This weekend will see the start of the busy Christmas period, which leads us into the midpoint of the season. It’s the next few days before the close of the year that will be crucial, and match day 18 kicks it all off. There will be forty matches played between this Friday 21st of December and the 3rd of January. We have reviewed two critical games that are expected to be the most explosive, and two other interesting matches.
Chelsea will be keen to continue winning after a tight 2-1 win against Brighton when they welcome Leicester City to Stamford Bridge. The Blues will want to stay in the Premier League title race, and are expected to up their game when they face the Foxes on Saturday. Eden Hazard proved to be a massive threat in their win against Brighton, and all the attention will be on him during the game. Maurizio Sarri’s squad has become a real threat while at home, and odds are in Chelsea’s favour to emerge victorious.
Leicester, on the other hand, haven’t scored in back-to-back losses against Tottenham and Crystal Palace. The Foxes also go into this match after a midweek elimination by Manchester City in the EFL cup. This hasn’t been good for their confidence, and it looks likely that they might go home empty-handed. On top of that, Leicester haven’t won any of the last five games against the Blues. It will be interesting to see what strategy Claude Puel employs in order to win at the Bridge.
Manchester City take on Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium, which will be a hotly contested game. The two teams are expected to occupy the top two positions in the league standings, and have been the outstanding teams so far this season. The Reds are full of confidence after defeating Manchester United at home. Inevitably, this defeat led to manager Mourinho being sensationally sacked and replaced by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer this week. The Reds are at the summit of the league, and have been boosted by Mohamed Salah’s recent form. Jurgen Klopp’s men will be looking to cement their position at the top.
City will head into this match full of confidence with Kevin De Bruyne recovering from an injury. Manchester City haven't lacked goals, and will be keen to avoid defensive blunders that led to their first defeat of the season against Chelsea. Pep Guardiola’s men will be looking to reinstate their dominance in the league with a win in one of their biggest tests this season. The Citizens have only secured one draw in their last five meetings with the Reds, and they will be looking to break that jinx.
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West Ham gained a crucial 2-0 win over their local rivals Fulham, and will host Watford at the London Stadium next. The Hammers have shown some improvement in their form in recent matches, and they will be looking for a fifth consecutive win, which is a club record that goes back to 2006 when West Ham were managed by Alan Pardew. The East Londoners are scoring goals for fun now, and they are expected to maintain their attacking style of play for this encounter. Felipe Anderson will be the man to watch as he’s been involved in six goals in the last seven games.
The Hornets secured a win against Cardiff after they endured a six-game winless run in the league. Watford are level on points with West Ham despite their poor form, and they will be looking to improve. However, defeating West Ham in the London Stadium is a tough ask, and we can expect the two sides to have an equally tough time. The man to watch and in form player in the Watford squad is Abdoulaye Doucoure, who has scored two goals and one assist in the last three games.
Many people thought that Arsenal would continue with their 22-game unbeaten run when they faced Southampton. However, the Gunners were defeated 3-2 by the Saints. This win lifted the Saints off of the bottom of the table to just outside the relegation zone. Unai Emery’s team dropped to fifth in the standings, but they could go back up to forth with a win against Burnley. Arsenal are looking for a third consecutive win at the Emirates, but the Clarets pose a serious threat. Arsenal’s defence is still a bit shaky after a couple of injuries to their first choice defenders, and this could be something that Burnley would want to capitalise on.
Burnley almost secured a draw against Tottenham at Wembley Stadium until a late Christian Eriksen goal separated the two teams. Sean Dyche’s squad is likely to be defence-minded on Saturday. However, they will be faced by Aubameyang, who is eager to get back to his scoring ways. Burnley have only secured one point in their last ten meetings against Arsenal, and they will hope for a bit more luck in this match.
The full schedules of the remaining games for week 18-21 from 21st December to 2nd January 2019 are below
Friday 21st December kick off @ 2000hrs
Saturday 22nd December kick off @ 1500hrs (Unless Stated)
Sunday 23rd December Kick Off @ 1600hrs
Wednesday 26th December - Kick Off @ 1500hrs (Unless Stated)
Thursday 27th December - Kick Off @ 1945hrs
Saturday 29th December - Kick Off @ 1500hrs (Unless Stated)
Sunday 30th December
Tuesday 1st January 2019
Wednesday 2nd January 2019 - Kick Off @ 1945hrs (Unless Stated)
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