Premier League predictions: Liverpool & Man Utd inspire Vietnam flashbacks while Dyche gets all warm and fuzzy
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It’s never easy stepping up to do some else’s job with short notice and minimal training, and today – with our resident farseer Jason Jones off on a well-earned holiday – I’ve got to work out how to function as a fully-fledged soccer soothsayer with no more than a quick introductory course from the man himself.
So it was that I popped round to Jason’s yurt in the deep forest to get the lowdown on how one can peer through the mystic veil and reveal the secrets of the footballing future. He made me sacrifice a baby goat, smear its gory entrails across my face and then he blew dense purple smoke from an ornate hookah into my mouth while I ululated loudly. Then he revealed that he was screwing with me and that all I had to do was grab that crystal ball over there and clearly speak the words “Bournemouth versus Liverpool scoreline please”
Anyway, it’s entirely possible that I didn’t get the tone of voice right, and in any case that purple smoke gave me a cracking headache, so I can’t promise these predictions will be as accurate as usual - although having looked at last week’s predictions, this may be a lower bar to clear than I’d appreciated. If they prove entirely wrong, blame Shaman Jones, because he wasted time he could have used to teach me properly by having me needlessly slaughter a small domestic animal. Which is perhaps something I should raise with HR, now I think of it.
Bournemouth vs Liverpool
Most of the Bournemouth squad will begin this fixture by enduring a series of flashbacks to the 9-0 pasting they received at the hands of the same opposition in August. That was their Vietnam, and pre-game preparation will largely consist of Joe Rothwell saying things like “you weren’t there man” to the January signings.
It was also the match which finally convinced me that the reason nobody can score more than nine goals in a game is that the BBC vidiprinter doesn’t do double figures. It’s a relatively low-stakes conspiracy, but the evidence is starting to mount up that the Premier League has long ago paid off all its players and staff to avoid a tenth goal, which they fear could send all football-related computers into a death spiral like a sort of sport-based Millennium Bug.
Anyway, this won’t be ten, but will be a thumping. Let’s say 4-0 to the Reds.
Everton vs Brentford
It’s still hard to know what to make of Sean Dyche’s Everton. They’re a bit on the patchy side so far, but you can still sense a sort of warm ginger glow emanating from the dugout whenever James Tarkowski plants his forehead through a cross. If Everton can play enough long balls from the back, that fuzzy, growly, gristly feeling may well become strong enough to carry gently across the pitch, up into Alex Iwobi’s legs and inspire victory, or something. 2-1 to the hosts.
Leeds United vs Brighton
An exciting edition of the Teams Who Are Historically More Fun Than They Are Good derby to look forward to, although Brighton’s current crop of youngsters are starting to make them look like a very serious threat for a European spot indeed. It’s hard not to love a well-run team full of barely post-teenage players, not least because it’s how every Football Manager save I’ve ever done ends up. But I also really like Willy Gnonto’s vibes and general footballing ability, so I’m going for 1-1 and a healthy sense of wellbeing for everyone present.
Leicester City vs Chelsea
We also get to enjoy the Teams Who Should Be Really Good But Are Often Rubbish For Some Reason derby this weekend. Leicester and Chelsea both have teams rammed with apparent quality, coaches who are really good on paper, and are both completely incapable of playing decent football for more than two games in a row. It is, frankly, a mug who would try to predict what will happen when these two meet on Saturday.
Well call me Sports Direct then, because I’m saying Graham Potter keeps the good times rolling a little while longer and sees Chelsea to a 3-1 win.
Tottenham Hotspur vs Nottingham Forest
Antonio Conte is currently putting precisely the same amount of effort in to his work as I did after I’d handed in my notice at a horrible recruitment company in Trafford about ten years ago, an amount which could easily be found under the definition of ‘negligible’ in the dictionary. That said, he’s managed a psychological masterstroke by firing up everyone’s favourite socialist footballing firebrand Richarlison into a frenzy, and I now expect him to go on a one-man crusade to keep Spurs in the hunt for the top four.
Apologies, news is coming through to me just now that Gary Lineker is actually our favourite socialist footballer with ties to Tottenham Hotspur. Sorry Rich, the public have spoken. 1-0 to the home side.
Crystal Palace vs Manchester City
This has been something of a bogey fixture for Pep Guardiola’s side in recent years, but with Palace’s current form in the ‘Roy-Hodgson-era-after-they-reached-40-points’ region it’s not easy imagining another Andros Townsend moment coming on Saturday evening. A relatively uninspiring 2-0 victory for City then, one of the sort of gently but insistently one-sided games that nobody really enjoys watching.
Fulham vs Arsenal
A short journey for Mikel Arteta and his inch-perfect hairline, but if he can get his barber to put down the set square for two minutes he might start to worry – this looks like something of a banana skin for the champions almost-elect. Fulham are in hot pursuit of a European spot and, in Joao Palhinha, have a player destined to be simultaneously a club legend at the Cottage and a bench warmer for two solid years at the Etihad. In other words, this won’t be straightforward for the Gunners, and indeed I reckon we’ll see a couple of dropped points on Sunday. 1-1.
Manchester United vs Southampton
Have we ever had a Premier League weekend with not one, but two replays of previous 9-0 drubbings going on? Given how long it’s been since Ipswich were in the top flight, I’d assume so. It must be a pretty busy week for sports psychologists on the south coast with all the horrifying flashback sequences being endured in the, er… greater Hampshire & Dorset area? That probably isn’t a thing.
Anyway, United seem to have put their own post-Anfield demons to bed pretty quickly, so let’s say a cosy 3-0 win for the Old Trafford faithful to enjoy.
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West Ham vs Aston Villa
Ah, the joys of fixtures that scream ‘3pm on a Saturday’ but end up on a Sunday because of the Europa Conference League. This is, honestly, set up to be quite a fun one, with two teams who are better going forward than they are at defending and both on somewhat wonky form of late. So, given that I’m feeling optimistic about this one being a really entertaining affair, let’s call it a nailed-on 0-0.
Newcastle United vs Wolves
Last but by no means least, the almost-immovable object of the Newcastle defence locks horns with the extremely-resistable force of the Wolves attack. I saw a stat on Reddit that it’s now been a year since a recognised central striker scored for the visitors, and it seems relatively unlikely that St. James’ Park is the kind of place where that will change. 1-0 to the Toon.
· Manchester City 2-0 Newcastle United Prediction: Manchester City 2-0 Newcastle United
· Arsenal 3-2 Bournemouth Prediction: Arsenal 3-0 Bournemouth
· Aston Villa 1-0 Crystal Palace Prediction: Aston Villa 1-3 Crystal Palace
· Brighton 4-0 West Ham Prediction: Brighton 2-2 West Ham
· Chelsea 1-0 Leeds United Prediction: Chelsea 1-1 Leeds United
· Wolves 1-0 Tottenham Hotspur Prediction: Wolves 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur
· Southampton 1-0 Leicester City Prediction: Southampton 0-2 Leicester City
· Nottingham Forest 2-2 Everton Prediction: Nottingham Forest 1-0 Everton
· Liverpool 7-0 Manchester United Prediction: Liverpool 1-2 Manchester United
· Brentford 3-2 Fulham Prediction: Brentford 1-2 Fulham
Total score: 15
* Five points for a correct result, 10 points for a correct scoreline