It’s the most wonderful time of the year in the Premier League, with this weekend’s set of matches triggering a portion of the season packed full of games.
With that in mind, it’s no shock that three of the selections this week come from English football’s top flight. Meanwhile, the division’s leaders are in action in the Club World Cup on Saturday over in Qatar.
An intriguing Serie A showdown completes the selections, with the last top-flight action of 2019 being played out on Sunday in Italy.
All kick-offs are in Eastern time. Enjoy your weekend and enjoy the games!
Everton vs. Arsenal
The focus is unlikely to be on the players on Saturday in the first match of the Premier League weekend, with Arsenal traveling to Goodison Park to take on Everton.
Both teams appear set to have interim coaches in charge for this encounter, although it’s likely they’ll each have new managers on the sidelines come Boxing Day. Carlo Ancelotti is poised to take over at Everton for that encounter, while Mikel Arteta is set to step in at Arsenal.
The players will no doubt be aware of that fact and will be seeking to elevate their performances as such. Everton appear to have turned a corner under interim boss Duncan Ferguson, with four points from their last two league games; they suffered a heartbreaking loss on penalties against Leicester City in the League Cup on Wednesday though.
As for Arsenal, their last outing was a shellacking at the hands of Manchester City. Interim coach Freddie Ljungberg has at least had a week to prepare the team for this fixture and he’ll be hopeful his players can capitalise what’s sure to be a leggy Everton outfit.
Manchester City vs. Leicester City
City and Leicester are doing all they can to cling on to the coattails of runaway leaders Liverpool in the Premier League, making this match at the Etihad Stadium an intriguing one.
Currently it’s the Foxes that have the least ground to make up, as they are 10 points back on the Merseyside outfit. While Leicester supporters will be delighted with the strides made by their team this season, they would have been a little disappointed to see them held 1-1 by Norwich last weekend.
As for City, they’ve been uncharacteristically inconsistent this season, allowing Liverpool to storm clear. However, Pep Guardiola would have been impressed with what he saw from his side on Sunday, with Kevin De Bruyne inspiring the side to an impressive 3-0 win at Arsenal.
Both teams were in action in the League Cup in midweek and they each fielded relatively strong sides. It’ll be fascinating to see if there’s any hangover from those matches for either team in what promises to be an occasion bristling with attacking class.
Liverpool vs. Flamengo
Saturday, December 21, 12:30 p.m. ET, FOX Deportes and fuboTV (free trial)
As it so often the case in the Club World Cup, the champions of South America and Europe will meet in the final.
Liverpool will be representing Europe in this encounter and are the big favourites to prevail. They weren’t at their best in the previous round of the competition though, with a last-gasp goal from Roberto Firmino needed to get past Monterrey 2-1.
In the other semi-final, Flamengo also had to work hard. After falling behind against Al-Hilal, the Copa Libertadores winners eventually rallied to a 3-1 win; they were backed by a huge travelling support in the contest and it’s anticipated the Brazilian fans will outnumber the Reds supporters significantly on Saturday.
Flamengo will need all the help they can get against the Premier League side though, with the Reds expected to welcome Firmino, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Sadio Mane back into their lineup.
Atalanta vs. AC Milan
Atalanta will be desperate to finish a memorable year on a high on Sunday, when they welcome AC Milan to Bergamo.
Having qualified for the UEFA Champions League and progressed into the knockout stages of the competition, already it’s been a historic campaign for La Dea. Ahead of their last-16 clash with Valencia in February, they will now be seeking to find some much needed consistency on the domestic front.
While Atalanta have developed a clear identity under Gian Piero Gasperini, Milan remained a muddled outfit. Coach Stefano Pioli has managed to steer them to eight points from their last four games, although goals remain hard to come by and the Rossonerri sit down in 10th place in the table.
With Atalanta seven points ahead in sixth place, already a European spot is looking unlikely for Milan. If they were to suffer defeat on Sunday, it’s tough to see how Pioli propels them towards the top six in the remaining months of the campaign.
Tottenham vs. Chelsea
As will be the case at Goodison Park, there’ll be plenty of focus on the coaches on Sunday in north London.
The clash will see Frank Lampard take his Chelsea team to Tottenham, who are managed by his former boss and legendary Blues manager Jose Mourinho. It’s a narrative that’ll only add intensity to what is always a pulsating fixture in the Premier League.
After a brilliant beginning to the season, Chelsea head into this tussle looking vulnerable too. They put in their worst performance of the campaign last weekend, stuttering to a 1-0 loss at home to Bournemouth; that makes it four defeats in their previous five Premier League games.
Meanwhile, Spurs are on an upward trajectory under Mourinho and after their last-gasp win over Wolverhampton Wanderers on Sunday, are now just three points back on the Blues in fourth.