Duncan Ferguson’s spell at the Goodison helm may well be short-lived, but the towering Scotsman has made an immediate impact. Everton were terrier-like against both Chelsea and Manchester United and picked up 4 points from those games. This is a rough spell of fixtures for the Blues and Arsenal are up next. John Newsome casts his eye over all 9 matches scheduled for game-week 18. You can view all previous analysis from John’s regular column here: English Premier League Predictions For Saturday
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EVERTON v ARSENAL
Early Saturday Afternoon Football live on BT Sports.
What’s coincidental about these Game Week Eighteen fixtures is that 3 of them were Game Week Thirty-Three fixtures last season.
This being one of them.
This could quite easily be called the ‘Carlo Ancelotti’ Derby with both teams supposedly after the Italian to be their next manager.
Everton are revitalised under Duncan Ferguson.
With a selection of names banded about as to who should be the next Everton boss, such as Carlo Ancelotti and David Moyes ( Really?) the heir-achy would not go far wrong in appointing Big Duncan as the permanent gaffer.
Prior to gaining a great point in a 1-1 draw against Manchester United at Old Trafford, Duncan had already got his Toffees going by beating Chelsea at Goodison Park.
A home win was predicted for United but that was based on the old Everton side that lacked spirit under Marco Silva.
Under Duncan Ferguson, no player is allowed to give less than 100% or else!
As shown by the substitution of Moise Kean, who only came on in the 70th-minute, didn’t give 100% and was taken off in the 89th-minute.
The Toffees were helped in the draw against United with Victor Lindelof turning the ball past David De Gea just before the break to give Everton a half-time lead.
United did score an equaliser late on to earn a draw but 4-points from games against Chelsea and Manchester United is a great addition to Big Dunc’s CV.
It’s noticeable that Dunc has gone old school by playing a traditional 4-4-2 with Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison up top.
Also noticeable is that against United, Duncan started Mason Holgate in midfield at the side of Tom Davies.
Mason was a youngster at Barnsley FC and was a Right-Back at Oakwell.
Against Chelsea, Mason played as a Centre-Back and now against United a midfield general.
Mason is still well thought of in Barnsley and the Oakwell faithful wish him well for the future.
A quick congratulations to ex-Barnsley FC boss Daniel Stendel who has recently taken the manager’s job at the Scottish Premier League club Heart of Midlothian who are based in Edinburgh.
All the best Daniel.
Respect H, one year on!
Arsenal are just rubbish at the moment.
It’s not unreasonable to suggest that they are in a relegation battle following the loss against Man City.
Whilst it was always going to be a tough fixture against Pep’s Low Flying City under any manager, whether it be Arsene, Unai or Freddie, the lacklustre performances from the Gunners just continues.
Freddie has brought Mesut Ozil back in from the cold but even the enigmatic Mesut is way out of his depth at the Emirates.
Arsenal did prevent City from scoring in the 2nd-half which they will see as a plus but the damage had already been done in the 1st-half, with the Gunners conceding 3-goals ultimately losing the game 3-0.
Robbie Lyle will be on the mike afterwards with the raging Gooners moaning on AFTV.
Old Tate and Lyle set up the Arsenal Fans TV on YouTube a few years back but because the folk who come on the programme simply moan and swear and are negative towards Arsenal FC, the bosses at Arsenal took a dislike to Robbie and told him to remove the Arsenal from the Arsenal Fans TV.
Not to be outdone, Tate and just rebranded his channel AFTV.
What does the ‘A’ stand for Robbie?
To be fair to Robbie Lyle, the bosses at Arsenal have more pressing things to worry about at the moment like who do they get in as the permanent manager.
Unlike at Everton, Arsenal should stay clear of appointing a club legend.
Freddie Ljungberg was a great player for Arsenal like Duncan Ferguson was a great player for Everton.
Unlike Big Dunc though, Freddie doesn’t have the same gravitas at Arsenal as Dunc as at Everton.
Carlo Ancelotti is reputedly on the radar of both clubs with a split in who is the best club to manage.
Although Arsenal are the higher placed club in the Premier League table, there are only 4-points separating the two.
A victory for the Toffees would reduce that to just one so there really isn’t much between the 2-clubs this term.
Carlo may just decide to stay clear of both of them but it’s thought that Everton are in pole position to get the Italian.
Mikel Arteta, who is a former player of both clubs, is also rumoured to be in the running for the top job at the Emirates.
It’s thought that Mikel has the Arsenal DNA (whatever that means?) yet Mikel played more games for the Toffees than the Gunners so maybe he’s got the Everton DNA.
Are the Arsenal bosses thinking that Mikel is the new Pep Guardiola?
The new managers for both teams may just keep away until after this fixture.
Arsenal progressed to the last 32 of the Europa League and will face Champions League drop-outs Olympiakos in a 2-legged game in February 2020.
Phil Jagielka got the Toffees solitary goal in a 1-0 victory against the Gunners back in April at Goodison Park.
Betway offer Everton at 7/5, the Draw at 11/4 and 17/10 for Arsenal to come away with all 3-points.
Betway offer 9/2 that Richarlison Scores First and Evens 1/1 that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Scores Anytime.
Home Win 3-1
BOURNEMOUTH v BURNLEY
Bournemouth arguably got the result of last weekend, going to Stamford Bridge and getting a great smash and grab 1-0 victory over Frank Lampard’s Chelsea.
Dan Gosling got the solitary Cherries goal late in the game with the dreaded VAR getting involved after the on-field officials had firstly ruled out the goal.
VAR, who had quickly switched over from Quest’s coverage of the snooker, decided Dan was onside and the goal stood.
After 5 straight Premier League defeats for Eddie and his Cherries, a trip to Stamford Bridge to get a victory was probably not what the faithful were expecting but a spirited performance from Bournemouth smashed everyone’s Accas for the day.
That leaves Eddie’s Boys with 19-points, still at the wrong end of the table but an improvement on recent results and a good start to the hectic festive period.
Burnley themselves got a great result at the weekend also with a 1-0 scoreline against an inform Newcastle side.
After a goalless 1st-half at Turf Moor, Chris Wood got the Clarets winner just after the break to give Sean Dyche’s men a good victory after Burnley had lost their previous 3-games.
That gives the Clarets 21-points which is 2-more than the Cherries so all to play for on the South Coast.
At the Vitality last season the Clarets took the spoils with a 3-1 victory over the Cherries.
Ashley Barnes scored 1st, unfortunately for Ashley and Burnley, he scored an early own-goal past Tom Heaton.
Burnley were soon level through Chris Wood and 2-minutes later, Ashley Westwood, put the Clarets in front giving them a 2-1 lead at half-time.
Ashley Barnes redeemed his early own-goal scoring Burnley’s 3rd after the break to give the Clarets a great away day victory.
Betway offer Bournemouth at 5/4, the Draw at 12/5 and 11/5 for Burnley to come away with all 3-points.
Betway offer 4/1 that Chris Wood Scores First and slight Odds On 10/11 that there are Under 2.5 Goals.
ASTON VILLA v SOUTHAMPTON
Both teams come into this game with 15-points after another losing weekend for Dean Smith and Ralph Hasenhuttl.
Aston Villa sit just above Southampton in 17th-place in the Premier League table with a superior goal difference and anything but a defeat will keep them out of the relegation places.
Villa’s latest defeat was a 2-0 loss against Sheffield United at Bramall Lane.
After a goalless 1st-half, Villa conceded 2-goals to give their fellow promoted rivals the victory.
What would have irked the faithful was Jack Grealish was gifted the chance to get Villa back in the game having been awarded a penalty minutes after the Blades 2nd-goal.
Unfortunately for Jack, he fluffed his lines and blasted the ball against the crossbar.
Dean Smith will have known that it was going to be a long hard season against the elite of English football and would have targeted games against the likes of Sheffield United and Norwich to get the much-needed victories.
This fixture against the Saints will be another one targeted by Dean especially with it being at Villa Park.
Southampton suffered back-to-back defeats in the late Saturday afternoon kickoff this time against West Ham.
The 1-0 defeat has heaped pressure on Wreck-It Ralph and leaves the Saints in the bottom three of the Premier League table with the same 15-points as today’s opponents.
A victory for either team will go along way in the fight for survival.
It’s been over 3-years since Southampton last visited Villa Park.
In April 2016, the Saints beat Aston Villa 4-2 in a very entertaining game.
Shane Long and Dusan Tadic gave the Saints the lead before Ashley Westwood, prior to his move to Burnley, got a goal back before half-time.
Dusan scored his 2nd of the game after the break just before Ashley scored his 2nd too to give the Villa faithful brief hope going into the final minutes.
Sadio Mane (whatever happened to him?) put the game out of Villa’s reach in the dying seconds to give the Saints a terrific 4-2 victory.
Betway offer Aston Villa at 11/8, the Draw at 5/2 and 19/10 for Southampton to come away with all 3-points.
Betway offer 6/5 that there are Under 2.5 Goals and 6/1 for a 1-1 Scoreline.
BRIGHTON v SHEFFIELD UNITED
Brighton played out a 1-1 draw at Selhurst Park on Monday Night Football with Neal Maupay getting the Seagulls goal in the 1st-half.
Unfortunately for Graham Potter’s men the couldn’t hold on for the victory and conceded after the break to take a share of the points home to the Amex.
This will be a tough game against Chris Wilder’s Blades with the games coming thick and fast over the festive period.
Sheffield United are defying the pundits and the so-called experts who predicted the Blades for certain relegation.
Still unbeaten away from Bramall Lane, the Blades decided to finally give some joy to the home fans by getting a great 2-0 victory against Aston Villa on Saturday.
Chris Wilder was happy, honest!
John Fleck got both goals against Villa to give the Blades a great night out in Sheffield.
What’s remarkable about John’s career is, after starting his career at Glasgow Rangers, the Scottish midfielder was signed by Coventry City who were in League One at the time.
Sheffield United, who were also in League One, signed John from Coventry for £39 Million.
That’s actually just a bit of fun for the youngsters who play FIFA 2020 and think every Premier League player has to be a multi-million-pound signing.
John Fleck actually cost Sheffield United the grand sum of nothing, zero, zilch.
The Blades acquired John on a free transfer from Coventry to try and help them get out of League One.
Now John is a Premier League player in a Sheffield United team that are sitting comfortably in 7th-place in the Premier League table with 25-points.
Carlo Ancelotti is being courted by a few clubs after his sacking from Napoli. Arsenal and Everton are both after the Italian.
It’s strange really that Arsenal are not looking in the Sheffield Yellow Pages under M for Managers.
Chris Wilder would definitely sort out the mess at the Emirates.
A lot would ask,
‘Why would Chris leave Sheffield United, his boyhood club, for Arsenal?’
Maybe the £10 Million a year salary would persuade Chris to head down the M1 to North London.
Big Chris would still not be happy though.
James from Swinton is digging out his passport again as he thinks Brighton is abroad.
Jimbo’s still not happy that the staff at Molineux wouldn’t stamp his passport, as he’s still convinced Molineux is in France.
The lads getting excited for the arrival of Santa Claus.
Little Jim is hoping for an orange to go with the apple he got last year.
In a recent team photo showing off the Christmas jumpers at work, Jimbo was trying to hide, wearing a Santa Hat.
Everyone knew that it was James though and not Santa.
The best Christmas present for James will be 3-points against Brighton.
It’s 14-years since the Blades travelled the long distance to the South Coast to take on the Seagulls.
However, that game in September 2005 was a Championship game.
Brighton’s home at the time was the Withdean Stadium along time before their move to the Amex in 2011.
Phil Jagielka popped up again with the solitary goal in a 1-0 victory for the Blades.
Big Phil could quite easily be in the squad for this first visit to the Amex for Sheffield United.
Betway offer Brighton at 13/10, the Draw at 11/5 and 23/10 for Sheffield United to come away with all 3-points.
Betway offer 7/2 Neal Maupay Scores First and 7/5 that Lys Mousset Scores Anytime.
Away Win 1-2
NEWCASTLE v CRYSTAL PALACE
Newcastle lost on Saturday being beaten by Burnley by a 1-0 scoreline.
The neutral will simply brush over that result but in truth, Newcastle weren’t the same team as the one in the previous fixtures as they were missing quite a few players.
Although Andy Carroll was pushing for a start following his performances from the bench, Steve Bruce had no alternative on Saturday to start Big Andy as he was missing Alan Saint-Maximin, Jonjo Shelvey, Ciaran Clark and Miguel Almiron.
To lose 1-0 against Burnley at Turf Moor is not too bad and Big Brucey will quickly move on to this game against Crystal Palace, however, with games coming thick and fast over the festive period, he can’t be losing too many more players and definitely needs Jonjo back as soon as possible.
At Selhurst Park on Monday Night Football Wilfried Zaha scored a 2nd-half equaliser to give the Eagles a 1-1 draw against the Seagulls in the M23 derby.
Palace had conceded a Brighton opener before the break but Big Wilfried was on hand to give Palace a share of the points.
This will be a long trip North for the Eagles Ultras on one of the busiest shopping days of the year.
At least the Premier League fixture compilers have left it as a 3.00 PM kickoff.
It will be a tactical master class from two old stagers of the Premier League with Steve Bruce pitting his wits against Roy Hodgson.
At St James Park back in April, a Luka Milivojevic penalty, late in the game, gave Roy Hodgson’s Eagles a 1-0 victory over Rafa Benitez Magpies.
Betway offer Newcastle at 8/5, the Draw at 21/10 and 19/10 for Crystal Palace to come away with all 3-points.
Betway offer 13/5 that Andy Carroll Scores Anytime and 4/1 that Luka Milivojevic Scores Anytime.
NORWICH v WOLVES
Norwich could argue with Bournemouth as to who got the result of the weekend.
No one expected the Canaries to go to the home of the Foxes and not get eaten up.
Bournemouth will say that their victory at Stamford Bridge was the greater of the two as Norwich only drew.
Yet with 8-Premier League victories in a row, Daniel Farke inspired his Norwich side to prevent a 9th victory for Brendan’s Wonderful Human Beings.
Teemu Pukki put Norwich ahead midway through the 1st-half but Leicester levelled before the break.
There were no more goals with Norwich getting a well deserved 1-1 draw at the King Power Stadium.
The point gained still leaves the Canaries in the bottom 3 of the Premier League table but will surely give Daniel Farke-Life confidence going forward. Norwich are only a victory away from getting out of the relegation zone so all to play for in the coming weeks.
Especially with Aston Villa and Southampton facing each other.
Wolves were beaten by the new-look Tottenham on Sunday suffering a 2-1 home defeat at Molineux.
Nuno Espírito Santo came up against his old boss Jose Mourinho.
What many won’t know about Nuno is that he played for Jose at Porto.
Not many times, as Nuno wasn’t a defender, midfielder or striker, Nuno was a goalkeeper and at the time of Jose’s reign at Porto, Jose had one of the best Portuguese goalkeepers of all time in Vitor Baia, so Nuno only played 6-times for Jose and Porto.
The surprise in those 6-games is Nuno did actually score a goal when Jose allowed him to convert a penalty.
What’s also not commonly known about Nuno is he is only 45-years old and not 70.
Arsenal are reportedly seeking permission from Wolves to talk to Nuno about him replacing Unai, if they fail to land Pep 2.
No disrespect to Nuno but would Arsenal be seeking permission from Sheffield United if Chis Wilder was from Portugal instead of Stocksbridge and called Cristiano Wildos?
Strange isn’t it?
After going a goal behind against Tottenham, Adama Traore pulled a goal back with a brilliant solo effort.
With time running out, it looked like Wolves would hold on for a point.
Unfortunately, Tottenham scored in the 91st-minute to snatch the victory.
Wolves progressed to the knockout stages of the Europa League and will face Espanyol in the last 32 in February 2020.
It’s been 2-years since Wolves last ventured over to Norwich.
In October 2017, whilst both teams were still in the Championship, Wolves beat Norwich by a 2-0 scoreline.
Willy Boly and Leo Bonatini got the goals, one in each half, to give Nuno’s Gold and Blacks the away day victory over Daniel Farke’s Canaries.
Betway offer Norwich at 14/5, the Draw at 14/5 and slight Odds On 10/11 for Wolves to come away with all 3-points.
Betway offer 6/5 that Teemu Pukki Scores Anytime and 17/4 that Raul Jimenez Scores First.
Away Win 1-2
MAN CITY v LEICESTER
Late Saturday Afternoon Football live on Sky Sports.
After being humiliated at the Etihad by Manchester United, Pep’s Low Flying City had an easy away fixture at the Emirates to get back to winning ways.
Arsenal didn’t put up much of a fight and allowed City to score 3-first-half goals to give the Citizens a 3-0 victory.
Kevin De Bruyne scored twice, with Raheem Sterling getting the other.
That leaves City in 3rd-place in the Premier League table with 35-points, a staggering 14-points behind leaders Liverpool and 4-points behind today’s opponents Leicester, so this is definitely a chance for Pep to close the gap on Brendan.
Man City will play Real Madrid in the last 16 of the Champions League when that particular competition starts again in February 2020.
After 8-straight Premier League victories, the Foxes would have expected to make that 9 with the visit of struggling Norwich to the King Power on Saturday.
Unfortunately for Leicester, Norwich spoiled the party and got a great 1-1 draw.
Sheffield Superstar Jamie Vardy did think he had scored Leicester’s equaliser after Norwich had taken the lead but replays showed that the ball was deflected in by the Norwich goalkeeper Tim Krull, so no joy this week for Jamie.
With Liverpool continuing their winning streak, the 2-points lost or the the point gained against Norwich, depending on how it’s perceived, gives Brendan’s Foxes 39-points, 10-points behind Jurgen’s Reds and 4-points more than Pep’s City side.
Brendan will be hoping for at least a draw at the Etihad to maintain the 4-point gap but he will know a defeat would close it to just 1-point separating the 2-sides going into the Christmas period, where Leicester come up against Liverpool on Boxing Day.
This fixture was the penultimate game of the 2018/2019 season which, at the time, had a significant impact on the deciding the destination of the title.
Liverpool had beaten Newcastle in their penultimate fixture to put Jurgen’s Reds at the top of the Premier League table 2-points ahead of Pep’s Citizens.
If City hadn’t got a victory against Leicester then the title would have gone to Merseyside.
Brendan Rodgers looked as if he was going to snatch a draw against Pep and spoil the party until Captain Kompany unleashed a speculative shot.
Vincent’s blockbuster flew passed Kasper Schmeichel to give City the vital victory and take them back to the top of the table, a point ahead of Liverpool.
With both winning their final game, City were crowned Champions.
Betway offer Man City at slight Odds On 3/8, the Draw at 17/4 and 13/2 for Leicester to come away with all 3-points.
Betway offer 13/2 that Raheem Sterling Scores Two Plus Goals and 9/5 that Jamie Vardy Scores Anytime.
Home Win 3-1
WATFORD v MANCHESTER UNITED
Early Sunday Afternoon Football live on Sky Sports.
Nigel Pearson put out a strong side at Anfield in his 1st game in charge of Watford but couldn’t change the fortunes of the Hornets who suffered another loss.
What Nigel will take from the game is his side showed spirit even getting a couple of chances against Liverpool and will know that there is hope for the coming games.
Manchester United were held to a 1-1 draw against Everton at Old Trafford on Sunday.
Victor Lindelof was unfortunate to turn the ball into his own net after what looked like an infringement on David De Gea.
VAR were watching Escape to the Country on BBC 1 at the time so decided not to award a foul against the Everton strikers.
Mason Greenwood equalised for United in the 2nd-half which gave Ole a valuable point and puts the Red Devil’s up to 6th in the Premier League table with 25-points, remarkably the same number of points as Sheffield United.
It’s fair to say that Manchester United won’t win the title this season and maybe won’t win it in the foreseeable future but there are phases in place at Old Trafford and the next phase must be to bring in a couple of players in January.
Mason Greenwood is a great young player at only 18-years old and the goal against Everton followed the 2-goals Mason scored against AZ Alkmaar in the Europa League last Thursday.
With Mason, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, there are goals in the United team.
What United need maybe is another defender and a creative midfielder.
Easier said than done but it is Manchester United, so there should be people good enough to scout these new players.
Ole’s Wheels are now unbeaten in 5-games in all competitions and with this visit to Vicarage Rd and a Boxing Day home game against Newcastle, United should be looking to extend that unbeaten run.
United progressed to the final 32 of the Europa League and have a 2-legged affair against Club Bruges when the competition resumes in February 2020.
Both teams were managed by different bosses when the Pink Devil’s last visited Vicarage Rd.
Jose Mourinho’s Pink Devil’s got a 2-1 victory over Javi Gracia’s Hornets back in September 2018.
Romelu Lukaku and Chris Smalling got 2-quick fire goals in the 1st-half.
Andre Gray replied for Watford after the break but United held on for the victory.
Nemanja Matic was shown a 2nd-Yellow Card in the final minutes to beat his teammates to the dressing room and get in the showers before the final whistle.
Betway offer Watford at 16/5, the Draw at 14/5 and slight Odds On 5/6 for Manchester United to come away with all 3-points.
Betway offer 5/2 that Troy Deeney Scores Anytime and 19/10 that there are Over 3.5 Goals.
Away Win 1-3
TOTTENHAM v CHELSEA
Late Sunday Afternoon Football live on Sky Sports.
What’s referred to as the Jose Mourinho Derby by absolutely nobody sees Frank Lampard’s Chelsea head to the Chas and Dave Memorial Stadium.
Tottenham left it very late on Sunday to snatch a 2-1 victory against Wolves with Jan Vertonghen getting a 91st-minute winner to give the Spurs faithful a great away day.
Lucas Moura scored early on in the game but after Wolves equalised midway through the 2nd-half, it looked like the most Tottenham would get was a point until Jan the Man stepped up with the last gasp winner.
That’s now 4 out of 5 Premier League victories since Jose rocked up at Tottenham with only a defeat against Manchester United on his record.
Jose will see it as 5 out of 5 as he appears to be taking the credit for Manchester United beating Tottenham as only Jose could.
That leaves Tottenham in 5th-place in the Premier League table just 3-points behind Chelsea and a victory could see them leapfrog the Blues into 4th, as Spurs have a 2-goal advantage over Frank’s side.
One thing that is certain is Jose has injected some new life into the Tottenham players and they won’t be far off come the end of the season.
Tottenham progressed to the last 16 of the Champions League and will face RB Leipzig in a 2-legged affair when that particular competition returns in February 2020.
Frank Lampard’s Chelsea have hit a bit of a slump at the moment losing 4 out of the last 5 Premier League games, the latest being a 1-0 defeat against Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge last Saturday.
Frank decided to play Mason Mount as a creative midfielder with Willian and Christian Pulisic more advanced.
Mason isn’t a midfield general and needs to play in the Willian role with Tammy Abraham having Christian and Mason at either side of him.
That frees up a midfield place for either Ross Barclay or Mateo Kovacic to play alongside N’Golo Kante and Jorginho.
That’s for Frank to decide, for now, this looks a tough ask but will surely be an emotional affair for Frank meeting up with Jose again.
Chelsea, themselves progressed through to the last 16 of the Champions League and will face Bayern Munich in a home and away clash in February.
It will be the Blues 1st-visit to the new stadium, last season’s fixture between the two took place at Tottenham’s temporary home of Wembley.
In November 2018, Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham beat Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea by a 3-1 scoreline.
Dele Alli and Harry Kane got 2-early goals for Spurs before half-time.
Son Heung-Min made it 3-0 after the break before Olivier Giroud scored a late consolation for Sarri-Ball’s Blues.
Betway offer Tottenham at 13/10, the Draw at 11/4 and 15/8 for Chelsea to come away with all 3-points.
Betway offer 4/1 that Harry Kane Scores First and 14/5 that there are Over 4.5 Goals.
Home Win 4-2