Everton vs. Wigan
Everton extended their unbeaten run to six games at the week end, coming back from behind to win at Upton Park, without they key player, Marouanne Fellaini, who will miss out again mid-week. Pienaar has consistently proven that the Everton midfield have a lot more to offer that their talismanic Belgian. On Boxing Day they are up against a Wigan side who are struggling after only picking up one point in the last five matches, which gives them the edge.
Fulham vs. Southampton
Fulham have conceded ten ten goals in the last four matches and have already lost eight of their Premier League games. They definitely miss Dembele and Dempsey who are doing well at their new club. Martin Jol needs to turn things around very quickly. Their home advantage game them the edge against Newcastle two weeks ago, and I reckon it will do the same on Wednesday against Southampton, who generally don’t travel well. They too slipped up at the week end, and will find the busy Christmas period very tough.
Manchester United vs. Newcastle
Newcastle went back to winning ways against QPR, but they face a much tougher test coming up at Old Trafford. Sir Alex’s men are unbeaten in the last six and will look to make it seven against an inconsistent Newcastle side, who are yet to register an Away win this season. Swansea gave United many problems on Saturday, and yet again, their defensive frailties were exposed at times, so I see this encounter with Newcastle as another close battle.
Norwich vs. Chelsea
Norwich’s nine-match unbeaten run came to an end at the week end which will hurt their morale, as well the loss of the captain through injury. Nonetheless, Chris Hughton should be proud of his team and their work to sustain their form. It was a heavy defeat to Chelsea that sparked their incredible run which ended at West Brom. I think Chelsea will come out on top again. They put eight past Aston Villa the other day which brought back memories of the Ancelotti era. If they keep demolishing other teams lower down the table, they will be credible title contenders again. I think they face a tough challenge away at Norwich, where the Canaries have only lost once in the League this season. However, their talent will outclass Norwich, like it did to Villa on Sunday.
QPR vs. West Brom
QPR are five points from safety, and will be hoping the Loftus Road faithful will act as a twelth man during this vital clash. Harry has done a great job since taking over at the helm and will want to do all that he can to get his side out of the relegation zone early in the New Year. West Brom haven’t done so well on the road this season, having only won twice.
Reading vs. Swansea
Reading’s losing streak extended to seven after their loss to the Champions. They did fight and it is an achievement keep City at bay until injury time. However, Swansea too proved their worth after limiting United to a draw at the week end. Michu is still in exceptional form and I feel he will cause Reading’s defence severe problems.
Sunderland vs. Manchester City
Apart from their 5-0 mauling of Aston Villa, the Champions haven’t really put in that Champions performance yet this season. A narrow victory against the likes of Reading will not suffice, if they wish to retain the title. They face yet another relegation battling side on Boxing Day, and I feel another narrow win is likely. Sunderland may have gained an important three points away from home the other day, but the quality of City will be too much for Martin O’Neil’s side, who have only won four out of their 18 League games.
Aston Villa vs. Tottenham
Villa will find it tough to recover from their 8-0 defeat at Chelsea. Now they’re up against another London club, whose Away form has picked up of late. Even the in-form Benteke didn’t offer much at Stamford Bridge and the horror show is an example of how Villa can’t perform against big clubs. They have conceded a total of 19 goals against all the clubs in the top five at the moment. Spurs will look to exploit their weaknesses, and will thus pick up a deserved win at Villa Park.
Stoke vs. Liverpool
Stoke have kept nine clean sheets out of their 18 League games and still remain the tightest defence in the Premiership, having only conceded 13 goals all season, three of which were at Home. Liverpool are simply too inconsistent and have only won two games away from home. The likes of Suarez and Gerrard will find it difficult to break the Stoke back four and thus, I don’t see them getting anything from this fixture. Stoke remain unbeaten at Home this season and they will do all they can convert their draws into wins.