All eyes will be on Manchester City in the Premier League on Saturday, as they will be out to bounce back against Newcastle United following their first defeat of the campaign.
Pep Guardiola’s side still have a 12-point gap at the top of the table to rivals Manchester United, although Liverpool dashed any hopes of a season of invincibility last time out in a thrilling contest. Newcastle may be on the end of a backlash as a result.
United will be seeking to put the pressure on City earlier in the day, as they visit a Burnley side that have lost their way a little. Liverpool make the trip to Swansea City on Monday night, while Chelsea travel to Brighton & Hove Albion looking to get back in form.
Here’s the Week 24 schedule, a prediction for each game and a closer look at some of the standout fixtures.
Saturday, January 20
12:30 p.m.—Brighton vs. Chelsea (1-2)
3:00 p.m.—Arsenal vs. Crystal Palace (2-1)
3:00 p.m.—Burnley vs. Manchester United (0-1)
3:00 p.m.—Everton vs. West Bromwich Albion (1-0)
3:00 p.m.—Leicester City vs. Watford (2-1)
3:00 p.m.—Stoke City vs. Huddersfield Town (1-1)
3:00 p.m.—West Ham United vs. Bournemouth (2-0)
5:30 p.m.—Manchester City vs. Newcastle United (3-0)
Sunday, January 21
4:00 p.m.—Southampton vs. Tottenham Hotspur (0-2)
Monday, January 22
8:00 p.m.—Swansea City vs. Liverpool (0-3)
Brighton vs. Chelsea
These two sides are at opposite ends of the Premier League table, and they will both be desperate for points for very different reasons as a result.
Chelsea, who were going about their business quietly in the early part of the season, have let their standards slip again in recent weeks, and they’ve been especially disappointing in front of goal. Antonio Conte’s side have not been able to get the balance right as of late:
After some disappointing recent results, Tottenham have been able to cut the gap down to Chelsea—who occupy fourth—to just three points.
As the first side to play this weekend, the Blues have the chance to apply some pressure on the rest of the top-four chasers. After all, United, Liverpool and Spurs also face tests away from home, so there is the possibility of some slip-ups.
Brighton also need to find some momentum, as Chris Hughton’s side have slipped closer to the relegation zone in recent week. They also became the first team to lose to West Brom in 21 top-flight games on Saturday.
16 – Brighton have conceded 16 goals from set pieces in the Premier League this season (inc. pens); a joint-high alongside Watford. Confusion.
At the Amex Stadium, the newly promoted outfit will be a lot better than last time out and it’ll be a big challenge for Chelsea. However, you’d back Conte’s men to eventually find a way to pick up the points here.
Prediction: Brighton 1-2 Chelsea
Manchester City vs. Newcastle
So City aren’t going to go through the entire Premier League season unbeaten after all, but Guardiola will want to see his side get three points on the board again as soon as possible.
Newcastle feel like ideal opponents for that. Manager Rafael Benitez has been unable to strengthen the squad in midseason, and as a result, they haven’t been able to pull away from the relegation zone.
The True Geordie admitted he’s frustrated by the ongoing speculation regarding a takeover and the lack of transfer activity:
Thought the takeover would be done by now. The longer this drags on the less hope I have. Ashley is making his departure as painful as possible, one last piss poor transfer window for old times sake.
A trip to City is not what’s needed with that in mind, especially a City that’ll be desperate to make a statement after their loss to Liverpool.
The Premier League leaders will have been stirring this week, as they were pulled apart in a lackadaisical 10-minute spell at Anfield. Aside from Kevin De Bruyne, the array of attacking talent in this team failed to fire to their usual high standard either.
Sam Lee of Goal expects the sky-blue juggernaut to learn from the mistakes they made at Anfield.
It’s served them so well this season so it would be ridiculous to criticise them for trying. Criticise the mistakes, but not the plan. Obviously the approach isn’t going to change, either, and what will have to happen is that they get better at playing it out under pressure
You can work on the passing and positioning in training but you can’t really replicate pressure like that, when you factor in the actual match-day risks and home fans etc. They got through it at Napoli, but not today, but in the long run these examples will surely only help.
Of course, it’ll be a different game on Saturday, as Newcastle will have little intent of pushing forward and opening themselves up to City’s attacking class. The runaway leaders will find their way through eventually.
Prediction: Manchester City 3-0 Newcastle
Culled from Bleacherreport.