While the rest of Europe’s top five leagues enjoy their winter breaks, the Premier League continues with 10 fixtures taking place during Gameweek 19 across Boxing Day and beyond.
The headline clash is Liverpool‘s visit to Leicester City which will see first take on second, with the Reds looking to extend their lead at the top of the table – having recently won the Club World Cup.
Manchester City will be looking to capitalise if either of their rivals slips up when they face Wolverhampton Wanderers in the only game to take place on Friday.
Elsewhere, Mikel Arteta’s first game as Arsenal manager takes him to Bournemouth, Everton – now managed by Carlo Ancelotti – host Burnley and Tottenham face Brighton. Aston Villa host Norwich, Chelsea face Southampton, there’s a London derby between Crystal Palace and West Ham, Sheffield United take on Watford and Manchester United welcome Newcastle to Old Trafford.
As usual, we’ve had two writers take a look at every fixture and make some predictions. There are also percentile odds, based on the Smarkets betting exchange, for every result possible in each game.
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Tottenham vs. Brighton
Harry Edwards: Tottenham were disastrous against Chelsea and will be hoping for a swift return to form on Boxing Day. The last time these two met, Brighton cruised to a 3-0 victory but with Mourinho at the helm this should be different. Despite the defeats to Manchester United, Bayern Munich and Chelsea, Tottenham have been in control against the ‘smaller teams’ and with Brighton not in great form, this should be a home win. Tottenham 2-0 Brighton.
Chris Smith: Mourinho will be demanding a reaction from his players after a poor showing against Chelsea. Brighton are looking solid under Graham Potter but it’s hard to envisage the Seagulls taking a result away from home, no matter how hard they may make it for Spurs. Tottenham 2-0 Brighton.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Harry Kane was largely anonymous against Chelsea and will look to overturn the poor form which has seen him score in just one of his past five Premier League matches.
Tottenham win: 62.50%
Brighton win: 15.15%
Aston Villa vs. Norwich
HE: A relegation zone festive battle, there isn’t too much promising about either of these two sides. Aston Villa are without a win in their past five, four of which have been defeats while Norwich are also winless in five. Villa did win the previous meeting this season 5-1 but don’t look close to that side, and this could definitely be one to forget. Aston Villa 0-0 Norwich.
CS: This is a huge match at the bottom of the table, with Dean Smith and Daniel Farke both needing the points an equal amount. Both have been putting in impressive performances despite results but home advantage should see Villa through in an entertaining game. Aston Villa 3-1 Norwich.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Jack Grealish has created 44 chances in the Premier League this season, with only three players creating more.
Aston Villa win: 45.45%
Norwich win: 28.57%
Bournemouth vs. Arsenal
HE: The first game under Arteta, Arsenal will hopefully be better than they were in that drab goalless draw with Everton. The Gunners offered very little going forward, though their defence looked competent for the first time this season. Bournemouth were just as bad in their loss to Burnley, their fifth in six games, and Eddie Howe’s men look dangerously close to the relegation zone. Expect Arsenal to get the ‘new manager bounce’ that didn’t come with Freddie Ljungberg. Bournemouth 0-1 Arsenal.
CS: The reign of Arteta at Arsenal begins with a trip to a Bournemouth side just as woefully out of form as themselves. The Spaniard’s appointment has the potential to lift the dark clouds gathering over the Emirates and Arteta’s influence could settle this one. Bournemouth 0-2 Arsenal.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has scored two goals in three Premier League games against Bournemouth.
Bournemouth win: 27.03%
Arsenal win: 48.54%
Chelsea vs. Southampton
HE: Both these sides go into the game on the back of impressive wins, with Chelsea beating Tottenham and Southampton winning against Villa. The win over Tottenham was Chelsea’s second victory in their past six games and they will need to turn around their poor form against the struggling Saints. West Ham and Bournemouth have recently left Stamford Bridge with three points and Southampton will be boosted by this, but Chelsea could just about have enough. Chelsea 3-1 Southampton.
CS: While they lack consistency, Southampton have improved over the last couple of months and have clawed their way out of the relegation zone. However, a trip to Chelsea – who put in a wonderful performance against Spurs at the weekend – could be too much for Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side. Chelsea 3-0 Southampton.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Mason Mount has created 27 chances in the Premier League this season, only Willian (30) has more among Chelsea players.
Chelsea win: 72.99%
Southampton win: 10.00%
Crystal Palace vs. West Ham
HE: West Ham had a weekend off and should, therefore, be the fresher of the two sides going into his Boxing Day London derby. Crystal Palace’s weekend was filled with a defeat to Newcastle which extended their winless run to three games, with the other two being draws. West Ham won their last outing against Southampton and should look to capitalise on Palace’s injury problems. West Ham 2-0 Crystal Palace.
CS: Crystal Palace have gone off the boil slightly in recent weeks but face a West Ham side horrifically short of consistency. The Hammers beat Southampton in their last match and will likely be happy with a point at Selhurst Park. Crystal Palace 1-1 West Ham.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Michail Antonio has been West Ham’s best player in recent weeks and will be looking to add to his one Premier League goal this season.
Crystal Palace win: 41.32%
West Ham win: 29.85%
Everton vs. Burnley
HE: The Ancelotti era begins at Goodison Park and it starts with a potentially tricky game against Burnley. Although the Toffees showed positive signs under Duncan Ferguson they were only able to win one of their four games, it will be Ancelotti’s task to turn good performances into results. Burnley, meanwhile, have been consistent in a way their fans would want to avoid. Two wins have been followed by three defeats and then another two wins. Time for the losing run to get going again? Everton 2-1 Burnley.
CS: Has there been a more surprising or impressive managerial appointment in recent years than Ancelotti at Everton? Ferguson did a wonderful job steadying the ship following the sacking of Marco Silva, and Ancelotti will look to make a quick start to life at Goodison Park against Burnley. Everton 2-0 Burnley.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Richarlison has completed more take-ons (31) than any other Everton player in the Premier League this season.
Everton win: 57.47%
Burnley win: 17.24%
Sheffield Utd vs. Watford
HE: Sheffield United have been wonderful this season and are fully deserving of fifth place in the table going into Christmas. Their opponents are experiencing a completely different campaign at the bottom of the league but will be buoyed by their 2-0 win over Man Utd. Just Watford’s second win of the season, Nigel Pearson has already shown the positive impact he could have at Vicarage Road. However, with Sheffield United playing the way they are, this could just be too much for the Hornets. Sheffield United 1-0 Watford.
CS: Watford will be on cloud nine after their win over Man Utd, putting them back in touch with the rest of the Premier League in the battle for survival. Sheffield United, however, have no such survival worries and could bring the Hornets crashing back down to earth with another impressive performance. Sheffield United 2-1 Watford.
PLAYER TO WATCH: John Fleck has created more chances (25) than any other Sheffield United player in the Premier League this season.
Sheffield Utd win: 52.91%
Watford win: 20.41%
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Manchester Utd vs. Newcastle
HE: After the weekend’s results, these two sides are level on points. Newcastle’s hard-fought win over Crystal Palace came with the amazing moment of Miguel Almiron’s first goal for the club and the team will be as high as they have been this season. Man Utd, meanwhile, haven’t been much lower after their defeat to bottom of the league Watford. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be looking for an immediate reaction from his players but who knows whether it’ll come this week. Man Utd 1-1 Newcastle.
CS: Man Utd were once again haunted by their away-day troubles but at home, they have lost just once in all competitions this term. Newcastle have lost just one of their last five and will make it tough for the Red Devils, but Solskjaer‘s men should triumph. Man Utd 3-1 Newcastle.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Marcus Rashford has scored 38% (10) of Man Utd‘s Premier League goals this season.
Man Utd win: 71.94%
Newcastle win: 9.52%
Leicester vs. Liverpool
HE: Leicester’s defeat to Man City was just their third this season and they were slightly unfortunate, but there will be no time to feel sorry for themselves. Up next is the visit of the new club world champions Liverpool, one of the two other sides Leicester have lost to this season. The Reds will undoubtedly be on a high and looking to continue their unbeaten start to the Premier League. The travelling from Qatar may have an impact, however, and Leicester could breath some life back into the title race. Leicester 2-1 Liverpool.
CS: It’s still relatively early in the season, but this really could be where Liverpool all but seal the Premier League title. It’s hard to see anyone catching them if they win at the King Power, especially given Leicester’s defeat to Man City last time out, and Jurgen Klopp‘s side look unstoppable right now. Leicester 1-3 Liverpool.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Virgil van Dijk has blocked more shots (8) than any other Liverpool player in the Premier League this season.
Leicester win: 26.32%
Liverpool win: 46.73%
Wolves vs. Manchester City
HE: The last time these two met Wolves shocked the Etihad and will be hoping to do the double in Friday’s only game. Nuno Espirito Santo’s men bounced back from their defeat to Tottenham with a win over Norwich and are up to sixth but Man City will be buoyed by their own win against Leicester. And with the Foxes and Liverpool facing off on Thursday evening, Man City could have the added incentive of either moving second or getting closer to first when they get going at Molineux. Wolves 1-3 Man City.
CS: Convincing wins over Arsenal and Leicester will go a long way toward restoring Man City’s confidence and just about keeps their hopes of catching Liverpool alive. A trip to Wolves is never easy and Pep Guardiola’s men will have to be on top form, but their superior attacking quality should see them through. Wolves 1-2 Man City.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Kevin De Bruyne has provided 10 Premier League assists this season, at least three more than any other player.
Wolves win: 10.64%
Man City win: 70.42%