This pre-Christmas Premier League weekend would start with Liverpool on top of the table with 4 points gap to Manchester City. Manchester United who have finally asked Jose Mourinho have appointed Ole Gunar Solskjaer and I think that their player will be very motived to shift all the blame and the responsibility for the bad results to Jose Mourinho.
Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Liverpool
Wolves have won 2:1 against Chelsea and now have a run of 3 wins. they are capable of holding Liverpool to a draw or even winning against the Reds, if it is one of those days for Jurgen Klopp’s side.
However, Liverpool have been impressive so far this season and showed character even in those games where their players weren’t in their best form. Reds are a genuine title contenders for the first time since season 2013/14, however now they have much more balanced squad and better players. Last week when Manchester united have defended with 9 man at Anfield and Liverpool looked like they will be held to a 1:1 draw, Jurgen Klop have brought Xherdan Shaqiri in and he has scored twice. This is the main difference between this Liverpool side and the one led by Luis Suarez. Now Liverpool don’t count on one or two players to win games.
Trent Alexander-Arnold will miss the game for the Red, but they have already got Nathaniel Clyne back and he has always been a top right wing-back.
Wolves are a very good side and I’m sure that this game is worth to watch. The three wins in row might suggest that the Nuno Espírito Santo’s men are improving their form. However, Wolverhampton aren’t still consistent enough, so I think that Liverpool are the more likely winner on Friday night.
Liverpool to win: 0:2
Arsenal vs Burnley
Arsenal welcome Burnley on the back on their League Cup loss at home against Tottenham. The Gunners are into the battle for the top four and are good enough to give Spurs and Chelsea fight and eventually to finish 3rd of 4th. However, they need to show some consistency and to win against teams like Burnley.
Burnley have been slowing improving their game but they need to get results, which they haven’t got within the last 6 fixtures. The Clarets will give Arsenal a fight at Emirates, but I think that the Gunners will win this fixture.
Arsenal to win: 3:1
AFC Bournemouth vs Brighton & Hove Albion
it looks to me that this one would go the Bornemouth’s way. Why? Brighton aren’t very good on the road in the first place. More importantly a good side like Bournemouth haven’t recently been picking points. The have won only once within the last 6 games – 2:1 against Huddersfield at home. The Cherries have a good record against Brighton in the recent years and i think that they’ll be able to win that one.
Brighton will be without Alireza Jahanbakhsh, Jose Izquierdo and their important central defender Shane Duffy.
Simon Francis is a doubt for Bournemouth, while Lewis Cook, Dan Gosling and Adam Smith are unavailable for them.
Bournemouth to win: 2:0
Chelsea vs Leicester City
I don’t think that Leicester could stop Chelsea this season as they did last one they both teams recorded a goalless draw at Stamford Bridge.
Victor Moses, Gary Cahill and Alvaro Morata are likely not to feature for the Blues. This means that Olivier Giroud could start against the foxes or Sarri could continue playing with Eden Hazard as false number 9. Leceister will be missing Ben Chilwell who has missed the last two games through injury.
Matty James is back in squad, but Daniel Amartey is out after recently undergoing an ankle operation. Jamie Vardy is back for the Foxes.
Chelsea to win: 3:1
Huddersfield Town vs Southampton
The new Saints Manager Ralph Hasenhüttl has showed he can motivate his players to win at home even against a team like Arsenal. The truth is that all the bottom table teams can win at home against any side which makes top many offensive mistakes, which Arsenal did at St. Mary’s Stadium.
Now The Saints go to Huddersfield who rely on their home fixtures to collect the points they need to survive in the Premier League. However the Terries have lost two consecutive home games against Brighton and Newcastle.
Ryan Bertrand might return for Southampton. Cedric Soares is close to return as well as Mario Lemina and Nathan Redmond.
Aaron Mooy is out due to a knee injury for the Huddersfield. Tommy Smith is suffering from a hamstring injury. Danny Williams and Abdelhamid Sabiri are also unavailable.
Manchester City vs Crystal Palace
Crystal Palace have recently drawn on their visit to Manchester, but their host was United. Since then the Eagles lost twice on the road 3:1 against Brighton and 3:2 against West Ham at London Stadium. I’m sure they will try to stop City and to try to snatch a point.
Wilfried Zaha and James Tomkins return for Crystal Palace, which is a major boost for the Roy Hodgson led team.
Manchester City are still without David Silva, Benjamin Mendy, Danilo and Claudio Bravo. All of them are sidelined with long-term injuries. The good news for them is that they have Sergio Aguero and Kevin de Bruyne back in the squad and both of them are ready to play.
Man City to win: 2:0
Newcastle United vs Fulham
This fixture should bring 3 points to the Magpies who have kept picking points on the road despite failing to win at St. Jame’s Park. Fulham are ideal opponent for a team like Newcastle who want to collect as many points, as they need to keep playing in the Premier League.
Fulham are hopeful that Ryan Sessegnon and Kevin McDonald will be ready to play at St. James’s Park. DeAndre Yedlin will not be available for Newcastle as he serves one match ban.
West Ham United vs Watford
This will be a very interesting fixture. West Ham have obviously found their form. If the Hammers win this fixture, this will be their fifth win in a row. I don’t remember when was the last time when West Ham winning 5 consecutive games. They can do it now under Manuel Pellegrini and both their fans and the board are probably very happy with a manager who has lost his first 4 games in charge of the club this season.
West Ham will be missing Marko Arnautovic for another game. Lucas Perez will be assessed before the game. Wilshere, Ryan Fredericks, Andriy Yarmolenko, Carlos Sanchez, Winston Reid and Manuel Lanzini are long-term absentees for the Hammers. This is a whole team of top players who cannot play and one might wonder how the Hammers are making it with them. The answer is that Manuel Pellegrini is doing a great job and he has obviously increased the level of the whole squad.
The Watford manager Javi Garcia saw his team ending a loosing streak of games last week when the Hornets won 3:2 against Cardiff City at Vicarage Road. The goals for the hosts came from Gerard Deulofeu, Jose Holebas and Domingos Quina and the Watford manager said “it’s good for the team to choose different ways to score and not only depend on the strikers”.
Watford continue to be without Andre Gray, Will Hughes, Adalberto Penaranda and Sebastian Prodl who are injured. However Etienne Capoue is available to play.
Cardiff City vs Manchester United
Manchester United have finally asked Jose Mourinho have appointed Ole Gunar Solskjaer as a caretaker manager. I think that their player should be very motived to shift all the blame and the responsibility for the bad results to Jose Mourinho.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has just arrived and even before winning a single game he said things which sound a bit worrying. Why? Because he has already started talking and I believe he has said too much.
Solskjaer has shared with the media that he has taken advice from his “mentor” Sir Alex Ferguson since taking over as Manchester United caretaker manager.
“My job is to help the players and make them grasp the opportunity. It’s down to man management, I had the best manager as a player and a coach to learn how he deals with people. It’s about communication – I’ll sit down with the ones not playing, what I expect from them. I don’t think anyone has been on the bench more than me so that’s always my comeback to players – you never know, you might come on and make an impact, grab the chance when you get it, and they all will get a chance.”
Asked on whether Paul Pogba will play Solskjaer responded that he wants to get “every player to their best”.
“No matter what team, what players you’re coaching, they all want a picture of how you’re going to play. These are quality, quality players so it will be easier to get these players expressing themselves”, explained Solskjaer.
However, he cannot leverage on his relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson and even if he has received a credit from the ex Manchester Untied manager, it will be the Norwegian, not Sir Alex, who will need to managed the current group of Man Utd players and to make decisions on the pitch.
Solskjaer has trained with his new players and this is something that will win him some respect and their support. He might not have achieved a lot as manager, but he’s young and his attitude will make the players to respect and support him.
Cardiff City are a team to admire. Neil Warnock is doing a fantastic job for them with a limited budget and has managed to take the Bluebirds out of the relegation zone. The focus and the pressure is now on Man United, which I believe gives Cardiff players a good chance to prepare themselves and get something out of this game.
Manchester United to win: 1:2
Everton vs Tottenham Hotspur
After loosing 4:2 at Emirates in the beginning of December Spurs have won 4 domestic games and got a point against Barcelona at Camp Not, something that helped them to qualify for the next stage of the Champions League.
All Spurs players look to be in-form and I belie they are the favorites to win this fixture at Goodison Park.
The last time when Everton won a game was 1:0 at home against Cardiff City on 24th of November. Since then they have drawn twice at Googdison Park – 1:1 against Newcastle United and 2:2 against Watford. Last week they have lost to Manchester City by 3:1.
Everton have good player and I believe that it is possible for them to draw or even win against Spurs, if they have a good day. However, I think that it is likely that both team will split points.