Festive fixtures are almost upon us. With Boxing Day (As an American, what the heck is Boxing Day, anyway?) just seven days away, I hope you’ve bought your gifts (my cousins are Watford and Tottenham fans, it’s been a rough year for them thus far, but I bought them Kane and Deulofeu jerseys!), loaded up on bakeable meats, or whatever else your Christmas meal tradition includes, and set your calendar for all of the matches to come! This week was, in my opinion, one of the least predictable matchweeks this season, with Wolves losing at home to a big six side, Manchester United drawing Everton, Chelsea losing to Bournemouth at home, and Leicester dropping points to Norwich. Thank God for the constant that is Arsenal! Let’s dive in:
207: for the first time in all of Burnley’s 207 matches in the Premier League, their opponent (a hapless Newcastle) did not register a single shot on target.
3: Since 2015, when they were promoted, no side has won more Premier League matches at Stamford Bridge than Bournemouth, who this week notched their third..
38: Since the start of last season, no one has scored more league goals than Teemu Pukki, who put his 38th into the net against Leicester, ending their run of wins.
54: Jose Mourinho has not lost any of the last 54 Premier League matches in which his side scored the opening goal.
On form: Kevin De Bruyne has now been involved in 19 goals this season.
Arsenal have objectively disappointed this season. However, they have a chance to get back on track with an away match against Everton, having performed better against the Toffees than any other side in the Premier League (33 wins, 107 goals). Editor’s note today: Arsenal announced that Mikel Arteta will be their manager. I feel solid about them potentially winning this match, as Arteta should bring some stability to the side.
Sheffield United has a chance, and a solid one (see my Pick ‘Em section momentarily) to become the first promoted team in 72 years to remain unbeaten in their first nine away matches of the season (Burnley, 1948).
Match of the week: Manchester City vs. Leicester City. Prediction: Manchester City 2, Leicester City 2. This game will be fiercely contested and end up a draw, with Leicester outperforming Pep Guardiola’s side but ultimately conceding a late equalizer.
Runner up match of the week: Tottenham vs. Chelsea. Jose Mourinho gets his shot at the club that fired him twice, but Tottenham ultimately whiff as Chelsea get back in form in a crucial fixture. Tottenham 1, Chelsea 2.
Don’t gamble, kids.
Brighton vs. Sheffield United +.5 (-145). If United have stayed unbeaten through eight away matches, I’m putting money on Brighton not to be the one to break that streak.
Manchester City vs. Leicester City +1.5 (-125). I personally believe that Leicester will surprise a lot of people by getting a draw, but I absolutely cannot see Leicester, a team better than Chelsea, losing by more goals to City than Chelsea did.
Watford vs. Manchester United -.5 (-130). The worst team in the league versus a big six club that only needs to win by one goal to make me money? Yes please.
I’m not willing to put my money where my mouth is on the Tottenham versus Chelsea match, especially as I’m probably biased in favor of Chelsea. However, the odds sit at 0.0 if you want to take either side.
In case I don’t get a chance to write picks for Boxing Day, what with the food coma I’ll most likely be experiencing from Christmas festivities, here are my preliminary picks for Matchweek 19 (the second half of the season!):
Tottenham -1 (-130) vs. Brighton. Tottenham will most likely win, whether it’s by more than one goal remains to be seen.
Chelsea -1.5 (-105) vs. Southampton. The league’s worst defense takes on the team with the 5th most goals scored. A two goal margin should be doable here.
Leicester City +.5 (-140) vs. Liverpool. Leicester have been dominant at home this season and Liverpool’s schedule is bound to catch up with them at some point (looking at you, Aston Villa). My prediction here is another close draw for Leicester.