The festive period is non-stop action and that means non-stop changing in the world of the English Premier League.
Today, I look at the potential winners and losers over the festive period analyzing at the three match days between Boxing Day and New Year’s Day with a fair share of Christmas Crackers to cure those inevitable festive hangovers or in some cases, make them worse.
Festive Fixtures: 26/12 West Brom (A), 28/12 Burnley (H), 01/01 Sunderland (H)
Without any recognised strikers, Manchester City couldn’t have hand picked their upcoming fixtures better themselves, as the fixture computer seems to have been very kind.
The trickiest of the three fixtures seems to be Friday’s clash at the Hawthorns but after being 2-0 up at Loftus Road last Saturday, West Brom fell to defeat as striker less City were busy at lunch time recording a routine 3-0 victory at home to Crystal Palace.
City’s slick midfield broke Palace down and they will be confident of doing the same at the Hawthorns as well as their two home fixtures against stubborn but beatable opponents in Burnley and Sunderland.
James Milner started as the ‘ghost striker’ on Saturday and there isn’t likely to be too much change in those positions with Silva and Toure looking fit and back to their best.
It will be a shock to see City score less than nine points in the next week as they continue to breathe down Chelsea’s neck.
Queens Park Rangers
Festive Fixtures: 26/12 Arsenal (A), 28/12 Crystal Palace (H) 01/01 Swansea (H)
With an away trip to the Emirates to kick off the festive period it may seem a bit of a surprise to see QPR having a good run over Christmas.
Charlie Austin is the form striker in the Premier League at present and looks on fire. The former Swindon Town man always backs his own abilities and will do the same against a questionable Arsenal defence at the Emirates on Boxing Day.
Rangers are indifferent on the road so a point at Arsenal will be a bonus but with home games against Crystal Palace and Swansea coming up after that jaunt across town, Rangers will fancy a few more points on the board and Austin will clearly feel like a few more goals are there for him to take.
West Ham United
Festive Fixtures: 26/12 Chelsea (A), 28/12 Arsenal (H), 01/01 West Brom (H)
West Ham’s festive period looks tricky but they could also be the side that has a big say in the title race, the top four race and the relegation battle whilst also strengthening their own top four ambitions.
Chelsea away looks ominous for the Hammers but will fancy them as confidence builds at Upton Park on Boxing Day and could really put out a statement by taking something about the usually formidable Blues but as we have previously seen, if they aren’t on their game, the Blues are there for the taking.
West Ham’s statement could be made even louder when Arsenal visit on Sunday with the Gunner’s defensive deficiencies and inability to defend set pieces clear for all to see.
Step up to the plate Andy Carroll. The big man in form will be excited to face whoever steps in at centre back and will certainly get a few chances as his partnership with Diafra Sakho continues to blossom.
West Brom are the visitors on New Years Day where by then, Allardyce and his team will either be riding on the crest of a bigger wave or will be looking to gain a much needed three points against a team in danger of seeing it all fall apart.
Festive Fixtures: 26/12 Tottenham (H), 28/12 Hull City (A), 01/01 Liverpool (A)
At the full time in mid September as the scoreboard read Leicester City 5 Manchester United 3, all was bright at the King Power Stadium.
The lights have gone out since as the Foxes have failed to win any matches since then and with nasty looking fixtures over Christmas, Nigel Pearson could fear the worst come the 2nd of January.
Tottenham have been grinding out results despite allowing the opposition a goal or two in the process but are finally clicking into gear and will see this as an ideal opportunity for three points before matches with Manchester United and Chelsea.
A real relegation six pointer follows as they travel to Hull City in a game where they are both surely highlighting it as a must win and then a tricky trip to Anfield on New Year’s Day which is generally a tough fixture despite Liverpool’s recent downfalls.
Leicester are struggling to score goals and struggling to keep them out. Where QPR and Burnley have improved as the season have gone on, Leicester haven’t and their slump looks likely to continue.
West Bromwich Albion
Festive Fixtures: 26/12 Manchester City (H), 28/12 Stoke (A), 01/01 West Ham (A)
West Brom are in trouble and it doesn’t look like their plight will become any better over what is supposed to be the season of good will.
Their one home fixture is a visit of the champions who will be disappointed if they take anything less than three points home on Boxing Day and then two away games that although on paper may not look as tough as they can be, certainly will be for a team bereft of any form or confidence.
Stoke are always tricky customers and are always ready for a battle whilst West Ham seem unbeatable at home at present and will certainly be looking forward to welcoming the Baggies to East London to start the New Year.
Festive Fixtures: 26/12 Stoke (H), 28/12 Newcastle (A), 01/01 Hull City (A)
Everton’s frailties were shown up when they visited a seemingly beleaguered Southampton last weekend but the tough games do not stop for Roberto Martinez’s men.
A home fixture against Stoke should be seen as a match they should and must win but Stoke have won away at Manchester City this year and will be looking to bounce back from Monday’s home loss to Chelsea.
The Toffees are currently 11th in the table and need to pick up points fast as outfits such as the Saints, West Ham and Tottenham look better bets for European places on current form.
A tough trip to St James’ Park awaits on Sunday in front of the Sky cameras before an equally as tough trip, from different reasons to the KC Stadium to face Hull on New Year’s Day.
Hull face Leicester on Sunday and if they can get three points they will have home momentum and will be up for the battle when the Toffees come to visit.
This Christmas could become very sticky for Everton and could leave them a mountain to climb for 2015.
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