Joleon Lescott column: Liverpool can shock United at Anfield
On one of the few occasions I can remember since Sir Alex Ferguson retired, Manchester United head to Anfield as favourites to beat Liverpool.
That said, I'm still backing the Merseysiders to stop their bitter rivals in their tracks on Sunday.
The Red Devils are without a win in their last seven trips there but the pair's respective league positions, coupled with United’s recent cup success, means Erik ten Hag's men will expect to leave with three points.
Winning their first trophy under the Dutchman in the Carabao Cup last weekend before reaching the FA Cup quarter-finals a few days later will be a massive psychological boost.
Given United's history, they're used to success so I don't see them resting on their laurels after the Wembley triumph — their manager will be determined to achieve more.
There are notions of them being in the title race and even challenging for a quadruple but I think that's a bit far-fetched at this stage!
For all their improvements, it's a squad that's not used to challenging on four fronts in recent seasons so to expect them to maintain that is a big ask.
The magnitude of this fixture means form plays less of a part and that's why I wouldn't count Liverpool out.
For all their struggles, the Reds have turned up in big games this term and the Anfield crowd will be right behind them.
Picking up three Premier League wins from four outings is a big plus for Jurgen Klopp's men and they're now only six points off the top four, so they won' be short of motivation!
Marc your cards
The hosts still have issues to iron out and that heavy defeat by Real Madrid will be fresh in the memory.
I've said on numerous occasions this season that they concede far too many chances — and that could be a real issue with Marcus Rashford in the form of his life.
The England man doesn't look like he's missing at the moment. The goal in the Carabao Cup final was fortunate to some extent but he's earning the right to have those chances.
If Liverpool continue with their aggressive high line, which I have no doubt they will, that could play right into Rashford's hands if they're not careful.
It's a massive game for both teams and should be a brilliant encounter.
Potter under pressure
The problems are not going away for Graham Potter and last weekend's sorry defeat to Tottenham means Chelsea now have just one win in 11 games.
Leeds visit Stamford Bridge on Saturday and another loss against a relegation-threatened side would ramp up the pressure even more.
But I don't see a defeat to the Whites being fatal for the former Brighton boss. Chelsea's packed fixture list means they're set to stick by him a little bit longer.
With a Champions League clash with Borussia Dortmund only thee days later, it wouldn't make sense to make a change before that.
As difficult as it is for Chelsea, this isn't the worst run of results Potter has suffered in the Premier League. He's been in more precarious situations with the Seagulls and come out the other side.
What I will say is this is the most flustered I've seen him. He's probably under more scrutiny than he's ever been in his career and it's a different level of pressure.
But Chelsea didn't bring in Potter just to steer them through bad periods. They've spent more than £500million and brought in a coach they think can help them compete at the very highest level.
If they lose against Leeds and get knocked out of Europe next week, Blues chiefs may lose faith in their manager's ability to achieve their lofty aims.
Right, let's have a look at my predictions for this weekend's Premier League action.
Joleon Lescott's Premier League Matchday 26 predictions
Manchester City vs Newcastle (Saturday, 12.30pm, BT Sport)
Manchester City now trail Arsenal by five points in the title race but I don't see that bothering them too much for this clash.
Newcastle come into this off the back of a defeat at Wembley and their form was beginning to dwindle before that.
I make Pep Guardiola's men firm favourites to earn the win.
Prediction: Manchester City 3-1 Newcastle
Arsenal vs Bournemouth (Saturday, 3pm)
After seemingly handing the advantage to City, three straight wins have put Arsenal in the driving seat.
They look to be back to their best, particularly in the 4-0 crushing of Everton in midweek.
Another home game against struggling Bournemouth shouldn't present too many issues.
Prediction: Arsenal 3-0 Bournemouth
Aston Villa vs Crystal Palace (Saturday, 3pm)
A clash between 11th and 12th and two teams who aren't in too much danger of the drop and are also unlikely to get near the European spots.
Aston Villa got back to winning ways against Everton last weekend, while Crystal Palace are currently on a run of no victories in eight Premier League games.
But I still see this as a balanced encounter and expect the spoils to be shared.
Prediction: Aston Villa 1-1 Crystal Palace
Brighton vs West Ham (Saturday, 3pm)
Brighton are in a much more favourable league position than West Ham but I still see this as a tight game.
The 4-0 win over Nottingham Forest will do wonders for David Moyes' men and they can head to the South Coast in a confident mood.
But the Seagulls are a difficult team to beat and Roberto De Zerbi has them playing some brilliant football.
Prediction: Brighton 2-0 West Ham
Chelsea vs Leeds (Saturday, 3pm)
Leeds are fighting for their lives and climbed out of the relegation zone last week with success in a must-win clash with Southampton.
But recording consecutive victories still seems a big ask for the Whites, even against a team as poor as Chelsea right now.
I'm expecting Potter to slightly ease the pressure on his position with a narrow victory.
Prediction: Chelsea 2-1 Leeds
Wolves vs Tottenham (Saturday, 3pm)
Tottenham looked to be back on form with four wins in five league games but were sent crashing back down to earth when Championship outfit Sheffield United dumped them out of the FA Cup.
A trip to Molineux looks really tricky for them given the way Wolves set up — they'll be expected to have more of the ball and that's when they're not at their best.
The hosts are a tough nut to crack under Julen Lopetegui and I see them taking something from this one.
Prediction: Wolves 1-1 Tottenham
Southampton vs Leicester (Saturday, 5.30pm, Sky Sports)
Another two teams who were sent crashing out of the FA Cup by teams in lower divisions in midweek.
Of course, Southampton will be the far more concerned of the two after losing to League Two opposition in Grimsby as they remain bottom of the Premier League.
Despite their Cup shock, I've seen plenty of improvement from Leicester in the league of late and they'll fancy themselves to score a couple at St Mary's.
Prediction: Southampton 0-2 Leicester
Nottingham Forest vs Everton (Sunday, 2pm, Sky Sports)
It's two wins and three defeats for Sean Dyche so far at Everton and it's no surprise both of those successes have come at home.
The Toffees are without an away win since October and slipped back into the relegation zone with defeat against Villa last weekend. They now visit a Forest side who similarly prefer home games.
Steve Cooper will be determined to ensure another 4-0 defeat like last week doesn't happen and will make them hard to beat — that doesn't bode too well for the Toffees, who struggle to create chances.
Prediction: Nottingham Forest 0-0 Everton
Liverpool vs Manchester United (Sunday, 4.30pm, Sky Sports)
As I mentioned previously, it's probably the most confident United have felt ahead of a game against Liverpool at Anfield for some time.
I don't know if this is my heart overruling my head but I still believe the hosts have more than enough to win.
It would be no surprise to see the Red Devils get on the scoresheet but I'm backing the Reds to score two and dent their rivals' faint title hopes.
Prediction: Liverpool 2-1 Manchester United
Brentford vs Fulham (Monday, 8pm, Sky Sports)
I've been so impressed with both Brentford and Fulham as the West London pair continue to fly high in the top half ahead of their meeting.
Both have excellent coaches and are brilliant to watch — it's a really tough one to call!
Given Marco Silva's men are in slightly better form, I'll go for an away victory.
Prediction: Brentford 1-2 Fulham
Joleon Lescott was talking to Cian Cheesebrough
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