Thursday 2 April 2020 10:24, UK
Charlie Nicholas returns with his predictions ahead of an action-packed Boxing Day schedule in the Premier League...
I have been really impressed with Brighton, but they were poor against Sheffield United. At the same time, Tottenham were awful and well-beaten against Chelsea. Heung-Min Son's red card tells you all you need to know. Have things changed under Jose Mourinho? I don't think they have.
Harry Kane looks off the pace and Jan Vertonghen is really struggling to deal with pace. If I were Brighton I would get Leandro Trossard on his side and really test him. It's essential that Spurs stay in the frame for the top four so for that reason alone I think they will get over the line.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: 2-1 (15/2 with Sky Bet)
Are we surprised where Norwich are at? They haven't spent much and have problems at the back, but then they post a couple of decent performances. Todd Cantwell has been their best player, while Teemu Pukki has been finding the net again. Norwich have goals in them if you get the service to Pukki and get Cantwell on the ball, if they don't do that they will struggle.
This is a must-win game for Villa, whereas Norwich will be happy with a point. I don't know how I am getting to this scoreline, but when Villa finished the game with Jonathan Kodjia and Wesley up front, they played well. If they went a bit more route one, they could have some joy.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: 2-1 (8/1 with Sky Bet)
Lightning to strike twice?
A tiny 0.25 per cent of Super 6 players backed a 1-3 win for Southampton at Villa Park, but could Norwich spring another surprise and steal three points? Only 16 per cent think so. What will you predict, with £250k up for grabs?
I hope it is a good news story for Mikel Arteta's first game. As much as I am pleased, Freddie Ljungberg will be most pleased that Arteta is in. His comments on the Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette situations were shameful. What was he saying?
I will support all of the youngsters wholeheartedly, but the one thing I already like about Arteta is that he had them in on Sunday, which shows his leadership qualities already, to say this is poor and start straight away to get them in and rebuild.
When Nicolas Pepe settles in, with Lacazette through middle, Arsenal are a really encouraging front three with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Arteta cannot sort the defence, and he will go with a more aggressive mentality, and this will begin to pay off in this match.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: 1-3 (12/1 with Sky Bet)
More work for Mikel?
Although 71 per cent of Super 6 players are expecting a winning start for Mikel Arteta as Arsenal boss, a mere 3.3 per cent are hoping for a 1-0 victory for Bournemouth, which could highlight Arsenal's woes even more so. Play here for free.
I thought Chelsea were fabulous against Tottenham. As good as Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount have been, how good was Willian? He is up there with the likes of Jamie Vardy, Kevin De Bruyne and Sadio Mane for me.
We are quite right to support the young Chelsea players, they will be an up-and-down team and will feel the pressure of demands when Southampton sit in. Danny Ings is in the form of his life and if he gets a half chance he will take it.
There is lots to like about Southampton, things are promising after their huge win at Aston Villa. They are much better away from home and Chelsea may be the latest team to realise that.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: 1-1 (9/1 with Sky Bet)
The winning groove for Frank?
A hefty 92 per cent of players are backing Chelsea to see off Southampton at Stamford Bridge, while nearly 50 per cent are predicting a Chelsea win to nil. What score takes your fancy, with £250k at stake?
These two keep rolling along and I am never sure what they will do. Jeff Stelling will know it is easier said than done to predict the outcome of these, especially with his £250,000 hanging in the balance.
This is the hardest Boxing Day fixture to call. West Ham can get an occasional result away from home but you cannot trust the pair of them, so it is another case of sitting on the fence.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: 1-1 (11/2 with Sky Bet)
Honours even between the London sides?
West Ham may have had a break while Crystal Palace were beaten at Newcastle, yet the majority of Super 6 players are swaying towards the home side. That being said, 30 per cent are backing a 1-1 draw along with Charlie at Selhurst Park. Who will you side with?
I am not convinced Carlo Ancelotti is the superstar signing he is being dressed up to be. It will be interesting to see how he breaks things down as opposed to Big Dunc, who likes honesty and aggression. Ancelotti will ask if they are any good technically, to see if they understand tactics and give them more responsibility.
If you are a fighter, you get the balance between fight and creative ability. Everton are a mix of both. Their ears will loosen, and Ancelotti will expect them to do this and that. Big Dunc will be the enforcer, and it will be a happy day for Ancelotti on his debut.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: 1-0 (6/1 with Sky Bet)
A sticky Toffee start for Carlo?
Only 14 per cent of Super 6 players are predicting a sticky start for Carlo Ancelotti, while over 80 per cent are rooting with Charlie for a home victory. With £250k riding on it, will you go against the grain?
Sheffield United are brilliant. Is this getting serious for them now? There is nothing to throw back at them. David McGoldrick has been a star but he cannot hit a barn door - what an asset he is to the team though and that's what they do. There has not been a player that I haven't loved for Sheffield United.
John Egan has been fabulous; he will not be the Player of the Year but everything he is doing is done right. Watford will have had a bounce from the Manchester United result but they cannot bully them the way they did with Man Utd.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: 2-1 (15/2 with Sky Bet)
Blades to wound Hornets?
Over 80 per cent of Super 6 entrants are hoping for another Sheffield United victory, which is a testament to how well they have played this season. Will they see off Watford at home? Play here for free.
How many times do I have to say this about Steve Bruce? They are in a sensational position and are probably just three wins away from safety. Their defence is solid, and it has been extraordinary what he has done here.
Manchester United were shocking at Watford - they have not turned the corner at all. The Scott McTominay and Fred partnership will not improve at all. They were celebrating that Paul Pogba is back, saying United played better when he came on, but did they?
Was it better or was it not as bad as it originally was? I think Pogba wants out and when you balance it up, it is not encouraging. Surely they must get the three points as the fans will be all over them if they don't get the result here.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: 2-0 (11/2 with Sky Bet)
It is a stunning game. I have seen a lot from Leicester but they are still a bit off the top level. Liverpool have been out celebrating their new trophy and I don't blame them for it - their fixture list is supposed to be hampering them, but they have played two games in Doha where they were not overly stressed in either.
I cannot see the excuses with fatigue or travelling, but I think Leicester will turn this around here. The energy and movement will cause Liverpool problems, who may want to play on the counter-attack; Liverpool are due a loss and I think this will be the game.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: 2-1 (11/1 with Sky Bet)
It is another cracker. Liverpool might finally get their first defeat, but I am also suggesting that Manchester City will be in for a tough day. Wolves were awful in the first half against Norwich but they got themselves out of a hole. City have lifted it again and I feel it is this time of the season where they start to kick on.
Riyad Mahrez has been quality, Sergio Aguero is back in training, Raheem Sterling has been quiet, but the standout guy is Kevin De Bruyne once again - he has been incredible. He is on a solo mission to tell his team-mates that this is what they have to do to get there. I think there will be goals at Molineux.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: 2-4