Arsenal – Watford
Common wisdom says that it’s impossible to get good players at reasonable prices in January. Trying telling that to Watford who’ve only gone and got Tom “the next Scholes” Cleverley, M’Baye “replaced by Deulofeu” Niang, and Mauro “West Ham legend” Zarate for under three million quid! Sadly, despite their lofty nicknames, they’re all a bit crap. Arsenal and the returning Dat Guy™ should make short work of them.
Swansea City – Southampton
Despite their hammering at the weekend, Southampton fans should be on a high right now. They’ve got themselves a great young manager, a well-run club, and a League Cup final to look forward to! What could possibly go wrong? I can’t see
Michael Laudrup’s Claude Puel’s boys losing this one.
Sunderland – Tottenham
I’m not sure, but I think David Moyes’ spell at Real Sociedad left him with serious trust issues. Ever since returning to English shores, he’s spent most of his time buying former players, in between bouts of public existentialism. Many are claiming that Van Aanholt’s sale can be used to upgrade the squad – not if you’re planning to blow it all on Bryan Oviedo.
Liverpool – Chelsea
This is the big one, the game to watch of matchday 23. Liverpool, of the back of some truly wretched form, takes on Antonio Conte’s rampant Chelsea side at Anfield. After blaming everything from the crowd to the ludicrous frequency of Star Wars movies for their losses, Klopp desperately needs a win. Considering his phenomenal record in big matches (no one bring up the Cup finals), there’s a good chance we could finally get the old Liverpool back. Especially since Mane so considerately missed his penalty in the AFCON quarters to come back early.
Prediction: 3-2 (though I wouldn’t put money on it.)
Middlesbrough – West Bromwich Albion
After an exciting summer that brought in big names like Gaston Ramirez and Victor Valdes, many were expecting similar stories for the January window with Boro struggling at the wrong end of the table. And, Karanka hasn’t disappointed with many experts believing that he could get either, or even both, of Jese and Bojan! Wait, he’s going to Las Palmas? What about Bojan? FSV Mainz?! You’re having me on, that sounds like a car manufacturer. So, no one then? Bamford? So, no one then.
Bournemouth – Crystal Palace
Despite Sam Allardici’s famed ability to avoid relegation almost as well as Donald Trump avoids facts, things are not going well for Crystal Palace. They haven’t won in the league since early December. In fact, their only win this month came in a gruelling replay against Bolton in the FA Cup. Of course, they only went and got stuffed by Manchester City in the fourth round. Eddie Howe was much smarter – he made sure Bournemouth crashed out as early as possible. Who needs the excitement of a cup run, when you can have the stability of a lower midtable finish anyway?
Burnley – Leicester City
I could write about how Leicester are putting up the most abysmal defence of anything since I tried to explain to my girlfriend that I watch Game of Thrones for the plotline. But I won’t, because this is the easiest prediction I will make this matchday. Burnley are playing at home, and when Burnley play at home, they win. Seriously, their record is ridiculous. Go look it up. I’ll wait.
West Ham United – Manchester City
This is the second time this month that City travel down to London, having beat West Ham by a modest 5-0 in the third round of the FA Cup. I don’t blame you for not remembering (I didn’t), since there have been momentous changes since then. Dimitri Payet has asked to leave, and it sounds like West Ham finally agreed to sell him. This has led to Payet’s teammates ostracising him for not wanting to be in a relegation fight. Considering the form West Ham are in, they might make the Frenchman regret his decision. Probably not, though.
Manchester United – Hull City
With the rest of the footballing world acknowledging that United’s unbeaten run ended last week against Marco Silva’s side, Mourinho has decided to take a stand. That penalty was never a penalty, so clearly it couldn’t have been a goal, so clearly it was a draw. It’s that kind of winning logic that saw Mourinho decide Mkhitaryan was deserving of a run out at left back ahead of Luke Shaw. Let’s be honest though, it’s not exactly the highest profile example of alternative facts we’ve seen this month.
Stoke City – Everton
You know I really envy Everton and Stoke fans. They must lead the most exciting lives. I imagine them to be skydivers and Indian Jones-type archaeologists. I mean, why else would you support two teams that are pretty much guaranteed to finish in mid-table with no semblance of a cup run? You must need some serious stability to calm down your electric lifestyles. I would be worried about insulting their fans, but let’s be honest, they’re not reading this. They’re probably off somewhere hunting poachers or organising resistance movements against dictators.