Ahead of another weekend of fascinating Premier League action, here are five predictions that we think might happen over the next few days.
The Christmas schedule is starting to pile up, with European, league and cup fixtures coming thick and fast.
The Premier League is becoming harder and harder to predict by the week, with the gulf in quality between the top clubs and those below them seemingly narrowing this season.
Liverpool face Tony Pulis’ stubborn West Brom side at Anfield on Sunday afternoon, as they desperately look to bounce back after poor performances away to both Newcastle and Sion.
League leaders Leicester City host Chelsea on Monday night, Man City welcome Swansea City to the Etihad on Saturday, and Arsenal and Man United visit Aston Villa and Bournemouth, respectively. That is just a taste of the action.
Here are five predictions for the upcoming action in Gameweek 16.
Christian Benteke to silence some of his doubters
It has not been an impressive start to life at Liverpool for Christian Benteke, despite notching five goals in 14 appearances, and his performance against Newcastle last Sunday was unacceptable.
The 25-year-old’s effort levels were not good enough, and his all-round lack of quality played a big part in the Reds looking toothless in attack.
Despite Benteke’s disappointing form, he will come roaring back against West Brom on Sunday, and will find the back of the net.
Whether the Belgian has enough influence for Jurgen Klopp‘s side to pick up all three points remains to be seen, but he will at least quieten his critics a little.
I’ve wrongly written off Leicester twice in recent weeks – I did at least correctly predict them to win at Swansea last time around – but their bubble really will burst against Chelsea.
In terms of form, everything points towards a Foxes win against the Blues, but we all know that football doesn’t work like that.
Jose Mourinho will make his side as tough to beat as possible, and they will likely stifle the threat of Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez.
It won’t be pretty to watch, but Chelsea will grind out an ugly win to end Leicester‘s incredible run of form. Claudio Ranieri’s side will not top the table again from that point on.
Stoke’s excellent run to continue
Stoke City produced one of the performances of the season when they beat Man City last weekend, with Mark Hughes’ side one of the country’s most in-form teams at the moment.
The Potters are a very different side to the one that used to simply bore the opposition to death under Pulis, with some gifted attacking players now at the club.
It is seven matches unbeaten for them – they have conceded just once in that time – and they visit a West Ham side without a win in five.
With the likes of Bojan, Xherdan Shaqiri, Ibrahim Afellay and Marko Arnautovic causing real problems, Stoke will return home with three more points in the bag.
The Lukaku Express to roll on
If it hadn’t been for the unrivalled goalscoring exploits of Vardy in 2015/16, Romelu Lukaku would be receiving even more credit than he is currently getting.
The 22-year-old is in relentless form in front of goal for Everton, with his late equaliser against Crystal Palace on Monday his 14th goal of the season in all competitions.
Lukaku is starting to emerge as one of the best strikers in the Premier League, with his physical style a real handful for anyone.
Norwich City are facing the Belgian at the worst time possible, and they will be the latest team to feel his wrath on Saturday lunchtime.
Man City to score at least three against Swansea
If City had just been able to find a tiny bit of consistency this season, they would already have the Premier League wrapped up. Instead, they continue to drop sloppy points and let their rivals back in.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side are very unpredictable, with the below-par showing at Stoke followed by a 4-2 win over a talented Borussia Monchengladbach outfit, but Swansea should be very straightforward on Saturday.
The Welsh side are without a manager, following Garry Monk’s sacking, and it could be a very long afternoon for them at the Etihad.
Raheem Sterling returned to form in midweek, David Silva is fit again and Kevin De Bruyne is a brilliant talent, and the trio will play a big part in ensuring Pellegrini’s men score a minimum of three goals on the day.
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