Premier League Preview: Gameweek 20
Tottenham vs Southampton (26/12/2017, 12:30 hours, Wembley Stadium)
Harry Kane will be looking to cement his place at the top of the history books Tuesday lunchtime as he attempts to break Alan Shearers record of 36 Premier League goals in a calendar year. The Englishman currently sits level with Shearer and will be looking to break the record come Boxing Day. Toby Alderweireld and Wanyama remain absentees for Pochettino. The manager could make changes due to the busy festive period with plenty of back-up options waiting in the wings to make a start, but an impressive display at Burnley will make this difficult. After an uneasy start at Wembley, Spurs are unbeaten in 8 games at the national stadium.Embed from Getty Images
Ryan Bertrand and Cedric Soares were both forced off for the Saints against Chelsea two game weeks back and have yet to be confirmed fully fit for the trip to London and both look increasingly likely to miss out. Charlie Austin was handed a three-match ban by the FA after his nasty incident with Jonas Lossl in their 1-1 draw with Huddersfield so will not be in the match day squad. Gabbiadini and Shane Long will be looking to be bolstered up to the starting XI for Southampton and Pellegrino.
Score Prediction – Tottenham 2 Southampton 1
West Brom vs Everton (26/12/2017, 15:00 hours, The Hawthorns)
West Brom have not won a competitive football match since their success away from home in the Carabao Cup in a 3-1 victory at Accrington. Their form in the Premier League has been abysmal and they find themselves situated in the bottom three of the table. On the other hand, it has been a month since Everton have lost a competitive football match and Sam Allardyce has truly turned their fortunes around. Alan Pardew has not managed what his counterpart has since joining West Brom late November and the pressure is already mounting on him.Embed from Getty Images
Alan Pardew has called for the fans to get behind them on Saturday but he will not be able to rely on the services of Nacer Chadli as he picked up another thigh injury in their defeat at the hands of Stoke. Matt Phillips has returned to training and could be in contention on Tuesday yet James Morrison remains side-lined with an Achilles injury.
Everton midfielder, Idrissa Gueye will miss the trip to West Brom after picking up a hamstring injury against the Premier League Champions, Chelsea. It was clear that Wayne Rooney was absent against Chelsea and he will be very much welcomed back into the starting XI, that’s as long as he’s brushed off his illness. Williams and Holgate also suffered illness and missed the game against Chelsea but both should be in contention at the Hawthorns.
Score Prediction – West Brom 1 Everton 1
Bournemouth vs West Ham (26/12/2017, 15:00 hours, Vitality Stadium)
Both teams suffered defeat in game week 19 of the Premier League, with Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth being the latest side to perish at the hands of Manchester City, losing 4-0 in Manchester. West Ham suffered their first Premier League defeat in three games after their 3-2 defeat at home to Newcastle. The teams are neighbours in the table with Moyes and West Ham sitting one above Bournemouth in 17th.Embed from Getty Images
Eddie Howe is unfortunately having to contend with a considerable injury list and Junior Stanislas became the latest player to join the list after stumbling off the field with a hamstring issue against City. Stanislas joins a lengthy list with Defoe, Arter, Daniels, King, Smith, Federici and Mings all currently giving the physio staff a busy Christmas period. As for the Hammers, they welcome back Manuel Lanzini after he completed a two match retrospective ban after being charged for diving at Stoke. Jose Fonte remains missing due to an ankle injury and Mark Noble could also miss out with a hamstring worry.
Score Prediction – Bournemouth 0 West Ham 1
Huddersfield vs Stoke City (26/12/2017, 15:00 hours, John Smith Stadium)
Aside from Burnley, arguably Huddersfield have been the stand out performers this campaign. The Terriers currently sit 11th and could leapfrog Watford dependent on results on Boxing Day. Wagner’s side performed impressively against Southampton on Saturday and picked up another point, giving them a total of 22 at the halfway stage. The visitors are looking to make it back-to-back successes in the Premier League after a monumental 3-1 victory vs West Brom on Saturday.Embed from Getty Images
The starting XI’s for both sides are likely to be minimal with both managers expected to name an unchanged eleven. Jonathan Hogg is available for Wagner after serving a one match ban and the main choice for the manager is whether to side with Steve Mounie or in form Laurent Depoitre. Billing, Hefele, Kachunga and Stankovic remain absent.
Erik Pieters remains a huge doubt after missing the home win against the Baggies with an injury he obtained against West Ham. Glen Johnson has been training and could possibly be involved but will likely miss out against Huddersfield. Jese Rodriguez is not yet ready for competitive football while Martins Indi is likely to still remain absent.
Score Prediction – Huddersfield 1 Stoke City 1
Watford vs Leicester City (26/12/2017, 15:00 hours, Vicarage Road)
Watford are a club short in form and look to return to winning ways as they host the Foxes on Boxing day. After a confident and positive start to the season, the Hornets have had limited success as of late and have lost five of their last six Premier League matches. Leicester are a side who certainly don’t mirror Watford’s form and after a slow start to the campaign, since Claude Peul’s arrival they have been on the up. A late equaliser from Harry Maguire snatched a point from the clutches of Manchester United on Saturday and the Foxes will be looking to continue their fortunes at Vicarage Road.Embed from Getty Images
Marvin Zeegelaar returns from a three-match ban while Doucoure will surely slot right back into the starting XI after serving a one match ban due to five yellow cards. Troy Deeney is currently serving a three-match ban and Femenia, Hughes, Kaboul. Catchcart, Chalobah, Success and Britos make up an extensive injury list for Marco Silva and Watford. Hughes and Britos are hopeful to return to the side but their fitness will be monitored up until kick-off on Tuesday.
As for their counterparts, Daniel Amartey will be absent after being dismissed against United on Saturday. He replaced Danny Simpson in the match who picked up a hamstring problem and he could therefore be missing from the match day squad against Watford. Matty James and Robert Huth remain the only two other absentees.
Score Prediction – Watford 1 Leicester City 2
Chelsea vs Brighton (26/12/2017, 15:00 hours, Stadium Bridge)
Chelsea host Brighton on Boxing Day and are looking to return to winning ways after their 0-0 draw at Everton on Saturday. Chelsea have won 8 of their last 11 league games and although 16 points behind Manchester City, are in good stead for the remainder of the season. Brighton gained their first 3 points in 7 games on Saturday after a 1-0 victory against Watford but will face a tough task in gaining any points come Tuesday afternoon.
Alvaro Morata will return for the Blues and will be a huge positive for Conte and Chelsea. Hazard undertook the role of the loan striker against Everton but struggled and the return of the Spaniard will allow the Belgian to roam and link up with his team-mate, a scary combination for the Brighton defence to contend with. David Luiz has been linked with an exit from the Bridge come January and remains missing with a knee injury. Charly Musonda is also not fit due to a groin strain.Embed from Getty Images
Chris Hughton’s side have little injury concerns with Steve Sidwell being the only absentee with a knee injury. Shane Duffy is set to return after being absent from the win against Watford due to serving suspension. He will most likely fill back in to his centre half role with Connor Goldson dropping to the bench. Izzy Brown is also not available to Hughton as he is ineligible to face his parent club.
Score Prediction – Chelsea 3 Brighton 0
Manchester United vs Burnley (26/12/2017, 15:00 hours, Old Trafford)
After Mourinho being left frustrated at the way his side conceded with the last touch of the game against Leicester last time out, Manchester United will be looking to return to winning ways on Tuesday, yet will face a tough task as they play host to Burnley, who suffered a heavy defeat at the hands of Tottenham in game week 19.
United are suffering with many absentees with Mourinho confirming that Carrick and Fellaini are out for the whole festive period. Centre-back Eric Bailly is remaining a monumental absentee for United and he still suffers a period on the side line with an ankle injury. Matteo Darmain is also likely to miss Burnleys visit with Chris Smalling a doubt after picking up a knock late on against the Foxes. Antonio Valencia also remains a doubt as he continues to struggle with a hamstring injury.Embed from Getty Images
The newest of Burnley’s injury concerns is striker Chris Wood who limped off during the first half loss against Spurs. He joins Stephen Ward on the side line for the Clarets and they will both be missed as Burnley face up against the Red Devils. Defender James Tarkowski will serve the second of his three match ban and his absence was clear on Saturday as Harry Kane bagged himself a Christmas hat-trick.
Score Prediction – Manchester United 2 Burnley 0
Liverpool vs Swansea (26/12/2017, 17:30 hours, Anfield)
Swansea still remain rooted to the bottom of the Premier League table and if they planned on being off the bottom come 2018, their task doesn’t get any easier as they face a difficult trip to Anfield on Boxing Day evening. Also, to be considered is the extra days rest that Klopp’s side have had following their 3-3 draw with Arsenal on Friday night. Leon Britton is set to take charge of his second game as caretaker and has stated his intention to not take the job on full time, a win against Liverpool though would have Swans fans begging for his services.
Jordan Henderson is set to miss out Tuesday’s game after suffering a hamstring injury early in the game against the Gunners. Moreno and Clyne remain side-lined for Liverpool. Klopp is expected to rotate his squad yet the risk of rotating Salah, Firmino and Coutinho is that everything that is good for Liverpool comes through the super front 3, who could cause Swansea nightmares at Anfield.Embed from Getty Images
Kyle Naughton suffered a groin injury in Saturdays 1-1 draw with Palace and has joined the Swans injured list. Swansea are already without Bony, Ki Sung-yueng and Kyle Bartley while Fer is believed to have been assessed on Christmas Day. If Naughton is not ready for the trip to Swansea, Angel Rangel is ready to step up into the starting XI.
Score Prediction – Liverpool 3 Swansea 0
Newcastle vs Manchester City (27/12/2017, 19:45 hours, Sports Direct Arena)
Never in top-flight history has a side earned such a significant advantage at the top of the Premier League table at this time of year than Manchester City. With United dropping points on Saturday, City opened up a 13-point gap and they travel to a Newcastle United side who will be next to try and stop Guardiola’s rampant side.
Newcastle produced an impressive performance and picked up their first three points since October with a 3-2 victory against West Ham on Saturday. Benitez will be looking for his side to once again prove their worth in the Premier League and will certainly be hoping to pick up at least a point come Wednesday night. Merino and Hayden are both suffering with injuries yet still could feature against City.Embed from Getty Images
John Stones is closing in on a return to the match day squad but the trip to Newcastle may be slightly too early for the Englishman. It is possible that Guardiola will use his full squad for the trip to the Sports Direct Arena and players like Aguero and Sterling may be on the substitute bench as they deserve a well-earned rest. Phil Foden joins Mendy on the side-lines after picking up an ankle injury.
Score Prediction – Newcastle 0 Manchester City 2
Crystal Palace vs Arsenal (28/12/2017, 20:00 hours, Selhurst Park)
Arsenal visit Crystal Palace on Thursday as the hosts look to continue an impressive run of form having lost only 1 match in 10 Premier League outings. The visitors on the other hand are unbeaten in 6 games but could be 4 points off of the Champions League places come Thursday night.
Wickham, Delaney and Sakho are all missing for Palace as they face time on the side-lines due to injury. Joel Ward is also a doubt for Hodgeson’s side. Christian Benteke is available for contention after serving a one match ban and is set to lead the line alongside the inform, Wilfred Zaha. Both these teams have slightly longer rest periods after their respective game week 19 fixtures so major changes are unlikely.Embed from Getty Images
As for Arsenal, Ramsey remains side-lined and not due to return till January with Perez and Cazorla still unavailable. Nacho Monreal was forced off with an ankle problem in the 3-3 draw with Liverpool so remains a doubt for the trip to Palace. Olivier Giroud also remains a major doubt for the trip and is unlikely to be in the match day squad.
Score Prediction – Crystal Palace 1 Arsenal 2
Written by Eamon Kitching.