Welcome to the special edition of Boxing Day Football for the holiday season, where the Premier League brings football for all of the world to enjoy.
Leicester City AH+1 to beat Liverpool
Manchester City to beat Sunderland
Tottenham to beat Norwich City
Everton/Draw to beat Newcastle
Arsenal travel away to Southampton sitting firmly in 2nd spot in the table and have the opportunity to progress to the top of the table. Arsenal have been in resolute form coming into this game with a 6 match unbeaten run behind them with 5 wins and a draw during that time. Arsenal despite having injuries all around the pitch missing players like Arteta, Rosicky, Sanchez, Welbeck, Cazorla, Wilshere, Coquelin have still managed to put on results on the pitch. The main reason is that their offensive unit of Campbell, Walcott, Ozil and Giroud has finally started to click in form, scoring goals. On the other side the defence has been improving led by veterans Cech and Mertersacker.
The Gunners take on a Southampton team who has struggled to produce results in the recent time despite having nearly a fit squad to chose from. The Saints have not won for the last 6 matches on the trot; grabbing just 1 point on those games. Struggles have come offensively for sure; but defensively they have been horrible; keeping only 2 clean sheets in their last 13 games. Ronald Koeman has been having a struggling motivating the squad who are languishing in the bottom half of the table after losses to Man City, Tottenham, Crystal Palace, Stoke & Liverpool.
With the Gunners offence in rhythm and the Saints defence in tatters; I expect Arsenal to walk away with a victory in this game.
Leicester City come into this Boxing Day fixture in the lead of the Premier League by 2 points ahead of Arsenal, knowing that they need to continue to deliver results if they want to keep the Londoners at bay. They come into this game having lost just 1 game in the league all season to Arsenal. They have the leagues best offence at this stage scoring 37 goals in 17 games; but have been a bit leaky at the back conceding 24 goals. This has seen their matches have an average of 3.5 goals per game, which is among the highest in the league today. Mahrez and Vardy have contributed in the scoring with 28 out of the 37 goals between them. Leicester’s style of play have seen over 2.5 goals scored in 6 out of the last 7 games and 13 out of 17 games the entire season.
Liverpool started out in good form under Klopp; but have failed to produce a victory in their last 3 Premier League games. All the signs have shown that Liverpool’s offence has not been in rhythm due to the number of injuries which hasn’t seen them put a settled attacking lineup. Currently the team have several players injured including Milner, Loveren, Sturridge, Skrtel, Ings and Gomez; out of which the first 4 would definitely make their starting lineup. The chopping and changing of defence including dropping Mignolet has seen them concede 7 goals in their last 3 games itself. Klopp will feel a bit better that he can now field Coutinho, Firmino, Lallana and Benteke in a front 4 that were involved in the demolition of Man City over a month ago. This game promises to be exciting with Liverpool games going over 2.5 goals in 3 out of their last 5 in the Premier League and in 3 out of the last 4 games at Anfield.
I will back the over 2.5 goals in a exciting Christmas encounter for all to watch.
Everton have finally been in their stride offensively, and despite losing their last game to Leicester City, will feel right in this game which will be a North England affair for them to continue their offensive firepower.
Lukaku has been in tremendous form coming into this game as he tries to go and beat Vardy’s record of scoring in the most consecutive games in the Premier League. Everton boast the 3rd best offence in the league with 31 goals in 17 games, and have been pushing the scoring through the Belgian. He has also got able support from Barkley, Deulofeu, Kone along with the bench crew of Mirallas and Naismith. Gareth Barry pulls the strings for the team sitting in a deep-play making role to help Barkley get into spots. Everton also boast the talented full backs in Coleman and Baines who can take free-kicks as well as come out from the back and put some delightful crosses into the box for the forwards to latch on.
Newcastle have been facing a bit of a struggle defensively and that has seen them concede 32 goals in 17 games which is the 2nd worst in the Premier League. They had pulled off the shock wins against Tottenham and Liverpool a few weeks ago; but now face a determined Everton who will be pushing for victory knowing that a victory will push them closer to the UEFA League spots of 5-7 which they generally land up in almost every season. Newcastle have struggled at the back conceding in 5 out of their last 6 games and its no surprise considering the defensive injuries including Krul, Williamson, Haidara, Taylor who are out of action.
I like Everton to score goals, and this bet has lost twice for me over the past 6 weeks; but I believe that with the teams enjoying their Christmas dinners, a little bit of laziness could creep in; and Everton could pounce on that opportunity to score more. Here’s hoping Rob Elliot gets completely stuffed on Christmas day and Everton to score 2 or more goals.