1 Chelsea v Sunderland: A Breath Of Fresh Air At Stamford Bridge
Unlucky, Sunderland. Chelsea are going to absolutely run away with this now, aren’t they?
Obviously Jose Mourinho was and is a fantastic manager, but his presence on the sidelines at Stamford Bridge had become akin to sucking all of the oxygen out of the players’ lungs.
They’d become afraid of making a mistake and of becoming the latest target of their managers’ wrath, and in turn they put in a series of quite pathetic performances befitting a side who’ll start this game just a point outside the relegation zone.
Those players are also at fault for that position of course, but Chelsea couldn’t sack all of them.
The removal of Mourinho – who’ll probably still get his name chanted on Saturday – had to happen, and as a result everyone will be able to breathe normally again on Saturday, when Chelsea will win comfortably.
Chelsea -1 to win – 1.82
2 Everton v Leicester: Lukaku Has The Edge Due To Huth Absence
It doesn’t take much imagination to bill this clash as Romelu Lukaku versus Jamie Vardy, as the two most in-form forwards in the Premier League clash at Goodison Park, but it isn’t just home advantage which gives Lukaku the edge.
Robert Huth’s booking in the win over Chelsea means that he’s suspended for the trip to Merseyside, and with German being a huge part of Leicester’s success story this season, Lukaku could enjoy his afternoon against a reshuffled Foxes back-line.
Vardy, by the way, is a booking away from missing the Boxing Day trip over the park to Anfield.
Lukaku to score and Everton to win – 3.20
3 Manchester United v Norwich: Move Along, Nothing To See Here
*Content removed due to lack of interest*
Under 2.5 goals – 1.98
4 Southampton v Tottenham: Koeman’s Chance To Get Back On Track
In has gone somewhat unnoticed due to stories elsewhere, but Southampton are struggling a little bit.
They are winless in four in the league – a run which stretches to five if you include that League Cup hammering by Liverpool – and Ronald Koeman opted to shake things up a bit at Crystal Palace last weekend, dropping Graziano Pelle and playing three at the back. They lost 1-0.
Pelle will surely return to the starting XI for the visit of ex-Saints boss Mauricio Pochettino and Spurs, who despite generally impressing have won just two of eight Premier League away games this season and are still smarting from their shock home loss to Newcastle.
A share of the spoils might just suit everyone.
Draw with both teams scoring – 4.60
5 Stoke v Crystal Palace: Stalwart Bosses To Keep Up With Each Other
Naturally, much of the focus on Stoke and Crystal Palace’s fine seasons has centred on the players involved, but managers Mark Hughes and Alan Pardew – two of the stalwart bosses of the Premier League – deserve their fair share of praise, too.
Both have shown a willingness to develop new ideas as they’ve defied the odds to set up camp in the top half of the table, and with a win moving Stoke level on points with Palace, it would somehow seem apt that they would both be as doing as well as each other.
Stoke to win – 2.45
6 West Brom v Bournemouth: After Beating Chelsea & Man Utd, Now For The Hard Part
Brilliant in their victories over Chelsea and Manchester United, now comes the hard part for Eddie Howe and Bournemouth.
They’ll travel to an in-form West Brom side knowing that only a win will guarantee that they’ll end the weekend out of the relegation zone, but that win will be tough to achieve against a Baggies outfit who’ve beaten Arsenal and drawn with West Ham, Tottenham and Liverpool (having led entering the 96th minute) in their last four games.
Howe’s side were able to play pressing, high-energy football in their last two games, but if this becomes a physical battle then there’ll only be one winner.
West Brom to win – 2.47
7 Newcastle v Aston Villa: The First Ever December Relegation
Aston Villa are down, aren’t they?
The loss at home to Arsenal last time out seemed to feature all of the hallmarks of relegated clubs – the shocking start, the lack of fight, the sudden second half improvement which was never really going to be enough to get anything from the game.
Going to a revitalised Newcastle will hardly be a journey relished by Remi Garde, then, and the Frenchman is likely to oversee another stop on his side’s trip to the Championship.
Newcastle to win and both teams to score – 4.25
8 Watford v Liverpool : The Start Of The Watford Wobble
Surely it’s about time we all started appreciating Watford?
The Vardy/Mahrez powered Leicester City have been stealing the headlines but close behind them has been the Deeney/Ighalo duo in the capital. The Hornets are gunning for four successive Premier League victories for the first time.
However, they face a wounded Liverpool side who weirdly may take confidence from stealing a 2-2 draw at home to West Brom. The much discussed show of unity at the end of that tie was a clear display of what Klopp is trying to do at Anfield and the result was down to the never say die attitude the German demands.
The Reds were unbeaten under their new boss away from home until Newcastle came to life, but Coutinho is back and The Hornets have lost to the likes of Arsenal, Man United and leaders Leicester this term.
Liverpool to win and Coutinho to score 4.90
9 Swansea v West Ham: Who Draws Wins In Wales
If you asked supporters of these two sides what three points was they would look back at you in bewilderment. Neither team has registered a victory in their previous 6 top-flight matches as Swansea bed in for a relegation battle and West Ham kick themselves for easing up after an aggressive start.
There was improvement for the Welsh club at Man City but they were ultimately undone by the cruellest of deflections as they lost at the Etihad, while their London-based opponents just can’t stop drawing. It’s four stalemates in five outings now for Slave Bilic’s men, who must start finding the net.
This could be tetchy and cautious.
Swansea 1 – 1 West Ham 7.00
10 Arsenal v Man City: Rambo On A Mission
This Premier League weekend makes you wait for the main course, and this could be a cracker, not a slab of dry turkey in sight.
The two favourites for the title square-off and it could be a case of who wins the midfield, wins the match. Step forward Mr Aaron Ramsey. The Welshman have been excellent since morphing into Santi Cazorla in recent weeks, even hiding the faults of his labouring partner Mathieu Flamini. He will have to do some serious running if Arsenal are to win here.
The City midfield has looked off of late, Fernandinho especially looking a shadow of himself. If Ramsey can get at him and allow the likes of Mesuz Ozil and Alexis Sanchez (if fit) to get at a shaky back four it could be the Gunners who are top at Christmas.
Arsenal to win 2.40