Giroud’s Arsenal Record, City Copying Watford & 10 Things To Look For In The Premier League This Weekend

1 West Ham v Liverpool: Payet’s Return To Test Lovren

If there’s one thing that is in danger of bringing a halt to Dejan Lovren’s recent good form then it is the sight of a West Ham United shirt, and if there’s a second then it’s Dimitri Payet.

Orchestrated by the Frenchman, the Hammers ran out 3-0 winners at Anfield back in late August when Lovren had surely the worst of uncomfortably large amount of poor Liverpool appearances, and Payet is set to return after two months out with an ankle injury in what is the first game of the final year West Ham will spend at Upton Park.

A stumbling, bumbling presence under Brendan Rodgers, Lovren has excelled by keeping it simple under Jurgen Klopp, but if Payet can get on the ball and make the hosts tick then he’ll face a real test of his resurgence here.

Draw – 3.53


2 Arsenal v Newcastle: Giroud In The Spotlight Against Favourite Opponents

Newcastle United v Arsenal - Premier League : News Photo

Thierry Henry, Robin van Persie, Alan Shearer. Name any great forward who has played in this fixture in the Premier League era, and Olivier Giroud has outscored them all in it.

The Frenchman’s eight strikes against Newcastle mark the Magpies out as his favourite opponents, and the twin factors of Mesut Ozil’s fine form and Newcastle’s, er, slightly opposite form means that he is going to get chances to increase that tally on Saturday afternoon.

Olivier Giroud to score first – 3.70


3 Leicester v Bournemouth: Is The Pressure On For The First Time?

Losing narrowly at Liverpool and drawing with Manchester City are two results which the vast majority of Premier League teams would perhaps expect to see on their end of season rap sheet, but they have come at an awkward time for Leicester City.

The season’s great surprise are suddenly the subject of much scrutiny, and Bournemouth will turn up at the King Power Stadium safe in the knowledge that a game they’d have targeted for points at the beginning of the season is now something of a shot to nothing.

And teams are dangerous when they think like that…

Draw or Bournemouth Double Chance – 1.97


4 Manchester United v Swansea: Was Chelsea A One-Off?


Manchester United took more out of the goalless draw with Chelsea than perhaps a 0-0 at home to the team 16th in the Premier League should allow.

They should have won, but the big test now will be whether or not they can repeat the level of performance against a Swansea side who will probably be beaten if they do.

Still ticking along under Alan Curtis, the Swans will take heart from a decent performance at Manchester City last month from which they should have got something, and if they can keep things tight, frustrating both the hosts and the crowd, then they’ve got more than half a chance.

Both teams to score – 2.33


5 Norwich v Southampton: Closer Than You Think

In this season of glaring inconsistencies, Southampton seem determined to be the team which proves the rule.

After hammering Arsenal they lost at an injury-hit West Ham, and another defeat here would mean that Norwich pull to within just one point of Ronald Koeman’s side – far closer than many would think, and something which plenty would have thought impossible when Saints brushed aside the Canaries 3-0 in August.

Alex Neil has improved his side since then, and they’ll take on Southampton with every confidence that they can end the afternoon as almost equals.

Norwich to win – 3.10


6 Sunderland v Aston Villa: Keeping Company

Aston Villa v Manchester United - Premier League : News Photo

Aston Villa remain steadfastly awful, but they’re actually in better form than opponents Sunderland heading into this clash in the north-east.

The Mackems have lost their last five, meaning that victory is far from assured against opponents seeking to avoid becoming only the third team in Premier League history to still be in single figures in the points column after 20 games.

They need to win to avoid that ignominy, and by doing so they’d pull Sunderland down to within just a point of the bottom of the table.

Plenty of money has been lost backing Villa this season, but I’ll give them one more chance.

Aston Villa to win – 3.15


7 West Brom v Stoke: Potters To Finally Move On From Pulis

In his three Premier League matches against Stoke since leaving them, Tony Pulis has won each one 1-0.

It’s almost as though the Welshman planned these bitty, ground out victories in a bid to show the Potters what they were missing, but as the recent wins over both Manchester clubs and Everton have shown, Stoke are a very different animal now.

Their vibrant front three combine to form one of the more watchable sides in the division, and Pulis could find that one goal isn’t enough this time around.

Stoke to win and both teams to score – 6.40


8 Watford v Manchester City: The Road Worriers To Finally Get It Right?


Manchester City’s away form seems to be the only thing stopping them from getting to the top of the table and staying there, and Manuel Pellegrini would surely be wise to let his team off the leash a little bit when they head to Vicarage Road.

Indeed, when attempting to suss out and counteract the threat of Watford’s deadly front two of Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo before this match, Pellegrini might have arrived at the conclusion that fighting fire with fire could be the way to go.

Playing both Sergio Aguero and Wilfried Bony in a front two – something Bony has indicated he wants to see happen – might just knock the hosts out of their stride, and could help deliver a first away win in seven.

City to win and both teams to score – 3.20


9 Crystal Palace v Chelsea: Injuries To Catch Up With Palace, With Normality Restored

Crystal Palace’s win at Stamford Bridge in August was one of the first signs that things were going drastically wrong at the home of the champions, but with Yohan Cabaye now joining other key players on the sidelines this will be a very different Palace side which takes to the field on Sunday.

Back-to-back goalless draws have showcased a worrying inability to find the net at the moment, and although Chelsea have shown very little signs of improvement since Jose Mourinho was jettisoned and Guus Hiddink brought in, they should see this as a perfect chance to get a first away win since August under their belts.

Chelsea to win – 2.05


10 Everton v Tottenham: Who Would You Rather Have?

Tottenham Hotspur FC v RSC Anderlecht - UEFA Europa League : News Photo

Which forward would you rather have in your team, Romelu Lukaku or Harry Kane?

It’s a good question and one which might crop up again on Sunday when the final match of the Premier League weekend offers up a hugely intriguing contest.

The Tottenham train is firmly on the tracks at the moment, and nothing that an inconsistent Everton have done of late suggests that they can knock them off it.

Kane can edge ahead of Lukaku in the pecking order and help claim the points.

Harry Kane to score and Tottenham to win – 4.10


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