Liverpool FC: Christmas Crack Me Up Challenge
The final fixtures of the Premier League season and Manchester City go to St Mary’s looking for a 32nd win of the league season and Pep Guardiola’s side will end the campaign on a record-breaking 100 points with a win against the Saints who are not yet mathematically certain of their place in the elite-division next term.
I’ve once again shared his thoughts on all Sunday’s action exclusively with BetVictor.
Burnley will be looking to bounce back at Turf Moor after their heavy defeat at the Emirates on Sunday and I expect the Clarets to end their season in style.
European football returns to Burnley next term for the first time since the 1966/67 season and Sean Dyche has done a remarkable job. I do not expect to see many goals in East Lancashire and one might be enough for the Clarets to celebrate their European venture.
Tip: Burnley to win at 6/5
If Sean Dyche has done an excellent job at Burnley let’s put Roy Hodgson’s exploits at Selhurst Park into some perspective.
Palace are the first side since Liverpool back in the 1899-1900 season to avoid relegation having lost their first seven games of the season. After their win at Stoke last weekend, Palace have not lost any of their last 13 Pl games against sides who started the day in the bottom half of the table.
West Brom are unbeaten in their last five Premier League games under Darren Moore, but Southampton’s win at Swansea midweek sent the Baggies down.
I wonder if the West Brom board feel they might have acted sooner given how the players have responded to their new boss. If they can keep the nucleus of their side together – and appoint Darren Moore –, they must have every chance of coming straight back up next term.
Tip: Both teams to score at 8/13
Arsene Wenger’s last game in charge of Arsenal and he will be desperate for at least a point at the John Smith’s Stadium given – following the midweek loss at Leicester – the Gunners have now lost their last seven top-flight away games for the first time since 1966.
Arsenal remain the only side in the top four tiers of English football yet to pick up an away point this calendar year and Huddersfield are likely to play a more attacking game – now that their PL status is guaranteed – after two brave and resilient defensive performances at the Etihad and Stamford Bridge in the last week.
Tip: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to score at 19/20
Liverpool have failed to score in back-to-back PL games for the first time under Jurgen Klopp following their 1-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, but I expect normal service to be resumed on Sunday.
The Reds need a point against the Seagulls to be guaranteed their place in the top four and I expect to see the hosts come out with the energy and pace that has been symbolic of their home form this term.
Brighton confirmed their PL status with an excellent win against a subdued Manchester United last Friday and played their part in an entertaining game against the champions at the Etihad midweek.
Tip: Liverpool halftime/fulltime at 7/10
United were in PL action at the London Stadium on Thursday evening but – irrespective of the score against West Ham – I expect to see Jose Mourinho’s side go into the FA Cup Final on the back of a comfortable win.
Watford have gone seven away league games without scoring a goal (Andre Gray January 2nd at Manchester City) and it is hard to make a case for the Hornets at Old Trafford.
Tip: United -1 on the handicap at 4/6
After a run of four successive wins, Chelsea could only draw with Huddersfield midweek, a result that means all three promoted sides will avoid relegation – only the third time this has happened in the history of the PL.
United have certainly blown hot and cold this season and their Wembley loss midweek means they have lost four league games in a row for a third time this season.
Rafa Benitez and his players will be keen to give the Toon Army something to cheer on Sunday, however, and I think they will pick up at least a point against last year’s champions.
Tip: Newcastle double chance (draw or win) at 13/10
Southampton are not mathematically certain of maintaining their PL status although they have a nine-goal superior goal difference to Swansea going into their clash with champions City.
City are chasing a record-breaking 100 points and need to win their 32nd league game of the season to go through the century barrier for the season. An extraordinary achievement and one that may never be equalled.
I liked the way Southampton rolled their sleeves up again at the Liberty Stadium midweek despite the heartbreak of losing two points at Goodison deep into injury time on Saturday evening.
I feel the Saints will maintain their elite status but expect City to take the points and become the first Premier League century makers.
Tip: City to win and both teams to score at 9/5
Swansea need to attack Stoke from the first minute and an early goal will have the Swans fans dreaming of what would be a Great Escape.
Stoke only have their pride to play for but Paul Lambert’s side will not lie down in what is sure to be a tense and perhaps hostile atmosphere. The hosts can keep the points, but I feel it will not be enough for them to avoid the drop.
Tip: Swansea to win at 20/23
Spurs have lost just one of their last 17 home PL games and I expect them to maintain that record against a Leicester side who ended a run of 22 league games without a win against Arsenal when they beat the Gunners at the King Power midweek.
Harry Kane will be going all out to keep his Golden Boot crown but he goes into the final set of fixtures three goals behind the Footballer of the Year Mo Salah and that is likely to be too much for the England striker to overhaul.
Tip: Harry Kane to score two or more goals at 19/10
Hammers’ boss David Moyes does not have a good record against his former club and lost the reverse fixture 4-0 at Goodison earlier in the season – the Blues’ last game under caretaker manager David Unsworth.
Moyes – irrespective of the result against United on Thursday – will be desperate to get something out of the game as will Blues’ boss Sam Allardyce who also returns to his former club.
On the face of it, this is a game with little to play for except the three points, but there are a number of subplots surrounding the managers and their past, present and future. It should make for a fascinating finale to the season.
Tip: Game to finish in a draw at 5/2
Michael’s weekend wager: Burnley, Liverpool and Spurs at 5/2