The turkey's not even finished and we're back at it as the Premier League returns with SEVEN games this Saturday.
The first match kicks off at 3pm, so make sure you get your scores in before then as we cover all SEVEN of Saturday's matches for Week 21 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!
** Free bets will be credited within 48 hours.
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We’re refunding all 5+ accumulators, containing at least one PL selection, as a free bet up to £25 if just one selection lets you down. Click on image for full T&Cs.
BOURNEMOUTH 0 V 0 EVERTON
The Cherries may not have won at the weekend, extending their winless streak to nine, but their Boxing Day bash against West Ham was certainly entertaining enough, the 3-3 draw a throwback to the days when teams simply went at one another – Roy of the Rovers eat your heart out! It also ended their four match losing streak, so Eddie Howe will certainly take the positives out of that one. However, they are in 18th in the league and really need to start picking up points if they are to realise their ambition of another season of top flight football.
Sam ‘The Man’ Allardyce really has turned Everton’s fortunes around. The club which spent in excess of 170m in the summer looked lost and bereft of ideas and motivation. They are unbeaten in eight, with five wins and three draws, the last coming away at The Hawthorns, where a stubborn Baggies sides frustrated their visitors in the hopes of accruing at least a point themselves. With just two conceded in that run of eight games, Sam has returned Everton to being the tough, difficult side of yesteryear… back to the future, anyone?
What We Sayin'?
A tight affair. Forget the 3-3 last time out, Eddie Howe will be looking for a far more solid performance here. This one could be nicked by a solitary goal, but we like the look of 0-0 at 8/1. Goals under 1.5 appeals as well at 11/5.*
CHELSEA 3 V 0 STOKE
Chelsea come into this match full of confidence and the reigning champs have man United in their sights as they look to secure all three points against a struggling Stoke side. They beat Brighton 2-0 last time out and Conte’s contenders were dominant. Summer signing Morata returned with the opener and is likely to feature again today. That’s five unbeaten on the trot for a team finally remembering they are the current Champions of England.
Stoke were seemingly on the verge of sacking manager Mark Hughes, at least if you believe the Redtops. This sparked the Potters into life, beating West Brom 3-1 before drawing 1-1 at Huddersfield on Boxing Day. Recent results aside, however, and The Potters do have the second worst away defensive record, conceding 22 away from home. Can Hughes’ revitalised troops hold back a rampant Chelsea? Time will tell!
Luiz remains out for the Blues, who could welcome back defender Andreas Christensen. Kurt Zouma is ineligible to play against his parent club and the Potters will miss his presence. Bruno Martins Indi remains sidelined and Shawcross faces a late fitness test.
What We Sayin'?
We don’t like to kick a man (or team) when they’re down but Stoke, after all their recent efforts, may have to take this one on the chin. They have some BIG names out defensively and Chelsea, with their attacking prowess, should be able to exploit this. Chelsea to win by 2 goals is 14/5. We fancy the Blues to shut out Stoke, and our score cast (3-0) pays 11/2.*
HUDDERSFIELD 1 V 1 BURNLEY
Huddersfield’s final #PL game of the season at the Kirkles Stadium is against Sean Dyche’s high-flying Burnley. David Wagner certainly has his team all singing from the same sheet as they extended their unbeaten run to three with the 1-1 draw last time out against Stoke. One time Inter Milan target Tom Ince opened the scoring and the maverick winger seems to have found his mojo as well.
Burnley showed, once again, that they fear absolutely no-one! They went two-up at Old Trafford on Boxing Day, only to be pegged back by United, who left it late to snatch a point. Although that draw means they are without a win in three, seventh-placed Burnley are punching well above their weight and Dyche will be expecting a better return than the 0-0 fought out between the two in September.
Michael Hefele’s relapse means he won’t feature for the hosts until the New Year at least. Philip Billing and Jon Stankovic remain long-term absentees. James Tarkowski misses out through suspension, whilst Ward, Wood and Brady all have damaged knees and will sit this one out.
What We Sayin'?
Tough one to call! Burnley looked awesome against United, though Huddersfield seem to be finding their early season form. We’ve a feeling Burnley could grab a late winner to nick this 1-2 (12/1). However, a battling draw calls louder: 1-1, honours even? 19/4 to you, squire!*
LIVERPOOL 3 V 1 LEICESTER
Liverpool smashed a sorry Swansea for five last time out and the Kop will be as expectant as ever that their formidable ‘fab’ front four can keep the goals rolling in! They’re unbeaten in 14 games and have three clean sheets in their last four outings – a last-gasp wonder save from Mignolet preserving that record. Klopp’s red army are the big favourites, but they’ll need to be on their toes to keep Puel’s invaders at bay. Expect Trent-Arnold, who scored a wonder goal himself against Swansea, to be part of the defence assigned to do just that.
Leicester have gone off the boil a little since their spurt a month or so back. Against Watford, Mahrez gave the Foxes the lead before they fell 2-1 to a Watford team composed of the walking wounded and bit-part players, extending their winless streak to five games. It’s not that Leicester aren’t scoring, it’s their own defence that causes worry, and makes this trip to a buzzing Anfield all the more difficult. If they are to get anything from the game then Mahrez, with six goals/assists in Leicester’s last seven games will need to be at his best.
Sadio Mane looks set to be recalled as Klopp continues his policy of rotation. Henderson and Moreno are hamstrung, Clyne has a back injury and Sturridge is struggling with a knock. Danny Simpson and Huth remain out for the Foxes.
What We Sayin'?
As we mentioned, Leicester are starting brightly and the 14/5 for them to be the first team to score looks fair. However, at the back they’re at sixes and sevens and we can’t see Liverpool failing to score. BTTS (4/6) and BTTS over 2.5 goals at 9/10 seems nailed on. Finally, we’ll punt at 3-1, which pays 9/1.*
NEWCASTLE 1 V 0 BRIGHTON
Both teams are on losing runs, though Newcastle’s battling 0-1 loss to rampant man City is nothing to be ashamed of. Indeed, given the rub of the green they could have even snatched a draw at the end. Their win over West Ham simply underlined what we’ve been saying all along: this team is prepared to fight tooth and nail for Rafa, the fans and the shirt. However, the facts don’t lie: one win in 11, with nine defeats tells its own story. The Toon need to strengthen in January, until then Benitiz’s battlers will have to do just that – soldier on.
Tough to beat Brighton are being found out – a little. Chris Hughton has moulded a team in his own playing style and whilst the alarm bells aren’t quite sounding yet - the Seagulls are perched in 12th – questions are being asked of their capacity to stay in the Premier League, especially on an attacking front. They are the lowest scoring side outside the bottom three, without a goal in their last four away games and only three in total away from the Amex. Hughton will be hoping to buck this trend against a tottering Toon.
Isaac Hayden and Florian Lejeune are doubts for The Magpies, whilst Aleksandar Mitrovic and Jesus Gamez are out. For Brighton, Steve Sidwell remains their only injury concern.
What We Sayin'?
It was remarked upon tduring the commentary of Newcastle/City that the Toon faithfull were crying out for something to cheer about, and this could be the game that they get their wish. Both teams are struggling to score, so don't expect a glut of goals, but we can see Newcastle edging this one. BTTS - No is 4/6. Newcastle 1-0 is 9/2. Gayle 1st GS pays 9/2.*
WATFORD 2 V 0 SWANSEA
A much-depleted Watford team got back to winning ways on Boxing Day against Leicester, which was my own surprise result of the afternoon. That the Hornets feed off the buzz at Vicarage Road is without question, but the result, and the manner in which it was obtained, is what really impressed. Marco Silva will be hoping his side show the same determination and resolve to put another three points on the board, especially against a Swansea team who looked totally out of their depth against Liverpool.
Swansea have appointed Portuguese coach Carlos Carvalhal, who was sacked from Sheffield Wednesday on Christmas Eve… a strange one, to be sure, but the Swans acted quickly in wrapping-up the deal. True, he hadn’t enjoyed the best of seasons at Wednesday, but he did get them to the play-offs in the previous year, playing open, attractive, attacking football. Will the Swans enjoy that ‘new manager bounce’? We’ll see!
Troy Deeney is still out suspended, not the ideal captain’s performance when you team has ten injuries! Will Hughes, Miguel Britos and Isaac Success all face late fitness test and could return for this one. Bony could return, and partner Abraham up top in a new-look Swansea formation.
What We Sayin'?
Swansea may go for it from the off with two up front, which could make a mockery of this prediction, but we just don’t see how Carvalhal will be able to mould this team into that serious a threat in a little over 48 hours. We’re taking Watford to build on their win against Leicester. Watford to win to nil pays 13/8. Watford 2-0, meanwhile, is 6/1.*
MAN UNITED 2 V 1 SOUTHAMPTON
United remain in second place in the league, but with the title pretty much guaranteed to be going across the city to the noisy neighbours United know that a top four consolidated finish is the least the supporters will accept, league-wise a least. Defeat against Bristol City in the League Cup, then draws against Leicester and Burnley, both of which they had to come from behind t secure, do not bode well for a team that with lofty ambitions – both domestically and on the European front. We mentioned man UnTIED last time out, and with Jose seemingly losing the plot more and more after each setback, this United team needs to get back to winning ways soon, lest the whole thing unravel!
The Saints arrive having been thoroughly chastised – you might say they got ‘Kaned’ - last time out. Spurs absolutely ripped them asunder and you can see why they only have two wins in 15 games. Just two points from the relegation zone, Pelegrino needs to start earning his corn, starting with injecting some basic fight into the team. True, they showed some guts in the last fifteen minutes against Spurs, scoring twice, but they’ll need to do that for the full ninety if they are to get anything from Old Trafford.
Chris Smalling, Antonio Valencia, Michael Carrick, Marouane Fellaini and Eric Bailly are all out for United, with Fellani also being the subject of a possible transfer, to Paris SG of all places! Marcos Rojo is suspended. The Saints remain without Cedric Soares and Ryan Bertrand, whilst Charlie Austin is suspended – expect Shane Long to deputise.
What We Sayin'?
On paper, this is a United win all day long… on paper, that is. They should have too much pace for Southampton, who’ll likely be mindful of the battering they took against Spurs and sit a little deeper to offset that speed. This could make for a scrappy, tense affair… We’ll take United to win (2/5) but not without a scare. Lingard has been on fire and the tricky speedster is 19/4 to score first. BTTS pays 11/10, whilst our 2-1 prediction pays 15/2.*
*All prices subject to fluctuation. Make sure to check StanJames.com for up to date prices.
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