By the time kick-off of this fixture rolls around, it will have been 20 days since Manchester United suffered their first Premier League defeat under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at the hands of Arsenal. 20 days to kick their heels and wait for their chance to bounce back.
The powers that be at Old Trafford got so bored in the meantime that they decided to give Ole the job permanently. Naturally enough, this resulted in people clamouring for prices on when he’ll be sacked, which were duly provided.
Seems a bit premature, to be honest – 10 wins and two draws from 13 league games since taking over is nothing to be sniffed at, yet people are still wondering how United will react to a first domestic defeat under Solskjaer. Watford will pose as stern a test as anybody given they’ve lost just twice in their last six games, but their record against the Premier League’s elite is poor this season.
Their two most recent defeats were comprehensive 3-1 and 5-0 losses to Manchester City and Liverpool respectively, and the only time they’ve beaten a team in the top six this campaign was back in September – and that was Spurs, so it doesn’t count. While the Hornets almost stung United when the sides first clashed in September, we don’t see past a Red Devils win here.
It was the Eagles versus the Seagulls last time out and Palace were the ones who had their wings clipped as they suffered a disappointing defeat which saw Brighton pull level with them in the table. It was only the second time Roy Hodgson’s men had been beaten in their previous seven games, with the other defeat coming against Man United.
Palace will be eager to avoid getting pulled into the relegation battle so late in the season, and in Huddersfield, they have ideal opponents against whom they can bounce back.
Having done so well to beat the drop in their first season in the top flight, the Terriers have endured a woeful campaign this time around, sitting bottom of the table – all but relegated – and with just four points from their last 18 games. Last time out, they were 3-1 up against West Ham United with 15 minutes to play and ended up losing 4-3, which must be disheartening.
While Jan Siewert’s side will doubtless battle on till the bitter end, we just don’t see them doing anything here and expect Palace to return to winning ways at Selhurst Park.
This promises to be a delightful midtable clash to really set the pulses racing. Since suffering defeat in Brendan Rodgers’ first game in charge against Watford, Leicester have recorded back-to-back victories against Fulham and Burnley to pull away from the relegation battle waging below them.
The manner of their victory over the latter was stunning. Down to ten men after Harry Maguire got himself sent off just four minutes into the game (he might have the world’s biggest forehead but we sometimes wonder what’s going on inside it), the Foxes snatched victory thanks to a 90th-minute header from Wes Morgan. Something, something, “great character,” something.
Bournemouth also experienced a late goal during their last match but unfortunately, they were on the wrong end of it as Matt Ritchie’s stoppage-time strike earned Newcastle United a valuable point away from home. The 2-2 draw prevented the Cherries from securing back-to-back wins themselves, but they can take heart in the fact that they’ve found the net in four of their last five games.
With both teams nicely poised heading into this one, we like the look of both teams to score here.
As mentioned previously, Brighton soared highest in the battle of the birds against Palace and are flying high in general ahead of this one – or as high as a team sitting in 15th can be anyway. Following a seven-game winless streak, back-to-back victories meant they’ve kept their noses ahead of the other basement battlers for the moment and will fancy their chances of making it three-from-three.
The Saints, meanwhile, have two wins from their last three games and were unlucky in the defeat against Man United. Ralph Hasenhüttl isn’t taking any chances ahead of a fixture against a team sitting just three points above them, though, so he’s taken drastic action – by cutting off WiFi at team hotels to stop his lads from playing too many video games. No more Fornite for Nathan Redmond.
It’s hard to find anything between these sides on current form. Given that their first meeting in August ended in a 2-2 draw thanks to Glenn Murray’s stoppage-time penalty, we don’t think the video game ban will give Southampton enough of an edge, so we fancy another share of the spoils.
- Manchester United to win @ 2/5
- Crystal Palace to win @ 4/9
- Leicester v B’mouth Both Teams to Score @ 4/7
- Brighton v So’ton Draw @ 2/1
*All odds correct at time of posting