeat against Newcastle. Man United will have too much for them on the counter and should be able to win this game.

Prediction: Tottenham Hotspur 0-2 Manchester United

Paul Merson predicts the result of Man City vs Arsenal and other PL GW 33 fixtures! Click here

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