Merson's predictions: Liverpool to hold Chelsea, Arsenal and Spurs to bridge gap
Last Updated: 31/01/17 6:46pm
From a defining clash between title rivals at Anfield to the ever-changing battle for survival, Paul Merson offers his midweek Premier League predictions...
Chelsea could virtually put the title race to bed, or Liverpool could throw it wide open, when the two sides meet in Tuesday's eagerly-anticipated clash at Anfield.
Arsenal, Tottenham and the two Manchester clubs will be hoping for a Chelsea defeat as they look to bridge the gap at the top of the table with victories in their games.
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There are also a number of intriguing battles at the foot of the table, so, without further ado, read on to see who the Magic Man is tipping ahead of a crucial set of midweek fixtures...
Liverpool v Chelsea - Tuesday, 8pm
I'm going to throw a bombshell out there - I cannot see Chelsea winning at Anfield. Forget about Liverpool's recent struggles, this is going to be Chelsea's toughest game of the season so far. Tuesday night, under the floodlights and a game Liverpool cannot afford to lose - things will be different.
If Chelsea win, and then beat Arsenal, then the title race is virtually done and dusted. But I see plenty more twists and turns in the title race yet, starting with a draw here. That being said, Chelsea will be more than happy leaving Merseyside with a point.
PAUL PREDICTS: 1-1 (5/1 with Sky Bet)
Arsenal v Watford - Tuesday, 7.45pm
Watford have hit a brick wall and are one of the teams I fear may be relegated. They've got a few points to play with but you always get a team that starts sliding, and they are the team that seem to be doing that at the moment. Playing away at Millwall on Sunday and then at Arsenal on Tuesday is tough, 48 hours to recover is ridiculous.
I can't see anything other than an Arsenal win, despite the Gunners flattering to deceive in recent weeks. That being said, they could be two points behind Chelsea if results go their way this week.
PAUL PREDICTS: 2-0 (5/1 with Sky Bet)
Bournemouth v Crystal Palace - Tuesday, 7.45pm
Having seen their display against Manchester City in the FA Cup, this is clearly Palace's priority. Big Sam will also be looking ahead to their massive game against Sunderland next weekend. If they can get a draw at Bournemouth Palace will be more than happy.
With Jack Wilshere on form, though, they have got to be careful about shutting up shop at the Vitality, they've got to have a go. I see Bournemouth just nicking this as Palace may have an eye on Sunderland.
PAUL PREDICTS: 2-1 (15/2 with Sky Bet)
Burnley v Leicester - Tuesday, 7.45pm
It's very difficult to go against Burnley at home. Leicester haven't won a game on the road while all but one of Burnley's 26 points have come at Turf Moor. It doesn't take a genius to see how this game is going to go.
I fear for Leicester, they are struggling and cannot get themselves going. They need to get back to the hard work which brought them success last year.
PAUL PREDICTS: 2-0 (12/1 with Sky Bet)
Middlesbrough v West Brom - Tuesday, 7.45pm
This is a must-win game for Middlesbrough, they are in a relegation battle. They played well against West Ham but didn't get the result. They need to score more goals, but with Rudy Gestede and Patrick Bamford coming in perhaps that could change.
If Bamford can replicate the form he showed on his last spell at Boro they'll be out of trouble before they know it. Having said that, West Brom are a hard team to beat. I see this one ending level.
PAUL PREDICTS: 1-1 (9/2 with Sky Bet)
Sunderland v Tottenham - Tuesday, 7.45pm
What is going on at Sunderland? Patrick van Aanholt has been allowed to leave the club while Papy Djilobodji is out injured, leaving them short ahead of this game. Yes, Darron Gibson and Bryan Oviedo looks as though they're heading to Wearside, but whether they will feature against Spurs remains to seen.
It's not the best preparation ahead of free-flowing Tottenham's trip to the Stadium of Light. I can only see one winner.
PAUL PREDICTS: 1-3 (10/1 with Sky Bet)
Swansea v Southampton - Tuesday, 7.45pm
I have no idea what Claude Puel was thinking making 10 changes against Arsenal in the FA Cup. Saints has just beaten Liverpool in the EFL Cup semi-final, they can't win the league, they're not going to get into the top four and they're not going to be relegated - so why make the changes?
Yes, Arsenal made wholesale changes but they brought in internationals. Puel needs to apologise to those kids for letting them get roasted like that, it was terrible. It doesn't bode well ahead of the trip to the Liberty, where Paul Clement, and his signings, are gradually getting back to the old Swansea. It's another must-win game in the battle for survival and I see the Swans winning.
PAUL PREDICTS: 2-1 (10/1 with Sky Bet)
West Ham v Man City - Wednesday, 7.45pm
City embarrassed West Ham a couple a few weeks ago in the FA Cup but West Ham look a different prospect now, with the Dimitri Payet saga behind them. Andy Carroll is back in form and will be licking his lips ahead of taking on the City defence. However, I see City winning at the London Stadium.
They were outstanding against Tottenham and followed that with a good result at Palace in the cup. West Ham were a little fortunate at Middlesbrough and were pretty even with Palace in the game before that. Palace aren't a patch on this City team.
PAUL PREDICTS: 1-3 (10/1 with Sky Bet)
Man Utd v Hull - Wednesday, 8pm
Hull are playing well under Marco Silva but I United cannot go against at Old Trafford. I know Hull beat them in the EFL Cup semi-final second leg but United played like a team that were two goals up.
They beat Hull convincingly in the first leg and I see them repeating the feat on Wednesday to maintain Jose Mourinho's "unbeaten" run!
PAUL PREDICTS: 2-0 (9/2 with Sky Bet)
Stoke v Everton - Wednesday, 8pm
Stoke and Everton haven't lost a game since being dumped out of the FA Cup, they've both hit form so this one is difficult to call. Some of the football Stoke played at Sunderland was breath-taking while Everton wiped the floor with Man City and won at Palace.
Both teams have entertaining players that can produced and I don't think either defence will be able to contain the opposition's attack.
PAUL PREDICTS: 2-2 (12/1 with Sky Bet)
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