The inaugural Premier League winter break is here – but that doesn’t mean the action stops.
Gameweek 26 will be staggered across two weeks as teams take turns to jet off for warmer climates, putting their feet up for a much-needed rest before the final sprint.
The first weekend features four games, with in-form Everton set to host Crystal Palace and faltering Manchester City’s facing a struggling West Ham.
Then, following their time off, league leaders Liverpool travel to Norwich City and Chelsea host Manchester United among the final six fixtures of this gameweek.
As ever, two of our writers have predicted the result of all 10 matches below. There are also percentile odds, based on the Smarkets betting exchange, for every result possible in the first group of games.
Everton vs Crystal Palace
Chris Smith: Everton are second in the form table since Carlo Ancelotti’s appointment and their comeback win over Watford finally showed fans there is some backbone to this side. Crystal Palace are without a win since Boxing Day and are unlikely to end that run at Goodison Park. Everton 2-0 Crystal Palace.
Harry Edwards: After a bumpy start, Everton have started to find some form under Ancelotti and their relegation worries look distant. Their move up the table looks likely to continue this gameweek against a Crystal Palace side going through some tough times, even with a recent draw against Manchester City. Everton 2-0 Crystal Palace.
Player to watch: Lucas Digne has provided more Premier League assists (5) than any other Everton player this season.
Everton win: 59.52%
Crystal Palace win: 14.71%
Brighton vs Watford
CS: Watford will be reeling from their collapse against Everton last time out while Brighton will be feeling the complete opposite emotion after salvaging an unlikely draw against West Ham. The Hornets can go level with their hosts with a win here, but Graham Potter’s men will be determined to put daylight between themselves and the relegation zone. Brighton 1-0 Watford.
HE: Even though Watford have lost their past two games, they still look likely to fight off relegation and they should return to winning ways against Brighton. Nigel Pearson has completely changed the atmosphere at Vicarage Road, while Potter’s side have been slowly pulled back towards the relegation zone, winless in their past five. Expect Watford to make that run six. Brighton 0-1 Watford.
Player to watch: Pascal Gross made four key passes alone during Brighton’s 3-3 draw with West Ham.
Brighton win: 44.64%
Watford win: 26.67%
Sheffield United vs Bournemouth
CS: Just when you thought Bournemouth were dead and buried, they go and win back-to-back games against their relegation rivals and move clear of the bottom three. That said, an away trip to Sheffield United is likely near the bottom of everyone’s list right now, so don’t expect it to be third time lucky for the Cherries. Sheffield United 2-1 Bournemouth.
HE: Just a few weeks ago it looked like Bournemouth were destined for the drop but two consecutive wins have seen them move slightly up the table. However, Sheffield United are genuinely fighting for a European spot – be it Champions League or Europa League – and will be looking to take advantage of their early game in the mid-season break to put pressure on those around them. Sheffield Utd 3-0 Bournemouth.
Player to watch: Sander Berge made a match-high six tackles during his Premier League debut against Crystal Palace last week.
Sheffield United win: 56.50%
Bournemouth win: 16.13%
Manchester City vs West Ham United
CS: Every time Man City look like getting back to their ruthless selves, another gut-wrenching defeat seems to appear from around the corner, flooring Pep Guardiola. So, what better way to get back on track (again) with a comfortable win over a West Ham side in absolute freefall? Man City 3-0 West Ham.
HE: Man City are in a strange place right now, with regards to the Premier League, needing a miracle to catch Liverpool at the top but also safe in the Champions League place barring a monumental fall of their own. West Ham will be hoping Man City’s focus switches to winning the Champions League, but even if it does, this game comes too early to be affected by that so the Hammers look unlikely to get anything from the Etihad. Man City 4-0 West Ham.
Player to watch: Raheem Sterling is without a goal in his last seven games across all competitions.
Man City win: 89.29%
West Ham win: 3.33%
Wolves vs Leicester City
CS: Out of the Carabao Cup and faltering in the Premier League, Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester suddenly don’t look quite so invincible. Wolves have won just one of their last eight games, however, so a draw might be a good result all round. Wolves 2-2 Leicester.
HE: This is a tough one to call. Both teams have had excellent seasons with Leicester 12 points clear of fifth and Wolves still in with a chance of at least qualifying for the Europa League. However, they are also both going through a poor patch of form with Leicester winning just one of their past four league games and Wolves gathering one victory from six. This will all depend on how teams use their mid-season break. Wolves 1-1 Leicester.
Player to watch: Raul Jimenez has been directly involved in 17 Premier League goals (scored 11, assisted six) this season, more than any other Wolves player.
Southampton vs Burnley
CS: Southampton absolutely didn’t deserve to lose 4-0 against Liverpool last week, and you could argue they should have beat Spurs in their FA Cup fourth-round replay, too. Those positive performances should pay dividends at home to Burnley next time. Southampton 1-0 Burnley.
HE: Southampton were so unlucky to lose to Tottenham in the FA Cup but their performance showed just how good Ralph Hasenhuttl can get his side playing. With that said, Burnley were also in good form going into their mid-season break with two wins and a draw in their past three games against Leicester, Man Utd and Arsenal. Expect a close one. Southampton 2-1 Burnley.
Player to watch: Danny Ings’FA Cup goal against Tottenham ended a run of four games without scoring for Southampton.
Norwich City vs Liverpool
CS: Norwich are hanging on by a thread and will be cursing themselves for not getting a deserved win against Newcastle, given how the teams above them got on last time out. Can they be the surprise team to finally end Liverpool’s winning run? Don’t count on it. Norwich 0-3 Liverpool.
HE: Will there be a more one-sided fixture in the Premier League this season? After showing some promising signs in the opening few matches of the season, Norwich look all but guaranteed for relegation. At the same time, Liverpool have been almost perfect and are chasing history in more ways than one. The Reds will take a step closer with this game. Norwich 0-5 Liverpool.
Player to watch: Jordan Henderson has both scored and assisted in two of his past three Liverpool games.
Aston Villa vs Spurs
CS: It really feels like Aston Villa are only staying clear of the relegation zone right now thanks to the teams around them being so bad. Tottenham are very much grinding their way through results at the moment so, despite Villa’s struggles, a draw isn’t out of the question. Aston Villa 1-1 Tottenham.
HE: Tottenham scraped through in the FA Cup fourth round replay but Jose Mourinho should be happy with his team showing fight. This is fight they will look to take into their ext game after the break, against a Villa side teetering on the edge of the relegation zone. Dean Smith’s side have been very inconsistent of late and’t look like putting up too much of a fight. Aston Villa 0-2 Tottenham.
Player to watch: Steven Bergwijn became the 13th Dutchman to score on his Premier League debut against Man City.
Arsenal vs Newcastle United
CS: Arsenal have drawn their last four league games and have just six wins from 25 games so far. Newcastle are picking up results despite looking bereft of creativity and excitement could finally hand the Gunners a victory in this one. Arsenal 2-0 Newcastle.
HE: We’re 25 games into the 2019/20 season and goal difference separates Arsenal and Newcastle in 10th and 12th respectively. The Gunners have been building an unbeaten run under Mikel Arteta in 2020, but they’ve drawn their past four games including a drab 0-0 against Burnley last time out. Their opponents have also been racking up the stalemates of late, drawing three of their past four matches, which doesn’t bode too well for those travelling to the Emirates. Arsenal 1-1 Newcastle.
Player to watch: Allan Saint-Maximin has averaged 5.55 completed take-ons per 90 minutes in the Premier League this season.
Chelsea vs Manchester United
CS: With just six points between these two, this a huge game in the race for fourth place. Given their inconsistencies, it feels like neither side really wants to qualify for the Champions League, though. They may not win, but expect United to continue their strange habit of turning it on against the big sides having failed to beat Burnley and Wolves in their last two league games. Chelsea 1-1 Man Utd.
HE: The final game of the drawn-out matchweek, Man Utd will be looking to get a third win of the season over Chelsea and close the gap on the Blues. But both teams are in bad patches, without wins in their past three games in the league and only one victory in their past five. With that said, Chelsea’s home form has been poor – as has their record against fellow ‘Big Six’ sides – which could come back to bite them. Chelsea 0-1 Man Utd.
Player to watch: Bruno Fernandes enjoyed an impressive debut against Wolves, having 111 touches and attempting 88 passes.