Gameweek 29 Predictions: Can Liverpool bounce back?

The Premier League returns, and here are the major talking points and our predictions.


Can Liverpool get back to winning ways?



It is clear that Nigel Pearson did not read the script last week.


Liverpool were supposed to have beaten Watford comfortably at Vicarage Road, allowing them a chance to rest some of their key players against Bournemouth this week to prepare for their important midweek clash against Atletico Madrid. It was a game that was not supposed to really matter even if Liverpool dropped points, with the league all but already secured.


Well, it turned out 3-0 to the Hornets, ending Liverpool's unbeaten run in quite an emphatic fashion, prompting observers to start raising doubts over Jurgen Klopp's side. That's not all, the shadow over Anfield loomed bigger and grimmer, after following up with yet another disappointing performance in the FA Cup against Chelsea, with the risk of a historic season ending in a fizzle becoming increasingly apparent.


So that leads us to this present week: Klopp is now presented with an uncomfortable situation to deal with after recent performances and results, and he will be desperate to get hold off that script and get Liverpool back on course.


Should he give his key players a rest against Bournemouth? Or will featuring the likes of Mo Salah and Sadio Mane against the Cherries lead the Reds to a convincing victory, something they sorely require and miss?


With Alisson Becker already ruled out for the second-leg tie with a hip injury, can Klopp afford any more injuries to his key players? On the other hand, Liverpool desperately need a victory to get back to winning ways - can the reserves step up against Eddie Howe's side to deliver a performance to provide the platform required for Liverpool to take on Atletico?


Let's not get carried way though - it is still just four more victories required for the Reds, and they still have plenty of games to do just that. Anfield on European nights have also proven that form does not really matter - with the seemingly impossible turning into reality on one too many occasions.


Nonetheless it's a sticky situation which could have been entirely avoided had the encounter against Watford turned out differently, and it is one of those rare moments this season when Klopp might have wished he had a time machine.


Prediction: Liverpool 1-0 Bournemouth


The Manchester Derby: It might not even be the biggest game this weekend...



Manchester United vs Manchester City has been a fixture that you will always look on with great excitement when the schedule is announced. It is one of the greatest derbies in the Premier League, filled with iconic moments - think Wayne Rooney's overhead kick, Mario Balotelli's famous celebration, Michael Owen's injury-time winner... the list goes on.


Will we witness another memorable moment this weekend when the two sides go head to head at Old Trafford? A Bruno Fernandes masterclass? Or perhaps a David de Gea blunder?

We never know, but one thing is for certain - the upcoming Manchester derby might be one of the least significant ones, at least in terms of the league standings. The two Manchester clubs have taken turns to dominate England in recent years, but this time, none of the teams’ chances of being crowned champions will alter despite the result.


With second place almost effectively secured, Pep Guardiola will surely have one eye on the midweek encounter against Real Madrid. With Kevin de Bruyne already struggling with an injury, we should see a couple more of their key players omitted from the starting eleven against Manchester United. Somewhere in Spain, Zinedine Zidane will be equally interested in the line-up, potentially leaving him some important clues on how to mastermind a comeback when the two giants face off for the second leg.


In the red side of Manchester, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be desperate for a win, with the Red Devils still in with an excellent shout of finishing in the top four. They sit just three points behind Chelsea, and will be hoping to keep up the pressure on Frank Lampard's men. With Fernandes in red-hot form, this might actually be the (only) perfect time to face Manchester City.


Prediction: Manchester United 1-2 Manchester City


Which leads us to the other derby of the weekend



The weekend's London derby will feature Arsenal vs West Ham United, and although it is definitely not on the same scale as the Manchester one, we predict that this game might be a whole lot more entertaining.


Arsenal will be desperate to make amends in the league after crashing out of the Europa League, leaving them with only a top four (or five) finish the chance to feature among Europe's elite next season.


Mikel Arteta clearly had an impact since his arrival, with the Gunners unbeaten in the last seven Premier League games. Their ability to convert draws into victories remain a problem, but they surely appear to be a more cohesive unit with a proper game plan these days, as compared to the period under Unai Emery.


The importance of West Ham's victory over Southampton last weekend cannot be understated. The Hammers sit precariously in 16th place - level on points with Bournemouth who are on 18th - with their upcoming run of fixtures not particularly kind. This season's relegation battle is turning out to be one of the closest affair in recent years, and David Moyes will be hoping that his side can carry on the momentum as they travel to the Emirates.


Both teams are in desperate need of a win - for neutrals the good news is that they both happen to be in decent goal-scoring form of late - and we predict a wild and entertaining encounter, with plenty of goals and perhaps some VAR controversy.


Prediction: Arsenal 3-2 West Ham

 

Other predictions

Crystal Palace 1-2 Watford

Sheffield United 1-0 Norwich

Southampton 2-0 Newcastle

Wolves 2-0 Brighton

Burnley 2-1 Spurs

Chelsea 2-2 Everton

Leicester 2-0 Aston Villa


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