Big three separating themselves from the pack
The Premier League heads into the hectic Christmas period with several intriguing storylines, most notably the current title race. The relegation scrap heats up as well, with several teams scrapping to survive the dreaded bottom three.
The Fantasy landscape is also moving forward, with a few surprise packages shining through in recent weeks. Wolves goalkeeper Jose Sa is currently the best mid-price option between the sticks. Marc Guehi, on loan at Crystal Palace from Chelsea, and Leeds captain Liam Cooper are good budget defenders.
West Ham United v Chelsea
West Ham United were pegged back by a late Neal Maupay bicycle kick in their 1-1 home draw with Brighton on Wednesday. The Hammers remain in fourth, but only by one point.
Chelsea, despite losing three players to injury, survived to beat Watford 2-1 at Vicarage Road. They remain top of the league, remaining unbeaten in their last five games.
The Blues have dominated this cross-town London derby, winning 27 of their 50 meetings. They won their last visit to the London Stadium 1-0 in April.
Newcastle United v Burnley
Newcastle remain the only winless team this season. The Magpies went down to ten men less than ten minutes in, and then conceded the equaliser eleven minutes from time of their 1-1 home draw with fellow strugglers Norwich City.
Burnley lacked quality in the final third during their 0-0 away draw with Wolves. The Clarets have earned seven draws this season, the joint-most in the league, and remain three points from safety.
The Toon hold the advantage in this battle with four wins, including a 3-1 win from this corresponding match last season. They must win to keep in touch with the survival chasers.
Southampton v Brighton & Hove Albion
Southampton conceded two equalisers, one either side of half-time, but held on for the 2-2 home draw with Leicester City. Striker Che Adams continued his strong recent form with his fifth goal of the season.
Brighton earned an important 1-1 away draw with West Ham United. Striker Neal Maupay scored a beautiful overhead equaliser a minute from time from Tariq Lamptey’s cross.
The Saints have the better of this South Coast derby, but the Seagulls earned a 2-1 win on their last visit to St. Mary’s in March.
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Liverpool
Wolves showed a lack of decision-making in the final third, yet goalkeeper Jose Sa made a few critical saves, to secure them a 0-0 home draw with Burnley.
Liverpool absolutely battered Everton 4-1 at Goodison Park in the Merseyside derby, Mo Salah scoring two more goals to make it 19 for the season in all competitions.
The Reds have controlled this fixture, winning 11 of the 14 meetings. They were pushed hard by Wolves, but came away with a 1-0 win on their last visit to Molineux.
Watford v Manchester City
Watford pushed Chelsea all the way, but were just beaten 2-1 at Vicarage Road. They remain three points above the relegation zone, but have faced some tricky fixtures recently.
Manchester City survived the Aston Villa pressure to earn a 2-1 away victory. Bernardo Silva continued his fine current form with a brilliant volley just before half-time.
City have dominated this fixture, winning ten of the twelve meetings. The Hornets are yet to win, and have lost the last three by a combined score of 15 to 1.
Leeds United v Brentford
Leeds United earned a vital 1-0 home win over Crystal Palace. Raphinha scored a penalty in the third minute of second-half stoppage time after Palace defender Marc Guehi was penalized for a handball from Liam Cooper’s header.
Brentford earned an important 1-0 home win over struggling Everton last weekend, and would have visited Tottenham by the time of press. That was their first victory in five games.
These sides have never met in the top-flight, but their last meeting in the Championship ended 1-1 at the old Griffin Park in February 2020.
Manchester United v Crystal Palace
Manchester United held on for an important 1-1 away draw with title challengers Chelsea last Sunday, with Jadon Sancho scoring his first PL goal early in the second half. They would have hosted Arsenal in a top-four battle before time of press.
Crystal Palace were made to rue second-half chances in their 1-0 away defeat to Leeds United. They have now suffered consecutive losses for the first time this season.
United were stunned 3-1 on the Eagles’s last visit to Old Trafford last September, with Wilfried Zaha scoring twice against his former club. This will be United’s first game under new interim manager Ralf Rangnick.
Tottenham Hotspur v Norwich City
Tottenham had their away match with Burnley postponed due to heavy snowfall at Turf Moor, and would have hosted Brentford before time of press. They have scored the second-fewest goals in the division with 11.
Norwich could only muster a 1-1 away draw with ten-man Newcastle United, but remain unbeaten in three matches under new boss Dean Smith.
Spurs have won ten of their eighteen meetings, including a 2-1 win on the Canaries’ last visit to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in January 2020.
Aston Villa v Leicester City
Aston Villa suffered their first loss under new manager Steven Gerrard, a 2-1 home defeat to Manchester City. However, they had scored twice in both their previous victories under the former Liverpool legend. Will he lead them to a late European push?
Leicester came from behind twice to earn a 2-2 away draw with Southampton. Despite this, they have taken just one win in their last five league games.
Villa are on the wrong side of this Midlands derby, with the Foxes winning ten of their 24 meetings. They won 2-1 on their last visit to Villa Park.
Everton v Arsenal
Everton got demolished by the impressive Liverpool to a 4-1 thumping in the Merseyside derby at Goodison. Manager Rafael Benitez, who previously managed the Reds, could be under immense pressure after the Toffees have suffered four defeats and gone winless in their last five games.
Arsenal cruised past Newcastle in a 2-0 home win, with Gabriel Martinelli scoring his first league goal of the season. The Gunners would have visited Manchester United prior to time of press in a critical top-4 clash.
Everton did edge Arsenal 2-1 on the North London side’s last visit to Goodison Park, but the Gunners have dominated the overall history, winning 34 of 58 total meetings.