Premier League predictions: Gameweek 21
The winter break means Gameweek 21 of the 2023/24 Premier League season is split across two weekends, but good things come to those who wait with some mouth-watering fixtures in store.
Current leaders Liverpool aren’t in action until a week on Sunday when they take on Bournemouth, with Aston Villa, Manchester City, Arsenal and Tottenham all hoping to close the gap before the Reds travel down to the south coast.
A true relegation six-pointer kicks off the action on Friday night, while Manchester United, Chelsea and Newcastle United are all desperate for wins to make up ground on the top four.
Here’s how 90min sees Gameweek 21 playing out.
Friday night sees two relegation-threatened sides do battle when Burnley and Luton Town collide at Turf Moor. The Clarets have the worst home record in the top flight so far this season while the Hatters have visited strugglers like Everton and Sheffield United and taken home the points on both occasions. A similar scenario could play out to kick off the first weekend’s action.
The first of Saturday’s two games involves the two teams who lost the first legs of their Carabao Cup semi-finals as Chelsea look to bounce back against local rivals Fulham. The Cottagers couldn’t hold onto their lead at Anfield but will want to cut the gap between them and the Blues to a point with victory at Stamford Bridge.
With not a 15:00 GMT kick-off in sight over the two weekends, there’s a little break until the evening when Manchester City visit similarly cash-rich Newcastle United. Eddie Howe is still battling an injury crisis at St James’ Park, while Kevin De Bruyne is fit again for Pep Guardiola. Erling Haaland could even make his return, which would make the Magpies’ prospects of victory that much more bleak.
Sean Dyche has seen his Everton side go five games without a win in all competitions after four straight victories lifted them out of the relegation zone despite their ten-point penalty. The Toffees have become defensively resilient but might be on the losing side once again when second-placed Aston Villa arrive on Merseyside.
Erik ten Hag managed to avoid fuelling more speculation over his future as Manchester United manager by securing progression in the FA Cup on Monday, though it might mean little if his side are dismantled by Ange Postecoglou’s Tottenham. However, Spurs are still without some key operators and don’t boast a great record at Old Trafford in recent years, the 3-0 and 6-1 triumphs of 2018 and 2020 respectively aside.
Kick-off Time (GMT)
Fixture & Prediction
Burnley 1-2 Luton Town
Chelsea 2-1 Fulham
Newcastle United 1-3 Manchester City
Everton 0-1 Aston Villa
Manchester United 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur
Arsenal 2-0 Crystal Palace
Brentford 1-1 Nottingham Forest
Sheffield United 1-1 West Ham United
Bournemouth 0-2 Liverpool
Brighton and Hove Albion 2-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Arsenal‘s players might have had issues finishing their dinner if their display in the cup exit to Liverpool was anything to go by, but there’s a chance to lay some of those demons to bed when Crystal Palace rock up at the Emirates next week. That said, Roy Hodgson’s side did recently pick up a point at Man City and have all the tools to frustrate the misfiring Gunners.
Brentford‘s slide has been alarming, losing five straight league games since their last win in early December, and the Bees will be targeting all three points at home to Nottingham Forest. Nuno Espirito Santo has already masterminded wins over Newcastle and Man Utd, however, so expect a tight game at the Gtech Community Stadium.
West Ham United‘s recent momentum has slowed and without Lucas Paqueta, Jarrod Bowen and Mohammed Kudos, their trip to Sheffield United could be a tough one. Chris Wilder is starting to get a tune of his inherited Blades squad, though whether there’s enough time left in the season to avoid relegation is another matter entirely.
Their lead at the top of the Premier League table may well have shrunk by the time they travel south, but Liverpool will still expect a win at Bournemouth. The Reds have squeezed past Arsenal and Fulham in their two games since Mohamed Salah departed for the Africa Cup of Nations and will be looking to inflict a second successive league defeat on Andoni Iraola’s side.
The spaced-out gameweek ends with a Monday night fixture at the AMEX Stadium when Brighton take on Wolves. Only Liverpool have taken more points from their last six games than Gary O’Neil’s Wanderers, while the Albion are seventh and enjoying runs in the Europa League and FA Cup.