Premier League Preview: Match Day 20

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The Boxing Day fixtures brought about the official halfway point of the Premier League season, with the round serving up plenty of action and drama.

The 26th itself saw big wins for league leaders Liverpool and Manchester United. Tottenham Hotspur, Aston Villa and Crystal Palace also secured victories, as did Carlo Ancelotti on his first game in charge of Everton. A surprise came at Stamford Bridge though as Southampton shocked Chelsea with a deserved 2-0 win.

Mikel Arteta’s reign as Arsenal manager started with a 1-1 draw at Bournemouth, while Sheffield United and Watford also played out a stalemate of the same result.

The most eye-catching result however came on the 27th, when a 10-man Manchester City threw away a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 at Wolverhampton Wanderers, leaving them 14 points behind Jurgen Klopp’s side having played a game more.

There’s little time for teams to dwell, or recover, however as the games come thick and fast this time of year, with a full round of fixtures to enjoy this weekend.

Match of the Weekend – Arsenal vs Chelsea 

It’s a homecoming for Mikel Arteta, as the former Arsenal midfielder prepares for his first home game in charge of the Gunners this weekend in a London derby against Chelsea.

The Spaniard had to settle for a point in his managerial debut as Arsenal battled back against Bournemouth to secure a 1-1 draw thanks to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang‘s 12th league goal of the season, although means the club have just one win in their last 14 games across all competitions.

Admittedly it will take time for Arteta to fully implement his ideas on the squad, despite their already being positives from the game at the Vitality Stadium, as well as a few transfer windows before his work can even begin to be scrutinised properly.

The task on Arteta’s hands shouldn’t be underestimated either. Arsenal haven’t won at home in the Premier League since October 6, although their opponents this weekend in Chelsea are themselves in something of a rut.

The Blues have won just two of their last seven league games, including five defeats, with their recent two games of an impressive victory against Tottenham followed by defeat at home to Southampton largely summing up their progress this season – although still sit fourth in the table. 

Despite their recent dip in form, Frank Lampard’s side do boast the third-best away record in the division, with only Liverpool and Manchester City amassing more than their 18 points on the road so far, as they look to prolong Arteta’s wait for his first win in charge of Arsenal.

Rest of the Weekend

Saturday’s action begins at lunchtime on the south coast when Brighton & Hove Albion host Bournemouth with both sides in need of the win.

Newcastle United welcome Everton to St. James’ Park, as Carlo Ancelotti looks to make it two wins from two in charge of the Toffees.

Southampton will be hoping to make it three league wins in a row when they face a Crystal Palace side that have lost just one of their last six league games (W3 D2).

19th meets 18th at Vicarage Road when Watford take on Aston Villa, with the Villains their first league win since the end of November on Boxing Day.

Norwich City welcome Tottenham to Carrow Road as Spurs look to make it six Premier League wins in eight since Jose Mourinho took charge.

Leicester City look to end a run of three league games without a win when they travel to the capital to face West Ham United. The hosts are enduring a wretched run that has seen them win just two of their last 12 league games (D2 L8).

The final game on Saturday comes from Turf Moor when Burnley face Manchester United in the day’s late fixture. 

Sunday commences with the aforementioned game at the Emirates Stadium, before runaway league leaders Liverpool host a Wolves side coming off the back of beating the reigning league champions home and away.

The weekend concludes with the current Premier League holders Manchester City when they face a Sheffield United team that start the weekend just three points off Chelsea in fourth.

Premier League Player to Watch: Dele Alli – Tottenham Hotspur – £2.94

It’s no secret that Dele Alli looks a player back in form since the arrival of Jose Mourinho, with his winner against Brighton the latest indication of that.

That goal by the 23-year-old was his eighth goal involvement since Mourinho’s appointment (five goals and three assists), which is more than any other Spurs player during the same period, highlighting his influence on the forward-thinking midfielder.

Despite this, Alli has seen his share price decrease by 11p in the last week, but with Spurs set to face the Premier League’s bottom club in Norwich this weekend, he could accrue some In-Play Dividends should he maintain recent performance levels.

 

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