John Newsome takes us through the first fixtures of the New Year and forecasts further pain for Alan Pardew.
BRIGHTON v BOURNEMOUTH
2018 and we are straight into the Premier League. Brighton are performing well in their debut season in the top flight and got a well-deserved draw 2 days ago against Newcastle. Bournemouth got a well-deserved win against in-form Everton on Saturday scoring a late winner to take all 3 points. There are only 2 points between the teams and a draw looks likely.
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BURNLEY v LIVERPOOL
Burnley have almost identical records whether playing at Turf Moor or away, gaining 17 points at Home and 17 points on their travels. The only surprise is they have scored fewer goals at Turf Moor but again they have conceded fewer in front of their home fans. Burnley got a point away at Huddersfield on Saturday but Liverpool are a different proposition. The Reds score for fun, particularly away from home. With the games coming thick and fast a share of the points is forecast.
LEICESTER v HUDDERSFIELD
Leicester have not won in 4 and will look at this game to set that straight. They lost 2-1 to Liverpool on Saturday but in truth, it could have been 7-1. Jamie Vardy keeps scoring which is a plus for them and should notch here. Although Leicester will see this game as a chance to get back to winning ways, Huddersfield are no pushovers and are collecting valuable points in their bid to stay in the Premier League. That said they may find this game a step too far in this busy period.
Home Win 2-0
STOKE v NEWCASTLE
Stoke apparently fielded a weakened team against Chelsea on Saturday and were hammered 5-0. If Mark Hughes gets 3 points here then it will be a good tactical decision. Stoke are better at the Bet365 stadium and have gained most of their points here. Newcastle need players. They are picking points up here and there and at the moment are not relegation fodder, but as the season progresses their squad will find its level and the club could find itself in trouble again.
Home Win 2-1
EVERTON v MAN UNITED
This game is live on BT Sport and is a great game to start the New Year off with. Everton lost to a late Bournemouth goal on Saturday. Wayne Rooney came off the bench in that game having missed the previous 2 and will want to start against Manchester United. He’s back scoring again and is now playing in a deeper role which suits his style of play. What can be said of Manchester United? Something is not right at Old Trafford. They have not won now in 4 including the Carabao League Cup defeat to Bristol City and have lost the services of Romelu Lukaku after the striker suffered a head injury in Saturdays draw against Southampton. Maybe it’s finally a chance for Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial to step out of shadows and into the limelight.
Away Win 0-2
SOUTHAMPTON v CRYSTAL PALACE
Both of these sides played the Manchester clubs last time out and surprisingly, each game ended 0-0. Southampton got a terrific away draw at Old Trafford late Saturday night and have slightly more time to recover than Crystal Palace who played Sunday morning. The Saints have had a tough time lately playing Leicester, Chelsea, Huddersfield, Tottenham and Manchester United (gaining only 2 points in this difficult spell). Crystal Palace ended Man City’s winning run on Sunday and were unlucky not to take all 3 points after another late penalty miss, this time by Luka Milivojevic.
SWANSEA v TOTTENHAM
This game is live on Sky Sports. Swansea appointed Carlos Carvalhal as their new manager just a few days after Carlos was sacked by Championship side Sheffield Wednesday, which surprised everyone. Then the second surprise of the Swans week was getting an away win at Watford. That’s why we all love football. That lifted them off the bottom of the table briefly but after West Brom’s draw against Arsenal, they now sit bottom again. Tottenham and Harry Kane are flying at the moment, they score for fun and netted 8 goals in the 2 games over Christmas – Kane getting 6 of them. Spurs should be much fresher than Swansea and will get goals and all 3 points, in front of the cameras.
Away Win 0-3
WEST HAM v WEST BROM
West Ham are the other team who only played twice over Christmas and again will be too fresh and too strong for now bottom of the table West Brom. David Moyes has slowly improved the Hammers and has got Marco Arnautovic back playing to his Inter Milan best, scoring 5 goals in December. Marco has always had the talent, just sometimes not the temperament but Moyes seems to be able to press the right buttons and get the best out of him.
West Brom haven’t won since August and Pardew’s appointment has yielded no real bounce. They did get a well-deserved draw against Arsenal on New Year’s Eve but this game won’t be the start of the revolution.
Home Win 2-0
MAN CITY v WATFORD
The Citizens will want to get back to winning ways after their draw against Crystal Palace and will do against a Watford side who surprisingly lost to Swansea on Saturday. City have only scored 1 goal in the previous 2 games but with this being the last Premier League game for a couple of weeks due to the FA Cup, will go all out to get more goals. They are still the best team in the Premier League and will win the title. Watford are mid-table and have actually gained most of their points and scored most of their goals away from Vicarage Rd. However, this away trip won’t yield either.
Home Win 4-0
ARSENAL v CHELSEA
What a cracker of a New Years game this is in front of the Sky Sports cameras. Over the festive period, Arsenal got a draw in a fantastic game against Liverpool, a win away at Crystal Palace and another draw against West Brom. Chelsea won 2 and got a draw against the other Merseysiders, Everton. Chelsea have had an extra 24 hours to recover from the weekend’s games. With Eden Hazard rested from their emphatic win over Stoke, he should return to the starting line up. This is a precursor to the Carabao Cup Semi-final played next week but 3 valuable Premier League points are at stake here. With Arsenal having home advantage another draw looks on.
TOTTENHAM v WEST HAM
This game takes place on the 4th January 2018, in front of the Sky Sports cameras with both teams having played on the 2nd January 2018, so there will not be much time to recover and team selection is vital. Tottenham are on fire at the minute and with Harry Kane breaking all-time goalscoring records should get the Wembley Win. West Ham are a better side under David Moyes but are not winning that many games. Tottenham and Kane should be too good, but keep an eye out for the teamsheet as key players may be given a break.
Home Win 3-1
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