It’s another weekend full of Premiership action, with 5 games across the weekend to watch. Saturday’s lunch time kick off is easily the biggest game of the weekend, as title contenders Manchester City play Chelsea at the Etihad. There are 2 more TV games on Sunday, highlighted by Manchester United’s visit to Everton. With the weekend wrapping up on Monday, with Monday Night Football’s visit to the Riverside, as Middlesbrough play Hull City.
Man City V Chelsea – Saturday 3rd December – 12.30 – Sky Sports 1
The clash of title challengers takes centre stage on Saturday afternoon, as leaders Chelsea visit 3rd place Man City, with the home team being 1 point behind the leaders. Both teams had to dig in to win their last games in the league. With City coming from 1-0 down to Burnley, to win the game 2-1 thanks to a Sergio Aguero brace. Chelsea found themselves in a similar position losing 1-0 to Spurs at home, before goals from Pedro and Victor Moses gave the blues the win 2-1.
City come into this game, having not won a home Premier League game since September 17th when they beat Bournemouth 4-0. Since then games with Everton, Southampton, and Middlesbrough have all ended 1-1. The performance levels haven’t dropped in these games, and the sides mentioned above would consider themselves fortunate to have escaped the Etihad with a draw.
One of the plus points for City, is the re-emergence of Yaya Toure. Following his fall out with Guardiola, Toure has been restored to first team duties, and put in another strong performance against Burnley last weekend. It’s not all good news for some of the City heroes who out the club on the path to glory, Vincent Kompany has been ruled out until the new year, which will continue to put pressure on John Stones to lead the defensive line. Something Chelsea, and Diego Costa in particular, may look to exploit.
Raheem Sterling came off against Burnley, and will have a fitness test before Pep Guardiola decides to play him. Kevin de Bruyne, John Stones, David Silva and Ilkay Gundogan could all earn recalls to the starting line-up.
For Chelsea, a side that Guardiola called the best in the league this week, the question is does Antonio Conte stick with 3-4-3, or change up the system? On the surface that seems like a stupid question, the 2-1 win over Spurs last weekend was the Blues 6th in the league in a row, having only conceded 1 goal in that time. During that time the exact same XI has played week in, week out. The only exception has been the swap between Willian and Pedro.
However, a master tactician like Guardiola would have been fully aware of this game, and the impact it would have on his team’s chances of winning the league. So one would imagine that he has been planning carefully for 3-4-3 for a number of weeks. So could Conte pull a rabbit out of the hat and switch to something different? The old adage is, if it isn’t broke, why fix it? But this will be something for Conte to consider Saturday.
There are no major injury concerns for Chelsea ahead of this game, and if he does stick with 3-4-3, you would expect Conte to play the same team that beat Tottenham last weekend.
A win for either side would be a big statement of intent. The winner of this game will top the league, but a draw wouldn’t harm either side. This seems like a game that will be tight, and you wouldn’t write off the chances of a draw.
West Ham V Arsenal – Saturday 3rd December – 17.30 – BT Sport 1
The late Saturday kick off brings yet another London Derby, with the out of sorts West Ham taking on Arsenal, a team who have not lost in the league since the opening day of the season.
If you cast your mind back to last season, West Ham were one of the best teams to watch, some of the football they played was truly fantastic, Dimitri Payet the man making it all tick.
But this season, much like Leicester, West Ham have looked a shadow of the team they were last season.
West Ham have not won in 5 games, losing 2 of the last 4. In fact they have lost 7 of the first 13 games this season and only picked up 3 wins. Even with good players such as Antonio, Payet, Enner Valencia and the industrious Mark Noble, West Ham seem to have something missing. They have scored 10 fewer goals at this point of the season compared to last, and have conceded 4 more. What is apparent however, is that they need to sort out their dire defence, only 3 teams in the league have conceded more. Coming up against a team as free scoring as Arsenal is probably the last thing Slaven Bilic needed after the 4-1 beating at the hands of Man United in the EFL cup on Wednesday night.
West Ham have let in two or more goals in each of their last seven home Premier League games, against Arsenal and I’m not sure things will be looking up for West Ham any time soon.
For Arsenal, they have been very good this season. They have only lost once on the league this season and that was the first game against Liverpool. Since then, they have been on fine form with Alexis Sanchez the main man. He is Arsenals top goals scorer this season and also has the most assist and chances created and sure he will relish the chance to add to his tally this weekend.
One thing that may concern Arsene Wenger however is the fact that Arsenal have had 3 draws in their last 5 league games and come in to this game off the back of a 2-0 defeat in the EFL cup at the hands of Southampton.
Arsenal do have a few injury concerns going into this game too with Mathieu Debuchy, Hector Bellerin and Per Mertesacker all missing from Arsenals defence. Super sub Oliver Giroud is also a doubt for the game.
West Ham are without Michail Antonio but Andy Carroll may be fit after being a slight doubt for the game.
Although you could argue Arsenals form of late hasn’t been as impressive as a month back, I can’t see any way West Ham will take anything from this game. And things don’t get any easier for West Ham who have Liverpool next in the league.
Bournemouth V Liverpool – Sunday 4th December – 13.30 – Sky Sports 1
The 1st of a Super Sunday double sees the inform Liverpool travel to Dean Court to take on Bournemouth. Since Bournemouth thumped Hull at home 6-1 on October 15th, they have had a run of only 1 win in 5. They could count themselves unlucky not to have come out of last weekend’s encounter with Arsenal with a point. The performance was solid and they were unlucky not to be rewarded with a penalty when the score line was 1-1. They also had a number of chances to take the game to 2-1.
Bournemouth will not look to park the bus against Liverpool, this is not fitting with Eddie Howe’s style. it’s perceived to be about possession, building up through midfield and having pace in attack. There a side that likes to play out from defence, but they may struggle doing this against a Liverpool side that like to press high up the field.
5 of Bournemouth’s last 6 goals have come via set pieces—2 penalties, 3 free-kick situations—while of their goals from open play, three of the last four have arisen through build-up play down the right wing, often hitting the byline before the full-back and then crossing low or cutting back a pass toward the six-yard box. Liverpool will need to be wary of this.
Callum Wilson’s return to the side has been a breath of fresh air for the Cherries. His runs behind the defence are a great outlet for the team, even if they don’t always immediately lead to a chance on goal. Jack Wilshire, who has been a revelation for Bournemouth will also be eligible for the game, as he wasn’t able to play against his parent club last weekend.
Jordon Ibe will hope to start for Bournemouth as he faces his old team for the first time since leaving in the summer, especially given that fellow winger Junior Stanislas is doubtful for the game. Eddie Howe does have concerns over some of his other first team players, with Charlie Daniels, Lewis Cook, Artur Boruc and Andrew Surman all struggling for fitness ahead of Sunday’s clash.
Liverpool are currently the inform team at the moment, unbeaten across all competitions since a 2-0 loss to Burnley in August, and this week the advanced to the semi-finals of the EFL cup following a 2-0 win against Leeds United. In the league they have won 4 out of their last 5 games, and were able to beat a fairly resolute side in Sunderland 2-0 last week at Anfield, to take them 1 point off the top of the league.
Liverpool have been pretty luck with injuries thus far this season, but it’s all come crashing down again in the past week or so, none more than when Philippe Coutinho was stretchered off against Sunderland with an ankle problem that will see him miss over a month.
Daniel Sturridge seems like Coutinho’s most obvious replacement in the side, but he’s struggling with a knock as well, meaning Divock Origi is likely to start up front after scoring two in his last two. Roberto Firmino too is a doubt, whilst Adam Lallana is reportedly 50/50 to recover from the groin injury that’s seen him miss the Liverpool’s last three games.
Everton V Man Utd – Sunday 4th December – 16.00 – Sky Sports 1
The 2nd of the live Super Sunday games is an encounter that very rarely disappoints, one of the few Premiership clashes, that has occurred every season since the start of the Premier League in 1992. As Manchester United travel to Goodison Park to take on Everton.
This is a big clash for both clubs who sit 6th and 7th In the league separated by 1 point, a win for Man United will mean a bit of breathing space, for Everton it would mean they’d leapfrog United into that 6th spot.
There has been very little to choose between the teams so far this season, United have scored 2 more goals but both conceded the same. Both clubs have won only 5 of the first 13 games but Everton has lost 1 more.
Everton have lost 4 of their last 5 meetings with Manchester United in all competitions, with the most recent of those defeats coming in the FA Cup semi-final last season.
Romelu Lukaku is the target man Everton look to in big games but he has played for Everton on 6 occasions in the league against Manchester United without scoring; the most against one team without finding the net for the Toffees.
Everton’s fine form at the start of the season seems I lifetime ago now. They won 4 of the first 5 games and were riding high in the league. But since their first defeat against Bournemouth at the end of September, they have only won once in the league in the following 8 matches and only picked up 6 points over that time. At the minute they are being kept afloat by their early season form but will need to start getting back to winning ways soon otherwise they start to slip down the league.
For United, they are struggling with consistency. Whilst they have already scored 4 goals in 4 games this season they are struggling to turn impressive performances into wins which has culminated in Manchester United’s worst start to a Premier League season after 13 games, collecting just 20 points. In the last 7 league games, United have won only once but drawn 5. And this is the major problem they are facing, drawing games that they should be wrapping up. If they continue to be wasteful in front of goal, their top 4 aspirations will be more or less over by the time the New Year turns.
One positive for United however is the fact that they have been playing a better brand of football in recent weeks, and with Henrikh Mkhitaryan impressing recently, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, having scored 4 in his last 4 games, things could be starting to look up Jose Mourinho’s men.
This game could very well once again end up being a draw with both teams in similar form in terms of results, but the way Man United are playing recently it’s hard to tell what version of them will turn up.
Middlesbrough V Hull City – Monday 5th December – 20.00 – Sky Sports 1
The final televised game of the week is on Monday Night Football, an interesting 6 pointer at the foot of the table. Middlesbrough currently reside in 15th place in the league with Hull City just 1 point behind in 18th place.
Both teams as expected are struggling this season and the old adage ‘the league doesn’t lie’ certainly plays true. Both teams have scored a similar amount of goals, but Middlesbrough’s defence is far superior conceding 15 goals in the league against a huge 28 goals conceded by Hull. This means Hull City are conceding on average 2.2 goals per game. The history book will tell you stats like that usually only mean one thing and that is a bottom 3 finish. After winning his first 2 games in charge against Leicester and Swansea, Mike Phelan has overseen just 1 win in the last 11 Premier League contests.
One thing Middlesbrough have that Hull City don’t is a genuine top striker in Alvaro Negredo.
Negredo has been directly involved in 6 Premier League goals this season, 3 goals and 3 assists); more than any other Middlesbrough player. It’s these kinds of games where you would expect him to shine and grab the 3 points for his team.
This is a very closely poised game with very little to really choose between the 2 sides. Middlesbrough have been in decent form recently having only lost 1 of the last 5 games, in that same period Hull have lost 3. To add to Hull Cities woes, they have 7 players out injured including Will Keane and Alex Bruce, although there is a chance Ryan Mason and Abel Hernandez could return.
But Hull have had a good cup run and now find themselves in the semi-final of the EFL cup which could help raise spirits and belief In the players.
This is a true 50:50 that could go either way, but I’d have to side with the home team on this occasion given the recent form and better quality up front.
Other games this weekend:
Crystal Palace v Southampton
Stoke City v Burnley
Sunderland v Leicester City
Tottenham Hotspur v Swansea City
West Bromwich Albion v Watford
Next Bet Wins TV Accumulator
If you fancy a 5 fold accumulator across this weekends televised games, our friends at Nexbetwins.co.uk have come up with a tasty bet, that could help you line your pockets. Remember Next Bet Wins, helping to build your bankroll
Remember these prices come from Bet365
Man City vs Chelsea -Over 1.5 alternative total goals 11/50
West Ham vs Arsenal- Arsenal to win 18/25
Bournemouth vs Liverpool- Liverpool to win 18/25
Everton vs Manchester United- Over 1.5 alternative total goals 3/10
Middlesbrough vs Hull City- Both teams to score 21/20
This decent 5 fold comes in at a total of 9/1 Good Luck
By Michael Thatcher and Rich Lee @RichLee2202