Old Trafford hosts old rivals

Craig Burley doesn’t see any reason why Chelsea can’t win by multiple goals against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
The Exploding Heads preview the Chelsea-Man United clash, as Jose Mourinho again prepares to face his former club.

For Jose Mourinho, you can assume Sunday is all about revenge. For Chelsea, 4-0 winners over Mourinho’s United back in October, the trip to Old Trafford represents another obstacle in their path to Premier League glory.

United are scrapping for the top four and their rivals for a place in the Champions League next season have some intriguing encounters of their own. Arsenal, humiliated 3-0 at Crystal Palace last time out, face another Monday night showdown, this time at relegation-haunted Middlesbrough.

Manchester City travel to Southampton in Saturday’s late kickoff while Liverpool face a tricky trip to West Brom this Sunday.

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MAN UNITED: After the embarrassment at Stamford Bridge in October, Mourinho returned to his former club with a perfect plan in the FA Cup. Had the referee not chosen to send off Ander Herrera so early into the game, it may have just worked, with Chelsea only managing to score one goal at home against United’s 10 men. Mourinho will again likely have decided what he needs to do in this game to avoid defeat, which will be the priority with a second leg against Anderlecht in the Europa League next. This will be a rare game where United don’t mind a home draw.
Prediction: Manchester United 1-1 Chelsea Scott Patterson

CHELSEA: Chelsea could kick off against United with their lead trimmed to four points so there will be additional pressure on this huge fixture. If Eden Hazard can maintain his dazzling form at Old Trafford then they have every chance of ending their hosts’ 21-match unbeaten run in the league. But with Mourinho smarting after two defeats to the Blues already this season, he will be placing his faith in Zlatan Ibrahimovic to continue his excellent scoring form.
Prediction: Manchester United 1-1 Chelsea Phil Lythell

MIDDLESBROUGH: Unfortunately for Boro, tough opponents are now coming thick and fast, and time is running out in their bid for top flight survival. Arsenal will be quick out of the traps after last Monday’s embarrassment at Crystal Palace, so it’s likely to be another disappointing result for the Teessiders.
Prediction: Middlesbrough 1-2 Arsenal Catherine Wilson

ARSENAL: At this point Arsenal are almost impossible to predict. Like a Forrest Gump box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get. Indeed, the display at Crystal Palace was almost like 11 Forrest Gumps, but not the one who is a table tennis genius. Middlesbrough can’t score, Arsenal can’t defend. As my ESPN colleague James McNicholas remarked: “It’s the stoppable force meeting the movable object.”
Prediction: Middlesbrough 2-2 Arsenal — Andrew Mangan

TOTTENHAM: Bournemouth come to White Hart Lane with their Premier League survival all but secure. Meanwhile, Spurs will be looking to consolidate their run of good form and maintain their grip on a Champions League spot. With Harry Kane and Victor Wanyama returning from injury, Tottenham are also nearly back to full strength. As always, the first goal will be the important one. But if it comes, expect Spurs to win at a canter.
Prediction: Tottenham 3-0 Bournemouth John Crace

BOURNEMOUTH: Despite a recent defeat to league leaders Chelsea, the Cherries remain in a decent run of form and should fancy their chances against Spurs. However, it’s likely to be a difficult encounter which will result in a second consecutive defeat.
Prediction: Tottenham 2-1 Bournemouth Will Kent

WEST BROM: West Brom will be looking for a much-needed return to form this weekend, but face a tough task when they face Liverpool at The Hawthorns. Tony Pulis’ side are very proficient at set pieces, an area Liverpool struggle with, so the delivery of Chris Brunt and West Brom’s powerful back four could prove very effective attacking weapons.
Prediction: West Brom 2-1 Liverpool Matthew Evans

LIVERPOOL: Liverpool go to the Hawthorns in better shape than they were in last weekend when they won at Stoke. Jurgen Klopp should be able to call on Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino from the start, Daniel Sturridge has had a full week of training and should be sharper, while Klopp has had more time to work on his new three at the back system. However, West Brom are the set piece kings and Liverpool are weak in that area, so this looks to be the toughest remaining fixture on the Reds’ schedule.
Prediction: West Brom 2-2 Liverpool  Dave Usher

SOUTHAMPTON: Southampton go into the game on a good run of form but their lack of home goals would be a concern coming up against free-scoring Manchester City. Manager Claude Puel would settle for a repeat of their 1-1 draw at the Etihad earlier in the season.
Prediction: Southampton 1-1  Manchester City Alex Crook

MAN CITY: Confidence is tentatively growing again for Manchester City. The 3-1 win over Hull was just what the doctor ordered to get the challenge for the top four back on track, but yet another Claudio Bravo error was less than ideal. Southampton have found form again, too, so they will be dangerous for Pep Guardiola’s men. 
Prediction: Southampton 2-2 Manchester City Simon Curtis

EVERTON: Everton have won seven successive home league games but must avoid complacency against Burnley, who remain the only Premier League team without an away win this season. The Blues will again look to in-form Romelu Lukaku — the Belgian striker (13) has outscored Saturday’s visitors in 2017 (11).
Prediction: Everton 3-0 Burnley  Luke O’Farrell

BURNLEY: After taking four points from two games, the pressure is off the Clarets, who likely only need one more win to guarantee Premier League survival. But with Everton in great form at home and Lukaku on fire, the wait for a first away victory of the season will go on.
Prediction: Everton 3-1 Burnley  Jamie Smith

SUNDERLAND: With virtually no hope left of avoiding relegation, Sunderland can do little more than give their Premier League exit an honourable finale. They may end a seven-game goal drought against Slaven Bilic’s side, but a draw is probably the best that David Moyes can expect.
Prediction: Sunderland 1-1 West Ham Colin Randall

WEST HAM: Sunderland must take three points from West Ham in order to survive in the Premier League, though even that’s unlikely to be enough. The Hammers will be boosted by the win over Swansea, but they still have major injury problems and could struggle to contain Sunderland. A draw will be good enough.
Prediction: Sunderland 1-1 West Ham Peter Thorne

CRYSTAL PALACE: Sam Allardyce’s side have finally found the resolve to get wins at home. Monday night’s defeat of Arsenal was the club’s third in a row at Selhurst Park, and with Leicester City’s focus surely on Tuesday’s Champions League quarterfinal second leg against Atletico Madrid, it offers a great opportunity to make it four wins in a row.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 2-0 Leicester Rob Sutherland

LEICESTER: After a valiant 1-0 loss at Atletico Madrid, Leicester travel to Crystal Palace knowing a win will essentially secure Premier League safety. Craig Shakespeare may make changes with one eye on the second leg next week, and that probably makes the hosts the favourites. The Foxes won’t want back-to-back league losses after five straight domestic victories, but Palace showed against Arsenal they can put teams to the sword. A draw, for a potentially much-changed Leicester side, would be a very credible result.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 1-1 LeicesterBen Jacobs

STOKE: Having seen their side lose four games in succession, Stoke fans are expecting a fitting response against Hull. Fitness permitting, they’ll be hoping that Xherdan Shaqiri picks up where he left off vs. Liverpool to inspire Mark Hughes’ side to a rare victory.
Prediction: Stoke 2-1 Hull James Whittaker

HULL CITY: Hull City are the side in much better form as they bid to stave off relegation to the Championship, but the lack of success away from the KCOM Stadium is a major concern. It’s 13 defeats in the past 14 away games and Marco Silva might gladly accept a point if it were offered now. Stoke’s poor run in the Premier League leaves the door ajar for precisely that.
Prediction: Stoke 1-1 Hull Phil Buckingham

WATFORD: Watford face an incredibly tough run-in, so a win here would bring a welcome end to lingering relegation doubts. They will go into the game with a continuing defensive headache; Miguel Britos will serve the second of a two-match suspension while Younes Kaboul and Seb Prodl look likely to miss out due to injury. There is intrigue at the other end of the pitch where Troy Deeney has been rested for two of the past three games. The captain should return for the visit of the Swans and will be very keen to prove a point.
Prediction: Watford 2-0 Swansea — Mike Parkin

SWANSEA: Swansea are running out of games to find enough points for survival. Saturday’s trip to Watford is exactly the sort of match this side would usually struggle to take anything from, but needs must. Watford have little to play for, and the Swans know they must better Hull’s results over the remaining six matches to stay up.
Prediction: Watford 1-2 Swansea Max Hicks

There’s some big matches at the bottom as West Ham travel to Sunderland needing points in their push for survival while Swansea will need something on the road at Watford to boost their own prospects of staying in the division.

Have your say on all the matches this weekend by voting in the match polls and having your say in the comments section below.

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