This festive schedule seems to be particularly bonkers. Ahead of the traditional matches after Christmas, the Premier League sides have a full set of Saturday fixtures.
Matches are being played at midday, 5:30 and 7:45. It’s a feast of football, including six 3 o’clock kick-offs. So, without further ado, let’s take a wander through those matches…
Brighton & Hove Albion vs Watford
Watford’s flying start has hit a rather unpleasant dip. One point from five league games has seen the Hornets drop to tenth in the table, as their flowing attacking play has stopped producing goals at such a rate.
Brighton have failed to score in five of their last six. Their own attacking decline is of little surprise, but it is a growing concern. The Seagulls are now only three points above the relegation zone and Chris Hughton’s side are in need of upturn in form, particularly at home. They have drawn five of their last six at the Amex.
TIP: Watford to win @ 39/20
Manchester City vs Bournemouth
Bournemouth rotated for their midweek Carabao Cup clash with Chelsea, as they suffered a heart-breaking late defeat. That will unlikely have much of an impact on their date with Manchester City, however.
Eddie Howe’s side had a brief revival earlier in the year, but have gone winless in six league matches. Not exactly ideal form for a trip to the Etihad Stadium.
City’s brilliance shows little sign of halting. It’s now 16 straight in the Premier League, and it would be the shock of the season if that did not become 17.
TIP: Manchester City to be winning at half-time and full-time @ 7/20
Southampton vs Huddersfield Town
Huddersfield’s stunning 4-1 win at Watford last weekend put them three points above Southampton in the table. The teams sit in 11th and 12th, but it’s the hosts under more pressure this weekend.
Mauricio Pellegrino’s side have not won in five. After the decision to sack Claude Puel, Pellegrino’s beginnings have been thoroughly underwhelming. Saints are not a team considered to be at threat of relegation, but that could soon change.
Two wins in three for the Terries make them decent value for a win, but I am sitting firmly on the fence.
TIP: Match to be drawn @ 29/10
Stoke City vs West Bromwich Albion
The Darren Fletcher and Tony Pulis derby could have seismic implications for Stoke City. There are murmurings that Mark Hughes will be sacked should the Potters fall to another home defeat.
Alan Pardew, meanwhile, is desperate for his first win, having seen his team score just one goal since he took over four matches ago. The Baggies still only have two league wins all season, and could go 20th if Swansea win at home to Crystal Palace.
Stoke were a mess against West Ham last weekend, and I fancy Pardew’s side to just edge it here.
TIP: West Brom to win @ 13/5
Swansea City vs Crystal Palace
Paul Clement was unfortunate to lose his job in midweek. Swansea’s problems centre around the squad rather than his managerial decisions, but it was sadly inevitable.
Perhaps removing Clement was motivated by the success Crystal Palace have had since changing managers. Roy Hodgson has turned the Eagles into a comfortable mid-table team, who look far superior to many in the bottom-half.
The Swans are in dire need of the typical bounce associated with changing manager, but I think the visitors will pull off another impressive win.
TIP: Crystal Palace to win @ 13/10
West Ham United vs Newcastle United
Speaking of new managers working wonders, David Moyes has done a brilliant job at West Ham. Having taken four points from a run of Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea, the Irons dispatched Stoke last weekend to pull up to 15th.
Newcastle are disarray right now, and replaced West Ham in the bottom three. Eight of their last nine league matches have ended in defeat. Rafael Benitez remains the right man for the club, but they are in need of significant January investment if they are going to turn this around.
Even without the suspended Manuel Lanzini, the Hammers should win this.
TIP: West Ham to win @ 23/20
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*