Will Chelsea’s slump continue? Can Manchester United find their goalscoring form? And could a Leicester City title challenge really be on? Mark Young has his say as he makes his predictions for the top matches during a festive feast of Premier League action. Former defender Adam Virgo also has his say…
Chelsea 1-1 Watford
Chelsea’s first match under Guus Hiddink will be at home on Boxing Day against one of the surprise packages of the season.
Watford continued their outstanding form with a 3-0 home victory against Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool at Vicarage Road last weekend, with Odion Ighalo netting another two goals to make it 12 for the season so far. His partnership with Hornets captain Troy Deeney is one to be admired, as they continue to link up beautifully game after game.
Chelsea managed to get life after Jose Mourinho off to a flying start last weekend as they beat Sunderland 3-1, but tougher tests are certain to come. Question-marks remain over a number of Chelsea players’ willingness to play for the club, and the natives could get restless once again. Watford will be confident of taking at least a point away from Stamford Bridge.
Adam Virgo’s Prediction: Chelsea 2-1 Watford
Liverpool 2-2 Leicester City
Table toppers Leicester City head to Anfield to kick off their Christmas festivities and couldn’t be more confident of getting a result against the Reds.
Leicester tore Everton apart last weekend, with Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy taking centre stage once again. The two goal-laden attackers have been nuisances against almost every opponent they’ve come against this season and the Foxes have still only lost once (to Arsenal).
This Boxing Day fixture is a way for Liverpool to bounce back after their shocking defeat away at Watford on Sunday, but they will have their work cut out. Klopp’s defence couldn’t keep Deeney and Ighalo quiet last week, so their chances of stifling the Leicester attack has to be in serious doubt.
The Foxes don’t keep clean-sheets and that could play in to Liverpool’s hands, but a draw should be all the Reds are capable of getting.
Adam Virgo’s Prediction: Liverpool 1-1 Leicester City
Southampton 1-1 Arsenal
The final fixture on Boxing Day is Arsenal’s trip to the south coast to face Ronald Koeman’s out of form Southampton.
The Saints have not won in any competition since the start of November, a run that has included a draw at home to bottom club Aston Villa and a 6-1 Capital One capitulation against Liverpool.
It hasn’t been a winter to remember so far for Koeman and his team, but they can show a bit of fight over the festive period.
However, Arsenal were superb against Manchester City in the first half on Monday night and managed to hold on to a big win against a close rival.
The Gunners lost 2-0 at St Mary’s last year and, even though the Saints were in much better form back then, it still won’t be an easy task for Arsenal this year and Southampton may just come away with a point.
Adam Virgo’s Prediction: Southampton 0-3 Arsenal
Leicester City 3-2 Manchester City
Leicester City have what the fans will understandably call a “tough fixture list” over the Christmas period, but an end of year meeting with Manchester City could be superb for the neutral.
With the Foxes coming off the back of a trip to Anfield, they will be asked to further prove their title credentials against most people’s favourites for the crown.
Claudio Ranieri’s men will once again fancy their chances and if City defend anything like they did at the Emirates before Christmas then the Foxes should make their rivals pay. City were good for the last half an hour against Arsenal, but the damage was done early on.
The positives for City are that they now have an embarrassment of riches in attack. Sergio Aguero, David Silva, Raheem Sterling, Kevin de Bruyne, Jesus Navas and Wilfried Bony are all fit and fighting for starting spots. Aguero should have some more game time in his back pocket and will fancy scoring against the Foxes, but City’s defence is so often their undoing and it could be Ranieri celebrating a win once again.
Adam Virgo’s Prediction: Leicester City 0-2 Manchester City
Manchester United 0-0 Chelsea
Instead of being the usual meeting between two title challengers, this year’s visit of Chelsea to Old Trafford is more a meeting of two clubs in crisis.
Chelsea, under new stewardship after parting ways with Mourinho, are still in the bottom half of the table, while United are without a win in six before Boxing Day and have dropped out of the top four.
But a lot could change by the time the two clubs meet, as speculation is rife that Louis van Gaal’s time at Old Trafford may be up. If that is the case then there will be an extra bounce at the Theatre of Dreams, but these are two teams out of form and out of sorts.
It could be an end of year damp squib at Old Trafford, with the Red Devils clocking up another goalless draw to make 2015 a year to forget for them.
Adam Virgo’s Prediction: Manchester United 0-1 Chelsea
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