Championship Play-Off Final: Michael Owen’s View
The New Year begins with a full set of midweek Premier League fixtures culminating in Thursday’s clash at the Etihad between top-of-the-table Liverpool and champions Manchester City.
Both sides had disappointing results at the weekend and Everton have not won at Goodison since they beat Cardiff 1-0 back in November.
The Foxes had back-to-back wins over Chelsea and Manchester City over the Festive period before being brought back down to earth by Cardiff at the King Power on Saturday. I feel the points will be shared.
Tip: Scoring draw at 19/5
Arsenal are taken to bounce back from their Anfield mauling when they had their limitations cruelly exposed by a rampant Liverpool side on Saturday evening.
Aleksandar Mitrovic’s late winner gave Fulham a much-needed three points against Huddersfield at Craven Cottage, but the Gunners are a different proposition back at the Emirates and they are taken to keep the points from this London Derby.
Tip: Arsenal to win and both teams to score at 6/4
A great win for Cardiff at the King Power Stadium last weekend, but Spurs are another side who I feel will bounce back having conceded three late goals and all three points to Wolves at Wembley on Saturday.
Tip: Spurs to win at 9/20
Five of the seven meetings between the sides in the PL have ended in a draw and I feel the spoils will be shared again at the Vitality Stadium midweek.
The Cherries have lost eight of their last 10 PL games and have conceded at least two goals in each of those defeats including a 4-1 loss at Old Trafford on Sunday. An entertaining draw for me.
Tip: Game to finish in a draw at 5/2
Chelsea were narrow but convincing winners at Selhurst Park on Sunday and I feel they will put behind their loss to Leicester in their last home game.
The Saints made six changes to the side beaten at home by West Ham when Manchester City were the visitors and I was slightly surprised to see the inform Nathan Redmond left on the bench until the second half. By that time the Saints were 3-1 down – I expect the points to stay in the capital.
Tip: Chelsea to win and both teams to score at 9/5
Huddersfield failed to score in 20 PL games in 2018 and I fear the New Year will start with another blank for the Terriers who must be gutted to lose a point, and hand fellow strugglers Fulham three, at Craven Cottage at the weekend.
Burnley bounced back from their heavy Boxing Day home defeat to Everton, to pick up maximum points at home to West Ham on Sunday and I feel they will get a draw in a game which is likely to be tight and tense.
Tip: Under 1.5 goals at 7/4
Brighton have won all three Premier League games played between the clubs, but I expect to see the hosts bounce back from a poor performance and result at Turf Moor on Sunday.
The Seagulls have lost seven of their last eight games played in the capital and I don’t expect them to get anything at the London Stadium, although the Hammers have conceded at least once in their last seven home PL games.
Tip: West Ham to win and both teams to score at 14/5
Wolves have taken 13 points from their last six league games including a tremendous 3-1 win over Spurs at the weekend.
Palace have failed to score in nine of their league games so far this season although they did win at the Etihad over Christmas. A home win for me but I don’t expect to see many goals at Molineux.
Tip: Wolves to win to nil at 11/5
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will become just the second manager in the history of Manchester United – after Sir Matt Busby in 1946 – to win his first four games in charge of the club if his rejuvenated and energetic United side win at St James’s Park on Wednesday.
The Magpies have lost seven of their ten home PL games so far this season, but Rafa Benitez has won his last four home games against Manchester United in all competitions with PL teams – 2 x Liverpool, 1 x Chelsea and 1 x Newcastle.
It promises to be an electric atmosphere at St James’s Park, but I expect the visitors to maintain their renaissance under Solksjaer and take all three points.
Tip: United to win at 11/20
City won the corresponding fixture 5-0 last season, but that comprehensive win, following Sadio Mane’s red card, is their only win in the last 11 games between the clubs. I feel Liverpool will maintain their seven-point lead over City in the title-race by picking up a vital point at the Etihad.
Sergio Aguero was back among the goals at St Mary’s on Sunday and the striker has scored in all six home league games against Liverpool. He may continue that sequence against Jurgen Klopp’s side, but I still feel the Reds will do enough to get a draw in what promises to be a cracker.
Tip: Game to finish in a scoring draw at 18/5
New Year treble: Wolves, West Ham and Chelsea at 9/2