We are now just three critical weeks away from Christmas and every club will be looking to spend the big day outside of the relegation zone.
There is a matter of getting four rounds of fixtures out of the way before looking ahead to the festivities, kicking off with a critical day of live TV games in; Manchester City vs Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium then two live matches at 5:30pm.
Manchester City vs Chelsea (12:30 KO on Sky Sports 1)
This top of the table pits two title contenders against each other with their in form strikers. Sergio Aguero vs Diego Costa is a key element of this match because both are coming in to this game with 10 goals apiece. Aguero however has the better goal per minute ratio with 92 minutes per goal compared to Costa’s 115.
The formations will also be vital with Chelsea sticking to their 3-4-3 system meaning that the Citizens’ best hope would be use a 4-1-4-1 formation with the fullbacks getting right up there and curling the ball into the box. That strategy would force Chelsea’s wingbacks to drop deeper into the defensive fullback positions to try and cover off any threat.
Either way, this match should be a humdinger with the top spot up for grabs, should Arsenal and Liverpool slip up this weekend. I can see Chelsea prevailing because Guardiola will surely have one eye on the battle of Britain with Celtic in midweek and the Blues aren’t in action till next Sunday.
Prediction: Manchester City 1-2 Chelsea
Result: Manchester City 1-3 Chelsea
Leeds United vs Aston Villa (5:30 KO on Sky Sports 1)
Leeds will come into this clash buoyant by their performance in the League Cup at Anfield on Tuesday night. Aston Villa on the other hand, will be looking to continue their resurgence under Steve Bruce.
Garry Monk will have a lot of tough decisions to make having fielded a strong team in midweek and this could give the Villains an edge because they will be well rested and roaring to go in this clash. Being at home with fans in full spirits will help drive the home side on regardless of any fatigue in the squad and create an intimidating atmosphere for Bruce’s side.
The Lilywhites come into this game with four home wins from their last six league matches at Elland Road and will be looking to continue that run as they seek promotion to the Premier League. The good news for any Leeds fans fearing a defeat is that Villa has only won once on the road in 27 matches.
I fancy Leeds to edge it with Chris Wood on form this season at home. Villa will certainly give it a good go but I don’t see them turning their away form around in Yorkshire.
Prediction: Leeds 1-0 Aston Villa
Result: Leeds 2-0 Aston Villa
West Ham vs Arsenal (5:30 KO on BT Sports 1)
West Ham will be looking to get a result over Arsenal to boost their survival hopes and confidence after a stuttering start to life at the London Stadium.
Slaven Bilic will be relieved to have Andy Carroll back from injury. With the front line struggling to score, Carroll will surely feature in this match with his aerial ability certain to cause headaches for Wenger’s defence, who are often sloppy at set pieces. Arsenal will have to be careful at the start given how deadly, their opponents were at Manchester United last Sunday.
Arsenal will however be looking to get back to winning ways after a shock defeat to Southampton on Wednesday in the League Cup. With the major first team squad members rested mid week, expect them to be getting up there into the Hammers’ box and causing problems.
Arsenal got a tough midweek trip to Basel so will Wenger be prepared to risk all of his top first team players tonight, when got a shot at clinching top spot in their European group?
Tonight’s clash should be interesting with Arsenal aiming to quickly get back to winning ways whilst West Ham need to get results at home and I can see this fizzling out due to the number of injuries that both clubs have. The fact that Arsenal have been poor away from home in the past month won’t help give them much confidence heading into this London derby.
Predictions: West Ham 1-1 Arsenal
Result: West Ham 1-5 Arsenal