We’re nearing the half-way mark in the league, and Leicester City sit atop the table. Can they keep up this magical run of form? Meanwhile at the other end, will the sacking of Jose Mourinho spark a listless Chelsea back into life? Mark Young gives us his thoughts.
Chelsea 2-1 Sunderland
Jose Mourinho has been sacked as Chelsea manager with the club in 16th place in the Premier League and set to take on Sunderland on Saturday.
The Blues sit just above the relegation zone with 15 points after 16 matches, and it seems the Stamford Bridge hierarchy has felt that enough is enough.
The top four is 14 points away for Chelsea, who will see this weekend’s contest against the Black Cats as a must-win three points regardless of who is in the dugout, but the Blues look bereft of confidence and it will be tough to see them overcome a stubborn Sunderland side.
The Wearsiders are one of only four teams behind Chelsea, and know that they can move level on points with last season’s champions with a win.
Sam Allardyce has solidified his newest side, as the ex-West Ham and Bolton boss usually does, but they lost their way against Watford last week.
It would not be a surprise to see the Premier League champions start a return to form with a victory at home to the Black Cats.
Everton 2-1 Leicester City
Premier League leaders Leicester City and their in-form attackers Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy have a tasty looking trip to Goodison Park this weekend.
The two attackers will come up against Romelu Lukaku, who can’t stop scoring at present and will be a huge threat for a team that struggles to keep clean sheets.
The Foxes were outstanding once again on Monday night, beating last season’s champions 2-1, and are fully deserving of their place at the top of the table.
A win on Merseyside would guarantee them that place as the turkey is enjoyed on Christmas day.
Everton, meanwhile, have been easy on the eye, but have been struggling to turn draws into victories.
Four of Roberto Martinez’s side’s last five matches have been drawn, but Lukaku could upstage the Foxes’ attackers this week and lead his teammates to a big victory.
Southampton 2-2 Tottenham
It has been six games since Southampton last tasted victory in all competitions, and they welcome a wounded Tottenham to St Mary’s this weekend.
Mauricio Pochettino returns to his former club on the back of losing at home to Newcastle United last week.
The defeat could be just a blip in an otherwise positive season, and with a week off to come, his side could earn their rest with a good result, but the issue is that this blip could be more long term.
They’ll take heart from the fact that they face a Saints team that have nosedived of late and have not won since the start of November, including a home draw with the league’s bottom club Aston Villa, and defeat at Crystal Palace.
Graziano Pelle hasn’t been scoring and should be starting this week after beginning last weekend’s fixture on the bench.
Ronald Koeman’s side look short of confidence, but this should be a goal-laden game with both teams taking something from it.
Newcastle United 3-1 Aston Villa
Newcastle United are above the Premier League champions in the league table thanks to a win away at Tottenham last Sunday.
Aleksandar Mitrovic and Ayoze Perez came off the bench to devastating effect, with the Magpies coming back from a goal down at White Hart Lane.
They will be even more confident of more points this weekend as they host Aston Villa at St James’ Park.
Villa hosted Arsenal last week, with their opponents not needing to leave first gear as Wenger’s side eased to a 2-0 victory.
Villa looked poor whilst Newcastle are closer to hitting a spell of form, and there will be no better way to back up their impressive win at Spurs than with a home match against Aston Villa.
Arsenal 1-1 Manchester City
Monday Night Football is back with another huge match this week with Arsenal coming head-to-head with Premier League favourites Manchester City.
This top-of-the-table clash is wide open with both sides taking to the pitch expecting to gain three points.
City beat Swansea at home thanks to a last-minute deflected Yaya Toure strike and will be starting to believe that they will be challenging for the title, but their last away game shows that something has to be improved upon.
Stoke played City off the park two weeks ago, but with Sergio Aguero back in full training, and the confidence from topping their Champions League group, as well as from their last-minute win over Swansea, they will be expecting to win.
Since defeat at West Brom at the end of November, Arsenal have qualified for the Champions League knockout stages and are unbeaten in five matches.
The injuries are clearing up for the Gunners with Olivier Giroud hitting a great spell of goal scoring form, but the Frenchman and his team mates may have to be happy with a point just before Christmas.
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