After a quiet New Year Day, 2019 truly gets underway in the Premier League as the midfield battle dominates Wednesday’s action.
Bournemouth meet Watford whilst West Ham face Brighton in two exciting mid-table clashes. Elsewhere, Burnley visit Huddersfield in a relegation six pointer as Manchester United aim to make it four wins under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with victory at Newcastle.
Finally, Chelsea host Southampton and Crystal Palace head to Wolves as part of an exciting evening featuring six matches.
Bournemouth vs Watford
This should be a fun battle because both teams have lost their way in last couple of months, although Watford seem to be on the up coming into this game.
Bournemouth however were just simply outplayed by Tottenham and Manchester United in past week despite making decent starts.
Should they make another solid start here then I fancy them to cause some problems for Watford, who have taken a while to properly get going in last two outings.
In end though, I can see Watford eking out a draw here given the similar standards of both teams.
Prediction: Bournemouth 1-1 Watford
Jake predicts: Bournemouth 1-2 Watford
Result: Bournemouth 3-3 Watford
Chelsea vs SouthamptonEmbed from Getty Images
With injuries piling up and the top four race getting tougher, Chelsea face a tough game here against Southampton.
The Blues however have been dominant in last two outings with Eden Hazard and Willian being their key players in creating chances. If those two can stay fit here then this should be a routine win but with games coming thick and fast on top of their casualty list, Maurizio Sarri has to make tough decisions to keep key players fit this month.
Southampton meanwhile will be looking to exploit that issue with another attacking display but need to be more ruthless at the back after City were able to rip past on various occasions at weekend.
Do that and be clinical enough then they should get some goals but in end, I am going for a draw given the fixture congestion coming up.
Prediction: Chelsea 1-1 Southampton
Jake predicts: Chelsea 2-0 Southampton
Result: Chelsea 0-0 Southampton
Huddersfield Town vs Burnley
For both teams, this is an absolute must win if either are to seriously challenge for survival.
Huddersfield have played well for the past month but just lacked that finishing touch until its too late in matches.
That in fact was apparent in a tightly fought game at Fulham last weekend because the Cottagers had players capable of breaking the deadlock with a moment of brilliance, whereas Huddersfield’s best hopes really came from long shots or set pieces.
Burnley meanwhile just seemed to click against a sluggish West Ham with a dominant attacking display. Dwight McNeil and Ashley Westwood were two particular stand-outs from that match in troubling the Hammers’ defence but the Terriers are solid at back against teams around them.
Ultimately, Burnley will have enough in them to secure a comfortable win if Huddersfield continue to waste chances.
Prediction: Huddersfield Town 0-2 Burnley
Jake predicts: Huddersfield Town 0-0 Burnley
Result: Huddersfield Town 1-2 Burnley
West Ham United vs Brighton & Hove AlbionEmbed from Getty Images
West Ham were uncharacteristically poor against Burnley on Sunday, lacking in every department until Andy Carroll came on and created their best chances which were only just denied by Tom Heaton.
Hopefully that was just a blip because they cannot afford to produce another slack performance here against Brighton, who have denied two attacking sides already in past week by taking a point against Arsenal before seeing off Everton 1-0 at weekend.
Those results however were at home which is the Seagulls’ better strength with only seven points from ten away games despite scoring in four of their last six games on the road.
Nevertheless, Brighton have shown grit and determination against sides expected to beat them, as highlighted by Jurgen Locadia’s scrappy winner at weekend in what was a proper nip and tuck game.
On that note, a draw here would be a great result for both sides but I fancy Brighton to just edge it.
Prediction: West Ham United 1-2 Brighton & Hove Albion
Jake predicts: West Ham United 2-1 Brighton & Hove Albion
Result: West Ham United 2-2 Brighton & Hove Albion
Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Crystal Palace
Wolves are definitely back on track now and their comeback win over Tottenham at weekend will only help them here.
High pressing, excellent finishing and pace when on attack are qualities that this team has in abundance which will really hurt Crystal Palace, who have been relatively quiet in past two games.
Sunday particularly saw the Eagles struggle to create many chances against Chelsea and with Wolves’ style of play, its hard to see what they can do other than try the counter.
Either way, I can’t see past a comfortable home win if the Wolves of Saturday turn up.
Prediction: Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-0 Crystal Palace
Jake predicts: Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-2 Crystal Palace
Result: Wolverhampton Wanderers 0-2 Crystal Palace
Newcastle United vs Manchester United (8:00pm)Embed from Getty Images
Manchester United are definitely back to their entertaining free flowing best, which is something that Newcastle are unable to do.
Realistically, the Magpies need to go ultra defensive and try and beat United using the counter. Fail to do so then set pieces are their only other option of scoring, which is a good possibility given that Red Devils have conceded in each of last nine games across all competitions.
All in all, there is only one winner here unless Newcastle can produce something absolutely stunning.
Prediction: Newcastle United 1-3 Manchester United
Jake predicts: Newcastle United 0-2 Manchester United
Result: Newcastle United 0-2 Manchester United