We should be shopping for Christmas pressies but another gameweek beckons, so we're busy poring over all NINE of Saturday's Premier League matches. Everton and Chelsea get us going in the lunchtime teaser, before Leicester host Manchester United in the late game, with no fewer than seven 3pm kick-offs.
The first match kicks off at 12.30pm, so make sure you get your scores in before then as we cover all NINE of Saturday's matches for Week 19 of the FREE-TO-ENTER StanJames Predictor Competition.
So, what do I have to do to enter this FREE COMPETITION?
All you have to do is head over to our Predictor Competition, complete the quick registration form then simply enter your selections for the upcoming Premier League fixtures. Three points are awarded for a correct score and one for a correct result. The overall winner will bag a £25 Free Bet and anyone who finishes in the top 25 players will receive a £5 free bet.**
Don't forget, in order to collect your prize you must have placed at least one bet (any stake) in the 14 days prior to playing. Full T&Cs can be found here!
A sexy seven Premier League matches to predict for Game Week 18. If you please, all predictions to be entered before 12.30pm on Saturday, December 23rd. Don't have an account yet? Click here to open one.
** Free bets will be credited within 48 hours.
EVERTON 1 V 1 CHELSEA
Just a few weeks ago and you’d have backed Chelsea to record an easy win. Fast forward and Sam Allardyce has Everton back playing the basics, and doing so well. They are unbeaten in their ;last five games and he’s turning Goodison into the fortress it used to be. Sam has won his last two PL games against Chelsea and will be looking to make-it a hat-trick of wins today. Rooney, written off by many after going back to his childhood club has scored 10 goals in 16 PL appearances, his quickest return since 2011! If the Toffees can keep him clicking over, then the turn of key players such as Bolasie, Barkley, and McCarthy can only bode well for the rest of the season.
Now the distraction of the EFL Cup is out of the way, reigning champions Chelsea can return their attention to the league. A disappointing defeat to resurgent West Ham saw them record back-to-back victories to consolidate third sport in the table. Victory would see them move to joint-second with Man United, at least until the Red Devils play later in the day. Having rested some key names in the Cup expect Hazard and Morata to come back with all guns blazing!
Phil Jagielka remains a doubt for Everton, as is Leighton Baines while Bolasie, Barkley and McCarthy are still a couple of weeks from fitness. David Luiz is still out with a knee problem, Morata will face a late fitness test.
What We Sayin'?
Chelsea, like many others before them, have traditionally struggled at Goodison, and they won't fancy playing an Everton team brimming with confidence and who remain unbeaten under Allardyce. Despite definitely tightening up under Big Sam they remain dodgy at the back and given the fiirepower at Chelsea's disposal, BTTS at 21/10 appeals. Rooney, with five in his last six games, looks a fair shout to net the opener a 7/1. Likewise, Hazard has been virtualy unplayable since returning from injury and the brilliant Belgian is 14/5 to get the ball rolling. Lastly, we quite like the sound of our score predicition, and will snaffle up the 11/2 for a 1-1 draw.*
BRIGHTON 1 V 0 WATFORD
Both teams arrive at the Amex short on confidence and their managers will have picked this one out as a possible six-pointer. The Seagulls have just two draws and four losses in their last six games and are nervously looking over their shoulder, especially as fierce rivals Crystal Palace are just one point behind them. Without a win in six at home, manager Chris Hughton knows that he’ll need to halt that slide, and quickly! Summer signing Pascal Gross will be a key element if the south coast side are to get anything from the game.
Watford arrive, literally, as the walking wounded. Last time out we joked that the tea lady could get a game, but with eight first team regulars out through injury they really do resemble a scene from the Walking Dead. The lack of a cohesive spine has made for some entertaining games, however, with 20 goals featuring in their last six games alone! The Hornets are decent on the road this season, but have only won one of their last six away games. Abdoulaye Doucoure, Watford’s top scorer this season, is suspended, as is Troy Deeney, who faces four games out after picking up a straight red at the weekend. Having ‘cojones’ is one thing, leading by example another.
Duffy is suspended for the hosts, whilst Steve Sidwell remains a long-term absentee. Kaboul, Hoban, Cathcart, Chalobah, Hughes, are all injured. Zeegelaar, Cleverley, Deeney, and Doucoure all sit this one out suspended, whilst Britos, Kiko, Okaka, and Success all face late fitness checks and are unlikely to feature.
What We Sayin'?
Here's a stat for you: Brighton's goal difference at home is -3, Watford is +3 on the road. With fve draws already at the Amex, it's tempting to take the straight 11/5 for the draw. We had considered 1-1, which pays 9/2, but we've a hunch that Watford's injury/suspension list will take it's toll. Brighton to win 1-0 is 6/1. Sounds fair to us!*
Man City 4 v 0 Bournemouth
Both Manchester City and Bournemouth both played in the EFLCup midweek, the Cherries falling to a late, late Blues winner after equalising in the 90th minute themselves. Man City prevailed after extra time, beating Leicester on penalties. However, of the two, City, who are yet to taste defeat in 11 games (2 draws) against Bournemouth, will have rested the greater number of first-team players for their cup game. However, it doesn’t seem to matter who the Citizens face at the moment: they’re so strong it is hard to see them being beaten.
Bournemouth play an attractive style of football, one that the purists enjoy. Unfortunately, that blend is one that plays into the strengths of City, who dispensed of a Spurs who play in a similar manner with relative ease last weekend, beating the Londoners 4-1. Eddie Howe’s men may have to forsake their attacking intent a little if they’re to take anything from this. A big ask, but that stifling worked against Chelsea midweek, at least for 94+ minutes!
John Stones and Benjamin Mendy remained injured, whilst Kompany has a muscle injury. David Silva is unlikely to feature due to personal reasons. Charlie Daniels and Josh King remain injured, whilst Jermain Defoe suffered ankle ligament damage and will miss this one. Howe could be forced to risk Callum Wilson.
What We Sayin'?
Bournemouth's lack of attacking options suggest they may well struggle to break down Man City's makeshift defence, albeit one that boasts five internationals. City to win to nil is 5/6. Sane is 100/30 to net first, but we like the look of in-form German International Ilkay Gundogan to grab the opener: 7/1. Our score prediction: 4-0 pays 7-1.
SOUTHAMPTON 2 v 1 HUDDERSFIELD
St.Mary’s is hell for Huddersfield, as the Saints have won their last three home matches against the Terriers, scoring 13 and conceding only once! The arrive on the back of a hard-fought loss away to Chelsea, where they went down 1-0 to The Blues. However, what will be of concern is the fact that the Saints haven’t kept a clean sheet in any of their last nine PL games – the joint-longest current run in the competition. That said, Charlie Austin has returned from injury on fire and if the big man can poke the Saints ahead early doors then they may just try to shut up shop.
Huddersfield are really gaining fans under David Wagner, the young German coach instilling a ‘never-say-die’ attitude amongst his Terriers. Huddersfield hadn’t scored an away goal since the opening day of the season going into last weekend’s visit to Watford, who they then promptly smashed four past! With two wins in three they’ll fancy their chances on the south coast, though they have conceded in all but two of their away trips – goalfest, anyone?
The Saints don’t have any current injuries to worry about, though Elias Kachunga, Phillip Billing, Michael Hefele, and Jon Stankovic are all missing for the Terriers, who also have Jonathon Hogg suspended.
What We Sayin'?
We'll take the Saints to sneak a narrow win here. Charlie Austin is on fire and the Terrier's recent exploits may have taken it out of them.
STOKE 2 V 2 WEST BROM
Stoke have just one win in eight and have lost their last three matches. The pressure on Mark Hughes is reaching intolerable levels, surely, and anything but a win against West Brom will sound the death knell for the Welshman. They’ve shipped 13 goals in their last five games, including a 0-3 beating last time out against resurgent West Ham. The visitors haven’t lost in six PL games against the Potters… History repeating?
Perhaps not! West Brom are struggling to adapt to life under Alan Pardew, finding goals hard to come by. A late Barry goal gave the 1-2 defeat to Man United a better look, but in truth they didn’t threatened United until that late consolation was poked home. The problem is, where do West Brom find the goals from? Only Swansea have scored less, yet the Baggies boast the likes of Rondon, Rodriguez, Robson-Kanu and Chadli! They need their star players to find their feet, and quickly, lest they fall too quickly!
Kurt Zouma and Bruno Martins-Indi are both injured, whilst Stephen Ireland remains a long-term absentee. Matty Phillips and Nacer Chadli could return for West Brom.
What We Sayin'?
Bothe teams need the win, and may throw caution to the wind in order to acheive it. Where others may see a drab game, we see goals galore, with the honours even.
SWANSEA 0 V 2 CRYSTAL PALACE
It’s December, which means Swansea and their ‘locum’ manager part company! For the third year running the Swans have sacked their manager during the festive month and Paul Clement is the latest to feel the board’s wrath, surprising given the club’s reputation for loyalty and stability. Still, facts are facts and Swansea sit bottom of the Premier League tree at Christmas, with just 12 points from 18 games. They’ve only won three times this season, scoring a meagre 10 goals in the process. They will be hoping Leon Britton can have the same effect his opposite number has in turning around the club’s fortunes… good luck, Leon!
Roy Hodgson, often derided and ridiculed after a failed stint as England boss is showing his managerial prowess in no uncertain terms. Crystal Palace are unbeaten in seven games, their longest-ever PL run and the Eagles show no signs of returning to earth just yet. They’ve kept three clean sheets in their last three away matches and just last weekend they dismantled a revitalised Leicester 0-3 at the King Power, no mean feat in itself.
Sung-Yueng Ki, Wayne Routledge and Kyle Bartley all sit this one out for the Swans, whilst Bony faces a late test on his hamstring. For Palace, record signing Sakho sits this one out with a calf problem. Wickham is a long-term absentee, whilst Fosu-Mensah could return after suffering from a knock. Benteke is suspended after picking-up his fifth booking of the season.
What We Sayin'?
We can't see anything but an away win here. Sure, they'll miss the presence of Benteke, but have match winners in the likes of Cabaye, Zaha and Townsend. A comfortable away win.
WEST HAM 2 V 1 NEWCASTLE
David Moyes is another manager with a point to prove, and if early results are anything to go by he’s certainly doing that at West Ham. The EastEnders have grab seven points of a possible 12, which included beating Chelsea and drawing against Arsenal. They smashed hapless Stoke last time out and will fancy their chances against another team with a weak backline, Newcastle. In Marko Arnautovic, West Ham have a player who can win games on his own: however, he needs to turn his undoubted skill into consistent performances, building on his recent good form with another fine display against Newcastle.
The Magpies come into this one with seven defeats in eight games, and they’re really reeling at the moment. The players are certainly fighting for manager Rafa Benitiz but the lack of investment shown by the club’s owners during the summer is starting to tell. The Troon have missed JonJo Shelvey in the centre of the park, and he returns from suspension for this one. However, like Arnautovic, the former England International has a long way to go to justify the hype that once surrounded him. Three points against West Ham may help!
Edimilson Fernandes and Jose Fonte remain sidelined for the Hammers, whilst Lanzini is serving the second of a here match ban for simulation. Sam Bryam faces a late fitness test. Newcastle have no new injury concerns, with Shelvey set to return after serving a one match ban.
What We Sayin'?
We can see a narow West Ham win. Newcasle are fighting tooth and nail for their boss, but the Hammers are really gaining momentum under Moyes. Newcastle/West Ham HT/FT pays 25/1... just sayin'
BURNLEY 0 V 2 SPURS
Sixth plays seventh as Burnley host Spurs in an intriguing clash at Turf Moor, The Clarets maturing with every year they spend in the top flight. They were held to a goalless draw last week and will be looking to get maximum points on the board against a tottering Tottenham, who were ripped asunder by champions-elect Manchester City last time out. As they were last year, Burnley remain difficult to beat, with nine clean sheets this term. Not the most prolific, they’ll look to replicate the gameplan used when they drew 1-1 at Wembley earlier this season; Chris Woods bagging a 94th minute equaliser.
Spurs on the other hand, seem to be trying to find their identity: thrilling, vibrant, pulsating for the last couple of seasons, we’ve only seen glimpses of that this. Dele Alli in a current slump, seems to have mood swings that stay longer than the mother-in-law enjoying my hard-earned turkey. Pochetino has vowed to take the wunderkid aside, and without a goal in eight games this would be a good place to get his season back on track.
James Tarkowski is missing for The Clarets after accepting a three-game ban for violent misconduct. Stephen Ward joins Tom Heaton and Robbie Brady on the injured list. Spurs welcome back Davidson Sanchez and the central defenders return can’t come a moment too soon for the Lilywhites, especially given Toby Alderweireld’s injury.
What We Sayin'?
Burnley's best win of the season is 2-0. They don't score many. Davidson Sanchez's return will strengthen Spurs' defence. A battling 0-2 victory.
LEICESTER 1 V 2 MAN UNITED
Leicester were flying before this week, and Claude Puel will look to get his troops make in the mindset they had before the 3-0 hammering by Palace was followed by the heartbreak of a penalty shoot-out defeat to Man City in the EFL Cup. Unfortunately, their form at the King Power has been questionable, with four wins and four losses sandwiching a lone draw. True, three of those losses were against Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City, but they’ll be facing a Red Devils team still smarting from their own EFL Cup loss against Bristol City. Beware a wounded United!
Man United, or untied? That’s the question. Jose’s post-match analysis, where he claimed the United players ‘not fancying a day at the office’ didn’t tell of a team all pulling for one another. However, that said, they have six wins in seven in the league and the wily maestro knows how to motivate teams to win matches. That defeat, a 2-1 loss to run away leaders Man City, means that United cannot afford any more slip ups. With five wins and two draws in their last seven games against the Foxes they’ll be confident of securing the win… but then they were against The Robins in the cup…!
Robert Huth and Matthew James are still injured for The Foxes, whilst Man United travel without Eric Bailly, Fellani and Michael Carrick.
What We Sayin'?
Vardy's first-ever PL goal was against Man United. He's looking for his 50th tomorrow... it's written in the stars, who are we to argue! Lukaku, with goals against West Brom and Bournemouth is back in form. Lasly, we fancy a high-scorimng, BTTS match, but the Red Devils, smarting over their loss to Bristol, may want it just that little bit more.
*All prices subject to fluctuation. Make sure to check StanJames.com for up to date prices.
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