Charlie Nicholas’ Premier League predictions for the second set of winter break fixtures are out and there are some eye-catching scores.
The former Celtic, Arsenal, Aberdeen and Scotland footballer currently works as a pundit for Sky Sports and most every weekend appears on the Soccer Saturday show to commentate on games and get involved with debates. See what he went with below…
WOLVES v LEICESTER
The score Charlie Nicholas has predicted for this game is: 3-2
He said on Sky Sports’ website: “This is a cracking game.
We were having a debate about the major success of Sheffield United and whether they could make the top six. It has been a remarkable season for them so far and I would applaud them if they manage to do it. However, I was one of the people who thought they might miss out, and some of the boys disagreed with me.
“I see Wolves as one of the best sides in the Premier League. They are hard to beat, they like to play against the big boys in the league and have the credibility against those top sides. Leicester like to play an open game which Wolves will like. it means there will be more space to exploit, especially for the full-backs.
“Leicester are still sitting in a lovely position in the race for the top four, and I think they will finish in the Champions League places. However, this is a tough game to call, as both are great footballing sides. The return of Willy Boly could give Wolves’ defence some reassurance against the pace of Jamie Vardy and the counter-attacking skills of James Maddison, Harvey Barnes and Ayoze Perez.
“I am a big fan of Nuno Espirito Santo, and when I look at how the Premier League is adapting, has it been as good as last season? Most will probably think not. Wolves are a still in the Europa League, while being in a nice position where they can go within a few points of the top four if they win their game in hand. Overall, I am just favouring Wolves to sneak into those positions.
“It will be an end-to-end game where Wolves will get over the line… just.”
SOUTHAMPTON v BURNLEY
The score Charlie Nicholas has predicted for this game is: 1-0
“Southampton are still awkward at home, but they have got over this barrier. They played well at Tottenham in the FA Cup replay but are still suspect at home. Burnley, meanwhile, are a team that grind out results.
“I do not see too many goals, but Southampton will win and spring up towards the top half of the table, making them just about safe.”
NORWICH v LIVERPOOL
The score Charlie Nicholas has predicted for this game is: 1-4
He said on Sky Sports’ website: “Liverpool have had a break and they will be fresh but sometimes it can be a hindrance rather than a positive. I think Norwich are gone if I am honest with you. They have to go after a win and it opens it up for Liverpool to pick them off.
“They have been back in training but just bubbling under the surface of the feeling that they are so-called Premier League champions. They do not have to play well to win, and this will be another comfortable afternoon for Liverpool.”
ASTON VILLA v TOTTENHAM
The score Charlie Nicholas has predicted for this game is: 2-3
He said on Sky Sports’ website: “It is needs must in the Premier League for Aston Villa, despite reaching the Carabao Cup final.
If you were to say to Dean Smith this could be the game to keep you in the Premier League, while you would lose the Carabao Cup final, despite being underdogs anyway, I think he would take it. And I think the majority of Villa fans would too.
“A trophy is important to breed winners and confidence, and gain the credibility that Villa are back, but we have seen before that teams have won it and have gone down. The global interest is in the Premier League, so they have to go after it.
“Meanwhile, Tottenham have not been convincing but are getting the results. They have to go after the top four, especially after the recent signings, chasing the likes of Sheffield United and Chelsea. It will be another cracking game of football here.”
ARSENAL v NEWCASTLE
The score Charlie Nicholas has predicted for this game is: 3-1
He said on Sky Sports’ website: “It has been an intriguing break for Arsenal. For the first time, Mikel Arteta can go and properly work with the players for an extended period of time. He is still trying to get his point across but Arsenal are more together and more understanding of what is expected of them, in terms of the commitment and togetherness.
It is not bang on though. They are becoming a side that is hard to beat but Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang still do not have the balance right in terms of scoring goals. People will question about whether Aubameyang likes playing on left. Lacazette also has no confidence at the moment, but let’s hope it is more positive after the break. The unity and organisation at the back is still key, while we will have fresh players once more.
“Meanwhile, Newcastle have been very good away from home under Steve Bruce. He will go to frustrate Arsenal and will look to counter-attack with Miguel Almiron, Allan Saint-Maximin and Joelinton, who has improved a lot.
“It will be a tough afternoon, but Arsenal seem to have some drive back. The negative could be waiting around for Aubameyang and Lacazette to kick back into form. Gabriel Martinelli has been in great form, but we need to start seeing more from Nicolas Pepe. The Gunners are not good enough to make the top four, but they must have a go at it. For that reason they will be firing and up for this game in order to come away with the three points.”
CHELSEA v MAN UTD
The score Charlie Nicholas has predicted for this game is: 2-1
He said on Sky Sports’ website: “The race for the top four is fascinating. Can Chelsea make it? Again, they are a side who are quite awkward at home.
“Tammy Abraham had a few niggles before the winter break, while Mason Mount was left out for the game against Arsenal and these things can start to take a strain. Willian has been class but went cold for a few games, so the break may have come just at the right time for them so that they can get back to the basics.
“Manchester United will have got some of their players fit during the break. They were excellent when they went to Manchester City twice, but they are showing no consistency. This is why people are still backing, and hoping for, Mauricio Pochettino to come in.
“I do think Chelsea will have enough, but they will need to focus on getting their style right and doing the basics effectively.”
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