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…
NORWICH v WATFORD
The score Charlie Nicholas has predicted for this game is: 1-2
He said on Sky Sports’ website: “Do not get me started on this one. We get the same issues with Norwich. They can score goals, but they certainly concede them.
“It has been quite a while since they scored. People were talking about Todd Cantwell and Norwich, but now once you have broken it down, do they have goals in them? They have just announced losses so it doesn’t look like they will be going into the market in January.
“They didn’t do so in the summer so there will be no difference if they don’t in January. For Norwich it is a must-win scenario and we are getting to this time already. We say the same things about Watford. What does Quique Sanchez Flores need to do to get them over the line?
“Troy Deeney is close to being fit, so there is something starting to develop at Watford. This is also a must-win for them, so where do you pick the bones out of this one?
“Watford didn’t play well at the weekend but have not been playing bad either – they are better than what they are showing. The way Norwich play will suit Watford, so I think their star players will pick Norwich off in this one.”
LEICESTER v ARSENAL
The score Charlie Nicholas has predicted for this game is: 3-2
He said on Sky Sports’ website: “It is a very good Leicester team at the moment. Brendan Rodgers has earned the praise. Jamie Vardy’s goalscoring level has returned and James Maddison has been great, not to mention everybody else playing their part.
“This Leicester side are much better to watch than the title-winning side. They have pace, balance and are technically very good – you can get at them defensively in my mind but they are a decent force with pace and movement in the attacking half. Arsenal do not know how to handle that and cannot defend.
“Leicester have too much of this for my liking. Granit Xhaka is finally not the captain and will not be involved. That is a long way off now so the new captain is not going to be inspirational by being the captain, but by scoring goals. I don’t know who the manager will pick.
“Kieran Tierney needs to work on his final ball and this is important to get the service into the frontmen. Matteo Guendouzi is having a shocker and he is getting away with it due to Xhaka – he needs to be taken out of the team. I would rather Unai Emery go with Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Lucas Torreira.
“This is his normal position, so let them be the legs in front of you. Mesut Ozil played well so he should stay in the side ahead of Dani Ceballos, while bringing Nicolas Pepe in for the counter-attack. I am not feeling good about this one.”
WOLVES v ASTON VILLA
The score Charlie Nicholas has predicted for this game is: 2-1
He said on Sky Sports’ website: “It is a very good Sunday and this is a great derby. Aston Villa are an open and expansive team. They played very well against Liverpool and should have got something from it.
“They cannot see and adapt to closing the shop. A draw would have been a good result – Villa deserved something from it, but they always make mistakes.
“I think the Wolves front two, especially when Diogo Jota gets going, will be too much. The movement and intelligence of Raul Jimenez makes him a great player, so I think they will edge it.”
LIVERPOOL v MAN CITY
The score Charlie Nicholas has predicted for this game is: 2-2
He said on Sky Sports’ website: “This is the game of games. When I look back at the games I used to look forward to, they were the Man United vs Liverpool’s, especially at Anfield, Man United vs Man City, but these are the games at Anfield, I love the whole scenario of these games.
“They are hard to understand and hard to read. It was a rotten game of football last time, but this is what tension does to the best of teams – City cannot afford to lose it.
“The Premier League would not be over, as a couple of draws and a defeat makes it wide open again – it is doable with Liverpool’s fixture list.
“Man City’s weaknesses in defence will add to the game – you can only see goals in this one. Pep Guardiola’s side will not sit back, but they will suffocate the service into the front three of Liverpool and try to nullify the full-backs.
“Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino were way off it last week, with Sadio Mane carrying the front three and grabbing the match-winner at the death. Pep will look at the pace of Mane and the accusations of diving, but I cannot see how these players will not be in a position to say there are goals here.
“Do City and Liverpool play tactics here? I don’t think so. Liverpool are vulnerable defensively and have not been as good as last year, as we all knew, but they will be fairly happy with a point as it keeps everything going and ticking along.
“It is one of these games, after the miserable feeling of the last one, which will give everyone a ‘wow’ moment. Sit back and enjoy the ride – it could go either way, it could be a 5-4 or a 1-0, but I am sitting on the fence until I see the starting teams.”
CHELSEA v CRYSTAL PALACE
The score Charlie Nicholas has predicted for this game is: 2-1
He said on Sky Sports’ website: “Crystal Palace are a better side away from home. Roy Hodgson has done a fabulous job when you consider he hasn’t really got a striker on the books. Christian Benteke’s goal record tells you everything, although Jordan Ayew has four goals this campaign.
“Palace just keep plodding away – Gary Cahill has improved them. Wilfried Zaha likes to turn up in these games. Mason Mount may be out, but Christian Pulisic is two footed, has lovely balance and is a great finisher. Chelsea had a wonderful comeback against Ajax – they should have seen the job off and they didn’t in the end.
“Tammy Abraham is a bit cold and not getting into the areas that matter as such, but Willian has been playing well. I think Chelsea will get over the line but it will be a tight one.”
Take a look at more of his predictions on the next page.Like what the Fan Banter have on offer? Sign up for more EPL notifications!