The Premier League continues to hurtle towards the hectic festive season in full force, with each and every one of the 20 sides expected to battle through the toughest period of the season. The tactical nous of every manager along with the depth of each squad will be given a thorough examination, with peripheral players likely to be given a starring role across the coming month. The number of points on offer over December makes this period of the campaign incredibly important to teams both at the top and bottom of the table. With this in mind, we have looked at the fixtures and compiled our best bets for the upcoming cluster of fixtures.
What a game we have to look forward to on Saturday evening as a gripping Manchester derby draws near. Manchester United come into this one licking their wounds after another embarrassing performance, this time in the Champions League. A 3-2 loss to Red Bull Leipzig flattered the English side who had gone down 3-0 in the second-half as their hosts dominated a first-half that had many writing of the English club’s chance of making it out of the group, a decision they were vindicated in making. Late goals threatened to get them back into the contest, but they were ultimately deservedly beaten by their opponents. That loss saw United fall out of the Champions League, making them the only English side to fail to move onto the knockout stages. This failure was made even more disappointing as they had led in the group after beating Paris Saint-Germain, but a woeful 2-1 loss to group minnows Istanbul Basaksehir was what ultimately put them in such a poor position in the first place. Manchester City meanwhile cruised through their Champions League group with the cherry on top added following a supreme 3-0 win over Marseille at the Etihad Stadium. Admittedly, it did take Pep Guardiola’s men 48 minutes to hit the back of the net, but they were the better team throughout as they eventually ran out 3-0 winners on the night. In this one, we expect City to once again dominate and add to United’s woes. Sergio Aguero made his long-awaited return from injury and netted a goal in the 77th minute in midweek and we expect him to make it two in two with a goal against United. The home side have looked so shaky at the back this season and Guardiola’s prodding and probing style of football could see United’s defence once again breached.
Everton have gone from unlikely Premier League leaders to a faltering mid-table side at an incredible speed. The Toffees were enjoying a supreme start to the season, but their form has fallen off a cliff in recent weeks with a single win in their last seven league games seeing them drop down to ninth in the table with 17 points. Of course, the side are in no way out of the running with regard to clinching a European spot for next season, as would have been their aim at the start of the campaign, but it will worry their fans that they have seemed incapable of winning recently. Meanwhile, opponents Chelsea arrive in fantastic form and looking to go to the top of the table. Frank Lampard’s men have won six of their 11 matches, only losing once, while they have netted and impressive 25 goals in this time. A Champions League match against Krasnodar will have likely seen fatigue increase amongst the squad, but Lampard was in the enviable position of being able to rest many first team stars due to the Blues securing top spot in their group before the final match-day. This means that the Blues go into this one with fairly fresh legs, while they will have been buoyed seeing their impressive unbeaten run continue.
One man that did not play against Krasnodar, but we believe would have had a very positive impact, was Olivier Giroud. The Frenchman has been in flying form of late and will be desperate to continue to add to his goal tally in all competitions. We are backing Giroud over the likes of Timo Werner and Tammy Abraham in this one because of his supreme four goal haul against Sevilla last week, while we think the Blues will look to target Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, who looks susceptible under the high ball. If Giroud is given a chance to get on the end of a cross, we think he will score.
Best Bookmakers for Betting on English Premier League