Sunday 22 September 2019

St Stephen's Day Premier League preview: Title challengers set for Christmas wins

Pep Guardiola (Martin Rickett/PA)
Pep Guardiola (Martin Rickett/PA)
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

There are nine Premier League fixtures taking place on St Stephen's Day, and Independent.ie's Kevin Palmer has gone over all of them and given his predictions.

Fulham v Wolves

Wolves were outclassed by Liverpool last Friday, but they have cemented their status as one of the best side's to have been promoted from the Championship in recent years with their start to the season.

Meanwhile, Claudio Ranieri's Fulham have not been so impressive this season and they need to start picking up wins quickly to have any hope of Premier League survival.

Verdict: Away win for Wolves

Burnley v Everton

Sean Dyche over-achieved with Burnley last season, but the fine margins that were going in his side's favour a year ago have now flipped and it has cost them dearly.

Burnley's Irish contingent featuring Robbie Brady and Jeff Hendrick will look to earn Christmas bragging rights over their international team-mate Seamus Coleman in this game, but Everton start as favourites.

Verdict: A draw for a defensive-minded Burnley side.

Crystal Palace v Cardiff

Palace's stunning win against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium last Saturday was one of the great Premier League results of all-time and they will be eager to build on that with a third home win of the season.

Neil Warnock's Cardiff were hammered by a revived Manchester United and despite all their enthusiasm, they appear to lack the required quality to stay in Premier League.

Verdict: Wilfried Zaha to inspire a Palace victory.

Leicester v Manchester City

Claude Puel relieved the pressure mounting on him with a win at Chelsea last weekend, but there are still rumbling of discontent over his cautious approach to the game.

A wounded Manchester City will have far too much for them in a St Stephen's Day game that may see Pep Guardiola shuffle his pack as he looks to keep players fresh over the hectic festive period.

Verdict: City to bounce back with a win.

Liverpool v Newcastle

One of the great fixtures of the Premier League era used to be a far more even contest, but Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez will arrive at Anfield with a game plan designed to protect his team from a battering.

Former Liverpool boss Benitez makes no excuses for his defensive mindset against the Premier League's top sides, but his side are rarely good enough to hold firm in these games.

Verdict: Leaders Liverpool to win by two or more goals.

Manchester United v Huddersfield

The gloom hovering over United was lifted by the 5-1 win at Cardiff on Saturday, ensuring interim boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's first game in charge at Old Trafford is likely to be a joyous occasion.

The former United striker may not have the experience required to take on this role, but the good will towards him will lift a team that has been woefully under-performing amid the toxic atmosphere Mourinho was promoting.

Verdict: Solskjaer to secure another big win.

Tottenham v Bournemouth

Spurs did not expect to be spending a second Christmas at their temporary Wembley home, but Mauricio Pochettino's side will entertain a Bournemouth side led by the manager many believe could replace him at Tottenham next season.

If Pochettino is lured away to Manchester United, Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe would be a strong contender to succeed him at Spurs.

Verdict: Tottenham to have too much for Bournemouth.

Brighton v Arsenal

Chris Hughton's Brighton secured a famous victory over Arsenal last March, as Arsene Wenger's reign as Gunners boss cascaded towards a disappointing end.

Yet the task of beating Unai Emery's Gunners will be more challenging, with Brighton set to be boosted by the return of their Republic of Ireland centre-back Shane Duffy for this game after he served a three-game suspension for his red card against Crystal Palace earlier this month.

Verdict: Arsenal to grind out a victory.

Watford v Chelsea

Chelsea head into this game eager to bounce back from an unexpected home defeat against Leicester on Saturday, as their lack of attacking firepower was exposed once agaib.

Watford's impressive home form has given them a platform to secure their Premier League status for another season and they will draw inspiration from their stunning 4-1 win against the Blues last season heading into this game.

Verdict: High scoring draw.

Online Editors

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