A really intriguing game kicks off the weekends action as Watford host Everton, the both teams separated by two points. Super Sunday has 3 live games including Chelsea looking to extend their winning streak to 9 games, Man United needing a win against Spurs and completing the action, Liverpool take on West Ham at Anfield.
Watford v Everton – Saturday 10th December 2016 – 12.30 Sky Sports 1
The early kick off at Vicarage Road could shape up to be one of the games of the weekend as both teams who have been in indifferent form need a win, and are both separated by 2 points. Watford will know a win at home on Saturday could leap frog them up to 7th place dependant on other results.
The Hornets have kept only 1 clean sheet in their last 12 Premier League home matches, but they have only failed to score twice themselves in this run. This adds to the excitement of this game. Watford have also conceded a league-high 11 goals from opposition crosses this season which doesn’t bode well considering Everton have one of the best aerial threats in the league in Romulu Lukaku. Everton are also unbeaten in 11 successive games against Watford, winning 9 and drawing 2.
It may seem therefore that Everton have the upper hand, however their away form and the away form of talisman Lukaku are far from impressive at present. Everton have won just 1 point in their last 15 on offer in Premier League away matches and have netted just 2 goals in this run. This has been compounded by Lukaku who has only scored in 4 of his last 18 Premier League away appearances. So the match is very evenly poised which makes it hard to call.
Watford themselves will look to key man this season Etienne Capoue who is their top goal scorer. He has also completed the most passes and created the most chances for Hornets in the league this season.
Watford should have Younes Kaboul back for selection on Saturday but Daryl Janmaat is a doubt.
For Everton there is a possibility Seamus Coleman could return from a rib injury picked up last week, but the major injury for Everton is Yannick Bolasie who is out with an ACL knee injury.
I think this game will see goals, possibly from both sides but for me too close to call. Would not be surprised with a score draw.
Leicester City v Man City – Saturday 10th December 2016 – 17.30 BT Sport 1
Saturday night’s late afternoon kick off, sees Manchester City travel to the home of the league champions. Manchester City can move up to second in the Premier League with a win over Leicester on Saturday. Leicester find themselves struggling to find form, and come into this game off the back of a 5-0 hammering in the Champions League at the hands of Porto. The biggest loss an English team has suffered in Champions League history.
There was very few who were expecting Leicester City to retain their title this season. It was a one off, but no one would’ve expected Claudio Ranieri’s side to be as bad as they have been in the league so far this season. They find themselves 2 points off the relegation zone, and they haven’t won in the league since the 22nd October. In fact, in their last 5 league games they have lost 3, they lost that many games in the entirety of their title winning season. Most of the damage has been done away from home, where they’ve picked up just one point all season.
Players who were outstanding last season, have seemingly lost their way this season. One of their most productive relationships last year was the Vardy-Mahrez axis. However, they have been unable to link up as well this season. Up to the end of November Mahrez had passed to Vardy just 9 times season. Many tipsters had Vardy as their favourite for the golden boot. As of last weekend, Vardy has now gone 697 minutes without registering a single shot on target.
A boost for the foxes manager is Kasper Schmeichel could be available for the game on Saturday, Ranieri confirmed that he was in his thoughts for the game, but it might be too soon for him. Midfielder Danny Drinkwater will complete the final part of his 3 game suspension.
Following their loss to Chelsea last weekend, City find themselves 4 points off the top of the league table. Costlier to City was the loss of their talisman Sergio Aguero, following a horror tackle on David Luiz at the end of the game. Aguero will be banned for 4 games, and won’t be available for City until New Year’s Eve. Replacing Aguero will likely be Kelechi Iheanacho. Iheanacho insisted that he is up for the challenge of replacing Aguero up front, but the Argentine will be a huge loss for City.
Along with Aguero, Fernandinho and Nicolas Otamendi are both out serving suspensions. Raheem Sterling is expected to be involved after missing the last two matches with a knee injury. Yaya Toure will also likely start for City as well.
Chelsea v West Brom – Sunday 11th December 2016 – 12.00 BT Sport 1
Sunday’s early kick brings us to Stamford Bridge home of the league leaders who take on a West Brom side riding high in the league in 7th place, currently undefeated in the last 4 games.
But this is a tough ask for the Baggies. Chelsea are currently the best team in the league and have been playing that way for some weeks now. Much has been made of how well they are playing in the 3-4-3 system. Since introducing the system following the 3-0 demolition at the hands of Arsenal, Chelsea have a perfect record of 8 wins in 8 games. Chelsea will be confident of extending their winning run to 9 games.
Chelsea come into the game following a huge confidence boosting win against title rivals Man City last week, playing the counter attack perfectly. The result didn’t really tell the story of the match with City themselves wasteful in front of goal, but Chelsea showed true championship winning determination and got the 3 points. Diego Costa was once again on the scoresheet, now taking his Premier League tally to 11 in 14 games.
Another player who scored and is fine form this season for Chelsea is Eden Hazard who himself has scored 8 in 14. In fact Eden Hazard’s next Premier League goal will be his 50th for the club. If he scores against West Brom this weekend, he’ll have reached this landmark in 153 apps and will be the joint 3rd quickest to score 50 PL goals for Chelsea alongside Eidur Gudjohnsen. Only Didier Drogba and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink have achieved 50 Premier League goals quicker for the Blues.
West Brom have been in a good run of form themselves winning 3 of their last 4 games in the league and are 2 points better off at this stage of the season compared to last. But you will have to go back a good few years to find a West Brom win at Stamford Bridge.
In fact Chelsea are unbeaten in 10 previous Premier League games at Stamford Bridge against West Brom, winning 8 of the 10, the 2 draws have come in the last 3 seasons.
But you’d have to go back even further to find a West Brom league win, with their last victory at Stamford Bridge coming in September 1978. The last time Chelsea failed to score against West Brom at home was way back to December 1967!
Part of Chelsea’s success this season has been the continuity of their starting XI. They have only made 8 changes to their starting XI so far this season, a Premier League low. Compared to this stage last season they had made 35 changes in selection.
It is for these reasons I can’t see anything other than a home win for the Blue’s, there are in scintillating form of late, and whilst West Brom will put up a good fight, in the end Chelsea will have too much on the day. Chelsea have a decent run of games coming up playing Sunderland, Palace and Bournemouth after West Brom so is very likely they could remain undefeated until after the New Year.
Man Utd v Tottenham Hotspur – Sunday 11th December 2016 – 14.15 Sky Sports 1
The 2nd game live game on Super Sunday, features 5th place Tottenham taking on 6th place Manchester United at Old Trafford. Manchester United have not won in the league at Old Trafford since the 22nd September, when they beat Leicester 4-1. They have only won 2 league games in their last 10, and their last 3 games have all finished 1-1, 2 of those games seeing United concede goals in the final 5 minutes of the game.
None of these stats make pretty reading, combined with the fact that United have won just 2 of their last 8 league games against Tottenham, this could go the way of another draw for United. The one saving grace for United in this run of draws, is that they have been the better performing side in each of these games, if they weren’t dropping these points in games where they are performing, they would find themselves hovering around 2nd place.
The feeling you get from watching United in the league, that 1 win would be the catalyst to sending them on a run in the league. While conceding late goals has been a problem for United, finding the net is another issue, they have only managed 1 goal in each of their last 3 league games. But their chance creation is in the higher echelons of the league. Jose Mourinho must find a way to get his players to take these chances.
One player who may help here is Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Mkhitaryan scored his first goal for United on Thursday in the Europa League, and he is now starting to find his form for United, and has looked the most likely to unlock defences for United. United should have a full complement of players to choose from on Sunday, with Eric Bailly making his return to 1st team action during Thursday’s Europa League game against Zorya Luhansk.
Spurs come into this game, off the back of a 3-1 win against CSKA Moscow in the Champions League, but in the grand scheme of things will be disappointed with how there Champions League campaign went, and now find themselves facing the prospect of Europa League campaign. They did however hammer Swansea at home 5-0 last weekend, and a win at Old Trafford-providing results go their way, could see them lifted back into the top 4.
Harry Kane will play a big in any Spurs success this weekend, since his return from injury against Arsenal he has scored 5 goals in 4 games. Toby Alderweireld is in contention after featuring as a substitute against CSKA Moscow. The Belgian’s return would be a timely boost for Pochettino, whose deference need to ensure Zlatan Ibrahimovic operates on the fringes of the game.
Eric Dier could move back into midfield if Alderweireld is deemed worthy of a starting berth but faces stiff competition to do so with Victor Wanyama, Mousa Dembele and Harry Winks vying for position. Ben Davies and Vincent Janssen are both hoping to shake off ankle problems but neither man is expected to start.
United cannot afford anything other than a win in this game. They find themselves 9 points off the top 4 at the start of the weekend, the minimum requirement for Mourinho to define this season as any kind of success. Spurs could effectively kill of United’s chances at the top 4 this Sunday, and will likely look to put United on the back foot at Old Trafford.
Liverpool v West Ham – Sunday 11th December 2016 – 16.30 Sky Sports 1
The final game on Sunday could be contender for the highest scoring match of the weekend as free scoring Liverpool take on an absolutely poor West Ham side at Anfield.
Liverpool found themselves in the game of the season last week where some meagre Liverpool defending and gallant attacking from Bournemouth saw 3 points thrown away from Jurgen Klopps men. I can’t see anything similar happening against West Ham however.
Liverpool until last week were on a tremendous un-beaten streak, but even with that defeat they have only lost once in the past 12 games scoring 30 goals in that period.
Whilst Liverpool have had great luck going forward this season there are still question marks over their defence having concede 18 goals so far this season. You have to go down the league to 9th place to find a team (Stoke) who have conceded more.
Summer signing Sadio Mane has been a very shrewd but for Liverpool and is currently Liverpool’s top goals scorer in the league. His movement and pace is fantastic, along with the Firmino, Lallana they all pass and move well. I fear the paced and movement will be all too much for West Ham who defence has been shocking this season.
The way West Ham capitulated against Arsenal last week showed Liverpool all they need to know about this group of West Ham players. After an Ozil goal in the 24th minute, West Ham stood firm, but as soon as the 2nd goal went in in the 72nd minute they fell apart. After 80 minutes had passed they conceded a further 3 goals in 6 minutes, which at home is a shocking way to lose your composure.
This leaves West Ham in 17th place, 1 point off the relegation zone and 3 points off rock bottom. They also have the joint 2nd worse defence in the league. It is such a different story to last season. In fact West Ham did the league double over Liverpool last season for the first time since 1963/64. They’ve never won 3 consecutively in the league over Liverpool, and don’t think this it will happen this weekend.
West Ham currently don’t have the mental strength to win games of this magnitude, hence the capitulation against Arsenal last week. This can also be displayed by the fact that West Ham United have lost a league high 10 points from winning positions in the Premier League this season. West Ham have also made six individual errors leading to opposition goals in the Premier League this season; more than any other team. The evidence is stacking up against the London club. For Slavan Bilic, the walls could be closing in soon if results don’t change soon.
Liverpool will have to wait to find out the fitness of top goal scorer Mane and with Coutinho out until the New Year and no date for Daniel Sturridge’s return to action, it will probably be Origi up top again.
West Ham currently have 8 players out injured which compounds their misery at the moment but Antonio and Aaron Cresswell may make the squad for the weekend.
This is a game I can only see going one way, and that is a Liverpool win and by some margin.
Other games this weekend:
Arsenal v Stoke City
Burnley v Bournemouth
Hull City v Crystal Palace
Swansea City v Sunderland
Southampton v Middlesbrough
If you fancy a 5 fold accumulator across this weekends televised games, our friends at Nexbetwins.co.uk have come up with a little something. Let hope we can build on the great win from last week!
Watford vs Everton- Over 1.5 alternative total goals 1.33
Leicester City vs Manchester City- Both teams to score 1.70
Chelsea vs West Brom- Chelsea to score over 1.5 goals 1.40
Manchester United vs Tottenham- Over 1.5 alternative total goals 1.30
Liverpool vs West Ham- Liverpool to score over 2.5 goals 1.83
All of this adds up to around 7.5/1 definitely worth a punt.
By Michael Thatcher and Rich Lee @RichLee2202