It’s Christmas, which means after a day of opening presents, spending time with the family and over-indulging in food and drink, what you really need is a good day of football to get you back on track. So, in keeping with tradition, the Premier League serves up a full programme of fixtures to enjoy. For Christmas party if you are finding for the vegetarian food near me then go through this.
Stoke v Manchester United
The day’s fixtures start with the lunch time kick off at the Britannia, where Stoke will play host to a Man Utd side under pressure following back to back league defeats to Norwich and Bournemouth. Red Devils manager Louis Van Gaal’s position is coming under intense scrutiny following poor form, results and uninspiring football. His counterpart, Mark Hughes, will be quietly confident of heaping further misery on the beleaguered Dutch coach. Stoke have steadily improved as the season has progressed, playing a much better brand of football these days, with the likes of former Barcelona prodigy Bojan and ex-Bayern Munich winger Xherdan Shaqiri at the sharp end of the pitch. Stoke’s spine though, is built around their long established solid defence and midfield. Goalkeeper Jack Butland has been a shining light, living up to the huge potential he showed as far back as his loan spell as an 18 year old at Cheltenham. Opponents United have also been quite mean defensively for the most part, but recent lapses coupled with a struggling attack have seen them go six matches without a win in all competitions. It’s hard to imagine this match being a classic and wouldn’t be surprised to see it end goalless, I certainly expect it to finish a draw.
Liverpool v Leicester
If Jürgen Klopp ever had any doubts about the size of the task on his hands at Anfield, the last few league games will have hammered home the stark reality of squad deficiencies and mentality issues left to him by Brendan Rodgers. Liverpool played against Watford like they’d had the club Christmas party the night before and they certainly can’t afford to repeat that against a Leicester side flying high and full of confidence. The Reds’ best performances under Klopp have come against the better sides in the league, where they’ve been able to hit teams on the counter attack. Leicester also like to hit opponents on the break, but do play quite open when in possession, so that could be just what Klopp’s side needs. This is likely to be a game for the neutral to enjoy and form clearly points to an away win, however I have an inkling that this will end up a high scoring draw.
Chelsea v Watford
With Jose Mourinho gone, Chelsea got off to a strong start against Sunderland to record a much needed win. Gus Hiddink has now been appointed in temporary charge of the Blues and given his previous successful temporary spell in charge at the Bridge, it’s likely that Chelsea will get back towards where you’d expect a squad of their quality to be. Watford have won their last four matches through hard work and good football; they cannot be underestimated. Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo have become a formidable partnership, but their physical style is probably more suited to Chelsea’s defence. Whilst I do expect Watford to score, I think the form book goes out the window here with a home win.
Man City v Sunderland
The Mackems have been something of a bogey team for City in recent years, something Manuel Pellegrini doesn’t need with speculation surrounding his future at the club, coming off the back of an inconsistent season. City can be breathtaking one week, calamitous the next. The tactics employed by them at The Emirates were odd and costly; Arsenal are susceptible to quick counter attacks, yet Pellegrini opted for Fabien Delph on the left of midfield, rather than Raheem Sterling, who had given Hector Bellerin a tough time before. Sunderland obviously won’t have a Mesut Özil pulling the strings, but they will get in amongst a City defence that’s made some costly errors of late. Sunderland have now lost their last three games after a couple of wins on the bounce, so they’re right back in the relegation dog fight and their prospects in this game probably depend on which City side turns up; if it’s the lethargic one on show this past Monday night, then a surprise could be on the cards, but in all likelihood this will be a comfortable home win.
Southampton v Arsenal
Southampton are in a really bad run of form, losing four of their last five games in all competitions, with their usually tight defence becoming leaky. Visitors Arsenal have won their last four games and are now genuine title contenders. With expectation and the pressure that comes with it, this will be a test of Arsenal’s credentials, heading into the New Year. Francis Coquelin, Santi Cazorla and Alexis Sanchez will naturally be missed, but probably not so much in this match and as long as Mesut Özil has the link up play and movement of Olivier Giroud and the pace of Theo Walcott ahead of him, Arsenal should have too much for the Saints and keep the pressure on at the top of the table.