27th December 2019
There are some intriguing matches in store as the Premier League waves goodbye to 2019. No matter what happens in their game with Wolves at Anfield, Liverpool will top the league on New Year’s Day, but they’ll be hoping they’re still unbeaten. Meanwhile, Norwich City will need to get something against Tottenham, and hope that Watford don’t beat Aston Villa, otherwise the Canaries will be staying in the basement.
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Here are some of our selected tips & odds for the Premier League Gameweek 18.
Brighton only lost to Tottenham on Boxing Day courtesy of Dele Alli’s fine strike, while Bournemouth managed to hold the other North London side, Arsenal, to a 1-1 draw at home. Despite these fortunes, Brighton are the favourites here, largely due to the fact that they made a fair few changes for what was always going to be a difficult away game. If either side lose this game, they could end 2019 in the relegation zone if both Aston Villa and West Ham earn points, although a victory would see either within touching distance of the top half of the Premier League table.
Despite taking an early lead, Newcastle United slumped to a 4-1 defeat against Manchester United on Boxing Day. Elsewhere, Everton took their unbeaten tally to four games as they edged past Burnley 1-0, in what was Carlo Ancelotti’s first game in charge. Everton have only one once away from home this season though, 2-1 at Southampton, although they’ve won five of their last eight visits to St James’ Park. Newcastle, meanwhile, will have to contend with a string of first team injuries, but will be buoyed by the fact they’ve only lost one of their nine home matches this season.
Southampton’s 2-0 win at Chelsea showed fantastic aptitude, with their energy proving too strong for Frank Lampard’s team. Crystal Palace required a moment of magic from Andre Ayew to see their way past a resilient West Ham side, so with both sides full of confidence this could well be an entertaining game. Considering where they were a few weeks ago, Southampton will be delighted to be three points clear of the relegation zone, but with Brighton playing Bournemouth they’ll still have an eye of their shoulder. Crystal Palace could move into European contention if results go their way, although they’ll also be aware of the sides breathing down their necks.
Neither of these teams have had the best of times recently, but Watford’s third manager of the season in Nigel Pearson may have put them on the right track to avoid the drop. A 2-0 win against Manchester United has been followed up with a well-fought draw at Sheffield United, although they’re still a way off safety. Aston Villa beat Norwich City by a single goal to end their slump of four straight defeats, but will have to up their game if they are to drag themselves out of their current situation. The average number of goals in meetings between these two is 2.4.
Norwich City have only registered three wins all season, and have only collected any points at all in six of their 19 matches. That said, draws with Leicester and Arsenal, and a victory over Manchester City show that they can cause problems for some of the biggest teams in the Premier League. Tottenham Hotspur have won more points in Jose Mourinho’s seven games in charge than they did in 12 under Mauricio Pochettino. While they continue to struggle against the big teams, they’ve shown an ability to edge out the opposition even when they’re in tight situations, and they’ll be confident of doing the same against Norwich.
West Ham United’s defeat to Crystal Palace in their last match leaves them teetering precariously above the relegation zone, while Leicester City’s mauling at the hands of Liverpool has effectively ended the title race before 2020 has even arrived. West Ham have only won twice at the London Stadium this season, with the most recent of those coming on September 22nd, and have conceded 23 goals across the 12 games since then. Leicester had won eight in a row before their current three match slump, but the fact they’re no longer being considered title-outsiders should free them up to play a more flowing brand of football.
Burnley had a few chances against Everton, but they ultimately slipped to a defeat that saw them drop in the table. Manchester United earned a big win at Old Trafford, but it’s away from home where they’ve struggled, with losses at West Ham, Newcastle, Bournemouth, and Watford making up 80% of their defeats. Burnley are more than capable of causing issues, but their form against the traditional big teams this season hasn’t been great, as they’ve yet to take a single point off the five ‘top six’ teams they’ve faced. Maybe they’re due a result, or maybe Manchester United will complete the rout.
Arsenal fans will get to see Mikel Arteta in the dugout at the Emirates Stadium for the first time in this match. The former player narrowly missed out on the job to Unai Emery, and has now become his successor. Chelsea will want to ruin the party, having won 2-0 the last time they ventured to North London, as they beat Tottenham. However, the concern for them is that win was one of just two that they’ve earned across the last seven league games, with the other five all ending in defeat. Arsenal have won just five of their 19 Premier League fixtures this season, and with this game being followed by a home tie with Manchester United, they’ll need to be fully switched on to clamber out of the bottom half.
Liverpool’s players and manager are being cagey about saying that this season should end their 30 year wait for a domestic title, and their first ever Premier League trophy, but for a lot of people, it’s now about whether or not they can match the unbeaten feat of Arsenal in 2003-04. Wolverhampton Wanderers are a side that can be incredibly difficult on their day, and they will want the honour of being the first side to beat Liverpool in the league this season, and will want to do so at Anfield. Depending on the tactical approach, following a congested fixture period, this could be an explosive affair or a battle of wits, but either way it is likely to be entertaining.
The final game of the weekend and the final Premier League game of 2019 sees the reigning champions host a newly-promoted side that are performing well above expectations. Manchester City won’t have quite conceded defeat in the title race, although a 14 point gap is going to be tough to overturn, but they’ll certainly not settle for less than a top two finish. Sheffield United have had an incredible first half of their return to the top flight, and will be thrilled to end the year having only lost once in the league away from home in 2019, which was a 1-0 loss to Swansea in the Championship back in January.
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*all odds correct at the time of writing and are subject to change