January 14, 2017 By Fabian Odhiambo
Tottenham Hotspur v West Bromwich Albion
Last Five Meetings: W1 D3 L1
Fabian Says: Spurs come into this contest as the very firm favourites having won each of their last 6 games in all competitions including ending Chelsea’s 13-match winning run. West Brom seemed to be on an upward trajectory but connived to go exit the FA Cup at home to Derby last weekend. Can they cause an upset at the lane? They can. Will they? Probably not.
Fridah Says: Spurs will be happy that they ended Chelsea’s run and that should give them a lot of confidence. However, they come up against a well-organized Tony Pulis side and they have a knack for drawing with the Baggies, a trend I suspect will continue.
Burnley v Southampton
Last Five Meetings: W1 D0 L4
Fabian Says: The Saints have been on a wretched run of form of late, but on Wednesday gave a timely reminder of the danger they possess, upsetting high flying Liverpool in the first leg of their EFL Cup semis. One thing we can always be sure of is that Burnley will always turn up at home, and given that they’ve had more rest of the two sides prior to this match, I’m inclined to go with them eking out a narrow victory.
Fridah Says: These teams are separated by only a point and I suppose that Burnley will be two points above the Saints by the end of the match. The Turf Moor is aptly named and it is a tough place for any team to visit. I think the Clarets will have the advantage in this one.
Hull City v Bournemouth
Last Five Meetings: W3 D1 L1
Fabian Says: Exciting Portuguese tactician Marco Silva takes his KCom Stadium bow in the league against a tricky customer, Bournemouth. On their day the Cherries can absolutely blitz most opponents, but whether this will be such a day remains to be seen. The Hull boys will be keen to get in the good side of Silva and I reckon they’ll give him something to shout about.
Fridah Says: The Cherries come up against the team that they recorded their best ever win with earlier in the season. They can score goals but they need to do a bit better in defense. I think that Hull will have to really fight for this one but the Cherries will get the three points. They certainly have the ability and can fight for a top ten finish.
Sunderland v Stoke City
Last Five Meetings: W2 D2 L1
Fabian Says: Normally I’d go for a Stoke win but they haven’t had the best string of results in the recent past. Sunderland have played their last two matches in all competitions at home and haven’t lost them. Maybe today is when they turn those draws into a win.
Fridah Says: Sunderland usually do well against Stoke at home. I think they should be able to continue to do well even in this match. They are already in the relegation battle and can get out of the zone if they win this game, at least for a while. I think the advantage lies with Sunderland.
Swansea City v Arsenal
Last Five Meetings: W3 D0 L2
Fabian Says: Paul Clement is the new man at the Swansea dug out tasked with rescuing their season and preserving their top flight status, but landings surely don’t come as turbulent as entertaining Arsenal. For Arsenal the talk remains centered on the contract issues surrounding standard bearers Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Oezil. Will they or won’t they sign? What’s most probable is that should they feature they will want to put in a performance that justifies their wage demands. Too bad, Clement. This will be a rude welcome.
Fridah Says: This is a nightmare fixture for Arsenal and it comes at the wrong time too. Arsenal are suffering some key injuries with Bellerin, Coquelin and Walcott out. Swansea are under new management and the selected players will be keen to impress the manager and so they should go all out against a team they have done well against in the past. This may be to Arsenal’s advantage if they can take it. Gunners should still win this.
Watford v Middlesbrough
Last Five Meetings: W3 D2 L0
Fabian Says: Watford arrested their recent slump last weekend with a confidence-boosting win over Burton Albion in the Cup, and coupled with Boro’s reputation as lousy travelers, the Hornets’ resurgence is bound to go on.
Fridah Says: The Hornets have excelled in this fixture in recent times and will likely shine this time as well. However, Boro should be in a position to play for at least a point to avoid getting dragged into the relegation battle.
West Ham United v Crystal Palace
Last Five Meetings: W3 D1 L1
Fabian Says: This fixture will obviously be overshadowed by the enigma that is Dimitri Payet who’s allegedly vowed to never kick a ball again for the Hammers. Ouch! Can Palace take advantage of the confusion and uncertainty to do damage? Well, they have Big Sam and I think he’s an expert in such smash and grab scenarios.
Fridah Says: It will be interesting to see how the two teams react to the loss of their key player. The Hammers have lost Dimitri Payet to snakiness and the Eagles have lost Wilfried Zaha to the poorly timed AFCON tournament. I reckon that it will be a stalemate in London.
Leicester City v Chelsea
Last Five Meetings: W1 D1 L3
Fabian Says: The headline news going into this matchday 21 is not this fixture being the change of guard between the current and the incoming champions, but rather the mystery surrounding Diego Costa’s omission from Chelsea’s squad for the trip to the King Power. Apparently the league’s leading marksman has been unable to keep his head off a massive £30m per year offer he received from an unnamed Chinese Super League side during the week. Champions Leicester will have to do without the Algerian duo Riyad Mahrez and Islam Slimani who are on Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) duty, but will feel capable of capitalizing on the drama in the Blues camp. Chelsea’s unbeaten run came crashing down at the Lane and sometimes when you lose that aura of invincibility, you never know when you’ll get it back.
Fridah Says: The defending champions have been badly depleted by the AFCON tournament going into this fixture. Chelsea on the other hand may be having some issues of their own. All the same, this is a big fixture as both teams have a point (or three) to prove. It will be tight and I think the home team will come away better.
Everton v Manchester City
Last Five Meetings: W1 D2 L2
Fabian Says: Blowing hot and cold has been the very sum of the Toffees’ current campaign. They are up against a City side which has weathered the storm and stumbled upon a decent run of form, winning 4 out of the last 5 and will feel it’s the right time to really get back into the title talk.
Fridah Says: This is an interesting game. Everton have made some decent signings and it will be interesting to see how the team shapes up. They will definitely be a tough one for Manchester City.
Manchester United v Liverpool
Last Five Meetings: W2 D2 L1
Fabian Says: United are the most in form team in Europe currently and really, I should be imagining that they will win this one but… I doubt if Jose Mourinho has ever gotten one over Jurgen Klopp on the pitch and I think that hoodoo is set to continue despite Liverpool being winless in 3 games. Then again without Sadio Mane who’s away in Gabon on national duty, it’s hard to see them winning.
Fridah Says: The cagey game where pride is the most important thing. The Red Devils have been in good form and good luck recently and they will be proper opponents for this good Liverpool team. Liverpool have lost 11 of their last 14 at Old Trafford but Klopp has a rather decent record against Mourinho (P6 W3 D2 L1). This will be just as much about individual brilliance and team work. Probably another draw.