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Premier League predictions: Mikel Arteta can inspire Arsenal to season-changing win over Chelsea

Leicester vs Manchester United, Boxing Day (12:30h. GMT; 13:30h. CET)

If Manchester United win this one, they will equal an all-time top-flight record of 11 consecutive away wins, set by Chelsea in 2008 and matched by Manchester City in 2017.

Included in that run was the final day 2-0 victory over Leicester that secured United their top-four place, meaning United are 12 games unbeaten against the Foxes. That match was a cagey, tactical affair with both teams waiting for the other to open up in order to hit on the break. I can see this one going the same way with once again United edging it in the second period.

In 2020, there have been 36 penalties awarded in fixtures involving these two teams, working out at just over one every two games. Leicester have won 12, United 11 and despite the predicted cagey nature of the encounter, it's easy to see the trickery of both attacking units once again tempting defenders into rash challenges inside the box - like in the last meeting between these two where Bruno Fernandes opened the scoring from the spot.

Aston Villa vs Crystal Palace, Boxing Day (15:00h. GMT; 16:00h. CET)

We're just over a third of the way through the season and the Premier League is starting to take shape. It's a time of year where the league table now doesn't lie. And Aston Villa are up there in ninth. With two games in hand, too.

Win those and they would be second.

Dean Smith's side look the part, while also backing it up with the all-important performance metrics. They've conceded just 13 goals, only Man City (12) have conceded fewer and Smith's side have already kept as many clean sheets this season as they did during last season (7).

If Villa are improving, Palace are flatlining. They have exactly the same record as last season with five wins, three draws and six defeats from opening their opening 14 games. Villa are quite simply the better side. Home win.

Fulham vs Southampton, Boxing Day (15:00h. GMT; 16:00h. CET)

Southampton have lost only one of their last 12 Premier League away games, at Crystal Palace on the opening day.

But they are unbackable at Fulham.

Ralph Hasenhuttl has established exceptional chemistry in key areas of his side with Oriol Romeu and James Ward-Prowse relentless in midfield and Jan Bednarek and Jannik Vestergaard an exceptional pairing at centre-back. However, the influential Romeu is suspended for this one with Ibrahima Diallo set for his first start and Vestergaard is a doubt, as is Danny Ings.

Hasenhuttl's squad depth will be stretched over the coming weeks and this looks a great opportunity for Fulham to turn some encouraging performances, at Newcastle especially, into a win.

Arsenal vs Chelsea, Boxing Day (17.30h. GMT; 18:30h. CET)

Arsenal are on the ropes. They have been battered from pillar to post this week. Right-hook, left-hook - is Mikel Arteta just one uppercut away from a knockout blow? Potentially.

However, rejoice Arsenal fans, the next few paragraphs will be a break from the negative and emotive narrative.

I just simply can't have Chelsea at odds-on. The bet has to be Arsenal at 3/1 for their fortunes to change and record a season-changing home win.

Yes, they haven't won in seven Premier League games, including losing four of their last five at home. But, there is a difference in this fixture to those defeats: the expectation is all on Chelsea. Arteta's controlled and rigid style of football is absolutely suited to soaking up pressure against so-called superior teams. They are hard to break down.

Let's not forget, Arsenal have won six of their last 10 games in all competitions vs 'big six' sides since July 15, including their last Premier League victory at Manchester United, who have won six of their last seven matches since that defeat.

Since the turn of the year, Frank Lampard's team have only won five Premier League games away from Stamford Bridge - 11 teams have won more. It is a run of results backed up by their numbers in attack. For example, in their six games on the road this season, their expected goals figure is just 7.54 - only Burnley, Newcastle, Wolves, Sheffield United and West Brom have a lower total on the road.

Even against West Ham on Monday, Chelsea looked devoid of ideas. That scoreline flattered them.

Defensively, Arsenal have the structure and tactical nous to frustrate the Blues. Arteta's boys have the sixth-best defensive record in the Premier League this season, a figure backed up by their 'expected goals against' metric which again has them the sixth-best defence in the division. Chelsea statistically possess the best defence so this has the hallmarks of a low-scoring encounter that could be settled by one moment of individual quality.

Manchester City vs Newcastle, Boxing Day (20:00h. GMT; 21:00h. CET)

You feel Pep Guardiola is picking and choosing when to play with City's usual attacking zest and when to rein it in.

The win at Southampton, where they were taking the ball to the corner with five minutes left, certainly felt like a new conservative City. Yet at home against the lesser-ranked teams, City have been more like their old selves in the past month. In wins over Fulham and Burnley and the richly unfortunate draw with West Brom, they have registered 60 shots, 43 of those from inside the box which is the most produced by any team in that period.

Here they face a Newcastle team that haven't progressed over the past 12 months. Callum Wilson has added an extra clinical edge but as we saw last season with him, he's unlikely to sustain this form throughout the campaign. Steve Bruce's men have been quite fortunate not to suffer back-to-back home defeats to West Brom and Fulham on the balance of both their games and their midweek defeat to Brentford hasn't gone down well either.

Did someone order a thrashing?

Sheffield United vs Everton, Boxing Day (20:00h. GMT; 21:00h. CET)

To tar Sheffield United with the Derby County brush is very, very harsh on the Blades.

That Derby team in 2008 became the first team in Premier League history to be relegated in March, ending the season with an all-time top-flight record low points tally of just 11. If United continue at their points-per-game path, then they could overtake - if that's the right word - Derby as the worst ever Premier League side.

It's saddens me to think that.

Chris Wilder's boys aren't even the worst team in this year's Premier League.

Despite their woeful points haul, I'm adamant the Blades remain a fantastic team full of brilliant footballers. If Wilder's team faced that Derby team - I'd be all over the Blades with maximum stakes to come out on top.

We came very close to predicting that elusive first Blades win last weekend at Brighton, where they were tactically superb when down to 10-men and defensively majestic. Buoyed by that result, I see no reason why the the hosts can't build on that showing and get that elusive win.

One of those outstanding footballers is David McGoldrick. His resurgence in form has coincided with the Blades putting back-to-back performances in that were on a par with last season. He scored twice in the defeat to Manchester United and was creator in chief against Brighton, going close from a free-kick and setting up the goal for Jayden Bogle.

Leeds vs Burnley, Sunday (12:00h. GMT;13:00h. CET)

The most gung-ho team in Premier League history meet the grisliest one. You couldn't get two more different styles of playing the art of football.

The purist in me wants the Bielsa-ball to come out on top here but the markets have completely underestimated Burnley's strengths for this match-up. At 7/2 it's hard to ignore an away win.

Leeds have the worst defence in Premier League, conceding 30 goals, including 13 in their last four Premier League games. But the killer statistic that tips me in the favour of a Burnley win is the fact Leeds have conceded the most Premier League goals from set-pieces this season (14).

Sean Dyche has got his boys back to a performance level more akin to previous seasons with their defensive axis of Ben Mee and James Tarkowski still vastly underrated. For all Leeds' eye-catching and free-flowing attacking football, Burnley's defence is a thing of beauty when it comes to keeping out goals.

They also possess relentless energy in midfield with Josh Brownhill and Ashley Westwood and now have a strike pairing in Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood that are back amongst the goals. Away win.

West Ham vs Brighton, Sunday (14:15h. GMT; 15:15h. CET)

West Ham really could do with getting Michail Antonio fit. He has been sidelined with a hamstring problem since the 2-1 win over Aston Villa at the end of November and despite his wondergoal in the Crystal Palace draw, Sebastien Haller isn't the answer.

That out of the blue goal is the only serious effort the Hammers have had on goal in their last two matches, creating an overall xG of just 0.82. I wouldn't be surprised to see them go through a sticky patch over the festive period.

Brighton have drawn their last two matches but yet again the key data points to a huge underperformance. In the draws with Fulham and Sheffield United, they created a total xG of 3.36 whilst creating four big chances but scoring just once. Can they be trusted here to turn strong metrics into a win? Not for me.

Liverpool vs West Brom, Sunday (16:30h. GMT; 17:30h. CET)

Can you imagine the smile on Big Sam's face if he was to become the man to break Liverpool's 66 game unbeaten home run? It would be the ultimate 'mic drop' moment.

West Brom are 25/1 to do so. And, honestly, I'd probably still be apprehensive of backing them if you offered me 250/1.

Liverpool's staggering run will be ended by someone soon but there will be other days for that project. Here, they will simply carry too much firepower.

With the rapid schedule of games on the horizon, there's a strong probability Liverpool will ease off the gas in the second period once the game is sewn up in order to rest some limbs. Klopp's boys, who will be fresher than they have been all season after an eight-day rest period between games, have scored more first-half goals than any other Premier League side this season (17), so are placed to go for West Brom's throat in the early knockings of this one.

Wolves vs Tottenham, Sunday (19:15h. GMT; 20:15h. CET)

This is a big period for Jose Mourinho.

For a manager who guarantees results, three straight league defeats wouldn't exactly sit well with all concerned with Spurs. In fact, it's something they haven't experienced in the Premier League since November 2012 when they suffered straight defeats to Wigan, Manchester City and Arsenal.

Wolves were on the end of a typical Burnley performance on a wet and windy night at Turf Moor - a game where Nuno Espirito Santo cleverly diverted the attention from his team selection failings with a pretty unnecessary dig at referee Lee Mason. For this one, where counter-attacking will be on the menu, surely Adama Traore will be ushered back in from the start.

It's always easy to forgive a team a defeat at Burnley, and at Molineux, Wolves still are a tricky team for the big teams to deal with - as seen when beating Chelsea in their previous fixture.

The first goal will undoubtedly shape this match more than usual. It's too tight to call.

Source: Sky Sports / Lewis Jones

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