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United out of the fire in Europe but into the frying pan

My guy: Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer shows Cristiano Ronaldo some love after the Portuguese striker completed a 3-2 comeback win over Atalanta in the Champions League on Wednesday. Next up at Old Trafford are arch rivals Liverpool, who are as hot as anyone in England (Photograph by Dave Thompson/AP)

Another fascinating English Premier League weekend illustrated the true title contenders, while a few teams remain on course for excellent seasons.

The fantasy culture remains fascinating, this time some unknown quantities stepping up in another intriguing round of matches. Chelsea defender Ben Chilwell is a strong defensive asset worth selection, while Andros Townsend and Youri Tielemans are good budget midfield options for the present run.

Friday

Arsenal v Aston Villa

4pm

Arsenal were absolutely outplayed by Crystal Palace, but still earned a 2-2 home draw with the Eagles. Alexandre Lacazette scored a stoppage-time equaliser. Granit Xhaka remains out with a knee injury, so Mikel Arteta will need to shuffle the midfield.

Aston Villa conceded three goals in the final 15 minutes of their 3-2 home defeat by Wolves. Consecutive losses for the West Midlands club has them languishing in mid-table with another tough test to come.

History favours the Gunners here, but the Villans have won the past three meetings. Will they make it four in a row over the North London side?

Prediction: 1-1

Saturday

Chelsea v Norwich City

8.30am

Goalkeeper Edouard Mendy made countless fantastic saves to preserve Chelsea’s 1-0 away win over Brentford. Ben Chilwell scored a fantastic goal just before half-time to earn the points for the Blues.

Norwich missed numerous guilt-edge chances in their 0-0 home draw with Brighton. They remain bottom with two points, but that performance will give the Canaries some confidence.

Chelsea lead the head-to-head, but the Canaries put in a valiant effort on their last visit to Stamford Bridge. This, however, could certainly be a real battering.

Prediction: 3-0

Crystal Palace v Newcastle United

11am

Crystal Palace were unlucky to only draw 2-2 at the Emirates on Monday night, despite a dominant performance. Eagles talisman Wilfried Zaha could return from illness, but the hosts need to turn those draws into victories.

Newcastle, under new ownership, had their party crashed by a dominant Tottenham side in their 3-2 home defeat. Subsequently, manager Steve Bruce was sacked. The Magpies have yet to find a win so far this term, but this could be a chance to boost their season under a new boss.

The visitors enjoyed their last trip to South London, earning a 2-0 shutout win last November. Things could be different this time.

Prediction: 2-1

Everton v Watford

11am

Everton had their perfect home record snapped in a 1-0 defeat by West Ham. Defender Angelo Ogbonna scored the decisive goal from a corner midway through the second half.

Watford were absolutely smashed at home by in-form Liverpool 5-0. Manager Claudio Ranieri, on his Premier League return, has his hands full with a struggling Hornets side.

The Toffees have won eight of the previous 14 meetings, with Watford winning just three. However, they have yet to win at Goodison Park.

Prediction: 2-0

Leeds United v Wolverhampton Wanderers

11am

Leeds paid for shambolic defending in their 1-0 away defeat by Southampton. They have only win in their seven games this season, conceding 15 goals.

Wolves made an incredible 15-minute comeback to win 3-2 at Villa Park. Bruno Lage’s men are now on a three-match win streak.

Wolves have won three of their previous four meetings, including a 1-0 win the last time the sides met at Elland Road.

Prediction: 0-2

Southampton v Burnley

11am

Southampton come off a strong performance and a 1-0 home win over Leeds. Loan striker Armando Broja became the first Albanian to score in the Premier League.

Burnley remain winless, falling 2-0 away to Manchester City last time out. New signing Maxwel Cornet, despite failing to score, continued to impress.

Burnley edge the recent history, but Saints won a thriller 3-2 in the reverse fixture last season. They edge it at the moment on squad quality and form, but an entertaining game should ensue.

Prediction: 2-2

Brighton & Hove Albion v Manchester City

1.30pm

Brighton struggled to break down a Norwich defence that had conceded 16 goals thus far, managing only a 0-0 away draw with the Canaries.

Man City managed the game well in their 2-0 home win over Burnley, Bernardo Silva and Kevin de Bruyne scoring the goals. They also thrashed Bruges 5-0 in the Champions League on Tuesday.

The Seagulls have won just one of the previous eight meetings. However, that win came in their most recent match-up on the South Coast, a 3-2 victory.

Prediction: 1-2

Sunday

Brentford v Leicester City

10am

Brentford were very unlucky to find in-form Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy in their 1-0 home defeat last Saturday. The Bees remain in ninth place, but have shown they can mix it with the big teams in English football.

Leicester come off the incredible 4-2 home win over Manchester United. Jamie Vardy is the joint top scorer with seven goals.

These sides have never met in the Premier League, but they have faced off twice in the FA Cup. This is bound to be an entertaining affair between managers who like to play attractive football.

Prediction: 2-2

West Ham United v Tottenham Hotspur

10am

Angelo Ogbonna scored the crucial goal to lead West Ham to a 1-0 away victory over Everton. They have struggled to meet the demands in European, but remain in seventh place with 14 points.

Spurs played very well in their 3-2 away win over Newcastle United, Harry Kane finding his form with a goal and an assist.

These sides have met on 50 occasions, with Spurs holding the upper hand on the history. The Hammers did win their last home meeting, a 2-1 back in February.

Prediction: 2-1

Manchester United v Liverpool

12.30pm

Manchester United were torn apart for a lack of defensive structure in their 4-2 away loss to Leicester City. They came back from that with a thrilling late 3-2 win over Atalanta in the Champions League after trailing by two at the half. Cristiano Ronaldo scoring the winning header with ten minutes remaining.

Liverpool are legitimate title challengers in a three-horse battle. They thrashed Watford 5-0 last Saturday and then held off Atletico Madrid in the Champions League 3-2 at the Metropolitano.

This is a North West derby and one of the biggest in club football. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is under massive pressure, and Jürgen Klopp has won it all before. Fifty-eight previous meetings, and the Red Devils are winless in the past five.

Prediction: 2-2

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Published October 22, 2021 at 2:27 pm (Updated October 22, 2021 at 2:27 pm)

United out of the fire in Europe but into the frying pan

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