It’s only been 48 hours but we’re back yet again to preview another round of football from the Premier League!
Don’t say I didn’t tell you, the action is unlimited in this month of December as games come thick and fast and as much as that means plenty of writing for me and entertainment for you, it’s a hard knock life for the players who will be on the pitch looking to either maintain a positive run of form or improve on a negative one.
To recap last weekend’s action, Watford opened the weekend up with a 3-2 victory over Everton. Arsenal beat Stoke City 3-1 whilst Burnley were rampant against Bournemouth, winning 3-2.
Two other sides that were rampant were champions Leicester City, who defeated Manchester City 4-2 and Swansea City, who earned a 3-0 win over Sunderland for only Bob Bradley’s second win in charge.
There were draws for Liverpool and Hull City against West Ham United (2-2) and Crystal Palace (3-3) respectively, whilst league leaders Chelsea continued a fine run of form by beating West Bromwich Albion 1-0. There were also big one-goal wins for Southampton, who beat Middlesbrough and Manchester United, who just got past Tottenham Hotspur.
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With each side’s increased determination to achieve results at this time of the season has come a high amount of goals in each match, with gameweek 15 producing 36 goals – just one goal short of the previous gameweek. Will there be more goal-mouth action to report on this week?
Read on to find out if I think so.
Middlesbrough vs Liverpool
To think that Liverpool are heading into this clash at the Riverside Stadium having collected only one point from winnable games against Bournemouth and West Ham United is alarming.
The Reds once again face a side with plenty of strength defensively but considering that Middlesbrough also have a number of exciting creative players, they won’t only be looking for a point.
One of the things I learned from Sunday’s draw at Anfield – besides goalkeeper Loris Karius having another shocker – was that Liverpool have an alarming lack of aerial firepower. The Reds attacked West Ham countless times throughout the game, with the ball being crossed into the box multiple times but unless it dropped onto someone’s chest or defender Joel Matip’s head, Liverpool hardly ever got it past Winston Reid and his teammates.
I expect Boro to be as defensively sound as they were in their matches against Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea. Given that Liverpool struggle against these sort of sides, I think this one will end in a draw (and I say that knowing very well that ‘draw’ could easily be defeat for Jürgen Klopp’s men).
Prediction: Middlesbrough 1-1 Liverpool
Everton vs Arsenal
Everton’s struggles continued against Watford at Vicarage Road on Saturday and this is a game they could lose badly.
Goodison Park is usually a ground that loves these sort of games against the big boys but considering the form second-placed Arsenal are in, they could live to curse this one.
The Gunners continued their unbeaten run with a win against Stoke City and it’s finally yielded them a significant move up to second place so they will be looking at this game as an opportunity to keep the pressure on league-leaders Chelsea.
Everton can obviously give any side a lot of trouble with their attackers but defensively they’ve conceded 11 goals in their last five games and that is poor.
Arsenal, on the other hand, have managed to score 13 in their last five. I think we’ll see more go in here.
Prediction: Everton 1-3 Arsenal
AFC Bournemouth vs Leicester City
Nostalgia fell upon the King Power Stadium last week, as Leicester City blistered past Manchester City, with a certain Jamie Vardy standing out with a hat trick.
Now, it’s all about maintaining that victory with another one and that task takes the title holders to the Vitality Stadium.
Bournemouth struggled to maintain their own big win over Liverpool, losing to Burnley and that win more or less highlighted their issues with consistency. They can be great in one moment and below-average the next.
Eddie Howe won’t want the latter tonight as they must make good use of their home games to boost their survival bid. The pressure will be on Leicester to keep their performance levels up but the Cherries are not going to make it easy.
I see goals in this clash but I’m struggling to separate the two sides so I’m going to predict an entertaining draw.
Prediction: Bournemouth 2-2 Leicester City
Stoke City vs Southampton
Winning at the Emirates was always going to be a tough ask for Stoke, especially when you consider their record against Arsenal.
Either way, Mark Hughes’ men will have moved on from that as they look to continue their march up the table.
Southampton travel to the Bet365 Stadium having done well to grind out a win at home to Middlesbrough and the focus is similar for Claude Puel’s men, who certainly fancy a return to Europe.
Looking at the table, only six points separate 12th placed Bournemouth with 6th placed Manchester United, as Stoke and Southampton sit in 11th and 10th respectively so it’s certainly a tight mid-table race that these two sides can take advantage of with a win in this match.
In their only four visits to the Bet365 Stadium in the Premier League, Southampton have only won once, losing once and drawing the other two. I fancy Stoke to add to their wins this time as besides a 3-1 defeat against Arsenal, the Potters are still in decent form.
Prediction: Stoke City 2-1 Southampton
Sunderland vs Chelsea
I was honestly disappointed by Sunderland, who I backed to win against Swansea last week.
The Black Cats were nowhere near the tough and determined side we saw in the games prior to that one and coming up against a flying Chelsea side, I think they’re going to struggle.
The Blues are lead, in many ways, by Antonio Conté but in attack, it has to be Diego Costa who receives all the credit for his top goal-scoring form this season. The Spanish striker is managing at least a goal every game and has 12 goals thus far. Keep this up and he won’t only end the season with a golden boot but Chelsea could do so with the league title.
Also, against a frail Sunderland defence, I expect him to continue his form and Chelsea to win.
Prediction: Sunderland 0-2 Chelsea
Tottenham Hotspur vs Hull City
Despite putting in a decent fight, fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur struggled to overcome their poor record at Old Trafford on Sunday and I think it largely boils down to a lack of end-product.
They welcome Hull City to White Hart Lane on Wednesday, knowing that the Tigers are languishing at the bottom and leaking goals heavily in each game. Mike Phelan obviously had to deal with all the questions surrounding winger Robert Snodgrass’ dive admission, which he really shouldn’t considering there are more important problems to deal with for the Tigers’ boss.
Either way, I can only see those problems mounting in this match as Tottenham will have too much for their opponents.
Prediction: Tottenham Hotspur 4-1 Hull City
West Bromwich Albion vs Swansea City
West Brom return to the Hawthorns looking to continue a good run of form that was halted by their defeat at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
The Baggies won their previous two games at home, beating Watford 3-1 and putting four past Burnley so Tony Pulis will be confident of recording another big result on Wednesday night, as his side look to remain in and around mid-table and as far away from the relegation places as possible.
As for Swansea, the mission to break away from the bottom continues and to be fair, they’re not a million miles away, are they? The Swans are only a point off 17th on the table and a win for them in this fixture would send them out of the relegation zone, obviously if other results go their way.
However, I fancy West Brom more in this clash and I’m going to predict that Tony Pulis’ men earn a 2-1 win.
Prediction: West Bromwich Albion 2-1 Swansea City
Manchester City vs Watford
Manchester City’s loss against Leicester once again proved that Pep Guardiola’s job at the club is still a huge one because just like any other side in that top four, City still have problems.
A large chunk of them come from the back. Goalkeeper Claudio Bravo has struggled to establish himself as a worthy replacement for Joe Hart, John Stones isn’t looking like the centre-back City paid for and an alarming lack of consistency in Guardiola’s back-four selection is constantly proving to be the Sky Blues’ undoing.
Watford, meanwhile, have taken advantage of the congestion- in terms of points – in that mid-table area and now sit 7th, just three points behind Manchester United. This match against United’s rivals, however, is a tough task for them and one that I don’t expect them to pass with flying colours.
Man City will be itching for a result after two straight defeats and I’m going to back them to get it. Anything less would shock me if I’m honest.
Prediction: Manchester City 2-0 Watford
West Ham United vs Burnley
Getting a point at Anfield would’ve been a plus for West Ham United, given their poor run of form and a home tie against Burnley should offer them a great opportunity to maintain it with a win.
To say that the Hammers have struggled at the London Stadium would surely be an understatement (West Ham have only won two games out of seven at home this season). Without stupidly blaming it on the new stadium, they need to focus on improving that record.
Speaking of track records, Burnley’s away from home has been terrible this season. The Clarets are yet to win a single game away from Turf Moor, where they’ve exercised the most influence on games.
I think West Ham will take advantage of that and I’m going to back them to make it four points from two matches with a win here.
Prediction: West Ham United 2-0 Burnley
Crystal Palace vs Manchester United
This is a difficult match for 15th placed Crystal Palace.
Manchester United are coming off a 1-0 home win over Spurs and will be looking to kick on from that as they look to sustain a challenge for the top four.
They lost new signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan to injury on Sunday and considering how well he was just beginning to do, they can count that as a big blow but José Mourinho won’t be dwelling on that, the United boss will expect his side to carry on with or without the former Borussia Dortmund star.
Palace have been a high-scoring side over the past few games but why they haven’t won them is found in the fact that they’ve also been a high-conceding side as well. If their defence has another off-day then the Eagles can expect another disappointing result at Selhurst Park.
As for making a prediction, I’m just going to back Man United.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 1-3 Manchester United