Paul Merson has cast his eye over all of the action in the Premier League this weekend, including the London derby between West Ham and Chelsea and Ralf Rangnick’s first game in charge of Manchester United as they face Crystal Palace.
Chelsea travel to the London Stadium to take on West Ham on Saturday lunchtime, with Thomas Tuchel’s side looking to extend their lead at the top of the table.
The Blues narrowly beat Watford 2-1 at Vicarage Road in midweek, while a late Neal Maupay goal earned Brighton a point against the Hammers.
Given that neither team have been at their very best in recent games, Merson thinks that the game in east London will end in a 1-1 draw.
‘West Ham have gone backwards ever since they got into the Premier League top four,’ Merson told Sportskeeda. ‘They can’t seem to win a match now – they’ve failed to win their last three games. This is a big game for West Ham, though, and they will be tighter at the back than they were against Brighton.
‘Chelsea got lucky against Watford this week and haven’t been at their best this week. I’d play Romelu Lukaku in this match – West Ham’s biggest threat comes from set plays and Chelsea could use a player of Lukaku’s build. Chelsea are not playing particularly well at the moment and this game could turn out to be a draw.’
Third-placed Liverpool go away to Wolves on Saturday as they look to keep up the pressure on Chelsea and Manchester City.
Wednesday’s 4-1 win over Everton in the Merseyside derby took their total goals for the season to an impressive 43, and Merson is expecting the Reds to cruise to a 3-0 victory against Bruno Lage’s side.
‘Wolves have been up there in the Premier League this season but they don’t score goals,’ the Arsenal hero added. ‘They’re not getting into the top four or five unless they start creating chances, and they certainly can’t afford 0-0 draws against Norwich and Burnley.
‘Liverpool are unstoppable at the moment, and they will score goals. If Liverpool score twice, can Wolves keep up with them? They have Mohamed Salah to contend with, and I think he’s currently the best player in the world. Wolves have been impressive, but I can’t look past a comfortable Liverpool victory here.’
After sitting in the stands to watch Manchester United’s 3-2 victory over Arsenal in midweek, new Red Devils interim boss Rangnick will take charge of his team for the first time this weekend.
The 63-year-old has been tasked with managing the side until the end of the season, after which he will take up a two-year advisory role.
Rangnick’s first game is against Palace on Sunday, with Cristiano Ronaldo reportedly a doubt for the clash at Old Trafford.
Merson isn’t expecting an easy ride for the former RB Leipzig boss and can see the game ending in a 2-2 draw.
‘Manchester United managed a great result against Arsenal this week. Their new manager won’t be able to do too much for this game – he’ll have only one training session with his players. Ronaldo’s still scoring all the goals for Man United, and his 801-goal tally is unbelievable,’ Merson continued.
‘I’m sure Ralf Rangnick will also give [Jadon] Sancho a fair chance. He’s seen enough of Sancho in German football and United have paid a lot of money for him, so I’m hoping it pays off.
‘United fans will turn up expecting their team to win this game, but Palace do have the players to hurt them. They’re a dangerous team, and I wouldn’t be too surprised if they took something away from this Premier League game.’
Merson’s Premier League predictions
West Ham 1-1 Chelsea
Newcastle 1-1 Burnley
Wolves 0-3 Liverpool
Southampton 1-1 Brighton
Watford 1-3 Man City
Leeds 2-0 Brentford
Man Utd 2-2 Crystal Palace
Tottenham 3-0 Norwich
Aston Villa 3-2 Leicester
Everton 1-2 Arsenal
On Arsenal’s clash away at Everton on Monday, Merson said: ‘At the start of the Premier League season, the teams that we all thought would finish in the top four were Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, and Manchester United, in no particular order. Arsenal have lost to all these teams.
‘The way Everton are playing at the moment, however, Arsenal will back themselves this weekend. I think Rafael Benitez has about 90 minutes left at Goodison Park. When I played in the Premier League, Everton was one of the hardest places to win a match. The place was three-quarters empty this week, and Everton fans are clearly not having any more of Benitez.
‘Arsenal were unlucky the other day, and I thought they missed too many chances against United. They need to come back and win this game – they’ve been beating the teams they should be beating this season, and I think they’ll be able to turn the screws on Everton.’
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