The ‘Christmas schedule’ is truly underway now. Premier League clubs are playing matches almost as soon as the last one finished, and it’s making managers complain. Fans are all the more irritable when their team are awful, as they have been having to sit in arctic temperatures.
It might not be quite as cold on Saturday. Which is a good job, because 10 Premier League teams play at 3pm. We previewed this weekend's top flight action so feel free to have a browse through our top tips in the coming days.
Arsenal vs Newcastle United
Arsenal have taken two points from their last three matches. Their winter blip might have seen them drop below Burnley in the table, but the Gunners could jump up to fourth with a victory over Newcastle at the Emirates. It’s far from crisis point.
Failure to take chances hurt Arsenal in their last home match. Creating them was the issue against West Ham on Wednesday.
Newcastle’s defence has been shaky of late, however. Rafa Benitez’s side are in need of investment, and might just be the ideal opponent for their hosts to regain some form. They pose a threat on the break, but I think Arsenal will be able to find a breakthrough and win this at a canter.
TIP: Arsenal to win @ 1/4
Brighton & Hove Albion vs Burnley
The numbers suggest Brighton and Burnley should be right by each other in the table. Instead, Burnley are on 31 points and Brighton are on 17.
Home form is the key for any newly-promoted side, and Brighton are no different. Chris Hughton’s side have not won at the Amex since September, and are in need of a victory on Saturday to stop a run of three defeats.
Through some balance of excellent management and fortune, Burnley begin the weekend level on points with Liverpool and Tottenham. It’s very unlikely to be sustainable, but the Clarets continue to prove any doubters wrong. These two pragmatists are unlikely to treat us to a thriller...
TIP: Under 2.5 goals @ 4/9
Chelsea vs Southampton
Chelsea bounced back from a poor performance at West Ham on Saturday to pick Huddersfield apart with ease. Alvaro Morata was given a ‘rest’ for the match, too, with the Spanish striker expected to return to the line-up on Saturday.
The Blues are on a mission to build-up a buffer between themselves and fifth before their schedule turns cruel in 2018. That gap is currently four points. Meanwhile, Southampton have been the model of mid-table security in recent years. With two points from their last four games though, there is cause for concern at St Mary’s.
Performances have been underwhelming for much of this season, just as they were under Claude Puel. They played well when they hosted Arsenal last weekend, though, and could frustrate a Chelsea team that has such reliance on Eden Hazard. I doubt it will be as comfortable as their midweek win, but Chelsea should have enough.
TIP: Chelsea to win @ 7/20
Stoke City vs West Ham United
These two clubs are examples of how quickly football can change. Mark Hughes’ Stoke are looking in greater trouble by the week, while David Moyes – whose appointment was met with a cocktail of bemusement and mockery – has seen the Hammers take four points from Chelsea and Arsenal.
Hughes is now the favourite in the Sack Race. Stoke’s fans are agitated at the club’s position, and so they should be. The Potters are embroiled in a relegation battle.
Their visitors this weekend have not left the bottom three, but they are in an altogether more positive spot. Defensively the Irons are organised, and their attack carries greater threat than Stoke’s. Marko Arnautovic has been the shining light in West Ham’s revival. How he performs in a hostile Potteries atmosphere will be decisive on Saturday. I think he might just turn it on as he did on Wednesday.
TIP: West Ham to win @ 5/2
Watford vs Huddersfield Town
Watford’s stellar start has hit a blip. One point from their last four has left Marco Silva’s men level on points with Everton. The defence has continued to leak goals – 29 so far in fact – and the attack is not quite as potent as it was a mere few weeks ago.
Huddersfield are in a rough patch of their own. Victory over Brighton last weekend stopped the rot slightly, but a limp performance against Chelsea in midweek leaves the Terriers four points above the bottom three.
Only Swansea have scored fewer than David Wagner’s side this season. Watford will give them opportunities, but defensive errors like we saw against Chelsea will be punished by the Hornets who I fancy to win this easily.
TIP: Watford to win @ 3/4
Premier League leaders Manchester City face Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday evening. Click here for our top tips and betting markets ahead of the contest...
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*