Sutton’s Premier League predictions v Ski Sunday presenter Ed Leigh

2 February 2024 0 By Total Football News

Sutton's Predictions

Arsenal are five points behind Premier League leaders Liverpool, so could Jurgen Klopp's side end the Gunners' title hopes when they go to Emirates Stadium on Sunday?

"I think Arsenal have to beat them," said BBC Sport football expert Chris Sutton. "If Liverpool win this game, Arsenal won't catch them - or even get close to them again."

Sutton is making predictions for all 380 Premier League matches again this season, against a variety of guests.

For this weekend's games, he takes on Ski Sunday presenter Ed Leigh, who is a Liverpool fan.

Ski Sunday is on BBC Two at 17:15 GMT on Sunday, and the series is available to watch now on the BBC iPlayer.

Leigh is well-known for his work covering a range of action sports, including some memorable snowboarding commentary for the BBC at every Winter Olympics since 2006, but he loves to keep up with what is happening in the Premier League too.

"I live a really transient, seasonal, lifestyle," Leigh told BBC Sport. "I travel a lot, I actually live in New Zealand but football is my constant.

"Growing up in a middle-class family in Gloucester in the early to mid 1980s, the choice of sports was rugby or cricket. Football was deeply unfashionable, not least because of the fan violence that was prevalent at the time. My mum and dad didn't come from football families, and they didn't want much to do with it.

"But I have a deep love for it. It's a long-time part of my life and weirdly, there is something lovely about living in New Zealand and following from afar.

"I don't have that pub culture of watching games on a Sunday afternoon anymore, but I have early mornings instead. Where I can watch live, I will, but I watch a lot of replays too.

"And you find that, even in the most far-flung corners of the world, there are little pockets of passion about football in those places. The tiny village I moved to in New Zealand, Wanaka, is in the middle of nowhere but it has this really strong little community of Liverpool supporters, which is lovely."

Ski Sunday presenters Chemmy Alcott and Ed LeighSki Sunday presenters Chemmy Alcott and Ed Leigh

Leigh is a lifelong Liverpool fan, thanks to one of the most famous goalkeeping performances in the club's history.

"I grew up in the black hole of football, in the Football League at least, that was Gloucester in the 1980s," he told BBC Sport.

"I was a keeper as a kid and in 1984 I watched Bruce Grobbelaar do his jelly legs in the penalty shootout against Roma in the European Cup final, and that was it for me.

"As someone who is a bit eccentric, that suited me down to the ground. I thought 'that's my man' and Liverpool became my club.

"Liverpool were really easy to support from afar in those glory years that followed, but then it turned into a bit of a rollercoaster, leading up to the news we got about Jurgen Klopp last week.

"I just read the most wonderful letter in the Guardian newspaper, which someone had written in response to a piece about Klopp leaving being a like a death in the family. His sign-off was along the lines of 'he was mad, and we are going to miss him' - and we really will.

"He has been like a real-life manifestation of Ted Lasso but you knew what a fantastic job he was doing by looking at the cohesiveness of the dressing room.

"What resonated so much is that you never saw a hint of rebellion and you knew that was where he started the job - as good as it was, the football was almost secondary."

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says 'it's the right decision' to step down at end of season

Liverpool are top of the table with 16 games remaining, but Leigh knows there is a lot of work to do if they are going to give Klopp a title-winning send-off.

"I should be on top of the world but I am absolutely terrified," he added. "I am terrified of Manchester City, with Phil Foden in the form he is in, Jeremy Doku fit again after injury and, of course, Kevin de Bruyne and Erling Haaland back too.

"They are both so hungry, I don't trust a two-point cushion, which is what we will probably be left with when City have played their game in hand.

"Arsenal are not going away either, which is why this weekend's game is really pivotal, but I am feeling confident about that one. Weirdly, I do think the Klopp announcement has motivated our players and spurred us on.

"You look at our performance against Chelsea on Wednesday night and there is something magical in there. Arsenal laboured a bit to beat Nottingham Forest on Tuesday and although you could argue those are the kind of results that win you titles, it feels like Liverpool have got some momentum now."

Chris Sutton and Ed Leigh were speaking to BBC Sport's Chris Bevan.

When?ResultSuttonEd
SATURDAY, 3 FEBRUARY
Everton v Tottenhamx-x2-21-2
Brighton v Crystal Palacex-x2-12-0
Burnley v Fulhamx-x1-10-0
Newcastle v Lutonx-x3-13-2
Sheff Utd v Aston Villax-x1-20-3
SUNDAY, 4 FEBRUARY
Bournemouth v Nott'm Forestx-x2-12-1
Chelsea v Wolvesx-x1-10-1
Man Utd v West Hamx-x1-01-2
Arsenal v Liverpoolx-x2-11-3
MONDAY, 5 FEBRUARY
Brentford v Man Cityx-x1-30-3

A correct result (picking a win, draw or defeat) is worth 10 points. The exact score earns 40 points.

SUTTON'S PREDICTIONS

SATURDAY, 3 FEBRUARY

Everton v Tottenham

Everton v Tottenham (12:30 GMT)

This is a tricky time for Everton, who have not won any of their past five league games and go to Manchester City next weekend. They are back in the relegation zone and the goals have dried up as well - they have only scored twice in their past six games in all competitions.

It is worth remembering, though, that they were unlucky not to get anything from the reverse of this fixture just before Christmas, when Tottenham only just held on to win.

Spurs are still missing Son Heung-min but they found a way to beat Brentford in midweek and I don't think they will struggle to score here, either.

Despite that, I just have a feeling that Everton won't lose, even if I don't quite see them getting the win they need so badly.

Sean Dyche's side got their best result of last season when they went to Brighton and won 5-1, and Tottenham's expansive style might give them more joy on the counter-attack here, even if I do think Spurs will create plenty of chances too.

Sutton's prediction: 2-2

Ed's prediction: I can see this being tight even though it is bottom three versus top four. Everton need to rediscover the form they were in at the end of last year, while Spurs have been winning but they have been chaotic at times in the past couple of games. 1-2

Brighton v Crystal Palace

Brighton v Crystal Palace (15:00)

I really don't know what to make of Brighton at the moment - they had a total nightmare against Luton in midweek.

Crystal Palace did much better, coming from behind twice to beat Sheffield United, when we saw how important Michael Olise and Eberechi Eze are to their attack.

Both players picked up knocks against the Blades, however, which must be a little worrying for Palace boss Roy Hodgson even if they should both be fit for this game.

Six of the past nine meetings between these two have ended up in 1-1 draws, so surely that run won't continue?

I think there will be a winner this time and, even though I am not convinced by the Seagulls at the moment, I am expecting some kind of response from them.

Sutton's prediction: 2-1

Ed's prediction: I am fascinated by this fixture - I lived in Brighton for 13 years until 2007 and I used to go to watch them at the athletics stadium, the Withdean, quite a bit, and I've really enjoyed their progress. At the moment, their inconsistency is letting them down and I found this one really hard to call, especially after what happened to them against Luton. I thought that might mean they would not be quite as aggressive but, at the same time, Palace have got injury doubts over Olise and Eze so the Seagulls might still go for it. They've still been pretty strong at home so I think they will take it. 2-0

Burnley v Fulham

Burnley v Fulham (15:00)

How many times do we say a game is a must-win for Burnley? This feels like another one, with the Clarets seven points adrift of safety.

Fulham aren't out of the woods yet, though. They are still huffing and puffing but not exactly free-scoring at the moment either, and we will have to wait and see if signing Armando Broja on loan from Chelsea changes that.

Burnley's home form is terrible but Fulham have been awful on the road, so a draw seems like the obvious result to go for.

Sutton's prediction: 1-1

Ed's prediction: I watched Fulham against Liverpool in the Carabao Cup and really enjoyed the way they played - they looked really good playing out from the back - but they have just got nothing up front. You could say the same for Burnley, really, so I am going for a turgid goalless draw. 0-0

Newcastle v Luton

Newcastle v Luton (15:00)

Both of these sides had impressive wins in midweek. Luton also beat Newcastle at Kenilworth Road before Christmas, and their confidence will have grown since then.

The Magpies will want revenge for that defeat and I have a feeling they will get it. Alexander Isak's injury is a blow but I think they have enough goals in their team even if he is not fit for this game.

Beating Villa ended a four-game losing run in the league for Eddie Howe's side and it does suggest they are back on track after all the speculation that they would have to sell players in January. Now they need to put a run of results together if they want to qualify for European football, because the race is really on there.

Sutton's prediction: 3-1

Ed's prediction: A big call this. Newcastle have just ended a four-game losing streak in the league and they are at home so I do think they are going to win. Luton will have their tails up but they do leak a few goals so I'm going with a high score here. 3-2

Sheff Utd v Aston Villa

Sheff Utd v Aston Villa (17:30)

Aston Villa dropped points against Sheffield United a few weeks ago and they really cannot afford a repeat of that here.

Unai Emery's side have been getting praise all season but it might change people's perception of them if they don't win this game, and start to look as if they are going to fall away.

That's not what I am expecting to happen, though, because I actually think Villa will assert themselves and get the win they need.

Ollie Watkins was back on the scoresheet against Newcastle after going a few games without scoring and he should get some more chances here to help his side bounce back.

In contrast, things look pretty bleak for the Blades.

Tuesday's game against Crystal Palace, where they led twice but ended up losing, pretty much summed them up. The only way I can see them staying up from here is if the Premier League keep on deducting points from the teams above them.

Sutton's prediction: 1-2

Ed's prediction: Tim Warwood, my snowboarding co-commentator with the BBC, is a massive Villa fan. When they had that run where they beat City and Arsenal before Christmas it put them on 35 points and he said the chat in the stands was that they only needed another three points and they would be safe, which made me smile. This is actually a big game for Villa, who have had things their own way for a long time but are just having their first big slip of the season. They need to show they can recover and I think they will have too much for Sheffield United. 0-3

SUNDAY, 4 FEBRUARY

Bournemouth v Nottingham Forest

Bournemouth v Nottingham Forest (14:00)

This is a big game for Nottingham Forest, who are already in a bit of bother down the bottom of the table and have a possible points deduction hanging over them too.

The Cherries nicked a late winner at the City Ground in December in Nuno Espirito Santos's first game in charge of Forest and, although he won a couple of games after that, two successive league defeats have left them in trouble.

Bournemouth striker Dominic Solanke got a hat-trick against Forest before Christmas and I wouldn't be surprised if he finds the net this time too.

Forest brought in a new keeper, Matz Sels, on deadline day and they will need him to settle in quickly.

Sutton's prediction: 2-1

Ed's prediction: I have got a soft spot for Forest because of Chris Wood - I am married to a New Zealander and I know commentators would call him an old-fashioned centre-forward, if they were being kind, but it's been nice to see him chip in with some goals. I think Bournemouth might edge it, although Forest showed against Arsenal that they can hold out for a while. 2-1

Chelsea v Wolves

Chelsea v Wolves (14:00)

Chelsea simply have to respond after their defeat by Liverpool on Wednesday. I was at Anfield for BBC Radio 5 Live and they were so poor and a long way off Jurgen Klopp's side.

With the money Chelsea have spent, they need to have a much better return than that and I think qualifying for Europe in some shape or form is probably their target from here.

Mauricio Pochettino needs to deliver that, I think, but I am still not sure about them and whether they are up to it.

I base these predictions on what I see, and I was painting a positive picture about Chelsea after the little run they went on before the Liverpool game. But Anfield was a reminder of where they are at and, as well as their defensive issues, they are not a free-scoring, nor free-flowing side.

Wolves lost to Manchester United on Thursday to end their unbeaten run but we know they will be well organised and carry a threat - whereas Chelsea are still a bitty team, and we don't know what we will get from them from one week to the next.

Sutton's prediction: 1-1

Ed's prediction: It seems weird this fixture is a mid-table scrap but that is where Chelsea are at the moment, and we saw against Liverpool they have a lot of defensive flaws. I think Wolves will cause them problems and I am going to go for an upset here, partly because Pedro Neto has been one of my favourite players to watch this season so I'd like to see him make a menace of himself. 0-1

Man Utd v West Ham

Man Utd v West Ham (14:00)

Well, Manchester United won the World Cup again on Thursday night, judging from the reaction to their last-gasp 4-3 victory at Molineux.

Seriously, though, it was a good win and fair play to them for the way they got it - they certainly needed it.

West Ham beat them at the London Stadium before Christmas but I am expecting a different outcome at Old Trafford.

I am not expecting it to be a very open game because Hammers boss David Moyes won't set up that way, but Manchester United will find a way through.

Sutton's prediction: 1-0

Ed's prediction: Despite the best efforts of Erik ten Hag, Manchester United have lacked team spirit, cohesion and a sense of unity at times this season. They have shown they can link up on the pitch and all play well, but there always seems to be something around the corner that unhinges them. So, I am going with West Ham here. They have got Mohammed Kudus back from the Africa Cup of Nations and he can make the difference. 1-2

Arsenal v Liverpool

Arsenal v Liverpool (16:30)

Liverpool look in great shape at the moment. They really impressed me against Chelsea, and they have still got Mohamed Salah to come back from the injury he picked up at the Africa Cup of Nations.

Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson both came off the bench on Wednesday as they return to full fitness and, without those three players, the Reds have shown they have still got the strength in depth they will need in the run-in.

There were loads of other positives, too. I know Darwin Nunez didn't score, but he still carried a massive threat and did a lot of good things. Then you have got Luis Diaz and Diogo Jota looking sharp, and Liverpool's midfield were excellent as well.

Arsenal, on the other hand, did not really fire against Nottingham Forest on Tuesday but they still got the job done, which is the important thing.

We've already seen how close it is between these two sides when they've met before this season, and the Gunners missed a load of chances when Liverpool came to the Emirates and won in the FA Cup last month.

Mikel Arteta's side still don't have a centre-forward but, this time, I think they will finish some of the opportunities they create.

I'm still not entirely sure why I am going with Arsenal to win this game, because Liverpool will score too, but the Gunners definitely need the points more and I think they will just about do enough to get them.

Sutton's prediction: 2-1

Ed's prediction: I am an expecting a really entertaining game. This is our third meeting in the past six weeks and we haven't lost either of the previous two, so I will be fascinated to see how we approach it. I do feel that games like this, against other teams in the top three or four, are the only times where Klopp sets up conservatively but I do wonder if he will do that here, given the way we are playing and the players he has got back from injury. That should give him a lot more confidence in the depth of his squad, and I do think Arsenal will be a little bit scared of us. It's going to be close, but as a fan I am going to back us. 1-3

Ed's favourite Liverpool players: As well as Grobbelaar, the 'Danish Maradona', Jan Molby, was a big favourite of mine when I was growing up. These days, as a keeper myself, I am in awe of Alisson. In a team of really hard workers, I think he stands out like Bobby [Roberto Firmino] did in setting the tone for the graft that is required, you could see it in their play. In terms of identifying with a player, though, I have played football my whole life and I love it - to the point I organise a snowboarders' World Cup in the June off-season in Biarritz. It's called the Atlantic Cup and you get all the pros and people in the industry down. I'm not high level, ability-wise, but I run my legs off and like to think I, at least, look up when I take a touch. Of the current crop, he is not fashionable yet but I really like Ryan Gravenberch's play. I can see a lot in him, and he is really industrious, so he definitely embodies Klopp's model of a hard worker.

MONDAY, 5 FEBRUARY

Brentford v Man City

Brentford v Man City (20:00)

Brentford did the double over Manchester City last season, and they are about to play each other twice in the space of two weeks.

I don't see a repeat of that Bees success, however. City have got Haaland back from injury and even though he had his boots on the wrong feet against Burnley on Wednesday, it is just a matter of time before he is back among the goals.

He reminded me a bit of my time at Chelsea, when I was like Bambi on ice in front of goal, but once he is back up to speed it is going to be a very different story.

Brentford will score, because everyone seems to score against City these days - even Burnley - but City will score more.

Pep Guardiola's side are just so efficient at the moment and Brentford's only hope is to hit them on the break. I don't see it working out.

Sutton's prediction: 1-3

Ed's prediction: Even away from home, I just think there is a real joy to City at the moment in the way they are playing. They always seem to hit form at this time of the season and De Bruyne's return from injury appears to have rejuvenated everyone around him. 0-3

How did Sutton do last time?

Sutton got seven correct results from 10 games from the midweek games in week 22, including one exact score, for a total of 100 points.

He beat Argylle director Matthew Vaughn, who got five correct results with no exact scores, leaving him with 50 points.

Anthony Joshua150
Eddie Hearn130
CBeebies presenter Rhys Stephenson120
Barry Can't Swim110
Anish Kumar100
Fabian Edwards, Joelah from 1Xtra, KSI, Midas the Jagaban90
Chris Sutton83 (average after 22 weeks)
'Hollywood' Chris Dobey, David Earl, Keke from 1Xtra, Jazzie Zonzolo70
Tommy Fury, Joe from Nothing But Thieves60
Gabe of Jamie Johnson FC, Tash from The Football Academy, Matthew Vaughn, Rick Witter50
AEW wrestler Claudio Castagnoli. Tom Ogden and Joe Donovan from Blossoms, Declan McKenna, JayO40
Vigil star Dougray Scott30
Willie J Healey, Felix White20
Suggs, Future Islands frontman Samuel T Herring10
Chris Sutton1,830
Guests1,470
P22W13D5L4

How did you get on?

Manchester United's win at Wolves surprised a lot of you - only 21% of you backed Erik ten Hag's men to take the points.

Even fewer expected Luton to beat Brighton, with 13% backing the Hatters, but the biggest surprise of the week was at Villa Park where only 11% went for a Newcastle success against Aston Villa

1. Chris7/10
=2. Guest5/10
=2. You5/10

*Win, draw, loss prediction based on highest % of vote for each match.

1. You121/218
2. Chris114/218
3. Guests103/218
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