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Premier League predictions: Gameweek 18

Gameweek 18 offers us the last round of Premier League football before Christmas.

There will be nine fixtures across four days during Gameweek 18, beginning with the A23 derby between Crystal Palace and Brighton on Thursday evening. However, the headline fixture comes on Saturday, table-toppers Arsenal travelling to second-placed Liverpool.

There are two teams not in action though, Manchester City’s FIFA Club World Cup commitments seeing their clash with Brentford postponed.

Premier League predictions: Week 18

West Ham players

In a slightly unorthodox gameweek, Thursday night Premier League football makes a surprise return when Crystal Palace face Brighton. The Eagles managed an impressive comeback draw against Man City last weekend, while the Seagulls’ 32-game run of scoring in league fixtures came to a halt with a 2-0 defeat to Arsenal.

Aston Villa know a victory on Friday evening could see them top on Christmas Day, Unai Emery’s side needing all three points against Sheffield United for that to be possible. The Villans have won a remarkable 15 home games in a row in the league, a major blow to the Blades’ hopes of getting something from the Midlands.

The bulk of the Premier League action comes this Saturday, kicking off with West Ham vs Manchester United in the day’s early game. The two sides have experienced different trips to Anfield in their most recent match, the Hammers losing 5-1 to Liverpool in the Carabao Cup and the Red Devils earning a respectable point. A victory for the Irons this week would see them jump ahead of Man Utd in the table.

Fulham, fresh from booking their spot in the Carabao Cup semi-finals midweek, welcome a struggling Burnley to Craven Cottage on Saturday. Marco Silva’s side, bar a ten-man defeat to Newcastle United, have been flying in the Premier League, while the Clarets continue to struggle for consistency.

Newly-promoted Luton Town endured a traumatic afternoon at Bournemouth last weekend as Tom Lockyer suffered a cardiac arrest on the pitch at the Vitality Stadium. The defender has since been discharged from hospital, with the Hatters hosting Newcastle without their captain this Saturday. The Magpies were dumped out of the Carabao Cup midweek and suffered several more injury blows.

Steve Cooper has been replaced by Nuno Espirito Santo at Nottingham Forest following the club’s 2-0 defeat to Tottenham last Friday. The hugely popular Welsh coach will be sorely missed, with former Spurs boss Santo hoping for a new manager bounce against in-form Bournemouth this weekend.

Tottenham have managed to regain some form after a tricky period, winning their last two games. Ange Postecoglou’s side still have plenty of injuries and suspensions to contend with, something high-flying Everton, who are now 16th despite their ten-point deduction, will be aiming to take advantage of in north London.

Undoubtedly the biggest blockbuster of Gameweek 18, Liverpool host Arsenal in Saturday’s late game. The top of the table clash will prove pivotal in the race for first at Christmas, while a draw and an Aston Villa win would see Emery’s men top the tree heading into Boxing Day. Both the Reds and the Gunners have been in good form, with Saturday’s clash likely to be fuelled by goals and drama at Anfield.

Unfortunately for Wolverhampton Wanderers and Chelsea players, they will be forced to work on Christmas Eve. The Old Gold are without a win in their last two and have dropped to 13th in the table, while the Blues secured their place in the Carabao Cup semi-final with a penalty shootout victory against Newcastle last Tuesday.