Let’s get the bad news for Sheffield United out the way. Only three teams have been bottom of the English Premier League on Christmas Day and survived relegation – West Brom (2004), Sunderland (2013) and Leicester (2014). Sheffield United won’t join that trio, with just two draws from their opening 14 games. They actually need another 10 points from their remaining 24 games to leave Derby (2007-08) as the worst performing EPL side of all time. By Gary Lemke.
They meet Everton in the next round and the visitors will be going for their fourth successive win, which is the from that took them to the top of the table after the opening four games of the season. Winning four on the bounce is not easy in this division and even though Everton are odds-on to win here, and should, I wouldn’t rule out a draw for those wanting to take a bit of a chance.
The big match is Leicester against Manchester United and this actually could go anyway. I’ve gone for the draw, and might have done the same for a couple of other games, but I’ve lost ground on the Superbru log recently and I’ve had some back luck when picking draws, so I’m changing tack this week.
The latest trend of scores so far this season is (keep in mind when you’re factoring your picks):
1-0: 25 times
2-1: 20 times
1-1: 18 times
2-0: 15 times
3-0: 13 times
0-0: 8 times
Leicester 1 Man United 1: Leicester are the only team to have not drawn so far this season, but they’ve reserved their best from for away from home, while United have also performed better away from Old Trafford. In fact United have won all six of their away games so far and have taken 19 points from their last 21 and they start favourites here.
Aston Villa 1 Crystal Palace 0: Villa have conceded 13 goals this season and only Man City have let in fewer. Palace meanwhile have shipped 25 goals and only Leeds and West Brom have worse defensive records. Throw those 2 factors into the melting pot, plus the fact Villa are at home and the odds sway in favour of Villa against a team that would be delighted to leave the Midlands with a point.
Fulham 1 Southampton 2: If Fulham continue with the form they’ve shown recently they can avoid relegation. They’ve earned 9 valuable points from their last 8 games but meet a decent Southampton team who lost to Man City last time but have recently beaten Sheffield United and Brighton, while drawing with Arsenal. That formline could just see them sneak this one.
Arsenal 1 Chelsea 2: It would be typical of Frank Lampard’s Chelsea to be the team where Arsenal breaks their winless streak of 7 games. The Gunners have been poor recently, but Chelsea themselves have stuttered in recent weeks, although they did beat West Ham last time to stop the bleeding. At even money to win, I’m not convinced Chelsea are value for money here.
Man City 2 Newcastle 0: You won’t get a more inconsistent side than Newcastle. Their formline reads WLDWLDWLLWWLD. City though have been far from their best this season with only 19 goals from their 13 games and only twice have they scored more than two goals. But they have the best defensive record of the entire league and they should be good enough for all the points here.
Sheffield United 1 Everton 2: Sheffield United will start earning points soon enough and they have not been disgraced in many of their games. They’re likely to be underdogs against every team they play going forward, and Everton are the visitors this round. The Merseyside team will be strong favourites to pile on the misery for the Blades.
Leeds 2 Burnley 1: Someone wrote this week that Leeds play as though they’ve never seen a scoreboard before. I wish I had thought of those words. They’ve lost their way of late though, losing five of their last 8 and being hammered 6-2 by Man United last time. But they might have found good opponents here because Burnley, despite winning 2 of their last 3, surely won’t be able to sit back and defend all match without conceding.
West Ham 2 Brighton 1: The Hammers lost 3-0 at Chelsea last time but the scoreline flattered the winners. Brighton are better than their log position suggests and both their wins have been on the road. They’ve only lost 3 of their last 10 and won’t be easy to beat. I’m tempted to go for the draw but feel that with Declan Rice in the shop window to join Chelsea in January, he might make the different here.
Liverpool 3 West Brom 0: This will be a popular scoreline and it’s as short as 5.50-1 to be the case. The visitors didn’t show much improvement in Big Sam’s first game in charge and one can’t see anything other than a comfortable Liverpool win here. I’m tempted to go 2-0 for the Big Sam factor, but Liverpool might be in the mood to produce a Christmas stuffing.
Wolves 1 Tottenham 2: From table toppers a few short weeks ago to sixth heading into the Boxing Day round. That shows how tight the table is and Spurs have stuttered in their last 3 games, with one draw to show for it. Wolves have lost 3 of their last 4, but their win was against Chelsea when they came from 1-0 down to win 2-1. This could easily be a draw but if Tottenham get their noses in front, under Jose’s eye they’re unlikely to “do a Chelsea” and lose from that position.