Goodison Park is where game-week 21 gets underway, with a match featuring 2 teams that are not easy to pin down in terms of form. The Toffee-men and the Foxes both harbour top-6 ambitions, but look likely to fall short now that Manchester United are showing they mean business once again. Which team does John Newsome see coming our on top? You can view all previous analysis from John’s weekly column here – English Premier League Predictions For Saturday.
EVERTON v LEICESTER
Early New Years Day Football live on Sky Sports.
Everton lost 1-0 away against Brighton on Saturday. It was mentioned that their emphatic 5-1 win on Boxing Day was just against Burnley and that Burnley are rubbish at the moment so the Toffee faithful shouldn’t get too carried away. To be fair to Everton there was some inspired defending by Brighton to prevent them from scoring so Marco Silva will regroup his players for this visit of Leicester. That’s 2 Losses and a Win in the 3 games over Christmas for Everton.
The Premier League is the best league in the World. Proof of that statement can be encompassed in the results of Leicester’s last 3 festive games. Go to Stamford Bridge and beat Chelsea, take on Pep’s High Flying City and beat them, no problem. Take on struggling Cardiff at home and lose. Maybe that was a game too far for the Foxes. However, luck does play a big part in not just football, but life itself and it’s said that it’s better to be lucky than good. In the game against Cardiff, Sheffield Superstar Jamie Vardy was taken off in the 68th minute. Five minutes later Leicester were awarded a penalty which, if still on the pitch, Jamie would have taken. The responsibility was left to James Maddison who couldn’t convert. Granted, Mr Vardy may have missed also. Cardiff scored a 92nd-minute winner. Luck dropped in just at the right time for Cardiff.
This reverse fixture was played back at the beginning of October and finished 2-1 to Everton. Richarlison opened the scoring for the Toffees before Ricardo Pereira equalised for the Foxes. Wes Morgan had been shown a 2nd yellow card before Gylfi Sigurdsson scored the winner for Everton.
Bet 365 offer Everton at slight Odds On 19/20, the Draw at 23/10 and 3/1 for Leicester to come away with all 3 points.
Bet 365 offer 9/2 that Richarlison Scores the First Goal and Evens 1/1 that Jamie Vardy Scores Anytime.
Away Win 1-2
ARSENAL v FULHAM
Arsenal were hammered away at Anfield in the late Saturday afternoon kickoff. After Ainsley Maitland-Niles had initially put Arsenal in front, Liverpool took control and scored 5 to beat the Gunners 5-1. Ultimately Liverpool were too good on the night and are Top of the Premier League for a reason, however, Arsenal’s defending left a lot to be desired. The Gunners are brilliant going forward but defending wise, oh no! Laurent Koscielny has recently returned from injury and is a plus for the defence but Unai Emery needs to work on his team and maybe needs to invest in a top quality defender or three. That’s Won one, Drew one and Lost one for the Gunners in the festive games. A common pattern which will emerge from a number of teams throughout the festive period.
Fulham won the Battle of the Bottom Two on Saturday beating Huddersfield 1-0 at Craven Cottage to swap places at the bottom of the Premier League table. Aleksandar Mitrovic got the all-important winner very late on in the game. Fulham had earlier been awarded a penalty and despite Aleksandar being the designated penalty taker and Claudio Ranieri stipulating that Aleksandar should take the kick, Aboubaker Kamara insisted on taking the penalty and subsequently missed. The late goal from Mitrovic not only gave Fulham the vital 3 points but must have glossed over a very tricky atmosphere in the dressing room afterwards. It’s been quite a decent festive period for Fulham gaining 5 points out of the 9 available and Claudio is slowly working his magic on the Cottages to get them out of the relegation zone. This reverse fixture back at the beginning of October finished 5-1 to the Gunners. Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang both scored a couple that day with Aaron Ramsey adding the 5th. Andre Schurrle got the Fulham consolation.
Bet 365 offer Arsenal at Odds On 3/10, the Draw at 19/4 and 15/2 for Fulham to head back across London with all 3 points.
Bet 365 offer 7/4 that there are Under 2.5 Goals and 13/5 that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Scores the First Goal.
Home Win 2-0
CARDIFF v TOTTENHAM
New Years Day Football live on Sky Sports.
Out of these 2 teams, 1 beat Leicester away and the other lost against Wolves at home. The surprise in that statement is Cardiff were the ones who beat Leicester away on Saturday. Big Neil Warnock worked his magic again and came away from the King Power with all 3 points after a smash and grab injury-time winner from Victor Camarasa and what a goal worthy of winning any game. The Bluebirds were let off the hook midway through the 2nd-half after conceding a penalty. Luckily for Cardiff, Leicester missed the spot-kick and Victor coolly took his chance with time running out giving Cardiff all 3 points. That’s a Win, a Draw and a Loss in the 3 festive games for Big Neil and considering the loss was against a resurgent Manchester United it’s not a bad return.
The surprise result from Saturday’s games was Tottenham’s loss at Wembley against Wolves. Apart from the Wolves faithful no one saw that coming especially when Harry Kane had given Tottenham the lead at the break. Mauricio Pochettino had put out a strong side too so team selection wasn’t the problem. Critics will immediately start the conspiracy theories about Mauricio going to Manchester United and losing focus at Wembley or White Hart Lane or wherever Spurs currently call home but that’s for the future, for now, Poch will want to get back on track in South Wales. This reverse fixture back in October was settled by a single Eric Dier goal early on in proceedings. Joe Ralls was sent off for Cardiff midway through the 2nd-half.
Bet 365 offer Cardiff at 6/1, the Draw at 10/3 and Odds On 4/9 for Tottenham to get back to winning ways.
Bet 365 offer 5/2 that Tottenham Win Both Halves and 21/10 that Dele Alli Scores Anytime.
Away Win 0-2
BOURNEMOUTH v WATFORD
Bournemouth were well beaten at Old Trafford on Sunday losing 4-1 against Ole’s Red Army. That’s Lost two and Won one for the festive games. The worrying thing for Eddie and the Faithful is that the December 7 has only yielded 6 points from a possible 21 meaning the Cherries have lost 5 of the 7 which isn’t great. Maybe Eddie will invest in the January Transfer Window. To be fair though Bournemouth have lost against Liverpool, Man City, Tottenham, Wolves and Manchester United in the December 7 so shouldn’t be too down on their Cherry selves. Bournemouth will come again.
Watford come into this game against Bournemouth off the back of a draw against Newcastle. Like a lot of teams over the Christmas period, Watford got a Win, a Draw and a Loss with the Loss coming against Eden Hazard. Abdoulaye Doucoure got the equaliser for the Hornets in the well earned draw against Newcastle at Vicarage Rd. Abdoulaye was left on the bench by Javi Gracia and came on in the 2nd-half. There is talk that the big striker is going to leave Watford in January and clubs the stature of Paris St Germain and Real Madrid are report-ably interested. Troy Deeney wouldn’t look out of place at one of those clubs too but maybe time as passed Big Troy by.
This reverse fixture back in early October finished surprisingly 4-0 to the Cherries. David Brooks, Callum Wilson and a couple from Josh King gave Bournemouth the emphatic win.
Bet 365 offer Bournemouth at 11/8, the Draw at 9/4 and 2/1 for Watford to come away with all 3 points.
Bet 365 offer 11/10 for Under 2.5 Goals and 11/4 that there is a Penalty to either team.
WOLVES v CRYSTAL PALACE
Wolves got arguably the result of the weekend coming from behind and beating Tottenham at Wembley 3-1. After going in at the break losing 1-0, Wolves took over in the 2nd-half with goals from Willy Boly, Raul Jimenez and Helda Costa giving the Gold and Blacks a famous win and giving Wolves what’s becoming the common pattern of a Win, to follow up the Draw and the Loss in the 3 festive games. The Loss being against Liverpool so no disgrace there.
Crystal Palace come into this game at Molineux off the back of a 1-0 loss against Eden Chelsea. Palace matched Chelsea throughout the game but succumbed to a solitary goal just after the start of the 2nd-half. The plus point for the Eagles faithful is Conor Wickham got more game-time after his long-term injury and his brief cameo in the previous game against Cardiff. Crystal Palace have also had the festive pattern of Won one, Drew one and Lost one in games against Man City, Cardiff and Chelsea. Probably the surprise in those results was that the Win came against Man City.
This reverse fixture back in early October finished 1-0 to Wolves with Matt Doherty getting the solitary goal.
Bet 365 offer Wolves at Evens 1/1, the Draw at 12/5 and 11/4 for Palace to come away with all 3 points.
Bet 365 offer that 3/1 that Wolves Win and there are Under 2.5 Goals and 11/2 that Ruben Neves Scores Anytime.
Home Win 2-0
WEST HAM v BRIGHTON
West Ham surprisingly were beaten on Sunday away at Burnley. After a superb win away at St Mary’s against Wreck-it Ralph’s Saints, Manuel Pellegrini went and wrecked it himself at Turf Moor against one of the worse teams in the league. The Hammers conceded 2 goals in the 1st-half and shut out Burnley for the rest of the game, however, were unable to score themselves and ultimately lost 2-0. A plus point for the Bubbles was Andy Carroll played all of the 2nd-half and has more game-time under his belt and will be pushing for a place in the starting lineup. It has been a great December for West Ham obtaining 15 out of 21 points on offer but the festive games will show Won one and Lost 2.
Brighton got the all-important win on Saturday beating Everton 1-0 at the Amex. Jurgen Locadia got his 2nd goal in 2 games after his strike against Arsenal. Again, that Win for the Seagulls gave them the pattern of Won one, Drew one and Lost one out of the 3 festive games. The good thing about Jurgen’s goal was that it was originally deemed Jurgen was in an offside position, which he was when he stuck the ball away. However, what was missed by the linesman was the ball had been given to him by an Everton player meaning he wasn’t offside. After a brief consultation between the referee and linesman, the goal was given and not a VAR in sight. It can be argued that the linesman should be now called the Referees Assistant but rarely does the linesman assist his referee.
This reverse fixture back October finished 1-0 to Brighton with Glenn Murray getting the solitary goal.
Bet 365 offer West Ham at slight Odds On 9/10, the Draw at 5/2 and 3/1 for Brighton to come away with all 3 points.
Bet 365 offer 9/4 that West Ham Win to Nil and 5/1 that Andy Carroll Scores the First Goal.
Home Win 2-0
HUDDERSFIELD v BURNLEY
Huddersfield slipped to the bottom of the Premier League table after losing 1-0 against Fulham at Craven Cottage. Unlike the majority of teams over the festive period, the Terriers pattern is Lost one, Lost one and Lost one. To be fair that pattern should read Lost the last 7 Premier League games. Not such a Magnificent December Seven for Huddersfield. The glimmer of hope they can take from the visit of Burnley is that Burnley are just as rubbish as Huddersfield so this should be a great game of rubbishness and either finish 0-0 or 5-5.
Burnley surprised everyone not least themselves beating an inform West Ham team 2-0 at Turf Moor on Sunday. Burnley’s festive pattern is Lost two and Won one and only 6 points from a December that had a possible 21 on offer. They are the joint worse team on form over the last 10 games and remain in the Bottom 3 going into the New Year albeit on goal difference with Southampton. Chris Wood and Dwight McNeil got the goals for Burnley. Young Dwight has had a handful of games for Burnley this season after progressing from the youth team and Sean Dyche rates him very highly. In the limited game-time he has had for the Clarets, he has played against Manchester United where he was as a youngster so that will do him no harm at all. Burnley have a tough fixture coming up taking on the mighty Barnsley F.C. in the FA Cup so may rest players against Huddersfield.
This reverse fixture back in early October finished 1-1. Christopher Schindler got the goal for the Terriers cancelling out the 1st-half strike from Sam Vokes giving both teams a share of the points.
Bet 365 offer Huddersfield at 11/10, the Draw at 21/10 and 14/5 for Burnley to record Back-to-Back Wins.
Bet 365 offer 6/1 for a 0-0 Scoreline and 7/4 that there are Under 1.5 Goals.
CHELSEA v SOUTHAMPTON
Chelsea beat Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park last time out. That’s Won two and Lost one over the festive period for Chelsea. French World Cup Winner N’Golo Kante got the solitary goal just after half-time in the 1-0 win. N’Golo has been unfairly criticised by Maurizio Sarri over the past few weeks but that goal will have certainly pleased the little Frenchman and the Big Italian. Eden Hazard played in his more suitable role of number 10 with another World Cup Winner Olivier Giroud playing as the lone striker. Olivier was unlucky when he scored 2 goals but was deemed to be offside on both occasions whilst replays showed he was marginally on. VAR would probably have reversed those decisions giving the French World Cup winners 3 goals on the day. Two tight calls and two tough decisions for the linesman but he could have given the striker the benefit of the doubt which in essence is what he should be doing.
Southampton lost again on Sunday admittedly against High Flying City. Despite a brief resurgence under new boss Ralph Hasenhüttl the Saints have now lost 4 out of the December 7 and have only yielded 7 points from a possible 21. The festive pattern is Won one and Lost two. Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg had a mixed day against Man City. The Saints captain scored a wonderful goal to briefly level the scores then late in the 2nd-half was shown a straight red card for a horrendous tackle on Fernandinho. James Ward-Prowse was also unfortunate to score an own goal. The Saints are hovering above the bottom 3 on goal difference and Ralph will know he has a lot of work to do in the coming weeks. The Transfer Window is key for Southampton.
This reverse fixture back at St Mary’s in October finished 3-0 to Chelsea. Eden Hazard, Ross Barkley and Alvaro Morata were the Blues goal scorers that day.
Bet 365 offer Chelsea at massive Odds On 1/4, the Draw at 5/1 and 9/1 for Southampton to come away from the Capital with all 3 points.
Bet 365 offer 11/8 that there are Over 3.5 Goals and Evens 1/1 that Chelsea Win to Nil.
Home Win 4-0
NEWCASTLE v MANCHESTER UNITED
Newcastle welcome Manchester United to St James Park live on Sky Sports. The Magpies got a well-earned point at Vicarage Rd on Saturday. Salomon Rondon had put them in front in the 1st-half but couldn’t hold on for the win and conceded a late goal to come away with just a Draw. Newcastle’s festive pattern is Lost one and Drew 2 with the loss being against Liverpool so no disgrace there. Rafa will be hoping for some much-needed funds to invest in the January Transfer Window and will just hope that the Magpies are not one of the 3 worst teams in the Premier League come the end of the season.
United are back, United are back, that’s what the Old Trafford faithful are singing after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer engineered his 3rd win in a row as interim/caretaker whatever it’s classed as boss of United. United’s festive pattern is Won three, there’s only Table Topping Liverpool that can match that. Ole must think all his Christmas’s have come at once. A telephone call was recorded a couple of weeks back. Somewhere in Norway.
“hello the Baby faced assassin here, scorer of the 1999 Manchester United winning goal in the Champions League Final against Bayern Munich “ (that’s how Ole answers his phone apparently)
“ yeah I know I was only substitute “
“You want me to be the interim/ caretaker boss of Manchester United?”
“I know Jose was rubbish “
“Yeah I know he was sucking the life out of Old Trafford “
“But why me ?”
“Yeah I know Roy’s got a beard and can’t be taken seriously “
“Yeah I know Paul’s just decided to talk after 30 years”
“Yeah I know Gary was rubbish at Valencia, to be fair I was rubbish at Cardiff, but he’s good on Sky Sports though”
“So I’m 4th choice then ?”
“6th? Who else was there?”
“Big Sam… understandable!”
“.. and Theresa May.. yeah she’s hard to get rid of”
“What will I do to get United winning again?”
“Nowt much let Paul Pogba know he’s brilliant, let Rashers play up front instead of out on the wing, show them where the nets are and tell them that’s where the ball goes, pretty much nowt else. That should get them winning again”
“This is not Jeremy Beadle is it ?”
“No? Ed Woodward (same thing)”
“Ok I’ll book a flight out of Molde straight away”
“Si thi Ed” phone down and that’s how Ole became the boss at Manchester United. Paul Pogba is the form player scoring 2 brilliant goals against Bournemouth. Marcus Rashford was sublime in his performance and topped it off with a great goal and when in doubt Ole introduced Romelu Lukaku to proceedings and Big Rom scored with nearly his 1st touch. The slight negative to Ole’s new look United is they do concede goals and need to tighten up at the back. Eric Bailley will be missing for the foreseeable future after getting a straight red card for a horrendous tackle on Ryan Fraser. United are back but how far can they go? It shows one thing Football is not only about what happens on the pitch, but the dynamics that happen throughout the week to bring everyone together for 90 minutes. So what if you have to massage someone’s ego. Rather massage an ego and win than don’t and lose. Jose chose the latter, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has chosen the former. Ole is glad he had his mobile on that day a couple of weeks back.
This fixture in October finished 3-2 in favour of Manchester. The annoying thing about that game for the Toon Army was Newcastle had taken an early 2-0 lead with goals from Kenedy and Yoshinori Muto. Manchester United waited until the 70th minute to stage a comeback and goals from Juan Mata, Anthony Martial and Alexis Sanchez gave United all 3 points. That would have irked Rafa Benitez. Fact.
Bet 365 offer Newcastle at 9/2, the Draw at 3/1 and Odds On 4/7 for Manchester to come away with all 3 points.
Bet 365 offer 22/1 for a 4-1 Scoreline to Manchester United and 7/1 that Marcus Rashford Scores 2.
Away Win 1-4
MAN CITY v LIVERPOOL
Thursday Night Football live on Sky Sports brings the busy Premier League schedule to a close and what a cracker of a game.
Pep’s High Flying City have had the worst December possible losing 3 out of the 7 games and their festive pattern is Lost two and Won one. Peps boys got back to winning ways with a convincing win against Southampton on Sunday. The David of the Silva’s opened the scoring with City being helped on their way via a James Ward-Prowse deflected own goal. Blonde bombshell Sergio Aguero scored a brilliant header to make the score 3-1 at half-time. No further goals were added in the 2nd-half and City go into this game against Liverpool trailing by 7 points. In the game at St Mary’s City showed some unbelievable passing from the defence with the goalkeeper Ederson showing calmness and control. It could also be said that City gave the ball away too often with the Southampton goal coming by way of a mistake from Oleksandr Zinchenko. Whilst Pep won’t change his footballing philosophy and why would he, it does give the opposition chances. Not only the team that are taking on City at the time but also the watching scouts from the rest of the Premier League. That said it’s one thing to know what City’s weaknesses are it’s another thing to make it count. There’s only a handful of teams that can take on Pep’s City and come out on top. Unfortunately for the Citizens Liverpool are one of the teams in that handful. If City lose to Liverpool 10 points is a lot to overcome. It can be done, remember Newcastle in 1996. Pep would ‘love it’. There’s a long way to go yet, but the feeling is this is a massive game that could decide the outcome of the Premier League.
Liverpool in contrast, come into this game having had the best possible December they could have imagined. It surely was a Magnificent December Seven for the Reds beating everyone put in front of them including their Merseyside rivals, sealing the fate of Jose Mourinho and gunning down Unai’s Arsenal. Liverpool also beat the mighty Burnley, Bournemouth, Wolves and Rafa’s Newcastle putting them an incredible 7 points ahead of their rivals before this crunch game at the Etihad. There’s a long way to go but if Jurgen’s Reds can get a win against Pep today then it can be said that they will have one hand on the Premier League trophy. It’s also possible that Liverpool can match the exploits of the 2003/2004 Arsenal Invincibles and go through the season unbeaten. The Anfield faithful got to see a great game against Arsenal last Saturday. Arsenal had taken the lead but in the space of 1 and half blistering minutes, Roberto Firmino changed the nature of the game and scored 2 goals. Sadio Mane and a Mo Salah penalty made it 4–1 at half-time. Liverpool were awarded a further penalty in the 2nd-half and Roberto took over the spot-kicking duties to seal his hat-trick and Liverpool’s 5th. After hearing Tottenham had lost their game just before kickoff this was a perfect way for Liverpool to respond and extend their lead at the Top of the Premier League.
This reverse fixture back in October finished stalemate in a 0-0 Draw. What was a surprise in that game was Riyad Mahrez missed an 86th-minute penalty which could have changed the whole dynamic of the Premier League?
Bet 365 offer Liverpool at Evens 1/1, the Draw at 11/4 and 12/5 (When was the last time City were 12/5 ?) for Man City to come away with all 3 points.
Bet 365 offer 3/1 that there are Over 4.5 Goals and 5/1 that Mo Salah gets the First Goal.
Home Win 4-2