The Premier League returns this weekend after a break, with Leicester vs. Liverpool being the headline act. Here are predictions for that game and all the others in week 26.
Chelsea v Swansea (Saturday, 8:30 pm IST)
Chelsea might have given their title rivals a glimmer of hope with points dropped at Burnley, but it seems unlikely that their title push would suffer any setback at Stamford Bridge tomorrow.
Swansea have been on a mini-resurgence since Paul Clement took over, including a shock win over Liverpool, and have picked up more points than Chelsea since the start of 2017. So expect Swansea to put up a fight and their aerial dominance to cause Chelsea some struggles but we don't see anything but a Chelsea win here.
Prediction: Chelsea 3-0 Swansea
Crystal Palace v Middlesbrough (Saturday, 8:30 PM)
Crystal Palace are 19th in the table, having won just one in their last 11 Premier League games, while Middlesbrough have not won in the Premier League since last December and are just two points above the drop zone.
Middlesbrough, though, have a decent record against the bottom-six sides this season (W3-D2-L2) and have kept three clean sheets along the way. By contrast, Crystal Palace are winless in their last five against the bottom half and are expected to struggle against Boro’s solid defence.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 0-1 Middlesbrough
Everton v Sunderland (Saturday, 8:30 PM)
It’s never easy to predict a game which involves Sunderland. One week they are winning 4-0 away, then the next they lose 4-0 at home. But it’s unlikely that Sunderland can pull an upset at Goodison Park against a good Everton side who are unbeaten in their last 10 games.
They also have been in a fine scoring form at home having netted 13 goals in their last three home matches. So, the chances of David Moyes walking out his former home with a clean sheet is unlikely, but given the exploits of Jermain Defoe who has scored 14 goals already, it is not improbable for the Black Cats to knick something from the match.
Prediction: Everton 3-1 Sunderland
Hull City v Burnley (Saturday, 8:30 pm IST)
Hull have improved substantially under Marco Silva, and have shown their resilience to collect four unexpected points from a merciless run of games against Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal. And now it’s time for Hull to cash in their good work with them playing Burnley, Leicester, and Swansea City over the next three weeks.
Hull haven’t lost in any of their last five home matches while Burnley holds the worst away record in the league and have scored just five times in their 11 away games so far this season. Add to the mix, their embarrassment of the FA cup loss to non-league side Lincoln City, and the result of the night already looks in favour for the Tigers.
Prediction: Hull City 1-0 Burnley
West Bromwich Albion v Bournemouth (Saturday, 8:30 pm IST)
Bournemouth is without a win in the Premier League since December 31; the team is struggling to produce results, the squad available to Eddie Howe is thin and lately have lost to fellow strugglers Crystal Palace and Hull City.
So it’s a big stretch to expect Bournemouth to grab any result against a high-flying West Bromwich Albion who at the moment are in the eighth position and are unbeaten in their last four.
Prediction: West Brom 2-0 Bournemouth
Watford v West Ham United (Saturday, 11:00 pm IST)
This one is hard to predict. Watford have hit a patch of good form lately, while West Ham are showing some level of consistency in the second half of the season. West Ham have won three of their last four games on road, but with Andy Caroll in the sidelines, Slaven Bilic’s men will have to work hard to overcome the Hornets who keep a decent record at home.
10 of Watford’s last 14 home games has averaged 2.5 goals/game while West Ham have been prolific away from home this season. So we expect goals to happen but hard to call in favor of which side.
Prediction: Watford 2-1 West Ham
Tottenham Hotspur v Stoke (Sunday, 7:00 pm IST)
Tottenham's title charge has hit a speed bump in recent weeks, and the squad looks a bit tired having involved in both the Europa League and FA Cup. Stoke, meanwhile, comes from a two-week break which they spent in a warm-weather training camp over in Dubai.
But we can’t see Spurs dropping any points at the White Hart Lane where they have lost to a middle-third side just once in the past two seasons. Meanwhile, keep an eye on Petr Crouch who has finally found a consistent role leading the line, and are facing his old club.
Prediction: Tottenham 3-0 Stoke
Leicester City v Liverpool (Tuesday, 1:30 am IST)
The pair will square off in the most high-profile game of the weekend as Leicester looks to respond to the departure of Claudio Ranieri while Liverpool comes with a renewed confidence having beaten Spurs 2-0 in the gameweek 25.
Leicester have won just one of their last six at the King Power stadium against top six, failing to score in three of the last five and losing 0-3 in two of those. Liverpool, meanwhile, has a remarkable scoring record in away games against bottom-six sides, but have kept clean sheets in only once against such opposition. So expect Leicester to find the net but Liverpool are the clear favourites.
Prediction: Leicester 1-3 Liverpool