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Joleon Lescott column: Ideal time for Everton to visit Anfield
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Joleon Lescott
Everton visit Liverpool after beating Premier League leaders Arsenal
Everton visit Liverpool after beating Premier League leaders Arsenal

There's never a perfect time to face Liverpool at Anfield — but Monday's Merseyside derby could be as good a time as ever for Everton.

Sean Dyche's men go into the grudge clash on a high after an excellent win over Arsenal in the former Burnley manager's first game in charge.

That 1-0 success over the Premier League leaders will have transformed the atmosphere at the club as they fight relegation.

On the other hand, Liverpool were soundly beaten by Wolves as another low point for their season saw them plunge to 10th.

The Reds' earlier struggles were largely put down to a hangover from the previous campaign but I think there could be a deeper issue among Jurgen Klopp's outfit.

Teams are recognising how they set out and know how to exploit them. Their high risk, high reward approach is seeing them concede four or five big chances per game and it's costing them.

I'm staggered by the lack of adaptation from game to game. You can't keep playing the same way and expect different results — it's bordering on insanity!

It is the first time for a while under the German boss where the level of expectancy has significantly dropped.

During rocky periods on the road in previous years, they could still count on their home ground being a fortress but that doesn't seem to be the case at the moment.

Everton will know that and head across the city thinking they can get a result. 

Liverpool were soundly beaten by Wolves last week
Liverpool were soundly beaten by Wolves last week

Toffees will stick, not twist

There have been plenty of false dawns for new Everton managers but shrewd operator Dyche had them looking like the real deal against Arsenal.

Mikel Arteta's men have regularly blown teams away this term but I cannot remember a dominant period they enjoyed at Goodison Park.

Every member of Dyche's side understood what their specific roles were and that completely nullified the Gunners' attacks throughout.

That same resilient approach could work well in the derby given the Reds' frailties and staying in the game for as long as possible could be key.

That said, it is important not to get carried away after such a positive result. 

Everton are in 18th for a reason and Dyche will know there will be inconsistency between now and the end of the season — but it's certainly a great platform to build on!

Absentees could kill United

Manchester United will again be without Christian Eriksen and Casemiro against Leeds
Manchester United will again be without Christian Eriksen and Casemiro against Leeds

Manchester United head to managerless Leeds on Sunday just days after the pair's entertaining 2-2 midweek draw.

Erik ten Hag was without both Casemiro and Christian Eriksen in midfield and they did not look the same side that has impressed of late.

Both are so important for different reasons. And for all their progress this season, United's squad depth is still at a point where their replacements just don't have the same impact.

After impressing further forward, Fred was forced to play a more defensive role in Casemiro's absence and it is a position that has different requirements.

Ten Hag won't be without the suspended former Real Madrid star as long as Eriksen, who has been sidelined until April.

The Dane has dictated United's midfield this season, deciding when to up the tempo or slow things down.

Marcel Sabitzer was a good player to get in on deadline day but the Austrian is different to the creative 30-year-old, so the dynamic of the team inevitably changes.

Anyway, let's have a look at my predictions…

Joleon Lescott’s Premier League Matchday 23 predictions

West Ham vs Chelsea (Saturday, 12.30pm, BT Sport)

West Ham remain just a point off the relegation zone but their current form is solid enough after picking up five points from their last four games.

For all the new faces London rivals Chelsea have brought in, they still don't look like prolific scorers after goalless draws in their last two Premier League games.

I’m expecting that run to extend to three on Saturday lunchtime.

Prediction: West Ham 0-0 Chelsea

Arsenal vs Brentford (Saturday, 3pm)

Mikel Arteta's Arsenal remain five points clear at the top with a game in hand
Mikel Arteta's Arsenal remain five points clear at the top with a game in hand

Arsenal will be desperate to ensure the Everton defeat was just a blip and bouncing back from setbacks is important for any team chasing the title.

But a Brentford side unbeaten in nine Premier League games will be no easy ride.

It won't be a simple afternoon but I'm expecting Mikel Arteta's men to show what they are made of and have too much for the Bees at the Emirates.

Prediction: Arsenal 2-1 Brentford

Crystal Palace vs Brighton (Saturday, 3pm)

Crystal Palace are struggling to pick up wins and Brighton are still flying high as these rivals go head-to-head.

With this being a grudge match, form goes out of the window and it could be anyone's game at Selhurst Park.

Both teams believe in their respective managers' tactics and I think this could be a tight affair.

Prediction: Crystal Palace 1-1 Brighton

Fulham vs Nottingham Forest (Saturday, 3pm)

Who saw Nottingham Forest's resurgence in form coming after going six points clear of the drop zone ahead of this weekend?

I'm a massive fan of Steve Cooper. What a job he's done considering the turnover of players he's had to deal with.

Fulham have been a surprise package this season but I'm intrigued to see when their FA Cup run might catch up with them. It hasn't so far but let's see!

Predictions: Fulham 1-2 Nottingham Forest

Leicester vs Tottenham (Saturday, 3pm)

Tottenham record-breaker Harry Kane has 18 Premier League goals against Leicester
Tottenham record-breaker Harry Kane has 18 Premier League goals against Leicester

Tottenham will be favourites heading into this clash given their excellent result against Manchester City, but Leicester offer a very different proposition to the champions.

The Foxes got an impressive win themselves against Aston Villa and will look to try and dominate the ball at their home ground.

That could, of course, play right into Spurs' hands and allow them attack them on the counter as they love to do.

Prediction: Leicester 1-3 Tottenham

Southampton vs Wolves (Saturday, 3pm)

This feels like a pivotal game for under-pressure Southampton boss Nathan Jones.

Wolves have made really impressive strides under Julen Lopetegui and I can see this being another tough afternoon for the Premier League's bottom side, even if they are at home.

I think the Midlands outfit's impressive form is more than just a honeymoon period, I can see genuine improvement and they are undoubtedly favourites for this encounter.

Prediction: Southampton 0-2 Wolves

Bournemouth vs Newcastle (Saturday, 5.30pm, Sky Sports)

I'm going to surprise you and say I see a shock coming here!

Bournemouth are on a dreadful run of form but I don't think Newcastle are firing in the same way as they were after four draws in their last five league games.

There is now an expectation for Toon to beat teams near the bottom and that creates a new level of pressure on Eddie Howe's return to the Vitality Stadium.

Prediction: Bournemouth 1-0 Newcastle

Leeds vs Manchester United (Sunday, 2pm, Sky Sports)

As good a result as it was for Leeds in midweek, I think playing United so soon again could hinder their hopes of a shock at Elland Road.

The Red Devils should learn their lessons after conceding within a minute at Old Trafford and will be more versed in what threat their rivals pose.

Ten Hag’s men should have enough to get the job done.

Prediction: Leeds 1-3 Manchester United

Manchester City vs Aston Villa (Sunday, 4.30pm, Sky Sports)

Erling Haaland has failed to score in three of his last five Premier League games
Erling Haaland has failed to score in three of his last five Premier League games

Unai Emery's Aston Villa suffered a bit of a reality check against Leicester and travel to a wounded Man City team looking to make amends.

The Villans are capable of being tough opponents but Pep Guardiola often gets a response from his team after a defeat.

When they get it right, City have been able to put three or four past Villa in the past and I'm predicting a comfortable home victory.

Prediction: Manchester City 3-0 Aston Villa

Liverpool vs Everton (Monday, 8pm, Sky Sports)

A really big Merseyside derby for both sides!

As I've mentioned previously, Everton will be buoyed by their win and Liverpool's poor form — but write Klopp's men off at your peril.

Such is the Toffees' precarious position, they would still be delighted with a point and that's how I see it playing out.

Prediction: Liverpool 1-1 Everton

Joleon Lescott was speaking to Cian Cheesbrough


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