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Merson's predictions: Chelsea and Manchester City backed for wins

Merse sees wins for Chelsea, Man City, Arsenal and Man United

Sky Sports' Paul Merson gives his predictions ahead of an important weekend in the Premier League.

The Premier League is back and so is Merse as he casts his expert eye over the Premier League fixtures. Here's how the 'Magic Man' sees the 10 games going.

Chelsea v Stoke, Sky Sports 1, Saturday 5.30pm

Diego Costa of Chelsea (2L) celebrates with Filipe Luis (L) and Cesc Fabregas (2R)
Image: Chelsea feature on Saturday Night Football against Stoke

Stoke played extremely well against Crystal Palace before the international break but just came out on the wrong side of the result. They face a much sterner challenge against a Chelsea side wanting to put the race for the league title to bed.

They won’t have it all their own way against a solid Mark Hughes side but they will be determined to extend the gap before Manchester City play on Sunday. That determination and hunger will be the difference.

PAUL PREDICTS: 2-0 (Sky Bet odds: 4/1)

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Crystal Palace v Man City, Sky Sports 1, Monday 8pm

Selhurst Park is not an easy place to go, especially when you are in the race for the title and have to have a go at them. That plays into Palace’s hands because Alan Pardew’s side is a good counter-attacking side with lots of pace.

But if City play to the level we know they can, they can beat absolutely anybody. If Chelsea win, as I expect them to, then it makes Monday Night Football very entertaining. This is a must-win game for the visitors if they want to stay in touch at the top and also in terms of the race for second if both Manchester United and Arsenal win. For that reason I cannot back against them.

PAUL PREDICTS: 1-3 (Sky Bet odds: 12/1)

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Sunderland v Newcastle, Sky Sports 1, Sunday 4pm

Dick Advocaat: Sunderland boss endured a frustrating start
Image: Dick Advocaat: Sunderland boss endured a frustrating start

This is a really tight game. It’s a massive derby which is a cup final to both sets of supports and I think both sides will be petrified to lose.

However, if the results go the way I think they will then Sunderland have a chance to open up a bit of a gap on the relegation places. I just can’t see that happening.

Lee Cattermole is back and that’s a huge boost for Sunderland but it’s tough to side with either team. Sunderland will have to bomb on as the home side and take the game to Newcastle but that could well play into John Carver’s side’s hands. This one has a draw written all over it.

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

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Burnley v Tottenham, Sky Sports 1, Sunday 1.30pm

It’s another tough game to predict with both sides desperate for points at different ends of the table. Sean Dyche will have to find a way of stopping Harry Kane, who is on fire at the moment, and they will also have to cope with a confident Andros Townsend after his goal for England against Italy.

But as Burnley proved against Manchester City, they are no pushovers at home and this will be a difficult test for Spurs. It’s a hard game for both sides and I cannot separate them.

PAUL PREDICTS: 1-1 (Sky Bet odds: 5/1)

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Arsenal v Liverpool, Saturday 12.45pm

Image: Arsenal host Liverpool at 12.45 on Saturday

Liverpool cannot afford to lose at the Emirates. If they do and Manchester United win then they could find themselves eight points behind Louis van Gaal’s side. That’s far too many with the way United are playing at the moment. There will also be plenty of pressure on Raheem Sterling to perform after his comments this week and that could hinder Liverpool.

I fancy the Gunners to win this 2-1. It’s Arsenal all over – the way they’ve hit form right at the end of the campaign but the same mistakes will probably occur at the start of next season.

PAUL PREDICTS: 2-1 (Sky Bet odds: 7/1)

Everton v Southampton, Saturday 3pm

Graziano Pelle scores Southampton's second goal
Image: Graziano Pelle scores for Southampton in the reverse fixture against Everton

This will be a hard game for both sides. I thought Southampton did really well in the first half of their last away game against Chelsea. They caused the league leaders plenty of problems and I can see them scoring at Goodison Park. However, Everton are a decent team and they shouldn’t be where they are in the league. They’ve found a bit of form recently and I’m backing a draw between two very good sides.

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

Leicester v West Ham, Saturday 3pm

Jeffrey Schlupp of Leicester City celebrates with teammate David Nugent of Leicester City after scoring his team's sec
Image: Merse thinks Leicester cannot afford any slip-ups against West Ham

This is Leicester’s cup final. They just have to win. If they don’t I think that will be it and they will be relegated.

With six out of their last nine games at home Nigel Pearson’s side definitely have a chance of survival but they must beat West Ham. A draw is just not good.

But, backed by their home support, I think they can get the result they need and I’m backing them for a 2-1 win against a West Ham side who have just one win from their last eight in the league.

PAUL PREDICTS: 2-1 (Sky Bet odds: 8/1)

Manchester United v Aston Villa, Saturday 3pm            

Juan Mata of Manchester United celebrates scoring
Image: Paul Merson: Manchester United were excellent at Liverpool

I have to give credit where credit is due, Manchester United were absolutely outstanding against Liverpool. They gave Brendan Rodgers’ side the run around at Anfield and the home side were never in the match. That was testament to United’s performance and I’m backing them to keep that level up at home to Aston Villa.

Tim Sherwood’s men had a bad result against Swansea when the expectation was on them to win and despite the pressure being off when they make the trip to Old Trafford, I can’t see them getting anything.

PAUL PREDICTS: 2-0 (Sky Bet odds: 9/2)

Swansea v Hull, Saturday 3pm          

Swansea City's Bafetibis Gomis celebrates scoring his team's opening goal during the Barclays Premier League match at Villa Park, Birmingham.
Image: Swansea look good for victory at home to Hull, according to Paul Merson

I really like Swansea and the way they go about their football. They are an decent side and the manager, Garry Monk, has done an excellent job since taking over last year.

Hull gave Chelsea a decent game last time out but you just cannot give a side like that a two goal head-start inside 10 minutes, especially at home. I fully expect Swansea to win this one comfortably.

PAUL PREDICTS: 2-0 (Sky Bet odds: 13/2)

West Brom v QPR, Saturday 3pm                 

Brown Ideye celebrates scoring the opening goal with team mates Darren Fletcher and Craig Gardner during the match between West Brom and Stoke City
Image: Paul Merson has backed West Brom to beat QPR

I can’t see QPR winning this. Something has to be drastically wrong when you are losing five games on the trot but I expect things to get worse for them at the Hawthorns. You cannot just turn a corner and suddenly beat West Brom away from home.

It’s a difficult game for Chris Ramsey and his opposite number Tony Pulis would have highlighted this one as a game they should win. With the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea still to play, West Brom need to win to avoid being sucked into the relegation dog fight. There is no doubt Pulis will have is troops fired up and I’m going for a home win.

PAUL PREDICTS: 3-0 (Sky Bet odds: 12/1)

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