Paul Merson's predictions: Wins for Arsenal and Chelsea as the race for the title continues

Generic Paul Merson image 10/08/2016

Paul Merson is back for another round of Premier League predictions ahead of a five-star weekend of action.

It promises to be a huge weekend in the Premier League with crucial games at the top and bottom of the league.

The battle for Champions league qualification takes centre stage as Liverpool play Southampton and Arsenal host Manchester United for a Nissan Super Sunday double-header.

The Premier League festivities are then rounded off as Chelsea host Middlesbrough on Monday Night Football on what is a bumper weekend of action.

So who is the Soccer Saturday pundit tipping for victory? Read on to find out...

Liverpool v Southampton - Nissan Super Sunday, Sky Sports 1 HD from 12.30pm

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A look ahead to Sunday’s Premier League matches as Liverpool entertain Southampton and Manchester Utd travel to Arsenal

The race for the top four is back in Liverpool's hands and that's all you can ask for at this stage of the season. I expect them to win this game easily.

Southampton are another team that are on holiday so I'm expecting a comfortable afternoon for Jurgen Klopp's side.

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PAUL PREDICTS: 3-0 (11/1 with Sky Bet)

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Arsenal v Manchester United - Nissan Super Sunday, Sky Sports 1 HD from 3.30pm

Arsenal are certainties in my opinion. It's all about timing at the end of the season and this game is perfect timing for the Gunners. United could win their next four Premier League games 5-0 and still finish fifth in the league. On the other hand, they might only have to win two Europa League games to qualify for the Champions League. I don't see anything but wholesale changes for Jose Mourinho for this game.

It would be interesting to see what would happen with Mourinho's selections if Manchester City lost to Crystal Palace. It would present United with another opportunity of sneaking into the top four and while he has said he will rest players, would a negative result for City change his mind?

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger (left) and Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho after the final whistle
Image: Arsene Wenger (left) and Jose Mourinho (right) go head to head on Sunday

I don't think so. I'd be shocked if any of the big guns played at the Emirates on Sunday. The wholesale changes put severe pressure on Arsene Wenger. They will be playing a second string side in my opinion and if they can't beat an under-strength Manchester United, huge pressure will be put on the Frenchman. He would probably prefer to be playing United's first team.

I'm backing Arsenal for a big 3-0 win and before Manchester United fans go ballistic I'm only backing that result because of my theory. If it was different I'd back the draw because Mourinho can get a draw at will.

PAUL PREDICTS: 3-0 (16/1 with Sky Bet)

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Chelsea v Middlesbrough - Monday Night Football, Sky Sports 1 HD from 7pm

Middlesbrough went down in the game against City in a blaze of glory. We saw something from them in the game that we haven't seen for a few weeks. The problem is they have to win this game and it could leave them open at the back.

That's perfect for the way Chelsea are set up and I can't see them being stopped, especially in front of their own fans at Stamford Bridge. I do fancy Middlesbrough to score but it won't be enough to halt Chelsea.

PAUL PREDICTS: 3-1 (10/1 with Sky Bet)

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Previous predictions...

Manchester City v Crystal Palace

City have stumbled a bit of late but so have Palace. Sam Allardyce's side have hit a bit of a brick wall after some excellent results. If you look at the table Palace have now done their job which is a positive for City. If Palace were at it would be a different story, but they're not and that points to a City victory.

Pep Guardiola's side need all three points from this game and I see them beating a Palace side that has slightly gone off the boil.

PAUL PREDICTS: 3-1 (9/1 with Sky Bet)

Bournemouth v Stoke City - Saturday, 3pm

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Highlights: Sunderland 0-1 Bournemouth

I watched Bournemouth against Sunderland and at times they played really well. This has the makings of an excellent football match. It's one you'd like to watch because the reins are off for both sides. Neither side has anything to lose and can both have a go with confidence.

PAUL PREDICTS: 3-2 (22/1 with Sky Bet)

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We look ahead to Saturday's Premier League games, including Man City vs Crystal Palace and Swansea against Everton

Hull City v Sunderland - Saturday, 3pm

This is a huge game for Hull. This will be one Marco Silva highlighted as a must-win and I think they will win this game. Their home form is absolutely phenomenal.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - APRIL 29: Marco Silva, Manager of Hull City gives instructions during the Premier League match between Southampton and Hull City at
Image: Marco Silva's Hull face already-relegated Sunderland

It won't be easy though because the shackles are off for Sunderland after their relegation last week. The pressure's off now so maybe David Moyes' side, who also play Swansea next week, can come out and play with no pressure which could prove dangerous for Hull. However, I can't see anything but a home win in this game.

PAUL PREDICTS: 2-0 (5/1 with Sky Bet)

Burnley v West Brom - Saturday, 3pm

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Highlights: Crystal Palace 0-2 Burnley

While it would take a huge swing for Burnley to go down, they are not mathematically safe just yet. This represents a good chance for them to put this right but I'm predicting this one to be a tight game. West Brom have run out of luck. They've lost a few games 1-0 and I think they've haven't had a lot of luck in those games. They've made chances, they haven't been blown away in games and they are not playing as badly as their results would lead us to think.

PAUL PREDICTS: 1-1 (9/2 with Sky Bet)

Leicester City v Watford - Saturday, 3pm

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 18:  Craig Shakespeare manager of Leicester City  looks on prior to the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final second leg match bet
Image: Craig Shakespeare's Leaicester host Watford

It's difficult to look past Leicester in this game. I watched Watford in defeat against 10-man Hull and they were poor. They put up more of a fight against Liverpool on Monday and could have got a result, but it's difficult to see them getting anything at the King Power Stadium.

Leicester have done brilliantly since Craig Shakespeare came in and he'll have them up for this. He's got a great opportunity of getting this job and he fully deserves it. A win will certainly help his case and he'll have his players up for the challenge.

PAUL PREDICTS: 3-1 (11/1 with Sky Bet)

Swansea City v Everton - Saturday, 3pm

This will be a very interesting game. Swansea will have to take into consideration Hull, who face Sunderland at 3pm on Saturday, and the fact they will probably win. It means Swansea will have to respond with a win of their own and that brings its own pressure.

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Highlights: Man Utd 1-1 Swansea

They face a difficult task against Everton, who are difficult to beat on the road. They may have got rolled by Chelsea but in recent weeks they've not played well and still come away with 0-0 draws against Middlesbrough and West Ham. Even when they play badly in these types of games they are difficult to beat.

However, I'm just going to side with Swansea, who will keep the battle for survival going. And if they can win this game they will be the team I fancy to stay up.

PAUL PREDICTS: 2-1 (9/1 with Sky Bet)

West Ham v Tottenham - Friday Night Football, Sky Sports 1 HD from 7pm

It's a huge game for Tottenham and also for West Ham if you read the papers regarding Slaven Bilic's future. The speculation regarding his future is not fair at all in my opinion. I'm a big fan of Bilic and it's just been one of those seasons for him and West Ham.

This game is West Ham's cup final but I don't see anything other than a Tottenham win. There would have to be a major shift in form for the Hammers to get anything from it. It's not been the best of seasons for Bilic's men but if you ask any West Ham fan, if they beat Spurs it would turn into a great season for them. The fans would certainly go home from the London Stadium a lot happier.

Slaven Bilic applauds Hammers fans during the draw with Stoke
Image: Slaven Bilic applauds Hammers fans during the draw with Stoke

However, Tottenham can put severe pressure on Chelsea with victory. I know Chelsea have some nice fixtures coming up but if Spurs can move to within one point of the league leaders, it will be a lot different.

We've seen it too many times in football before, you just never know what might happen. Tottenham are playing so well at the moment and I can't see anything three points for Pochettino's side.

PAUL PREDICTS: 0-3 (17/2 with Sky Bet)

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