With the penultimate weekend of football on the year on the way, clubs have the last chance to cement positions they aim to reach at the end of the season. Will Manchester City complete their unbeaten run to the end of 2017, will United close the gap and which club will sneak out the bottom three? It’s all to be seen in the Boxing Day fixtures.
Tottenham v Southampton
In a season where Spurs have struggled somewhat, the form of Harry Kane has kept them in the race for a Champions League spot as the Englishman has just broken the record for the most goals in a calendar year. The 24-year-old should continue his goal scoring form at home here against a side who are struggling for form.
For Southampton, they can’t match Kane’s presence up front as top-scorer Charlie Austin is out suspended and that will be a big blow for Mauricio Pellegrino as the Saints have only won once in their last ten games. I know Tottenham aren’t as prolific at Wembley as they should be, but this should be three easy points.
Tottenham 2-0 Southampton
Bournemouth v West Ham
This is a major clash for both clubs as they languish in the relegation battle, with the winner taking three major points towards survival. For Bournemouth, every game is becoming a win-or-die situation and losing Jermain Defoe to injury will not help. They will need to stop the winless rut they’re in now too if they want to stop sinking further down the table.
For West Ham, there’s been a resurgence under David Moyes. The Hammers have really come to life since Moyes’ arrival and players like Marko Arnautovic and Manuel Lanzini look like different players. Their recent results, barring the defeat to Newcastle have been positive and I think they’ll be too good for the Cherries.
Bournemouth 0-1 West Ham
Chelsea v Brighton
Antonio Conte has a lot to think about in order to get the Blues’ season back on track. As the reigning Champions, they’ve lacked ruthlessness up front recently and that may be because Alvaro Morata isn’t quite bringing the same spark Diego Costa had. Although only three points off Manchester United, Conte’s men could and should be further ahead given the quality of this side.
For Brighton, it’s the same story here as they really struggle for goals. In fact their 1-0 win over Watford was their first win in eight games and they’ve only scored two goals in their last seven. At Stamford Bridge, this is going to be a familiar story.
Chelsea 3-0 Brighton
Huddersfield v Stoke
David Wagner gleefully said that with this being their first season in the Premier League, Huddersfield have actually overachieved, as they sit in 11th place. He’s not wrong either as this has been a great season for The Terriers who at home have lost only three times, and that was to big clubs Spurs, Chelsea and Man City.
Despite the negative talks going on at Stoke, The Potters have recovered somewhat and find themselves a win away from overtaking their opponents in the table with three points from this fixture. Mark Hughes will be under immense pressure to get the victory but I think a resilient Huddersfield side will prevent that.
Huddersfield 1-1 Stoke City
Man Utd v Burnley
When Harry Maguire headed in Leicester’s equaliser in the dying moments of the game, Jose Mourinho was irritated beyond belief at his defence’s ‘childish mistakes’. In fact, Mourinho expected his side to be 4, 5 or even 6 goals up by the time the Foxes even had a chance to equalise. This can now only swing one of two ways – his players get the motivation they need to go on a winning run or they get completely demotivated and lose further ground of the title race.
For Burnley, this has simply been a dream of a season. To be in 7th place, just three points behind 4th is an incredible achievement and one which Sean Dyche deserves credit for. His hardworking side have kept an incredible nine clean sheets in 19 games. I think they’ll be a tough nut to crack but Mourinho will have energised his troops.
Man Utd 2-1 Burnley
Watford v Leicester
Watford are in a bit of a rut at the moment as they have lost their last four league games in a row, but on the whole have had a good season so far. Especially at home, Watford have looked more threatening and will be a menace again at Vicarage Road, barring Marco Silva gets things right.
Since the arrival of Claude Puel, the Foxes have looked rejuvenated, losing just once in their last seven games. It’s this run that has really helped bring back the form Leicester City fans enjoyed seeing two years ago. I think they’ll continue to do well here, especially when looking at hard they worked to get a point against Man Utd.
Watford 1-3 Leicester
West Brom v Everton
This is a must-win game for West Brom as they find themselves facing the drop, only three points from safety. Unfortunately, Alan Pardew is yet to register a win in his new role and there are some serious relegation fears is languishing over the club.
Everton, meanwhile, are enjoying a kick-start to their season as they started off in 18th under Ronald Koeman’s last game in charge and now sit comfortably in 9th. Such is the rise of the club that they genuinely look like the team we all thought they’d be at the start of the season. Undefeated under Allardyce, this should be another victory to continue their momentum.
West Brom 1-3 Everton
Liverpool v Swansea
Jürgen Klopp must be kicking himself. Liverpool have by far the most exciting attacking line up in the league, even better than Manchester City’s in my opinion, and yet they are frustratingly so poor at the back. Had they held on in most games this season, they would be up there challenging alongside Man City for the title. But the Reds’ defence is just shambolic.
For Swansea, they probably wish they had the problems Liverpool have as they sit firmly at the bottom of the table with no manager now Paul Clement has been sacked. Now they must go up against a side who are the joint-second highest scoring team in the league at Anfield. This couldn’t be anything other than a drubbing.
Liverpool 4-0 Swansea
Newcastle v Man City
Rafael Benitez needs to be careful here now as his great start to the campaign has hit a bump going into the end of 2017. With 1 win in their last 10 league games, the Magpies find themselves just above the bottom three and staring dangerously at relegation. That needs to be avoided at all costs as the club is too big to go down once more.
For Man City, this season has been a dream come true. Pep Guardiola is cruising now and with a massive point gap over second-placed Man Utd, the Citizens can actually afford to relax and let a few points slip here and there. However, they won’t because the attitude has been top class, a trait which is why they’re running away with the title, and will do the same with this game.
Newcastle 0-4 Man City
Crystal Palace v Arsenal
Crystal Palace are unbeaten in eight games, a massive turnaround since going winless at the start of the season. Now with an upturn of form, they can actually look to cement their place in the Premier League with a win over Arsenal, something that isn’t out of the question.
The Gunners have had nothing much to cheer about this season as for every good game they have, they seem to completely collapse in the other. Arsene Wenger’s side showed great attitude to come back from 2-0 down to Liverpool to get a point but the question is, why were they 2-0 down in the first place? I just don’t think they’re capable of stringing good results together.
Crystal Palace 2-2 Arsenal