Premier League Picks: Gameweek 18 Predictions
Everton 3-1 Arsenal
Aston Villa 2-1 Southampton
Brighton 1-1 Sheffield Utd
Bournemouth 1-1 Burnley
Newcastle 1-1 Crystal Palace
Norwich 1-2 Wolves
Manchester City 2-1 Leicester
Watford 0-2 Manchester United
Tottenham 3-1 Chelsea
The crazy English Christmas period continues with 4 matches in 11 days coming up. Liverpool and busy playing in the Club World Cup, therefore, we only have 9 fixtures to look at this weekend. The weekend opens up with two hugely under-achieving sides under caretaker Managers, as Everton host Arsenal. However, this will represent the final game in charge for both Ferguson and Ljungberg, respectively, as Arsenal have now appointed Mikel Arteta, while Everton are set to appoint Carlo Ancelotti next week. I expect the caretakers to go out off the back of a goalfest, given that Arsenal’s last eight Premier League games averaged 3.25 goals per 90 minutes, while Everton’s last eight top-flight contests averaged 3.5 goals per game.
As mentioned on the Podcast, I can see many closely contested ending up as draws, especially the 3pm fixtures on Saturday. Sunday begins with Manchester United‘s visit to Watford, with United looking for their 5th win in 6. Meanwhile, we have 2 solid contenders for game of the week, with Leicester travelling to Manchester City on Saturday and Tottenham hosting Chelsea -Mourinho’s former employers – on Sunday afternoon. I have opted to breakdown both.
Game of the Week 1: Manchester City vs Leicester City
Manchester City were emphatic in their 3-0 win over Arsenal last weekend, however, they are still miles away from Liverpool, as they sit 3rd in the table, 14 points adrift of the Reds. It goes without saying that the title-race is already over. City’s defence has been their achilles-heel this season, conceding over a goal per game on average, keeping just one clean sheet in their last seven Premier League games. While Man City are the underperforming champions, Leicester were never expected to make a shock title challenge this season. They come into Christmas 2nd in the table, but they are also looking up at a huge 10 point gap between themselves and Liverpool, with many believing their hopes were extinguished after last weekend’s draw at home to lowly Norwich.
Leicester are well represented in the combined XI, although Maddison over Silva was a tough call, while Vardy’s inclusion is down to Sergio Aguero’s injury. When both fit, the Argentine would get the nod.
Manchester City have found the net in all but one of their league outings this term, while Leicester have failed to score in just one of their away games this season, making ‘Both Teams to Score’ the value bet for this game.
Game of the Week 2: Tottenham Hotspur vs Chelsea
Tottenham Hotspur will leapfrog Chelsea into 4th place with a win on Sunday, as Jose Mourinho faces off against a former employer for the 14th time, when Chelsea visit the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Spurs have won four of their five Premier League games since Mourinho took charge, while Chelsea are in a poor run of form as of late. Chelsea have also lost 15 matches in all competitions in 2019 – their most in a single year since 2000.
The combined XI for these begins relatively even, however, Spurs significantly edge out Chelsea in the end with their superior attacking options, and it’s these options that allow them to keep Christian Eriksen on the sidelines.
Tottenham are a team in decent form at the moment, who have been consistently tough to beat at home- even before Mourinho’s arrival- losing one home league game this season. With Chelsea in such poor form, I think backing another home win is a great value bet, especially with odds at 4/5 being offered in the Draw no Bet market.