Liverpool FC: Christmas Crack Me Up Challenge
Manchester City and Liverpool are setting a scorching pace at the top of the Premier League and the visit of the champions and league leaders City to Stamford Bridge is the weekend highlight.
Bournemouth bounced back after four successive Premier League losses to beat Huddersfield at the Vitality Stadium midweek although they were far from impressive.
Liverpool have made their best-ever start to a top-flight season after coming from behind to beat Burnley on Wednesday, but still trail City by a couple of points.
The Reds unsung hero James Milner will play his 500th PL game at the Vitality Stadium and it was no surprise to me that it was Milner who was the catalyst for Liverpool’s dramatic comeback against the Clarets midweek.
Tip: Liverpool to win and both teams to score at 2/1
Arsenal are unbeaten in 20 games in all competitions and four points this week from the visit of Spurs and a trip to Old Trafford shows just how far Unai Emery’s side have come in such a short period of time.
Town have lost eight of their last nine top-flight games against the Gunners and failed to score in each of those games. I fancy a similar scoreline at the Emirates.
Tip: Arsenal to win to nil at 23/20
Both games between the sides finished goalless last season and it is hard to see a goal-fest at Turf Moor especially when you consider these two teams have had the fewest shots on target so far this term – Burnley 40 and Brighton 44.
If there is to be a winner at Turf Moor I think Sean Dyche’s side might nick the points, but it is unlikely to be a classic.
Tip: Under 1.5 goals at 17/10
Introducing your new #SaintsFC First Team Manager…
Welcome, Ralph Hasenhüttl! 😇 pic.twitter.com/OBWme042IL
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) December 5, 2018
Southampton fans can take heart from the fact that their new Austrian manager Ralph Hasenhüttl won 120 points in the Bundesliga during his two-season spell as manager of RB Leipzig; only Bayern Munich (166) won more in this period.
Saints hit the woodwork three times against Spurs midweek and deserved their late – albeit consolation – goal. Cardiff have come from behind to win their last two home league games, but I feel they will have to settle for a point in their quest for a hat-trick.
Tip: Game to finish in a scoring draw at 18/5
United continue to show their character and fight having picked up a point from behind at both Southampton and at home to Arsenal in the last week.
No side has made as many changes as United so far this season which suggests the club have had their fair share of injuries, but also that Jose Mourinho does not know his best starting XI.
Fulham have lost their last six PL away games and I can’t see them getting anything at Old Trafford although the Cottagers have improved under Claudio Ranieri and the hosts will not have things all their own way.
Tip: United to win and both teams to score at 7/4
The team scoring first in the 14 previous PL games between these clubs has never lost and I expect West Ham to grab the opener and the points in this London derby.
Palace have not won in their last five away games and I was disappointed they were not able to get at least a point against 10-man Brighton at the Amex midweek.
Tip: West Ham to win at 13/10
— Manchester City (@ManCity) December 6, 2018
Chelsea have lost two of their last three and only mustered seven shots in the two league games – both won by City – between the sides last season.
Chelsea are a different proposition under Maurizio Sarri, especially at the Bridge, this season and I feel they can keep a point. City were far too good for the Blues in the Community Shield in the season curtain-raiser but, back on home soil, I feel Chelsea will get a draw from a 1-1 draw as they did against Liverpool earlier in the season.
Tip: Game to finish 1-1 at 7/1
Spurs have not had a PL draw in their last 19 games and I feel they will take maximum points at the King Power from an entertaining clash in the late kick-off on Saturday.
Harry Kane has scored 13 times in his 11 previous games against the Foxes and the England skipper may again be the difference between the sides at the weekend.
Tip: Kane to score anytime at 10/11
Wolves came from behind to beat Chelsea at Molineux midweek, but they are struggling for goals on the road and if there is to be a winner at St James’s Park on Sunday then I feel it will be the hosts.
I was very impressed with the Magpies defensively at Goodison midweek with the returning skipper Jamaal Lascelles outstanding in a three-man defence. It will be interesting to see if Rafa Benitez perseveres with the system back on home soil.
Tip: Newcastle to win and under 2.5 goals at 4/1
Everton ran out of steam and ideas against Newcastle midweek and still seemed to be smarting after their Merseyside derby defeat.
Marco Silva was in charge of Watford when the Hornets lost the corresponding fixture 3-2 (goalless at halftime) last season and the visitors will travel to Goodison having lost their last four.
Richarlison scored for Watford at Goodison last season but his equaliser against Newcastle midweek was his seventh strike of the season and the young Brazilian looks sure to play a leading part in what I expect to be an entertaining contest with the hosts just edging it.
Tip: Everton to win and both teams to score at 27/10
Weekend wager: Arsenal, West Ham and Everton at 9/2