Kevin Doyle on the Manchester derby and the Premier League weekend
Man City v Man United, Saturday 17:30
Man City have not being playing their best. They’ve had a few bad results lately but had a decent win away to Burnley during the week.
Honestly, I just think they will be too good for United who will come in all guns blazing with a back’s to the wall derby-type performance where everyone is running around and trying their hardest, but Man City’s quality will shine through and they will end up winning reasonably comfortably.
As the game wears on, the quality on the City side will come to the fore and it will be just too much for Man Utd. Even though they got a good result v Spurs midweek, I don’t think they are playing well enough to get anything from this game.
Maybe, if they get a bit of luck, things could go their way. If they dig in and block some shots over the 90 mins, they might get something out of the game but it’s unlikely and if they do play that, it won’t be one for the spectators to really sit back and enjoy.
I just can’t see Man City slipping up at home as they chase down the runaway leaders in Liverpool and I predict a 3-1 win to City. I could see Raheem Sterling grabbing a brace and possibly Rashford too, who looked very sharp down the left midweek, to nick one for Utd.
Prediction: Man City 3-1 Man United
Aston Villa v Leicester, 14:00 Sunday
Aston Villa got a very good draw away to Man Utd last weekend but stumbled away to Chelsea midweek. I think this is a close one to call.
Leicester are doing a fantastic job; scoring plenty of goals and Villa have been playing well; putting a lot of pressure on teams.
Losing away at Stamford Bridge 2-1 is not a terrible result, and I think they have enough quality players in the squad with the likes of Tyrone Mings and Jack Grealish, who has been outstanding this season, which should be enough to cause Leicester problems.
Villa play quite open, they don’t just sit in and hold on for 90 mins, I can see quite a few goals in this one. It’s a home game for Villa and Leicester can’t keep winning so I see both teams to score two goals and the game to end in a draw.
I think if Brendan Rodgers got the offer to go to Arsenal, he probably should. It is a massive club and too big an opportunity to turn down but whether he gets that offer or would Leicester let him go is another question.
They are obviously a club with plenty of money and ambitious plans. But if it something like £14m to buy him out of contract, that is like a cheap footballer in today’s climate so you should be prepared to pay for a manager that you have faith in.
If you really want Brendan Rodgers, £14m is nothing to a club like Arsenal.
I hate writing Leicester off for the league title as they have proven they can do it in the past. They don’t have the European midweek fixtures like the other clubs competing for the same spots so from that side you don’t need as big a squad.
They seem to be playing with so much joy and confidence and if they can keep Jamie Vardy fit and playing well, I can see them being in the top-four which would be a fantastic achievement, but not winning the league.
Prediction: Aston Villa 2-2 Leicester
Brighton v Wolves, 16:30 Sunday
I don’t think Brighton have been bad this season, far from the worst. Wolves have been excellent with Matt Doherty from an Irish perspective, who is setting up and scoring goals.
He’s having another fantastic season. He is the only player left from when I was there, and it is great to see him still performing at that level.
I feel Brighton will just have enough at home for this one. Being a well organised solid team, when they come out and play too much ball is when they hit on the counter and start conceding goals.
Once Brighton sit deep and wear the other team down mentally, they are a better and difficult team to breakdown. Wolves going away from home have not historically done well at this ground.
Although it has nothing to do with the current squad, history has a tendency to repeat itself, so I see Wolves happy for it to end in a 1-1 draw.
Prediction: Brighton 1-1 Wolves
Bournemouth v Liverpool, 15:00 Saturday
Liverpool had a fantastic derby win against Everton midweek, who are just terrible at the minute. You would have expected Everton to raise their game for the local derby, but it wasn’t to be.
Eddie Howe was disappointed after losing to Crystal Palace midweek even though he had a one-man advantage for most of the game. The last team you want to be facing is Liverpool when you are that down.
It is not easy to go to Bournemouth who play good football but that could play right into Liverpool’s hands who love to counter-attack all day long. They are in such form; it is hard to see anything other than a Liverpool win.
I thought it was clever from Klopp to change the top three midweek with Mane, Shaqiri and Divock Origi, and giving Firmino and Salah a rest. The last three games those three have played up front has resulted in nine goals.
It has been great to see the squad players really coming on and having impact when needed in the season.
Prediction: Bournemouth 1-3 Liverpool
Everton v Chelsea, 12:30 Saturday
I don’t think Chelsea will run away with this game. Everton will play well but they have been leaking too many goals and not scoring enough.
They just don’t seem to have a belief about them at the moment. They seem well organised but they look very nervous when they play.
Regarding Richarlison playing down the wing, a good player should be able to play anywhere and if he is good enough, should not have to be pigeon-holed as a centre forward.
Sometimes a different position can freshen you up and get you on the scoresheet again. A change is a good as a rest sometimes.
Chelsea will have too much for them and I see them scoring a couple of away goals. My prediction is a 2-1 win to Chelsea.
Prediction: Everton 1-2 Chelsea
Watford v Crystal Palace, 15:00 Saturday
Crystal Palace are up to 7th in the table with a good manager and a solid group of players. They kept hold of Wilfried Zaha, he hasn’t been the star player in the past, but he has been consistent.
They have an excellent manager who has seen and done it all. It’s not rocket science; a decent manager with a good squad of players will get you the results in this League.
I would not be surprised if Watford went and got a surprise result. For Crystal Palace, it appears as the players had given up playing for Flores.
Sometimes a change in manager brings about some immediate impact in terms of player performance and especially for the Watford team who must be so used to different managers coming and going from the club.
I think Watford may surprise a few people and will get a narrow 2-1 win at home.
Prediction: Watford 2-1 Crystal Palace
Norwich v Sheffield United, 14:00 Sunday
I am going to call a draw in this game. With players like Pukki on Norwich’s side scoring goals this can have the team avoiding relegation.
Unfortunately for the Canaries they met a Southampton team in midweek who had shown some resurgence and ended up on the wrong side of a result against fellow league strugglers.
I think it will be a tight score draw on the day.
Prediction: Norwich 1-1 Sheffield United
My 1-2-Free predictions:
Man City v Man Utd:
3-1 Man City
Aston Villa v Leicester: 2-2
Brighton v Wolves: 1-1
My five-fold ACCA:
Chelsea v Everton: Chelsea win
Bournemouth v Liverpool: Liverpool win
Spurs v Burnley: Spurs win
Man City v Man Utd: Man City win
Reading v Birmingham: Reading win