Hawkeye Sidekick

English Premier League Preview

Tough at the top, even tougher at the bottom

Mid-January. The dreaded wall to wall Sky Sports News transfer window coverage is in full swing. Reporters who have never heard of popping up with some breaking news. This time of season gets football managers in a right tear.

Poor old Roy Hodgson today lost the plot when a reporter dared to ask a question whether Christian Benteke was off to sample wine in the vineyards of Bordeaux for the rest of the season? Cue Hodgson’s best attempt to get angry with the press hack, it failed miserably but we got the point. Hawkeye Sidekick looks at the fixtures on tap.

Managerial Watch

How has this Eddie Howe rumor started? The man has performed a superb job for the AFC Bournemouth given the club’s size. Howe is going nowhere. If he goes, the club are finished.

Dean Smith is under the managerial sack watch now. The decision to sign Danny Drinkwater was a massive gamble and the player’s performance last week has raised questions on Smith.

The loss to City was embarrassing but it is the player personnel affairs that the board must be worried about. They backed their manager and this player if he does not impress will cost Smith his job soon.

Fixture to watch

The obvious Sunday afternoon clash between Liverpool and Manchester United. Will United park the bus? Will Rashford be fit to lead the line? Will Ole take a punt on Mason Greenwood in such a crunch fixture?

All indicators point to a Liverpool win. United defensively do not look strong enough to contend with the attacking threat on the flanks and the front three but can United score early and raise a few questions?

A defining fixture for Liverpool. A comprehensive win here and the league procession will continue unabated. Manchester United need to turn up and deliver a performance. If they do not, the board / Woodward and Ole will be under scrutiny again by the social media hoards.

Banana Skin Fixture

Has the Leicester City form suddenly come to a halt? They face a road trip to the always physical Burnley who need a win to stave off relegation concerns.

The squad looked jaded last weekend in their home loss to Southampton. The likes of Maddison, Vardy, Chilwell have played a lot of minutes and is it starting to show?

Burnley’s form leading into this is hardly inspiring but Sean Dyche will have his side well organized, threatening on the set piece. I think Burnley will get a result here and Leicester City suddenly could come back further to the chasing pack looking for a top four berth.

Six Pointer Alert

Carrow Road. AMEX Stadium. Massive fixtures for those teams involved. AFC Bournemouth need to turn around their form quickly and this could be a glorious opportunity but defensively look vulnerable which is a bit like Norwich City. Goals aplenty but think Wilson upfront could be the difference.

Aston Villa. The side need to regroup and deliver a performance after last weekend’s debacle to Manchester City at home. Dean Smith would be ballsy if he even considers picking Drinkwater in the squad. Brighton play a nice brand of football but need to get Maupay back into the scoring charts.

This should be a competitive contest. Both sides have good attacking options out wide. Grealish must take this tie by the scruff of the neck. 2-2 draw for me.

Predictions

  • Watford 2 – 2 Tottenham Hotspur
  • Arsenal 2 – 1 Sheffield United
  • Brighton & Hove Albion 2 – 2 Aston Villa
  • Manchester City 4 – 1 Crystal Palace
  • Norwich City 2 – 3 AFC Bournemouth
  • Southampton 2 – 2 Wolverhampton Wanderers
  • West Ham United 1 – 1 Everton
  • Newcastle United 1 – 3 Chelsea
  • Burnley 2 – 1 Leicester City
  • Liverpool 3 – 1 Manchester United