From Hall of Fame to Hall of Shame
It’s best to go out at the top.
Sir Alex Ferguson took the decision to retire from Manchester United after winning the title for the thirteenth time in 2013. With his place in the managerial hall of fame assured, he now looks on from the stands at a man who once provided his greatest competition but is now becoming a figure of fun.
Arséne Wenger was hailed as the brightest manager of his generation when he guided an unbeaten Arsenal to Premier League glory in 2004. In the 14 years that followed, he may have won four FA Cups, but his sides have finished higher than third in the league on just two occasions, one of which came the season after their “Invincible” campaign.
They finished runners-up in the Champions League in 2005-06, but Wenger’s sides failed to progress past the round of 16 since 2010-11 and did not qualify for the competition this season.
Wenger was still handed a new two-year contract after that failure but this year has allowed Alexis Sánchez and Mesut Özil to enter the last season of their contracts. They will now leave the club for a fraction of their true value, which is unforgivable given the financial firepower of some of the game’s biggest teams.
It is not Sánchez and Özil who should be leaving Arsenal, it is Wenger.
11am kick-offs unless stated
Brighton & Hove Albion v Chelsea, 8.30am
Chelsea have been struggling to score recently but come up against a Brighton team who have won just one of their last 11 league games. Chris Hughton’s side are hard to beat at home, having lost just two of their 11 matches at the Amex Stadium, and will provide plenty of endeavour, but they may struggle to stifle the creativity of Eden Hazard, Willian and Pedro. Prediction: 0-1
Arsenal v Crystal Palace
Palace have done brilliantly to sit 12th in the league after giving the rest of their relegation rivals a seven-game head start. They will provide a threat to Arsenal, who have lost just once at home this season but are likely to be missing Alexis Sánchez and Mesut Özil. The home fans could voice their disapproval during the game, which may affect the players on the pitch. Prediction: 1-1
Burnley v Manchester United
José Mourinho’s men returned to form with an easy win against Stoke City and can follow that with another success against Burnley. Sean Dyche’s team has scored just eight times in 11 games at home and are without a win in their past six matches. Prediction: 0-2
Everton v West Bromwich Albion
The Goodison Park faithful are registering their disgust with new manager Sam Allardyce after their team failed to register a shot on goal in three of their past five matches and have not scored in the Premier League since before Christmas. Allardyce will be hoping new signing Theo Walcott will help to improve that stat. West Brom picked up a valuable win last week but will find it tough here. Prediction: 1-0
Leicester City v Watford
It’s difficult to know what to expect from Leicester, who were unlucky not to beat Chelsea last week but are extremely inconsistent. Watford have won just one of their past nine league matches and may be on the end of another defeat here, although that one win was against tomorrow’s opponents. Prediction: 2-0
Stoke City v Huddersfield Town
There are plenty of Stoke fans unhappy about the appointment of new manager Paul Lambert, who has struggled in his past three jobs at Aston Villa, Blackburn and Wolverhampton Wanderers. He may not have a better chance to make a winning start, though, as his team face a side who struggle away from home and are sliding down the table. Xherdan Shaqiri can provide enough creativity for a valuable home win. Prediction: 2-1
West Ham United v Bournemouth
The return fixture finished 3-3 on Boxing Day and more goals are expected here. West Ham are up to 11th after losing just once in their past eight matches, while Bournemouth picked up a huge three points when beating Arsenal last week. Prediction: 2-1
Manchester City v Newcastle United, 1.30pm
Pep Guardiola’s men will want to send a message to potential rivals after losing their first domestic match of the season against Liverpool last week. They will face a stubborn Newcastle defence, but should run out clear winners. Prediction: 3-0
Southampton v Tottenham Hotspur, noon
Southampton are just one place above the relegation places and may find themselves in the drop zone after losing this match. Expect Harry Kane’s remarkable goalscoring form to continue at St Mary’s. Prediction: 0-2
Swansea City v Liverpool, 4pm
Liverpool will be on a high after their thrilling 4-3 victory against Manchester City last week. Swansea have improved under Carlos Carvalhal but will have to play out of their skins to get anything from this game. Prediction: 0-2
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