Matchday 26 in the Premier League takes place across two weekends as the competition has its first-ever mid-winter break.
I’m not really a fan of the break, to be honest. It shows if people shout loud enough and long enough then change will happen, but I’m not convinced it will make a great deal of difference, especially when some clubs have had their break truncated by FA Cup replays.
I am not totally against the concept, but I must admit I never felt like I needed one during my career.
Everton to win and both teams to score
Everton v Crystal Palace
Everton have lost just once in seven league games under Carlo Ancelotti – at Manchester City – and they came from two goals down to pick up an unlikely three points at Vicarage Road at the weekend.
Palace are struggling for goals and they have drawn a blank in their last two league games – home defeats to Southampton and Sheffield United. They did find the back of the Manchester City net twice in their last away league game and they are arguably a better side on the road than at Selhurst Park.
The Blues conceded two late goals to hand Newcastle an unlikely point in their last home game, but I believe they will edge a tight close encounter in Saturday’s early kick-off.
Watford draw no bet
Brighton v Watford
Watford have conceded late winners against both Aston Villa and Everton in their last couple of matches and those defeats have seen the Hornets drop back into the relegation zone. They did, however, dominate large periods of both games and if we are to see a winner on the south coast, I think it will be the Hornets, who need to win to move out of the drop zone.
Brighton have conceded three times in their last couple of games, although they did pick up a good point at the London Stadium last weekend when coming back from 2-0 and 3-1 deficits.
This is a tough game to call and a massive one near the foot of the table.
Sheffield United to win
Sheffield United v Bournemouth
Sheffield United have only scored 13 times at home so far this term but they have only conceded 11. I don’t expect to see a goal-fest at Bramall Lane when Bournemouth are the visitors – although I do think the Blades will keep all three points.
Back-to-back home wins has seen the Cherries move out of the bottom three although I’m not convinced their relegation fears are at an end. I would be surprised if they got anything against Chris Wilder’s side, who will move up to fifth place in the table with a win.
If it were not for the record-breaking achievements at Anfield, the Blades would arguably be the team of the season.
Manchester City -2 on the handicap
Manchester City v West Ham United
David Moyes’ will have spent a long week mulling over events at the London Stadium last weekend when his side dropped two valuable points having led Brighton 3-1 with 15 minutes to go.
West Ham travel to the Etihad this weekend in the bottom three and with a trip to Anfield in their next league game, it is likely that things are going to get worse before they get better for the Hammers.
Manchester City have missed four of their last six penalties in all competitions and their loss to Spurs on Sunday seemed to perfectly sum up their league season – lots of wonderful attacking football, but not clinical enough in the big games and a fragile defence that is too easily breached.