Premier League Festive Fixtures Details And Predictions: Will Arsenal Stay At The Top On January 1st?

FESTIVE FIXTURES DETAILS AND PREDICTIONS:

 ARSENAL:

23rd Dec – Chelsea (h) DRAW

26th Dec – West Ham (a) WIN

29th Dec – Newcastle (a) DRAW

1st Jan – Cardiff (h) WIN

= 43 points

Per Mertesacker Mesut Ozil Arsenal

The current league leaders sit quite pretty at the top of the league table and head into the festive period two points clear of their nearest rivals. A tough home fixture against Chelsea precedes three winnable fixtures against teams most Arsenal sides would normally expect to beat. A serious injury to Laurent Koscielny could threaten their defensive stability with not much quality or cover across the back four, whilst Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Abou Diaby remain long-term absentees but a return is imminent for Lukas Podolski. Expect a mixture of results but it would be no surprise to see the Gunners remain unbeaten and maintain position at the top of the tree. Many are expecting a classic Arsenal collapse but it is unlikely to start before 2013’s end.

 LIVERPOOL:

21st Dec – Cardiff (h) WIN

26th Dec – Man City (a) LOSE

29th Dec – Chelsea (a) DRAW

1st Jan – Hull (h) WIN

= 40 points

Steven Gerrard’s absence is a blow to Liverpool’s title chances for sure, but to their credit, the red half of Merseyside showed no signs of missing him as they produced a spectacular 5-0 win away at Tottenham last weekend. In Luis Suarez they have the league’s in-form striker – if not in Europe as well – and with him in the side anything is possible. That said, two relatively straightforward home games are sandwiched either side of back-to-back games with Man City and Chelsea: a double-header that could make or break their season and tell us whether Liverpool have the bottle to sustain a title challenge. A win in either would ultimately be a surprise, but Brendan Rodgers continues to impress in his second season at Anfield.

 CHELSEA:

23rd Dec – Arsenal (a) DRAW

26th Dec – Swansea (h) WIN

29th Dec – Liverpool (h) DRAW

1st Jan – Southampton (a) LOSE

= 38 points

Jose’s return hasn’t been quite so special this time around and although Chelsea remain in a good position in both domestic league and Europe, a League Cup exit to Sunderland highlighted the frailties still apparent in the Blues’ squad. Their festive programme is possibly the hardest of the top sides and trips to Arsenal and Southampton will test their mettle. Two home games against Swansea and Liverpool are ultimately very winnable and it will be crucial for Chelsea to do so in order to stay in touch at the top. One plus for Mourinho, though, is that his squad is almost fully fit (with only Marco van Ginkel the only major absentee). Appropriate rotation will be key to negotiating this period successfully – and the boss has hinted at reverting to type and the return of the 1-0 win. God help us all.

 MANCHESTER CITY:

21st Dec – Fulham (a) WIN

26th Dec – Liverpool (h) WIN

28th Dec – Crystal Palace (h) WIN

1st Jan – Swansea (a) DRAW

= 42 points

Aguero

Without doubt the league’s in-form side after demolishing Tottenham and Arsenal in consecutive weeks, Manuel Pellegrini will be looking forward to his first festive fixtures in England. A visit from Liverpool and a trip to Wales are the only potential stumbling blocks – but with City’s outstanding home record, it is unlikely anyone will pose much of a threat to the fortress Etihad. However, recent news that talismanic top-scorer Sergio Aguero and captain Pablo Zabaleta could be absent for over a month will test the squad mentally and the extent of their dependence upon both will be revealed. Time, then, for Alvaro Negredo and Edin Dzeko to really stand up and be counted – and Pellegrini could do with deciding between Joe Hart and Costel Pantilimon as his number one ready for the New Year and run-in, too.

 EVERTON:

22nd Dec – Swansea (a) DRAW

26th Dec – Sunderland (h) WIN

29th Dec – Southampton (h) DRAW

1st Jan – Stoke (a) DRAW

= 37 points

Roberto Martinez has done wonders for Everton this year and they have shown no signs yet of dropping off after their impressive start. Romelu Lukaku and Kevin Mirallas have been particularly prolific and keeping them fit over this busy period will be crucial, particularly with the absence of Gerard Deulofeu and Arouna Kone. Leighton Baines should return from injury very soon as well to boost the most economical backline in the league. This festive period sees Everton face the four ‘S’s’, and if they continue to put in good performances akin to those recently, the Toffees have an excellent chance of emerging unbeaten – likely given only one loss so far. Having taken points off Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United so far, it seems there is no limit to Everton’s performances: for sure they are top five contenders in 2013/2014.

 NEWCASTLE UNITED:

21st Dec – Crystal Palace (a) DRAW

26th Dec – Stoke (h) WIN

29th Dec – Arsenal (a) DRAW

1st Jan – West Brom (a) DRAW

= 33 points

In-Form Striker Wayne Rooney has been the lone warrior for Manchester United this season

After a disappointing campaign last time out, Newcastle have begun to show some of their 2011/2012 promise once again under Alan Pardew. Having kept hold of prize players Yohan Cabaye, Jonas Gutierrez and Fabricio Coloccini, the core of the squad has remained strong and now they seem to be reaping the benefits. A shock result at Old Trafford two weekends ago should ensure belief levels are high in the camp and their festive schedule consists of three very winnable games against Palace, Stoke and West Brom. Their biggest test comes in the form of the league leaders who visit St James’s Park in the last fixture of 2013 – an examination of Pardew’s squad that will give all a chance to prove themselves against the very best. They need Loic Remy to start firing again to ensure smooth passage into the New Year.

 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR:

22nd Dec – Southampton (a) DRAW

26th Dec – West Brom (h) WIN

29th Dec – Stoke (h) WIN

1st Jan – Man Utd (a) LOSE

= 34 points

The sacking of Andre Villas-Boas leaves Spurs at something of a crossroads at a key point in 2013/2014 and it will be hoped the managerial uncertainty will not affect the players and ultimately, results. Two easier home games are sandwiched by tough trips to Southampton and the red half of Manchester; it may be sensible to hope for six points from the former and take anything they can from the latter. It is a bad time for the club to be fraught by defensive injuries but Younes Kaboul and Jan Vertonghen are major losses at a time when a solid and unchanging back four would be ideal to caretaker manager Tim Sherwood. Andros Townsend’s return from injury is also uncertain and despite the £100m of new talent available at White Hart Lane, these four fixtures could end up as an exercise in damage limitation.

 MANCHESTER UNITED:

21st Dec – West Ham (h) WIN

26th Dec – Hull (a) WIN

28th Dec – Norwich (a) WIN

1st Jan – Tottenham (h) WIN

= 37 points

Traditionally, the festive fixtures mean the start of an unrelenting United charge towards the title. But there is no doubting that things have changed under new boss David Moyes and recent slip-ups against Everton and Newcastle have led to many questioning his and the squad’s mentality. The first three games are easily winnable, though, against bottom half sides – and it is worth noting United’s superior away record this year in light of this. The only question mark is the home fixture against Tottenham, but provided no more injuries are sustained and Michael Carrick returns to the midfield on schedule, they should have too much for a Spurs side currently bereft of confidence. The return of Robin van Persie will galvanise United again too and with an on-form Wayne Rooney, it is not unrealistic to expect the side to bear good fruits from their labours in these fixtures.

 SOUTHAMPTON:

22nd Dec – Tottenham (h) DRAW

26th Dec – Cardiff (a) WIN

29th Dec – Everton (a) DRAW

1st Jan – Chelsea (h) WIN

= 32 points

Faster out of the starting blocks than most in 2013/2014, Mauricio Pochettino’s Southampton have certainly been one of the surprises of the season. Recently, their imperious form has started to slip, though, and the loss of ‘keeper Artur Boruc to serious injury has coincided with the leakage of many goals to put a stop to the regularity with which they collect points. The Christmas period is a very testing one, with three fixtures against sides above them in the league, beginning and ending with tough visits from Spurs and Chelsea. That said, the Saints are usually very successful in the bigger games and should have no problems raising themselves for such encounters. The more crunch encounters are away to Cardiff and Everton, when their mettle will really be tested.

Table on 21/12/13:

Pos

Team

Pld

Points

1

Arsenal

16

35

2

Liverpool

16

33

3

Chelsea

16

33

4

Man City

16

32

5

Everton

16

31

6

Newcastle

16

27

7

Tottenham

16

27

8

Man Utd

16

25

9

Southampton

16

24

Table on 02/01/14?

 Pos

Team

Pld

Points

1

Arsenal

20

43

2

Man City

20

42

3

Liverpool

20

40

4

Chelsea

20

38

5

Man Utd

20

37

6

Everton

20

37

7

Tottenham

20

34

8

Newcastle

20

33

9

Southampton

20

32

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Written by Dinesh V

Co-founder of Soccersouls. Living a start-up life 24/7
Follow @dineshintwit

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