Liverpool FC: Christmas Crack Me Up Challenge
I had a busy week on the golf course and the racecourse and I’m really looking forward to another weekend of Premier League, including the always entertaining North London derby.
On the golf course, I got my first hole-in-one at Royal St David’s Golf Club (Harlech) midweek, playing with Ryder Cup star Jamie Donaldson followed by a spin around Wolverhampton racecourse aboard Calder Prince, my horse for my first charity race at Ascot later in the month.
Arsenal have won their last ten PL games at the Emirates but if there is to be a winner in the north-London Derby I expect it to be Spurs in what should be a terrific game of football.
There are normally goals when these two sides meet and I would be surprised if both teams didn’t find the back of the net, but I am leaning towards the visitors with Harry Kane and Dele Alli likely to be fit having missed England’s recent high-profile friendlies with Germany and Russia.
Spurs Draw No Bet 1/1
Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur 1-2 19/2
Since scoring three at Selhurst Park on the opening weekend of the season, Huddersfield have not scored in four away games and I fancy Bournemouth will keep the points at the Vitality Stadium.
Jermain Defoe was left out of Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the recent international friendlies and the striker will be chomping at the bit to get an opportunity against the Terriers. Only Frank Lampard (39), Andy Cole (38) and Alan Shearer (37) have scored against more PL sides than Defoe (36) has and I hope he gets the chance to add to that impressive tally on Saturday.
Bournemouth to win 9/10
Bournemouth v Huddersfield Town 2-1 8/1
Swansea have won all four PL games against Burnley including two 1-0 wins at Turf Moor and one goal might be enough for either side again this weekend.
Under 1.5 goals at 8/5
Burnley v Swansea City 1-0 5/1
Everton have kept a clean sheet in their last four visits to Selhurst Park but I feel the Eagles will find the back of the Blues net in a game Palace, arguably, cannot afford to lose.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek was excellent for England against Germany on Friday but Roy Hodgson must have been bitterly disappointed to see him go off injured against Brazil on Tuesday. Everton may have been flattered to beat Watford last time and have not kept a clean sheet since the first weekend of the season.
Both teams to score at 20/23
Crystal Palace v Everton 2-1 19/2
Leicester won the corresponding fixture 4-2 last season, courtesy of a Jamie Vardy hat-trick, and there are likely to be plenty of goals at the King Power again on Saturday although I think it will be the league leaders who take the points.
City have scored 24 times in the second half of games so far this season – that is more than any other side has scored in 90 minutes. Pep Guardiola’s exciting team have won their first five PL games on their travels so far this season and I can’t see the Foxes halting their 100% record on the road.
City to win and both teams to score at 31/20
Leicester City v Manchester City 1-3 19/2
Liverpool failed to score in four games against Southampton last season and you have to go back to 1978 for the last time the Reds failed to score in five successive games against a team (Nottingham Forest).
Joe Gomez was outstanding for England against both Germany and Brazil in their recent friendly internationals and I note BetVictor make the young defender an 11/4 shot to make Gareth Southgate’s 23-man England squad for the World Cup in Russia next summer – that looks a very fair price given his rapid rate of development.
Liverpool look to be getting some of their key players back from injury and I expect them to keep the points on Merseyside.
Liverpool to win to nil at 29/20
Liverpool v Southampton 2-0 7/1
The Baggies have won just two of their last 20 PL games and I cannot see them getting anything against Chelsea who were good value for their 1-0 win against Manchester United before the international break.
Chelsea have won nine of their last 11 away league games and they need to keep picking up maximum points and hope that leaders Manchester City slip-up.
Chelsea to win at 3/5
It was good to see Romelu Lukaku back among the goals during the international break and I think the striker can end his current barren spell against the Magpies.
The Belgium international scored 11 goals in his first ten games for United but has not scored for seven games and his three goals for Belgium in their two recent friendlies will have done his confidence the world of good.
Lukaku to score anytime at 8/11
Manchester United v Newcastle United 2-0 19/4
David Moyes takes charge of West Ham for the first time at Vicarage Road, but I think the Hornets will keep all three points despite the fact that the hosts have lost their last three and need to get their season back on track.
Watford will still be kicking themselves for letting a two-goal lead slip at Goodison Park last time, but I think they will get back to winning ways in what will be David Moyes’ 500th game as a PL manager.
Watford to win at 11/10
Watford v West Ham 2-1 8/1
Brighton are unbeaten in their last four games in the PL and I think they will make it five on Monday, although I feel they will have to settle for a point against the Potters who are themselves looking for back-to-back away wins in the PL
Game to finish in a draw at 85/40
Brighton v Stoke City 1-1 11/2
Weekend wager: Chelsea, Watford and Liverpool at 4/1