Charlie Nicholas has given his predictions for all of this weekend’s Premier League fixtures and it’s fair to say 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 and on the next few pages…
MAN CITY v CHELSEA
The score Charlie Nicholas has predicted for this game is: 4-2
He said on Sky Sports’ website: “It is a belter of a game, mainly because Manchester City are in fourth – how could we have predicted that at this stage? Chelsea are above them with the youngsters, who have all gone on international duty during the break, and have been scoring. It is the ideal scenario really, almost perfect.
“N’Golo Kante is back fit and in the side, while Willian is playing well. Marcos Alonso has been alright when he has played and the centre-backs have been great – it looks promising to Chelsea. Frank Lampard will come up with a puzzle for City, but his puzzle will focus on the fact that Pep Guardiola’s team are really struggling at the back and Chelsea have pace and technically-gifted players up front.
“It is going to be an open game, so Jorginho and Kante may have to sit deeper than they have been so far this season. I think Chelsea need to stay in the game for 70 minutes or so and then look to adapt to the situation if possible.
“I don’t know who Pep will pick because they are so frail in defence at the moment. It would be a gigantic blow if Ederson was to miss out and I do think City will want to simply go and beat Chelsea and get the job done with three points – it will up the ante on Liverpool.
“The title race is far from over. Liverpool are in a great position but within three or four games over the festive period they could draw three times and suddenly the title race would be back on – they did it last year. For that reason, I think it will be Man City’s day, but it will be such an open game that it will be a treat for everyone watching.”
SHEFFIELD UTD v MAN UTD
The score Charlie Nicholas has predicted for this game is: 1-1
He said on Sky Sports’ website: “Sheffield United are fifth and Manchester United sit in seventh. Who has more energy? Sheffield United. Who has more passion? Sheffield United. Manchester United have the better players but only when they play well. I have been impressed with Sheffield United more recently as they have been scoring goals. They will be right in the face of Man Utd from the get-go so if they are good enough, they will need to show it and be together as a team.
“I do feel that Man Utd will be vulnerable to this energy level as they can become moody, but they will get something from it nevertheless. Chris Wilder will have a feeling about what his side can achieve realistically, but if you said to him that from the first 12 games, your away record would be fabulous, you would beat Arsenal at home, he would have snapped your hand off. They probably expect to beat Man Utd at the moment, but I think Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will be ready for it.
“It will be another feisty game. Sheffield United will go after and squeeze Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial as much as they can. The back three are very good at what they do but John Egan has been one of the players of the season. The others have been great but he is calm, aggressive when he needs to be and gets his teammates into position – they are well-organised and drilled. For that reason, I think they will get a draw.”
ASTON VILLA v NEWCASTLE
The score Charlie Nicholas has predicted for this game is: 2-1
He said on Sky Sports’ website: “I have been impressed with both of these sides. Steve Bruce wants to play better football but he has a lack of choices. Newcastle fans have to admit that this is a tough job and he is having to battle through, which I think he has done superbly thus far. Bruce may just be proving his point that he needs a couple of players. Mike Ashley may not be able to give him exactly what he wants but he could get a couple of loan deals or get one through the door if someone leaves.
“John McGinn is playing further forward and it is working a trick. Aston Villa need to nurture and control leads much better, and at times they leave themselves vulnerable. That being said, I have to admire the way Dean Smith goes about it. Villa is also Bruce’s old club and will sit in once again, but Villa will sneak it. There is enough about them to create enough chances.”
WEST HAM v TOTTENHAM
The score Charlie Nicholas has predicted for this game is: 1-2
He said on Sky Sports’ website: “Normally you get a bounce with a new manager, but I don’t know what a bounce is for Tottenham. West Ham love to turn Tottenham over more than any of the London clubs and there is something about the hostility between the two of these sides.
“Manuel Pellegrini is under serious pressure and could be sacked with a heavy defeat. One manager is trying to save himself, while the other manager – Jose Mourinho – is trying to assert his authority on a side that has had an abysmal season thus far. He won’t have any time to do it going into the weekend so they will have to batten down the hatches and get on with it.
“It will be interesting to see who Mourinho picks. There are a lot of people who will be feeling down that Mauricio Pochettino has gone, but I expect a reaction from Tottenham. There will be fire in the belly and it will be feisty.”
ARSENAL v SOUTHAMPTON
The score Charlie Nicholas has predicted for this game is: 4-1
He said on Sky Sports’ website: “This will have been a banker in the past. Southampton normally don’t get anything at the Emirates in the Premier League. By now, the Arsenal players will have returned and Unai Emery will have had some words to say to them. These are two managers under scrutiny. Southampton are getting credit after their response to the 9-0 drubbing but they keep getting beat. The goalkeeper and the back three are still vulnerable.
“Alexandre Lacazette was not on international duty and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been a bit quiet recently, so it is time for Arsenal to get back to winning ways. They are sixth in table and have been awful. Chelsea are going to Manchester City, which could bring back a little belief once more that the top four is achievable. These are the games you are expected to win and Arsenal will win.”
Take a look at more of his predictions on the next page.