Soccer

Another win for Chelsea?

The ESPN FC crew discuss who needs a win more out of Manchester City and Arsenal.

The ESPN FC crew discuss who needs a win more out of Manchester City and Arsenal.

What a festive weekend we have in store. The Merseyside derby is always ripe for drama and there’s the small matter of Manchester City vs. Arsenal, too.

Predict the outcome of all the matches in our polls.

EVERTON: Everton should head into the Merseyside derby with renewed confidence after the players finally woke up and put Ronald Koeman’s words into action to end Arsenal’s 14-game unbeaten run in midweek. Those qualities evident in the final hour on Tuesday must be present from the first whistle against a free-scoring Liverpool.
Prediction: Everton 1-1 Liverpool Luke O’Farrell

LIVERPOOL: Liverpool and Everton both bounced back with impressive midweek wins to set up an intriguing Merseyside derby. Victory over Arsenal will give Everton confidence after a dreadful run, but the Reds have a great record in recent fixtures between these two teams and should have too much firepower for their neighbours.
Prediction: Everton 1-3 LiverpoolDave Usher

Who will win?

MAN CITY: With Arsenal’s defence looking shaky at Everton in midweek and City finally notching a scare-free home win, the stage is set for an intriguing clash at the Etihad. Without Ilkay Gundogan and Fernandinho, the midfield battle will be tough, but it is to the creative players that both sides will look for inspiration.
Prediction: Manchester City 2-2 Arsenal Simon Curtis

ARSENAL: Arsenal will seek to put the disappointment of losing to Everton behind them when they face City on Sunday. It was the Gunners’ first defeat since the opening weekend of the season, and — rightly or wrongly — it has raised questions as to the credibility of their title challenge.
Prediction: Manchester City 2-2 Arsenal — Andrew Mangan

Who will win?

CRYSTAL PALACE: With Crystal Palace so desperately susceptible to conceding, and Chelsea in as potent form as they are, it’s likely that the Selhurst Park faithful will see another defeat.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 1-2 Chelsea Rob Sutherland

CHELSEA: Chelsea’s inexorable form shows no sign of withering. Crystal Palace may fancy their chances of taking something from Saturday’s derby fixture at Selhurst Park, but the gulf in class between the two teams will eventually show itself. An 11th straight Premier League victory + another clean sheet = a very merry Christmas for Antonio Conte’s table-toppers.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 0-2 Chelsea — Mark Worrall

Who will win?

WEST BROM: West Brom will look to record their fourth consecutive home victory when they face Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United at The Hawthorns this weekend. Jonny Evans missed the midweek win over Swansea and Tony Pulis will be desperate for the defender to marshal the defence against the in-form Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Prediction: West Brom 1-1 Manchester United Matthew Evans

MAN UNITED: Manchester United, with two successive league wins for the first time since August, now travel to West Bromwich Albion, one of the form teams in the division. Pulis’ men have won four of their past six, and look set to be similarly stubborn at The Hawthorns.
Prediction: West Brom 1-1 Manchester United — Musa Okwonga

Who will win?

TOTTENHAM: Tottenham have swatted aside Swansea and Hull City in their past two home games at White Hart Lane, scoring eight goals without conceding. And, while Burnley are a little higher up the table than Spurs’ previous visitors, they have the worst away record in the Premier League. Sean Dyche’s side have lost six of their seven matches on the road, drawing the other, and the aggregate score across all those games is 16-1.
Prediction: Tottenham 2-0 Burnley — Ben Pearce

BURNLEY: The Clarets have only scored one goal and collected a single point away from home in the Premier League this season and it is difficult to see them adding to either of those tallies at White Hart Lane on Sunday. It is likely to be very straightforward for Spurs and anything other than a comfortable home win would be a big surprise.
Prediction: Tottenham 3-0 BurnleyJamie Smith

Who will win?

STOKE: Mark Hughes will be without the suspended Marko Arnautovic and in his absence will likely turn to promising Egyptian talent Ramadan Sobhi over on the left side of attack. The Potters will hope it is the tired and unimpressive Leicester who turn up and not the ones who beat Manchester City so convincingly.
Prediction: Stoke 2-2 Leicester James Whittaker

LEICESTER: All the hard work of beating Manchester City will be undone if Leicester lose at Stoke. The Foxes were below par in the midweek loss at Bournemouth and won’t be favourites to take maximum points at the Bet365 Stadium. City didn’t really look up for the fight against the Cherries and unless that changes at Stoke, the Foxes will leave pointless.
Prediction: Leicester 1-1 Stoke Ben Jacobs

Who will win?

BOURNEMOUTH: Bournemouth have won three of their past five games and if Benik Afobe or Callum Wilson can find their shooting boots against Southampton then another win looks a near certainty. The Cherries are improving all the time and Claude Puel’s side will not enjoy playing at the Vitality Stadium.
Prediction: Bournemouth 2-1 Southampton Will Kent

SOUTHAMPTON: Southampton’s lack of goal threat without injured top scorer Charlie Austin could come back and haunt them against a vibrant and confident Bournemouth side. Saints lost this south coast derby 2-0 last season and a similar result may be on the cards.
Prediction: Bournemouth 2-0 SouthamptonAlex Crook

Who will win?

SUNDERLAND: Defeat to Chelsea on Wednesday night gives mighty significance to Saturday’s visit of Watford. Against lesser opponents, Sunderland need a more positive approach, a repeat of Adnan Januzaj’s vastly improved midweek display and the return (if fit) of Victor Anichebe.
Prediction: Sunderland 3-1 Watford Colin Randall

WATFORD: After coming close to nicking an unexpected point with an unexpected lineup against Manchester City, the pressure will be on Watford for a more positive display against Sunderland. Troy Deeney was rested for the trip to the Etihad, but will surely start at the Stadium of Light, while Isaac Success increased the clamour for a starting berth after an eye-catching midweek cameo.
Prediction: Sunderland 1-1 Watford — Mike Parkin

Who will win?

WEST HAM: There are definite signs that West Ham are starting to show a bit of the form of last season. Problems still persist up front and in part of the defence, but the Hammers should have enough impetus at home to deliver a second win in four days.
Prediction:  West Ham 2-0 Hull City Peter Thorne

HULL CITY: A sixth straight away defeat came for Hull City at Tottenham on Wednesday, but that’s not to say it was all doom and gloom. The Tigers played pretty well all told and it could have been a different story had they taken their chances. A struggling West Ham are certainly no Tottenham and a similar performance can finally stop the rot outside of East Yorkshire. Here’s hoping, anyway.
Prediction: West Ham 1-2 Hull Phil Buckingham

Who will win?

MIDDLESBROUGH: The stakes are high in what is a must-win game for Boro, who have lost two games on the bounce. Key to the shape of the team and an outlet for creating some rare goals will be the availability of injured Gaston Ramirez.
Prediction: Middlesbrough 2-1 Swansea Catherine Wilson

SWANSEA: As Swansea continue to flip flop between resurgence and regression, it is impossible to know which side will show up at Middlesbrough on the weekend. It’s the latest in a succession of relegation six-pointers for the unsettled Swans, but if they lose this one, the gap to safety might finally become too big.
Prediction: Middlesbrough 1-2 SwanseaMax Hicks

Who will win?

It’s the last round of fixtures before Christmas; a notoriously difficult period for all Premier League teams. The tone can be set for the second half of the season with a strong festive period. So, will your team win? Will your rivals slip up? Let us know — have your say in the comments and vote in our polls. 

Merry Christmas!

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