Liverpool took another significant step towards their first ever Premier League title on Boxing Day as they thrashed Newcastle 4-0 at Anfield only to learn that Manchester City had slipped up again. This leaves Jurgen Klopp’s men 6 points clear of the new second placed team Tottenham, and 7 clear of Manchester City.
They remain the only team in the top flight with an undefeated record in the league, and that win over Newcastle made it 8 wins on the trot for the title hopefuls. They have conceded an absurdly low 7 goals all season, scoring 43 at the other end and second only to Manchester City in the goalscoring charts.
Arsenal did have a glimmer of that hope earlier in the season after winning 7 on the trot at one stage, but things have declined significantly since then. They were lucky to get a point against Brighton on Boxing Day and they have only actually won 4 of their last 10 Premier League matches.
To make matters worse, Unai Emery’s men don’t seem good enough when facing top quality opposition right now. They lost against Manchester City and Chelsea right at the start of the season, and have since dropped points against Liverpool and Manchester United.
Going forward there is little doubt surrounding this Arsenal team, but at the back, they have been dreadful at times. They have conceded 25 goals in the league, and have managed to keep a meagre 3 clean sheets. Although they have scored in every match bar their 2-0 loss to Manchester City on game week 1.
It’s looking unlikely that The Gunners will be able to get anything from this match though. They haven’t beaten Liverpool in any of their last 7 meetings and they’re facing a side who have won 11 of their league games this season by more than a single goal margin.
- Liverpool has gone seven games unbeaten against Arsenal in all competitions (W3 D4) – they last embarked upon a longer such run in February 2000 (14 games).
- There have been 149 goals in Premier League matches between Liverpool and Arsenal – only four fixtures have reached 150+ goals in the competition (Arsenal/Everton, Liverpool/Spurs, Chelsea/Spurs and Arsenal/Spurs).
- Arsenal has scored more goals from outside the box than any other Premier League side this season (9), while Liverpool are the only team yet to concede such a goal in 2018-19.
- Arsenal has won just one of their last 12 Premier League away games against sides starting the day top of the table (2-1 vs Chelsea in November 2008), losing the last six in a row by an aggregate score of 2-17.
- Liverpool has conceded just seven goals in their 19 Premier League games this season, and a clean sheet here will see a record for fewest goals conceded after 20 English top-flight games.
- Liverpool are unbeaten in 30 Premier League home games, their longest such run since a run of 31 between December 2007 and August 2009.
- Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino has been directly involved in eight goals in his last six Premier League games against Arsenal (5 goals, 3 assists). Only Robbie Fowler (9) has netted more Premier League goals against Arsenal for Liverpool than Firmino (5).
- Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is the top scorer in the Premier League this season with 13 goals, with the Gabonese international scoring six in his last eight away from home.
Tottenham vs Wolves
A tired Tottenham squad returned to London after some heavy World Cup involvement back in the summer, and their rather low key performances early on in the campaign suggested that they didn’t have a title challenge in them. However, they have risen from under the radar over the last couple of months and come into the second half of the season looking in phenomenal shape.
They demolished Bournemouth 5-0 at home on Boxing Day, sandwiching Christmas Day between that and a 6-2 thrashing of Everton before. They have won 5 Premier League matches on the bounce, qualified from their Champions League group against all the odds, and now find themselves above Manchester City in the league table.
Wolves certainly aren’t having a bad season. They will be disappointed with their 1-1 draw against Fulham on Boxing Day, but they have still won 3 of their last 5 Premier League games and find themselves in a more than respectable 10th position.
Avoiding relegation was the primary target for them, and with a 14 point cushion and being just 14 points off the magical 40 point mark they will be feeling quite happy with their progress so far.
- Tottenham have been defeated in just one of their last 12 home games against Wolves in all competitions (W7 D4) – losing 0-1 in December 2009.
- Spurs are unbeaten in their last 39 Premier League matches versus newly promoted teams (W36 D3), since losing 0-1 versus QPR in April 2012.
- Tottenham have scored at least five goals in their last two Premier League games, beating Everton 6-2 and Bournemouth 5-0. They’ve never previously scored 5+ goals in three consecutive top-flight games.
- None of Tottenham’s 19 league games this season has been drawn. The last team to not draw any of their opening 20 games in a top-flight season were Burnley in 1953-54 (first 27).
- Wolves are unbeaten in Premier League games in London this season (W2 D2). Indeed, they’ve won three of their last six Premier League games in the capital (D2 L1), more than they had in their first 18 such games in the competition (W2 D4 L12).
- Christian Eriksen has been directly involved in 99 Premier League goals for Tottenham (44 goals, 55 assists) and could become the sixth player to have a hand in 100 for the club in the competition (Teddy Sheringham, Harry Kane, Robbie Keane, Jermain Defoe and Darren Anderton).
- Tottenham’s Son Heung-min has scored six goals in his last five Premier League games, including a brace in each of his last two. The last player to score 2+ goals in three consecutive Premier League games was his teammate Dele Alli in January 2017.
PREDICTION: Over 1.5
Rangers vs Celtic
Steven Gerrard led side and reigning champions Celtic will travel across the Clyde river as they visit arch-rivals Rangers, who will host them at Ibrox. Can the Gers finally beat the Hoops?
It’s been a hectic few months at Ibrox. The appointment of Steven Gerrard at the end of last season brought a lot of hope to Rangers going into the new campaign. The ex-Liverpool legend has made a wide variety of changes at the club, most noticeably the huge amount of players that were brought to Glasgow over the summer.
It’s been a rocky December for the club. The Gers returned to 2nd place and overtaking Aberdeen in the process, but they still trail Celtic by three points and already having played a game more than the Hoops.
Since crashing out of the Europa League after losing their final game to Rapid Wien, Rangers have gone on to play Hamilton, Hibs, St Johnstone and Hibs once again. Daniel Candeias was the difference for the Gers as they defeated Hamilton 1-0, but Gerrard’s side struggled in a goalless game at Easter Road. Perth was next for Rangers, and they beat St Johnstone in extremis thanks to an Alfredo Morelos double. The Boxing Day fixture brought no further luck for the Gers, as they were held to yet another draw against Hibs.
It’s been a fantastic year for Celtic. Brendan Rodgers guided his side to yet another treble following his invincible debut season as the Hoops’ manager, extending the club’s unbeaten run to 69 matches.
This campaign has already seen the Bhoys win the first part of their so-called “treble treble” after retaining their League Cup title with a win over Aberdeen at the start of the month at Hampden Park.
- Rangers have kept a clean sheet in 30% of their matches.
- Celtic concede an average of 0.9 goals in their away games.
- Rangers have failed to score in just 10% of their home fixtures.
PREDICTION: 12 & Under 4.5
Juventus vs Sampdoria
Juventus may have failed to win for the second time this season, but they still extended their lead. They moved further clear of Napoli with a 2-2 draw against Atalanta, but they managed to fight back to continue their unbeaten record. Can the champions continue their impressive campaign when they meet Sampdoria on Saturday? The visitors head here aiming to build on their European push, which has left them narrowly outside of the top four.
The hosts had their league winning run brought to an end, but they’re approaching the half-way point of the season this weekend. A victory on Saturday would bring them 53 points from a possible 57 so far, and leave them at least nine points clear. They’re aiming to wrap up the title early this campaign, and they’re on course to smash records in Serie A this term. Will they continue that pace in their final game of 2018?
Sampdoria saw off Chievo on Boxing Day, a win which took them into fifth. They’re only two points shy of fourth-placed Lazio, which is a huge achievement for the club. They’re aiming for a spot in the Europa League, but they’ve found themselves with a potential opening to make the Champions League. Staying in the race is going to be tough, with a difficult trip to Turin on the horizon.
The visitors will look to cause problems at the Allianz, given that they’ve been in fine form of late. Five wins in their last six have sent them into the top five, scoring at least twice in every game. They’ve racked up 16 goals in that time, but will they add to that on Saturday afternoon? They’ve averaged 1.78 goals per game so far, finding the net in 78% of their games overall. Samp has found the net in their last nine games, and their last six away trips.
- Juventus have led at the end of each half in six of their last seven meetings with Samp.
- Over 3.5 goals have landed in 56% of Sampdoria’s away trips.
- The hosts have won 89% of their league games this season.
PREDICTION: JUVE WIN
AC Milan vs Spal
AC Milan are out to return to form on Saturday night, but can they get a result against struggling SPAL? The visitors aren’t too far above the bottom three, following a terrible run of form. Their struggles continued with a 0-0 draw against Udinese at the weekend, but can they bounce back away to Milan? The hosts are in trouble, and they need to turn things around if Gennaro Gattuso is to hang on to his job.
Milan slipped down to sixth after their latest setback, a draw at Frosinone. They slipped up at a side who haven’t won at home all season. That came days after a 1-0 home loss to Fiorentina, and their Europa League group stage exit. Recent weeks have been far from perfect for Gattuso, who has already seen reports of a replacement coming in 2019.
SPAL has been dreadful in recent months, with a 10 game winless run behind them. In their last 15 matches, they’ve produced just one win. It should be a straightforward game for the Rossoneri – but the hosts have had worse slip-ups during Gattuso’s short reign in charge. The visitors are just four points clear of the drop zone, while they are averaging less than a point per game on the road ahead of this trip.
Milan’s home record has slipped in recent weeks, and that 1-0 loss to Fiorentina was a damaging one. Of late, the club has had real issues in front of goal. They have scored once in their last five games, while they’ve failed to score in their last four matches in Serie A. At home they’ve scored in just one of their last four home league games, with Gonzalo Higuain wildly out of form. Without him, the visitors really lack punch in attack, and they’re struggling as a result.
SPAL have failed to score in almost half of their league games making them one of the lowest scoring teams in the league. With Milan out of form, that doesn’t suggest this clash will be all that exciting. The visitors have seen under 2.5 goals land in 67% of their trips, while Milan has been low scoring of late. There have been fewer than three goals in seven of their last eight games, so we’re backing under 2.5 goals in this encounter. On top of that, we see Milan narrowly returning to form with a 1-0 victory.
- Milan have seen under 2.5 goals in seven of their last eight matches.
- SPAL have failed to score in their last three games.
- A third of the visitors’ away trips have seen a single goal.
PREDICTION: AC WIN
Napoli vs Bologna
Napoli failed to see off Inter Milan on Boxing Day, going down to the Nerazzurri at San Siro. That left the Partenopei nine points off the lead in Serie A, with any outside hopes of the title fading. However, their grip on second is now under threat, so can they hold off Bologna to finish the season as the next best side in the league outside of Juventus?
The hosts may have had a setback in midweek, but they are still heavy favourites for this clash with the league’s third-bottom side. This season has changed for the Partenopei in recent weeks after they lost their spot in the Champions League. They’ve gone from fighting for the Scudetto and Champions League glory to lowering their ambitions significantly.
Meanwhile, Bologna just wants to stay up. Their only aim to avoid the drop into Serie B. Manager Pippo Inzaghi lost the clash with his brother on Boxing Day, as his side went down 2-0 at home to Lazio. We see a similar fate for the visitors in this clash, as they’re likely to struggle to see off an elite side this weekend. Overall they’ve been in terrible form this season, while they come into the weekend encounter two points shy of safety, with one of the worst away records in the league.
The visitors have now failed to win their last 11 Serie A matches. They come to a side with a great home record, but Napoli have been far from a high scoring outfit this season. They’ve seen under 2.5 goals in the majority of their home matches, with a 1-0 win their most frequent scoreline at home in the league. Carlo Ancelotti has changed up the team since he arrived in the summer, and they’ve certainly become more secure at the back. That was already something Maurizio Sarri had demanded from his team, but the new boss has dialled it up to 11.
- Bologna are without a win in their last 19 away matches.
- Napoli have won by at least two goals in their last five meetings with Bologna.
- Both teams have scored in just 33% of Napoli’s home games.
PREDICTION: NAP WIN
Crystal Palace earned themselves an unexpected early Christmas present last weekend as they put in a stellar performance to beat Manchester City 3-2 at the Etihad Stadium, but somehow they couldn’t muster that same winning spirit when they faced Cardiff on Boxing Day.
The Eagles mustered a huge 31 shots on the Bluebirds’ goal but failed to make a single one of them count. That game ended goalless, extending their unbeaten run to 3 matches but leaving Selhurst Park with an air of frustration. This is certainly a much better Crystal Palace side than earlier in the season though. Their 7 points from the last 3 matches have pushed them up to 14th in the table, leaving them with a 6 point cushion on the drop zone and with high hopes for the second half of the season.
Chelsea will be tough opposition on Sunday though. The Blues may have endured their fair share of hardships over the last month or so, but they are still up in 4th position and are only a few favourable results away from challenging at the top. The other side of that coin, though, is the fact that the resurgent Manchester United are only 8 points adrift of them in 6th place now.
One thing that has slipped at Stamford Bridge recently is their defensive record. Chelsea have now conceded in 4 of their last 5 Premier League games, only keeping a clean sheet against top scorers Manchester City of all teams.
Away from home, they haven’t kept a clean sheet in a league game since the end of October, shipping 7 goals in the 4 matches since then. Now they face a Palace side who have scored in 5 of their last 6 league outings. This makes backing Both Teams to Score look a promising option, so we’re going for that along with a 2-1 win for the visitors for our correct score predictions.
- Crystal Palace have won only two of their last 14 Premier League London derbies at Selhurst Park (W2 D2 L10), although one of those wins came against Chelsea in October 2017.
- Chelsea are winless in their last five away Premier League London derbies (D2 L3), their longest run without a win on the road since a run of eight between December 2010 and September 2012.
- Crystal Palace have won more points in their last three Premier League games (7) than they had in their previous 11 in the competition (6).
- Since winning their first Premier League London derby under Roy Hodgson (2-1 vs Chelsea), Crystal Palace have won just one of their last 12 in the competition (W1 D3 L8), losing the last three in a row.
- Chelsea are looking to win three consecutive Premier League away games for the first time under Maurizio Sarri, last doing so in April when Antonio Conte was in charge.
- Crystal Palace midfielder Luka Milivojevic has scored more Premier League goals since his debut in February 2017 than any other Eagles player (17).
- Chelsea star Eden Hazard has been involved in more goals than any other Premier League player coming into this weekend (19 – 10 goals, 9 assists).
- Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson has enjoyed three victories in his last four home games against Chelsea in the Premier League (L1), achieving wins with Liverpool in November 2010, West Brom in March 2012 and with the Eagles in this fixture last season.
PREDICTION: Over 1.5
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