The midweek clashes pretty much went to form, result-wise at least. There were a few hairy moments, especially for Pep, who would've been pulling his hair out, if he had any! Spurs' defeat at Leicester wasn't exactly a shock, but the London club need to get their season back on track, starting with a tough away 'derby' against Watford. Who'll win? Well, don't just tell us, take part in our free-to-enter StanJames Predictor Competition. Simply beat our score and win Free Bets!
The first match kicks off at 12.45pm, so make sure you get your scores in before then as we cover all EIGHT of Saturday's matches for Week 15 of the StanJames Predictor!
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An enthralling eight Premier League matches to predict for Week 15. If you please, all predictions to be entered before 12.45pm on Saturday, Decemner 2nd. Don't have an account yet? Click here to open one.
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CHELSEA 3 V 1 NEWCASTLE
Chelsea come into this game with a draw and four wins in their last five Premier League games. They squeezed past Swansea by a solitary goal last time out, but Conte has the defending champs purring over nicely. Psychologically, only Spurs have lost more times at Stamford Bridge than Newcastle, and Rafa’s men face an uphill battle, with a 2-2 draw away at West Brom their only point from their last five games. Factor in the fact that Newcastle have only scored three in that same period, whilst Chelsea have only conceded one and the size of the task for the Toon becomes apparent.
Conte narrowly avoided a touchline ban after being sent to the stands in the game against Swansea, but don’t expect any lessening of the passion as the fiery Italian looks to push his charges into maintaining their current run. Newcastle, who showed some of the same fight when coming back from 2-0 down at West Brom to snatch a point will need to harness the same intensity if they are to leave Stamford Bridge with anything but bruised egos. To be fair, their displays haven’t hinted at any discord, and some will say that they’ve been unlucky in games this season. But, like the famed English philosopher Mick Jagger once said, “You don’t always get what you want…” and the Premier League can be an unforgiving arena for the dreamers and romantics of this world.
If Newcastle didn’t face enough of a daunting task, Eden Hazard started Wednesday’s game on the bench and the Belgian wizard is expected to regain his place in the starting eleven. Moses looks to have fully recovered and could feature for the Blues, whilst David Luiz remains sidelined. Forgotten man Michy Batshuayi’s ankle injury isn’t as bad as first thought and he could to back to warming the bench.
Rafa dropped Jonjo Shelvey, Javi Manquillo, Dwight Gayle and Mo Diame on Wednesday, possibly with one eye on this game. Shelvey has been in fine form and it’s inconceivable that he won’t be reinstated, especially as this game could be won in midfield.
What We Sayin'?
A tough game for Newcastle. Chelsea have shone in patches this season, but they’re still grinding out wins. On their day, we all know what they are capable of, and this may be one of their days. Newcastle’s fantastic support could be their undoing, as they will surely add to the atmosphere, which could kick-start Chelsea’s desire.
So, all that said, we can see Chelsea winning both halves (6/4), though Newcastle will have chances. BTTS, therefore, is 6/5, whilst BTTS and Chelsea win is 2/1. Morata has adapted well to English football and the Spaniard is 15/8 to grab the opening goal. Tack that onto a scorecast. Morata first GS and Chelsea 3-1 and that jumps to 22/1.*
BRIGHTON 1 V 1 LIVERPOOL
Brighton are a tough nut to crack. Chris Hughton has set them up in his image: they’re resilient, willing, combative and have a footballing brain. Since losing their opening match against Manchester City, Brighton are unbeaten in six Premier League matches at home, with two wins and four draws. In fact, the Seagulls have only lost once in seven games, a narrow 1-0 reverse away at Old Trafford.
Liverpool arrive full of confidence. They are scoring for fun at the moment, their last result a 3-0 battering of Southampton. Egyptian wonder winger Mo Salah has 12 goals in his first 14 Premier League matches for the Reds, which is a club record. Heck, he even scored twice midweek, despite starting on the bench, which, incidentally, were his 16th and 17th goals in all comps! That result increased their unbeaten run to seven, though it must be said that they have only kept one clean sheet on the road his term, the second-worse in the PL! Food for thought, Chris?
Brighton’s first season in the top flight has been helped by their relative lack of injuries. Steve Sidwell is approaching full fitness, though this game is probably a little too early for him. Cameroon international Gaetan Bong suffered a knock, but the word from the treatment room is he’ll be fine for the game. Klopp, on the other hand, has an abundance of riches, certainly attacking-wise, from which to choose. Salah and Philippe Coutinho were rested midweek, but both should feature, whilst Lallana is only a game or two away from making his comeback. Gini Wijnaldum looks certain to get the nod over Emre Can, though Nathanial Clyne remans a long-term absentee.
What We Sayin'?
As sexy as they are going forward, Liverpool are flakey at the back. Their form on the road is questionable whilst Brighton have turned the Amex into something of a fortress. The Seagulls, even against the ‘bigger’ teams, have only gone down by an odd goal…
We’re going to have a punt on this one. Liverpool could run riot, we accept that, but we’ve a feeling this could be a frustrating trip ‘dahn sarf’ for Klopp’s troops. We’ll take BTTS (10/11), Mo Salah and Glenn Murray to net first (14/5 and 13/2 respectively) and the draw (100/30). A tight affair, we’ll throw 1-1 into the mix at 7/1.*
EVERTON 3 V 0 HUDDERSFIELD
Everton, derided by many for their dire performances of late showed incoming manager Sam Allardyce just what they can do with a performance that had many, including Ronald Koeman scratching their heads in wonderment. Wayne Rooney reminded the world just what he is capable with a virtuoso performance, a hat trick which was completed with an absolutely world class strike from inside his own half! True one swallow a summer does not make, but Everton’s spirit will have been boosted by that showing, their second consecutive home win, and they’ll look forward to taking on a Huddersfield team who see to have lost their way a little, especially away from home. In fact, the Toffees have won all four home matches this season against sides outside the top seven.
Yes. Huddersfield. Away from home. The Terriers started the season well, but seem to have been in free-fall of late. The 5-0 pasting hey took from Arsenal midweek will not have done their confidence any good at all, though to be fair many a team will suffer the same fate when Arsenal are in that type of mood. What will concern manager David Wagner, however, is the lack of goals in his team. Even in their battling display against City which saw them narrowly lose 2-1 it was an own goal that gave them their foothold. Huddersfield have now failed to score in any of their last six matches away from home… a new striker for Christmas, Dave?
A crumb of comfort for Everton fans is the fact that they currently have the most absentees in the division: Bolaise and Mori are out with long-term knee problems, Coleman suffered a horrific leg break, whilst Ross Barkley’s back problems continue. Leighton Baines looks set to return after a calf injury, while Michael Keane should be declared fit after concussion last week. Academy award winner Oumar Niasse is serving a ban for simulation, whilst Republic of Ireland international midfielder James McCarthy is still a few weeks away from full fitness. For the terriers, who will want all their dogs of war snarling for this one, Philip Billing and Jon Stankovic remain long-term absentees. Van la Parra serves the second of his three-match ban, though Wagner could welcome Kasey Palmer back to the fold.
What We Sayin'?
Everton have a spring in their step again. As mentioned, their results against teams outside the big six have been good, and Huddersfield have struggled on the road. This adds up to only one thing in our eyes – a home win!
Given Huddersfield’s lack of away goals, BTTS-No at 4/5 appeals. Man-of-the-moment Rooney is a tasty-looking 3-1 to net first. Everton to win to nil, at 13/8 looks solid as well. Finally, we’ll have Everton to win 3-0 at 11/1.*
LEICESTER 1 V 2 BURNLEY
Leicester will be full of pep after their midweek win over Tottenham. Not only did they score two fantastic goals, their entire display was reminiscent of their title-winning campaign. Defending as if their life depended on it and hitting teams with pace and panache on the counter, Vardy and Mahrez, in particular, rekindling their almost telepathic partnership. It hasn’t been all plain sailing for the Foxes, but Claude Puel looks to be putting his stamp on the team.
Burnley on the other hand, have Sean Dyche’s stamp all over them. The ‘Ginga Ninga’ has really fashioned a team at Burnley, incorporating old-fashioned values such as desire and belief with a real footballing ethos. The Clarets are just three points adrift from the top four after their 2-1 win away at Bournemouth, their fourth win in five. Whereas Turf Moor was their safety net last season, only City and Chelsea have taken more points on the road than Burnley this term. They’ve won at Chelsea and picked up draws at Spurs and Liverpool, so an away day at the King Power shouldn’t hold too many problems for them, should it?
New father Christian Fuchs should return after the birth of his child, whilst Kelechi Iheanacho has recovered from the illness that saw him miss Tuesday’s game. Key defender Robert Huth has been a long-term problem, but reports suggest he is intensifying his training program and could be just a game or two away from a return. Dyche’s injury worries remain constant: ‘keeper Tom Heaton remains sidelined with his shoulder problem, whilst matt Lowton faces a late test to prove his fitness after picking-up a knock against Arsenal. On a brighter note, long-term absentee Jon Walters is back in training, and both Dean Marney and Steven Defour are back in contention and could make the starting eleven.
What We Sayin'?
Wow, a really tough one to call this. Leicester’s pace and power against Burnley’s resilience, craft, and dogged determination. What gives?
Okay. Let’s go for goals here! Jamie Vardy (3/1), Riyad Mahrez (13/2), and Chris Wood (7/1) all appeal as first GS. BTTS is EVS, which seems to be value, value, value! Finally, we’ve dusted our crystal balls and saw a vision of how the game would pan out: Leicester, spurred on by the crowd, take an early goal before Burnley come back and nick it at the death. Leicester HT/Burnley FT is 33/1 – How do you like those apples, Mystic Meg?*
STOKE 1 V 0 SWANSEA
A colleague, new to the team, explained her dislike of football this morning: “It’s boring! Unless Sergio Ramos is playing there’s absolutely no reason to watch it!” Now, Xherdan Shaqiri, Joe Allen, and Peter Crouch might disagree, but despite the best intentions of Mark Hughes, the one thing Stoke can’t be accused of is playing ‘sexy’ football. However, the days of the hoof and long throw-in are long gone as Hughes looks to refine their game. Not the easiest of jobs, and certainly not an overnight jobbie as recent results show: The Potters have one win in five, and have lost their last two. They are missing England International Jack Butland, who broke his finger in a training session. His replacement, Lee Grant has shipped seven in three games… forget sexy football, Hughes needs to get Stoke back to doing the basics – defending and fighting – before allowing any flights of fancy to seduce.
Swansea arrive with problems of their own: just seven goals scored all season and none whatsoever in November. That they miss their talisman Sigurdsson goes without saying. However, they need to find a replacement, individually and collectively, and quickly, if they ate to escape relegation. Chelsea loanee Tammy Abraham has gone off the boil, without a goal since his brace at Huddersfield, and it’s unfair to heap all the responsibility on his shoulders. The problem is, you look at that squad and don’t see the fighters. Perhaps Paul Clement can: if so, he needs to prep those players for the battle ahead, starting with Stoke on Saturday.
Stoke are without Geoff Cameron, who misses out through concussion. Stephen Ireland remains out through injury. Butland, as mentioned, is sidelined due to his broken finger. Kyle Bartley is the only injury concern Swansea have for this trip.
What We Sayin'?
We talked about ‘sexy’ football earlier, perhaps we should leave it to Ian Holloway to sum up how we see this one’s going to go: “To put it in gentleman’s terms if you’ve been out for a night and you’re looking for a young lady and you pull one, some weeks they’re good looking and some weeks they’re not the best. Our performance today would have been not the best-looking bird but at least we got her in the taxi.” It won’t be pretty, you can take that for granted, but as 16th take on 19th, it’s all about getting a result, clean sheet or not!
WATFORD 1 V 3 TOTTENHAM
The Hornets are buzzing… okay a lazy summary, not in keeping with their dynamic, exciting displays, especially at home. They are eighth in the PL, and manager Marco Silva is building something at Vicarage Road. Effervescent Watford are playing with an abandonment that is a joy to watch. They went down 2-4 at home to Man United but not before battling back from three down to make it 2-3. A Jesse Lingard wonder goal finally settling matters. In young Brazilian sensation Richarlison they have a player who perfectly epitomizes what Watford are all about. Watford, who have failed to win any of their previous eight Premier League encounters with Tottenham Hotspur (W0 D2 L6); the most matches they’ve played against an opponent without winning, will be looking to take advantage of bucking that trend against a strangely vulnerable looking Spurs.
Spurs are, well, tottering! One win in five, and that against Palace, is simply not good enough for a team reaming of challenging for the title. They were spanked by Arsenal and comprehensively outplayed, in the first half at least, by Leicester last time out. The old doubts seem to be creeping back into this Spurs side, and manager Pochettino needs to get that swagger and verve back into a side who enthralled a nation not so long ago. Heck, they played Real Madrid off the park not a month ago! Down to seventh, Spurs need to recreate that sense of urgency, lest their season peters out before Christmas!
Will Hughes is out of this one, pulling his hamstring midweek. Miguel Britos has been declared injured, whilst Younes Kaboul, Isaac Success, and Nathaniel Chalobah reman long-term Watford injuries. Spurs are missing the defensive might and nous of both Toby Alderweireld and Victor Wanyama. Alderwerild’s partner-in-crime Vertonghen simply doesn’t look the same without him. On a brighter note for the Lilywhites, Harry Winks returns and Erik Lamela, wo impressed in his cameo against Leicester, could feature from the bench.
What We Sayin'?
Watford haven’t beaten Spurs in eight games, losing six and drawing two. However, they might not get a better chance of rectifying this stat, especially given the confidence levels of both teams. Spurs seem a little jaded, only clicking into gear when falling behind Do that against Watford and they may find the extra vigour it gives their hosts too much to overcome…
So, off the fence and predict away, Stan!
Spurs are likely to stat with Son, perhaps resting Eriksen for this one. IF they start with a purpose then the South Korean is in scintillating form and we like the look of him to score first at 3/1. However, expect an early onslaught from Watford, who will be well up for this one. Gray and Deeney are both 6/1 to grab the opener, which isn’t beyond the realms of possibility. BTTS seems nailed on at 4/6. Lastly, we can see the cockerel’s feathers being ruffled, so we’ll take Spurs to fight back and get the three points. Deeney 1st GS and Spurs 1-3 is 100/1*
WEST BROM 2 V 1 CRYSTAL PALACE
Two draws in their last two games show a renewed fighting spirit from the Baggies since parting with Tony Pullis. Without a win in thirteen games, they grabbed a point on the road against Spurs before Newcastle staged a late comeback to share the spoils in an entertaining 2-2 draw at the Hawthorns. Interestingly, Palace have lost only two of their last eight league matches against West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns, but with Alan Pardew taking charge against his old club for the first time they may find this proposition a little trickier this time round.
Palace, after being many a pundit’s tip to create a stir this term find themselves deep in the relegation mire. They parted company with Frank de Boer, replacing him with ex-England boss Roy Hodgson. Since then displays, if not results, have certainly picked-up, and it’s interesting to note that Palace are doing the simple things better. It’s a boost of course that Belgian international Benteke is back in the fold, but defensively they look more solid. They held Brighton to a 0-0 draw midweek, the first point they’ve earned on the road this season. Indeed, in their last five games Palace have one win, three draws and a narrow defeat at Tottenham, which shows they’re on the right road. The problem for Hodgson is to start turning those draws into wins, starting today!
Pardew has James Morrison (calf), Craig Dawson (knee), Nacer Chadli (thigh) and Chris Brunt (calf) all missing with long-term injuries. Matt Phillips could be close to a return, however, which should lessen Pard’s worries. Hodgson is without Chung-yong Lee and Connor Wickham. Hennessey is fit again now and poses a problem for Hodgson: recall palace’s number one or sick with Speroni? Time will tell how that pans out.
What We Sayin'?
Another toughie to call. A score draw seems viable, especially given both sides upturn in fortunes. Unfortunately, Palace’s terrible away run gives us cause for concern. With this in mind, we’re simply going to go for the home win at 6/4. What, too little? Okay, we’ll add 2-1 into the mix: 9/1.*
ARSENAL 1 V 1 MAN UNITED
If there is a fixture guaranteed to get any football fan salivating it’s this one! One of the great rivalries of the Premier League era, Arsenal v United games always entertain, don’t they? Well, that depends. Jose will have noted that since Arsenal have been able to field their front line of Lazazette, Ozil and Sanchez together they have been scoring for fun. They battered Tottenham, took Burnley away and absolutely destroyed Huddersfield 5-0 last time out. Factor in the fact that Arsenal have won their last 12 home PL matches in a row and you suddenly understand why Wenger laughs at people who suggest his team are ‘struggling’ this season. Add to that the fact that Arsenal have lost only one of their last five Premier League home matches against Manchester United (W2 D2), winning each of the last two without conceding a goal and Jose’s propensity for parking the bus and you could be forgiven that this one might just not live up to the hype. Time will tell…
United, despite all the claims of Jose being negative, are also seemingly scoring at will. They went 3-0 up away at Watford before seeing off the Brave hornets 4-2 thanks to Lingard’s fine solo effort. Ashley Young, who scored a brace against Watford is enjoying a new lease of life under Jose and his explosive marauding attacks on the counter could be the key to opening Arsenal up. United certainly have the pace, do they have the ‘bottle’ to go toe-to-toe with Arsenal? Time will tell…
Lacazette was substituted a half-time against Huddersfield with a groin injury and it looks like the French striker wll sit this one out. Compatriot Giroud is the favorite to replace him, but Wenger may spring a surprise and op for the pace of Welbeck against his former employers instead. Forgotten man Santi Cazorla has had a relapse and has to go under the knife yet again for an ongoing Achilles problem. For Jose, Fellani is the big doubt after picking up a knee injury. He’ll face a late fitness check as the Portugeezer looks to fill his midfield with power. Martial may be ‘mentally tired’ and could sit this one out. In defence, Phil Jones is definitely out: Eric Bailly will play in his stead.
What We Sayin'?
Expect the bus, a great big double decker to arrive in London bearing United’s colours. Yes we know how Jose loves to spring surprises and toy with us all, but against the big clubs he adopts a caution-first approach – do not lose and see what happens. That said, there’s too much firepower on show for this to be goalless, so BTTS at 8/11 appeals. First goalscorer? Could be anyone, but Ozil seems to have a spark in his eye once again. We’ll have a punt on the German at 7/1. Finally, how does honours even sound? 1-1 at 5/1 sounds about right to us!*
*All prices subject to fluctuation. Make sure to check StanJames.com for up to date prices.
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