Premier League Matchday 18: Solskjaer Returns To Cardiff9 min read
After another winning treble last weekend Brand Ambassador Michael Owen again shared his thoughts exclusively with BetVictor on the last set of Premier League fixtures before Christmas beginning with the visit of leaders’ Liverpool to Wolves on Friday night.
Wolves v Liverpool
Each of the last four sides who have led the Premier League on Christmas Day have gone on to win the title and Liverpool are guaranteed top spot if they win at Molineux on Friday evening.
That said the last side to fail to win the league having been top at Christmas, were the Reds back in the 2013-14 season. Jurgen Klopp’s side were irresistible on occasions against Manchester United on Sunday and are unbeaten in their last 18 league games.
The Reds won’t have things all their own way against Wolves, however, given the hosts have won their last three league games and have already taken a point off champions Manchester City, and all three against title-challengers Chelsea, at Molineux already this season.
Tip: Liverpool to win and under 2.5 goals at 13/5
Arsenal v Burnley
Arsenal lost their long unbeaten record at St Mary’s on Sunday and it seems almost inconceivable that such a good side have still not led a league game at halftime this season.
The visit of Burnley gives Unai Emery’s side a gilt-edged opportunity to buck that trend although the Clarets were, arguably, unlucky not to pick up a point in north London against Spurs last weekend when they went down to a solitary late Christian Eriksen goal.
Sean Dyche has lost all seven previous games against Arsenal, however, and I can’t see past a home win.
Tip: Arsenal to lead halftime/fulltime at
Bournemouth v Brighton
Bournemouth have lost six of their last seven league games, but Brighton have only won one of their last 11 away games against the Cherries and victory for Eddie Howe’s side would be their fourth successive home win against the Seagulls.
Albion have struggled for goals (7) on the road so far this season and I expect the hosts to win a low-scoring affair.
Tip: Bournemouth to win to nil at
Chelsea v Leicester City
Chelsea are unbeaten in their last 12 home PL games and I don’t expect Claude Puel’s side to succeed where champions Manchester City failed in the last league game at the Bridge.
Leicester have lost back-to-back in the PL and are without a win in their last 10 league trips to the capital. The Blues are taken to keep the points in what promises to be an entertaining game.
Tip: Chelsea to win and both teams to score at
Huddersfield v Southampton
Huddersfield have only scored three times in their nine home league games so far this term, but I think they will get a point against a Southampton side looking for successive league wins for the first time since April 2017 following their 3-2 win over Arsenal on Sunday.
Tip: Game to finish in a draw at
Manchester City v Crystal Palace
Pep Guardiola’s side have won all nine home league games so far this season and Palace have failed to score in eight of their last ten PL games against City.
The Eagles – without Wilfried Zaha – picked up a valuable three points against Leicester last weekend but I can’t see them getting anything at the Emirates.
Tip: City to win to nil at
Newcastle United v Fulham
No team has lost more home games in the top four tiers of English football than Newcastle United (7) this season, but I expect them to keep the points when Fulham visit St James’s Park at the weekend.
The Cottagers haven’t kept a clean sheet in their last 21 PL games while United picked up a vital three points on the road at Huddersfield at the weekend. Jamaal Lascelles and Co will have to keep former United player Alexsandr Mitrovic (7 PL goals this season) quiet, but the Magpies have their own inform striker with Solomon Rondon having been involved in five of United’s last seven (4 goals 1 assist) league goals.
Rafa Benitez will return to Anfield on Boxing Day and I expect his Newcastle side to go there on the back of successive home league wins.
Tip: Newcastle to win at
West Ham v Watford
You have to go back to February 2006 for the last time West Ham won five successive PL games, but I expect Manuel Pellegrini’s side to do just that in what promises to be an entertaining clash with Watford.
The Hammers have won four of their last six PL home games and scored at least three times in each of those successes – I expect them to be among the goals again against a Hornets side who have conceded at least twice in their last five PL games and have picked up just 10 points from the last 60 available away from Vicarage Road.
Tip: West Ham to win and over 3.5 goals at
Cardiff City v Manchester United
Former United striker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer begins life as United caretaker manager at Cardiff, the club who sacked him back in 2014 having failed to keep the Bluebirds in the PL before a moderate start to their Championship campaign.
That said Solskjaer has an excellent reputation in Norway where his Molde side finished runner up to Rosenborg this season. I would like to wish him all the very best for this exciting new opportunity and challenge and fully expect his United side to play with more pace and flair than has been the case in recent times. His team selection for the game at Cardiff will be significant and very interesting!
United have lost their last three away games at newly promoted clubs – which speaks volumes in itself – but I expect them to make a winning start to life without Jose Mourinho.
Tip: United to win to nil at
Everton v Tottenham
Everton are without a win in their last 11 league games against Spurs and I expect that trend to continue at Goodison on Monday. The Blues are unbeaten in their last six home league games while Spurs have yet to draw in their previous 17 league games so far this term.
Harry Kane has scored twice in his last three games against Everton and the England skipper may again be the difference in what promises to be a cracking last PL fixture before Christmas.
Tip: Harry Kane to score first and Spurs to win 2-1 at 25/1
May I take this opportunity to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and New Year.
Michael’s Weekend Wager: Bournemouth, Arsenal and Manchester United at