Premier League Preview, Dec. 26-27

Happy Holidays!

It’s Christmas Eve, so I would be remiss if this week’s preview didn’t have a Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Festivus/Ashura theme.

I’m more of a Christmas kind of guy myself, so that’s the direction I’ll be heading in first.

It may not have come upon a midnight clear, but this is the TV schedule for the week so dear.

Man, I hope the holiday puns get better than that as we run through this week’s games:

Birmingham vs. Chelsea

Surprising City play host to a suddenly wobbly Chelsea side on Boxing Day.

Table watch: Birmingham is in seventh place on 28 points while the Blues are still in first with 41.

On the naughty list?: Chelsea skipper John Terry is rumored to have accepted a cash payment for a private tour of Chelsea’s training facilities.  Even with this potential distraction and some key injuries to Nicolas Anelka, Michael Essien and Deco, Chelsea will look to make it four our of five Premier League wins over Birmingham City.

A good turn: If Birmingham were a dradle, it would be spinning. City hasn’t tasted defeat since a 3-1 loss to Arsenal back in October – a space of nine league games without a loss.

Predict the winner with the EPL Talk Predictor

Fulham vs. Tottenham Hotspur

If Fulham wants to repeat last season’s Europa League-level finish, three points at the expense of Spurs would be a good way to start.

Table watch: Fulham is in ninth place on 26 points while Spurs are in fifth place on 33 points.

Last Christmas: The two teams met on Boxing Day last year, with a goalless draw as the result.

Airing of Grievances: A few Spurs players have drawn the ire of manager Harry Redknapp for a secret Christmas party in Dublin recently. A charitable contribution seems to have smoothed things over between the boss and his players.

Predict the winner with the EPL Talk Predictor

West Ham United vs. Portsmouth

If all West Ham and Portsmouth want for Christmas is to stay up, winning this relegation six-pointer would be a big help.

Table watch: West Ham is in 19th place on 15 points while Pompey is one point behind in 20th.

Jingle Bells: Oh come on, you knew that one was coming, didn’t you? Portsmouth rocked Liverpool last week to climb within shouting distance of safety. The Hammers also helped themselves with a point against Chelsea.

Feat of strength: England international David James may make his return from a calf injury, according to the Daily Mail.

Predict the winner with the EPL Talk Predictor

Burnley vs. Bolton Wanderers

The Clarets won’t have holiday cheer in mind when bottom-dwelling Bolton comes calling.

Table watch: Burnley is in 14th place on 19 points while Bolton is in 18th spot on 16 points.

Visions of centerbacks: You could forgive Burnley manager Owen Coyle for dreaming of healthy defenders as first-choice center backs Steven Caldwell and Clarke Carlisle are both doubtful with groin injuries, according to the Daily Mail.

A tie? Again?: Some of you will be receiving a tie as a gift. These two teams might produce one as well, since three of the last four meetings have ended in a deadlock.

Predict the winner with the EPL Talk Predictor

Manchester City vs. Stoke City

City will be hoping for the new manager bounce when it hosts the Potters on Boxing Day.

Table watch: City is in sixth place on 29 points while Stoke City resides in 11th on 21 points.

They said it: “I am very excited. I hope for the supporters it will be a good day and I hope to win for them. Stoke are a good, physical team – typically English. It is a hard match.” – new manager Roberto Mancini, to the BBC.

One way or the other: While they may be getting a draw at Turf Moor, it doesn’t seem likely at Eastlands. None of the last 14 meetings between these two sides have ended level.

Predict the winner with the EPL Talk Predictor

Sunderland vs. Everton

The Black Cats will be looking to pick up three points at the expense of the Toffees.

Table watch: Sunderland is in 10th place on 21 points while Everton is in 15th place on 18 points.

Looking up the chimney: Sunderland has one win in its last nine games while Everton has just one in its last 11.

A good run: Everton has nine wins and one draw with Sunderland in the last 10 meetings in all competitions.

Predict the winner with the EPL Talk Predictor

Wigan Athletic vs. Blackburn Rovers

Two teams drifting south in the table will try to point the sleigh in a new direction this weekend.

Table watch: Wigan is in 16th place on 18 points while Blackburn is in 13th place on 19 points.

Goals, goals: Blackburn needs goals, where are the goals, one goal in six, just doesn’t mix.

Predict the winner with the EPL Talk Predictor

Liverpool vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers

The Reds, fresh off a loss on the south coast, will hope to change their luck when Wolves visit Anfield.

Table watch: Liverpool is in eighth place on 27 points while Wolves are all the way up in 12th after last week’s win over Burnley.

In and out: Javier Mascherano starts a four-game ban, so Alberto Aquilani might make his first Premier League start this week.

Team sheet: After fielding a reserve side at Old Trafford, a rested Wlves squad made Mick McCarthy look smart with a derby win. I wonder how the team sheet might look for this one? Think Mick might give it a go?

Predict the winner with the EPL Talk Predictor

Arsenal vs. Aston Villa

A top-four battle serves as a highlight to a busy weekend as the Gunners host party crashing Aston Villa.

Table watch: Arsenal is in third place on 35 points while Villa is one spot back on goal difference.

A late gift?: Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas is a game-time decision with a minor hamstring injury.

A lump of coal: Aston Villa will have to do without striker Emile Heskey, who will miss out with a groin strain. John Carew is in line to take his place in the side.

Predict the winner with the EPL Talk Predictor

Hull City vs. Manchester United

The last game of the weekend features the Tigers hosting a wounded and angry United.

Table watch: Hull City is in 17th place with as many points while United is in second on 37 points.

Ghost of Christmas Past: It’s been eight years since United had five losses before Christmas. Hull was playing in League Two that season. … United has five straight wins over Hull in all competitions, dating back 35 years. … If he’s picked, Michael Owen would make his 400th appearance for an English side.

They said it: “The target is to win every game we can from now on. We always do well in this period and now, more than ever, we need victories.” United defender Patrice Evra, to the BBC.

Predict the winner with the EPL Talk Predictor

9 thoughts on “Premier League Preview, Dec. 26-27”

  1. Can’t wait some pretty good games coming up.

    Rumour is Manchester United will use defenders in defence! May just be 3 defenders at back though instead of the usual 4 but its an improvement.

    Liverpool and Chelsea should come out on top too.

    Arsenal vs Aston Villa will be interesting. If Aston Villa score first they will put everybody behind the ball which means Arsenal will probably lose the match but if it becomes a goal scoring battle Arsenal will win quite convincingly. If Arsenal score first I call it 3-1 to them. If Aston Villa score first 1-0 to them.

    1. I dunno Tyson. If it becomes a goal scoring battle I think Aston Villa is even money to run with the Gunners. If it becomes a wide open affair Villa has demonstrated they are very comfortable attacking. Martin O’neill threw them forward against Manchester United, and if Fabregas is unavailable, it could end up being a long day for Arsenal. Villa is the real deal.

      And on another note, look how much better Villa’s defense is than Arsenals. As much as I would love to see the Gunners put 3 past them, that simply doesn’t seem like a good bet. Arsenal is undermanned, especially with regard to their handicapped attack, and somewhat fragile physically. Villa is skilled, physical, and constructs goal scoring opportunities with a alarming amount of coordination and discipline.

      That said, Arsenal really needs to win this game, as United is going to respond backlash style when they visit Hull City. I am hoping that Birmingham can hold up at home for the visit of Chelsea, however, since City’s form lately suggests confidence on their part, and they believe they will be able to steal points from the Blues.

      Go Gunners!

      And Birmingham City!

      1. I think you guys will definitely miss Fabregas. The mans an incredible player and with RVS out Arsenal are in a bit of a bad spot at the moment but I think Arsenal is an incredible attacking side.

        If you remember the United match, United were practically at full strength in the defense department and Arsenal gave them a serious run for their money.

        In contrast to that United had a defender crisis when they faced Aston Villa and all Aston Villa did was capitalise and then put eleven men behind the ball to defend with the breakaway every now and then.

        While I do maintain Arsenals defense needs boosting I think Arsenal has attacking skills that are very very under rated. It’d say out of the big 4 Arsenal pips Liverpool for top position in terms of firing power and prowess in front of the goal and believe me as a United fan I don’t like saying that but Arsenal is an incredible team in front of that net.

        I’m surprised Chelsea drew today but I have a feeling United, Liverpool and Arsenal are going to work very hard to claim wins in their matches.

        I always feel like the first half of the season is filler while things really start happening at the second half of the season. I know its exxagerating quite a bit but it doesn’t feel like the chase is really on till the various managers know where their team stands and where their opponents stand.

        I can’t wait for this season to wind down the big 4 are all wounded but you just get the feeling their going to get to breaking point and then react.

        1. Ah damn I was off by one goal but Arsenal did put three past Aston Villa and the differnece was Febregas as usual.

          Fabregas to Arsenal is what Rio Ferdinand is to United or Steven Gerrard is to Liverpool.. great player.

  2. “a rested Wlves squad made Mick McCarthy look smart with a derby win.”

    ERM…..What derby????

    You might want to look at a map.

  3. Gunners will overcome Man United to grab the second position if they win this match. The title race is closely with the sight and Arsenal should put every focus in Premiership.

    The record shows that Arsenal is having 77.8% home wins in Asian Handicap betting. I will go for Arsenal even if the handicap is high.

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