The game week 15 fixtures are nearly among us and there are some big matches involving the top and bottom of the Premier League table. Here are my predictions for the 10 match-ups.
Saturday 26th December 2020: 12:30 – Leicester Vs Manchester United
Leicester and Manchester United are separated by only a point going into this fixture, with Leicester 2nd on 27 points and Manchester United 3rd on 26 points, although Manchester United do have a game in hand. Leicester come into the match on the back of a 2-0 win against spurs, in which Jamie Vardy was taken off as a precaution but has since been deemed fit to start against Manchester United. United also come into this game on the back of a win, a 6-2 thrashing of Leeds united (I especially enjoyed this as a Huddersfield Town fan). Leicester have only won 9 points at home this season and Manchester United have won all 6 of their previous away games, making United favourites in this fixture.
Manchester United are also unbeaten in their last 11 outings against Leicester (W8, D3), so based on this form I am going to predict a close 2-1 win for Manchester United.
Saturday 26th December 2020: 15:00 – Aston Villa Vs Crystal Palace
Aston Villa are currently 4 places above Palace in the Premier League table, 9th and 13th respectively. In their last fixture, Palace were on the receiving end of a 0-7 thumping to Liverpool, which was one of the biggest defeats recorded in Premier League history and Liverpool’s biggest ever away win. On the other hand, Aston Villa were 3-0 victors away at relegation threatened West Bromwich Albion, which places them only 9 points from the summit of the table with 2 games in hand. Crystal Palace have won only 1 of their last 7 away fixtures against the Villans and I predict a comfortable 3-1 victory for Dean Smith’s Villa to continue their great form this season.
Saturday 26th December 2020: 15:00 – Fulham Vs Southampton
Southampton have had a great season so far sitting just 2 places outside the European spots in 7th. Whereas, the Cottagers have had somewhat contrasting fortunes this season with only 2 victories to their name and currently languishing in 18th. Going forward has been an issue for Scott Parker’s men this season with Bobby De Cordova-Reid Fulham’s current top scorer on 4 goals, with the next highest being Ademola Lookman and Aleksandar Mitrovic on 2. The latter experiencing a 10-game goal drought. According to BBC Sport, Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side have picked up 29 points on their travels in 2020, a tally only better by Manchester United but have won only 2 of their last 6 Premier League games. Southampton’s talisman Danny Ings is a doubt for this game after being taken off in a 0-1 loss to Pep’s Manchester City last week. Despite the South coast side being favourites for all 3 points, I have a gut-feeling that manager-less Fulham may shock Southampton. I predict a 1-0 Fulham win.
Saturday 26th December 2020: 17:30 – Arsenal Vs Chelsea
We all know that form goes out of the window in local derbies but this London derby has come at a season defining point for Arsenal. The Gunners have only picked up 4 wins this season, their worst start after 14 games since 1974/75. Arsenal are 3 places above the relegation zone in 15th while Chelsea are 5th, occupying the only Europa League spot. Since beating Manchester United on November 1st, Arsenal have failed to win a Premier League game, losing 5 and drawing 2. Aubameyang’s goal against Southampton was only his 1st goal since an opening day 3-0 win against Fulham and more importantly his first since signing ‘da ting‘ on September 15th.
Chelsea come into the match on the back of a comprehensive 3-0 win over bitter rivals West Ham, but their season has been characterised by inconsistency. Lampard’s men have only won consecutive Premier League games twice this season during a three game win-streak against Burnley, Sheffield United and Newcastle. Their German international forward Timo Werner is top scorer this season with 8 goals but has fired a blank in his last 9 games, epitomising Chelsea’s inability to really kick on this season. Even though Chelsea will be without key full-backs Ben Chilwell and Reece James, I think their form in this fixture (only 2 losses in the last 17 meetings) coupled with Arsenal’s current form will see the blues run out 1-0 winners.
Saturday 26th December: 20:00 – Manchester City Vs Newcastle
Manchester City are having one of their worst starts to a season in recent memory, in 8th position and 23 points after 13 games. This is reflected by the fact that it’s Pep’s worst ever start to a season. Newcastle are only 5 points and 4 places behind City in 12th and are on track for a season of mid-table mediocrity. Since losing to spurs in late November, City are unbeaten in 5 with 3 wins and 2 draws. Newcastle have won 2 of their last 5 but lost 5-2 to Leeds and drew 1-1 to Fulham in gameweek 13 and 14, respectively. Sergio Aguero has only made a 14 minute cameo since his injury against West Ham, 8 gameweeks ago. This may be why City are having an underwhelming season and how Callum Wilson has scored double the amount of any City player with 8 goals. Irrespective of Manchester City’s lack of goals this season, I still think they have the armoury to see off a somewhat lackluster Newcastle. I predict a 4-0 Manchester City win.
Saturday 26th December: 20:00 – Sheffield United Vs Everton
Sheffield United are currently rock bottom of the Premier League table in 20th. They are 10 points adrift from Brighton in 17th and no team has ever avoided relegation when on 2 points at Christmas. The Blades’ draw to Brighton in the last gameweek ended a dismal 8 losing streak. Everton are on course to finish in the Champions League spots for the first time since since the 04/05 season under David Moyes. Carlo Ancelotti’s side sit in 4th and are on a run of three consecutive wins against fellow top 4 contenders Arsenal, Leicester and Chelsea. Dominic Calvert-lewin, formerly on Sheffield United’s books, has scored 11 goals this season, 3 more than the whole Blades squad. I predict a comfortable 2-1 victory for Everton.
Sunday 27th December: 12:00 – Leeds United Vs Burnley
Burnley’s recent form of 2 wins and 2 draws, including a first ever win against Arsenal at the Emirates, has lifted the Lancashire side out of the relegation zone and into 16th. Leeds United are 2 places higher than Burnley in 14th and their season is another defined by inconsistency. The Yorkshire club have only won consecutive games on one occasion this season and their main problem is shipping goals. Bielsas’ men have shipped a league high 30 goals this season, an average of 2.14 per game, and is the reason why their results perhaps haven’t reflected their performances. Burnley have turned their form around this season and look to be grinding out results in a typical Sean Dyche manor, not pretty but pragmatic football. A worry for the Clarets however will be the lack of goals in the team, with only New Zealand forward Chris Wood scoring more than 1 goal. I feel very unsure attempting to predict the outcome of this red rose Vs white rose rivalry because it has potential to either be a high goal thriller or a dull, draining 0-0 draw. I predict a 0-0 draw.
Sunday 27th December: 14:15 – West Ham United Vs Brighton & Hove Albion
As previously mentioned, Brighton occupy 17th spot and are looking over their shoulder, with only 2 points separating them from the relegation zone and Fulham in 18th. Brighton have won only one of their previous 12 fixtures and, like Leeds, are another team who’s results don’t reflect their performances. Graham Potter’s men are playing fast-paced, expansive football and their downfall this season has been their over-dependence on French forward Neal Maupay. The Frenchman has 4 goals this season, twice the amount of any other Brighton player. This highlights the urgent need for the Seagulls to recruit a froward in the January transfer window if they are to maintain their stay in the Premier League. West Ham United have had a good start to the season in comparison to the woes experienced in previous seasons, which has seen them involved in many a relegation scraps. They occupy the last spot in the top half of the table in 10th and a win against Brighton would see their best start to a season since 14/15 season. The Hammers haven’t had much look in previous Premier League match-ups with Brighton, losing 3 and drawing 3 of their past 6 meetings. I think it will be quite an even match but Brighton may just be able to weather the West Ham storm. I predict a 1-0 Brighton win.
Sunday 27th December: 16:30 – Liverpool Vs West Bromwich Albion
Definitely the highlight of ‘super Sunday’ after the mixed fortunes of West Brom and Liverpool this season. Something of a regularity in the past few seasons Liverpool are atop of the Premier League table at Christmas and look to win consecutive top flight titles for the first time in 37 years. In contrast, West Brom sit precariously in 19th position, 5 points shy of 17th and recently sacked manager Slaven Bilic. Liverpool come into the game following a ruthless and cut-throat club record 7-0 away win over Crystal Palace and Mo Salah becoming the top scorer with 13 goals in 14 games. Current Baggies manager Sam Allerdyce is actually the last manager to win an away game at Anfield, a venue that has become a fortress in Liverpool’s progression back to an unbeatable side. Surprisingly, 5 of the last 7 meetings between these sides have resulted in a stalemate. On this occasion though i think Liverpool will romp to victory over a fragile looking West Brom. I am going out on a limb and predicting a 5-0 Liverpool win.
Sunday 27th December: 19:15 – Wolverhampton Wanderers Vs Tottenham Hotspurs
This match-up has 0-0 written all over it with the two teams having very similar styles of counter-attacking play and Mourinho’s ability to ‘park the bus’. Spurs are currently one place outside of the European spots in 6th after their momentum built up in the early part of the season dissipating in recent weeks. Their past 3 games has seen a draw at Selhurst Park, 2-1 loss to reigning champions Liverpool and a 2-0 loss to European spot rivals Leicester. The prolific pair of Harry Kane and Heung-min Son have been out of this world in the 19/20 season with 34 combined goal involvements between them.
Wolves are having a mediocre season in comparison to their own high standards of the past few seasons. They sit in 11th position and have lost 3 of the last 4 fixtures, coinciding with the absence of Mexican striker Raul Jimenez to a controversial head injury. The fractured skull suffered has seen the introduction of a new rule, concussion substitutes. Tottenham have won their past 3 visits to Molineux and I think their is too much pressure riding on young Portuguese starlet Fabio Silva’s shoulders to produce goals. I am predicting a 0-0 draw.