Today sees every English club trying to get wins, if they are to avoid spending Christmas Day in perilous positions.
Crystal Palace vs Chelsea (SS1 & Sky Sports Mix, 12:30pm KO)
Crystal Palace head into today’s London derby as underdogs. Their league position is an understatement of their performances because they are getting the goals but the defence is letting them down constantly.
Their injury list is a cause for concern because many key players are currently on that list with Connor Wickham and Loic Remy really missed up front. James Tomkins’ absence is clearly affecting the back four because he is one of England’s most underrated defenders and would of prevented so many points being thrown away.
Their task today is even more daunting with Chelsea on an unbeaten run and looking to equal the record for most consecutive league wins in a single season.
Antonio Conte is currently rotating his squad ahead of a challenging festive period. This will come as good news for Palace fans because their side will surely have a fighting chance of getting at least a point, if can overcome such tricky visitors.
The fact that Christmas is around the corner with numerous players just a yellow card away from a one match ban means that squad rotation is necessary if to avoid losing a few players at once. This could force a cautious approach that plays into the Eagles’ hands but expect Chelsea to get something from this match.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 1-1 Chelsea
Result: Crystal Palace 0-1 Chelsea
West Bromwich Albion vs Manchester United (BT Sport 1, 5:30 KO)
West Brom are surely going to fancy their chances at home against an unpredictable Manchester United side.
Both teams are pushing for the Europa League places and will want to strengthen their challenge with a win. Tony Pulis will be telling his players to go out and chase the game as underdogs. Salomon Rondon is surely one to watch from a Red Devil perspective given his aerial ability and hat trick in mid week and could well be the match winner.
The Baggies are four points behind United in the Premier League table but will surely want to close the gap heading into a tricky festive run that sees them face Arsenal, Southampton then Hull in seven days.
Man U go to the Hawthorns unbeaten in seven league games but are sloppy at the back, giving WBA the perfect opportunity to bring that run to an end. The Red Devils have recorded just as many draws as they have wins.
The defensive injury crisis is going to surely create some apprehension as we approach the festive block of fixtures. Jose Mourinho will surely want a fit squad for the next few games which includes David Moyes’ return to Old Trafford with Sunderland. The Portuguese then goes head to head with his former assistant, Aitor Karanka when Middlesbrough visit on New Year Eve. A trip to West Ham follows on 2nd January to compound the festive pile up and defensive issues.
Either way, tonight is a must win if they’re to enter the next few games in a good mood. Zlatan Ibrahimović and Paul Pogba are going to be keen to continue their recent form and start pushing for a Champions League spot. Failure to do so could see West Brom and Everton breathing down their necks, one point behind come 10:00pm, Monday night.
Prediction: WBA 1-0 Manchester United
Result: WBA 0-2 Manchester United
Birmingham City vs Brighton & Hove Albion (SS1, 5:30pm KO)
Birmingham City comes into this fixture in shock after Gary Rowett was shockingly sacked on Wednesday. His replacement, Gianfranco Zola will be looking to get his reign off to an epic start by claiming a scalp in the form of promotion chasing rivals, Brighton.
The Brummies’ main problem is producing goals, now that their key man, Clayton Donaldson is out injured. The other players will now have to step up and try and get the goals to keep themselves in the play off picture.
Brighton however got a better squad going forwards and will be a real threat when get into Birmingham’s half. Glenn Murray and Tomer Hemed could well be the catalyst for goals given their recent goal scoring performances.
The Seagulls are however unbeaten in five on the road. Luckily, the Blues’ have lost just one of their last nine home games at St Andrews. This makes the match much tighter and difficult to predict a winner.
Prediction: Birmingham 1-1 Brighton
Result: Birmingham 1-2 Brighton
Macclesfield vs Bromley (BT Sport 1, 12:15 KO)
Both sides come into this meeting in similar form and will be looking for a win to boost their play off hopes.
Macclesfield will be hurting after losing their 2nd round FA Cup replay at Oxford United. This means that they will want an immediate response heading into the post Christmas Day run.
Bromley however have picked up eight points from their last five matches meaning that a win is vital, if they want to push on and get in the mix for the play offs. They however will have to overcome a furious Macclesfield side who will be hurting after Tuesday’s defeat.
Prediction: Macclesfield 2-1 Bromley
Result: Macclesfield 1-2 Bromley