Boxing Day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

While the rest of Europe takes their holiday break, England has one of the best Boxing Day traditions.  A full slate of games will take place tomorrow and here are the five that I will have my eye on.

  1. Stoke City vs. Manchester United ~ Britannia Stadium, Stoke-on-Trent

December 26, 2015 at 7:45 am EST on NBCSN

This is the opening game of the day as the under pressure Louis van Gaal takes on Mark Hughes and his new look Stoke City.  Louis van Gaal has been the headline of many of the papers in England, even demanding an apology from media.  United are winless in their last four games.  Is this the match that will turn their season around?  United will play their possession football, making short passes and controlling the game left and right.  Stoke are very strong if they can get the lead and have a very consistent first eleven.  This could be a problem since the injury list is very long for Stoke.  The big two injuries ahead of this match are Marc Muniesa and Geoff Cameron being out.  Due to his three match ban, Bastian Schweinsteiger will miss the game.  Look for Herrera to come in or Fellaini.  This will be a big game for United, as they try to return to the top 4.

Betting Odds

Match Result – Stoke 12/5, Manchester United 27/20, Draw 9/4

First Goalscorer – Rooney 6/1, Depay 13/2, No Goalscorer 13/2

Predictions

My Pick – Stoke 2, United 1: Goals by Bojan, Arnautovic, and Mata

James’ Pick – Stoke 1, United 2: Goals by Arnautovic, Martial, and Fellaini

  1. AFC Bournemouth vs. Crystal Palace ~ The Goldsands Stadium, Bournemouth

December 26, 2015 at 10:00 am EST on NBC Sports Live Extra

Two teams in the top 5 of the form table face off on the south coast.  Crystal Palace has won 4 of their last 6 and only lost 1.  Bournemouth is unbeaten in their last 6 games, including wins over Chelsea and Manchester United.  Bournemouth plays with great width and takes long shots.  They really like to play short passes and have the opponent’s aggression work for them.  Palace, on the other hand, attacks down both wings and attempts lots of crosses.  They also have the ability to play long balls from defense.  Bournemouth needs to avoid individual errors and could struggle against Bolasie.  Palace needs to avoid fouling in dangerous areas and avoid being offside.  Bournemouth has some injury doubts as Junior Stanislas and Joshua King are both doubtful and unlikely to play.  Crystal Palace is hopeful that Yohan Cabaye and Connor Wickham are fit enough to play.  Look for Palace to take the game to Bournemouth.

Betting Odds

Match Result – Bournemouth 7/5, Palace 21/10, Draw 5/2

First Goalscorer – Murray 11/2, King 6/1, Gayle 13/2

Predictions

My Pick – Bournemouth 1, Palace 2: Goals by Arter, Bolasie, and Puncheon

James’ Pick – Bournemouth 1, Palace 1: Goals by Ritchie and Cabaye

  1. Liverpool vs. Leicester City ~ Anfield, Liverpool

December 26, 2015 at 10:00 am EST on NBC Sports Live Extra

The top team in the country travels to Merseyside this weekend when they face Liverpool.  Leicester comes into the game in great form having won 3 straight and unbeaten in their last 10 matches.  Liverpool, conversely, has struggled recently as the honeymoon period seems to have ended.  They are winless in their last 3 games.  Liverpool will need to be aware that Leicester is going to look to counter attack them.  Leicester likes to take a lot of shots and has two of the best players in the league in Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy.  They are a great attacking team.  They struggle keeping possession and in aerial duels, which could work for Christian Benteke.  Liverpool can create some chances and are a little too reliant on Coutinho.  Simon Mignolet is in a race to come back after Bogdan had a rough first Premier League game.  Lovren, Skrtel, and Gomez are all out in defense so look for Sakho to partner Toure.  Coutinho and Firmino will look to lead the attack with Benteke up front.  For Leicester, Jamie Vardy is a doubt, but should play.  Robert Huth is going to return to the lineup.  Leicester should be favorites, but can Klopp get Liverpool back to winning ways?

Betting Odds

Match Result – Liverpool 19/20, Leicester 29/10, Draw 29/10

First Goalscorer – Origi 11/2, Mahrez 8/1, Ibe 17/2

Predictions

My Pick – Liverpool 2, Leicester 2: Goals by Coutinho, Benteke, Mahrez, Okazaki

James’ Pick – Liverpool 1, Leicester 3: Goals by Benteke, Mahrez (2), Vardy

  1. Chelsea vs. Watford ~ Stamford Bridge, London

December 26, 2015 at 10:00 am EST on NBC Sports Live Extra

Guus Hiddink takes charge of Chelsea for the second time in his career.  He will need to turn around the season quickly and try to build on their win last weekend against Sunderland.  However, they face Watford who have won four straight games and climbed into 7th place in the table.  Chelsea has really struggled this season and is looking to turn their season around.  Costa, Fabregas, and Hazard have been absent and will need to find their possession game.  Watford is led by the two strikers up front in Ighalo and Deeney.  They will look for long balls that lead to lots of shots.  It should be a great battle between Terry and Cahill and Ighalo and Deeney.  Eden Hazard has not trained following his injury but could make the bench.  Watford will be without Nathan Ake since he cannot play against Chelsea.  Look for Chelsea to find some better form and look to move closer to midtable.

Betting Odds

Match Result – Chelsea 1/2, Watford 13/2, Draw 17/5

First Goalscorer – Costa 7/2, Remy 9/2, Falcao 9/2

Predictions

My Pick – Chelsea 1, Watford 1: Goals by Pedro, and Ighalo

James’ Pick – Chelsea 2, Watford 2: Goals by Hazard, Costa, Deeney, Ighalo

  1. Southampton vs. Arsenal ~ St. Mary’s Stadium ~ Southampton

December 26, 2015 at 2:45 pm EST on NBC

This game features two teams at opposite ends of the form table.  Southampton has been in freefall having lost four of their last 6 games and winless in their last 5.  They are currently in 12th place, just 6 points from the drop, but a couple good results could see them move back up the table.  Arsenal is trending in the other direction, having won 3 in a row including a big win last weekend against rivals Manchester City.  Arsenal is 2 points behind Leicester in second place.  Southampton has really struggled with defending the counter attack this season and that could be trouble since Arsenal is very strong in that region.  Arsenal will play possession football and look to make short passes and have Ozil create chances.  Ozil has 15 assists on the season.  The Premier League era record is Henry with 20.  Fraser Forster is back in training but maybe a week away from returning.  Stekelenburg is expected to return to the starting eleven.  Arsene Wenger has no new injury concerns, but his list of injured players is quite long.  Sanchez, Rosicky, Coquelin, Cazorla, Arteta, Wilshere, and Welbeck will all miss out.  Arsenal should be comfortable tomorrow.

Betting Odds

Match Result – Southampton 13/5, Arsenal 23/20, Draw 13/5

First Goalscorer – Giroud 4/1, Walcott 11/2, Pelle 13/2

Predictions

My Pick – Southampton 1, Arsenal 2: Goals by Mane, Giroud (2)

James’ Pick – Southampton 1, Arsenal 2: Goals by Pelle, Giroud, Ozil

Other EPL Games

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Norwich City – 10:00 am EST on NBC Sports Live Extra

Manchester City vs. Sunderland– 10:00 am EST on NBCSN

Swansea City vs. West Bromwich Albion – 10:00 am EST on NBC Sports Live Extra

Aston Villa vs. West Ham United – 10:00 am EST on NBC Sports Live Extra

Newcastle United vs. Everton – 12:30 pm EST on NBC

 

We will be back on Sunday with another preview of the upcoming games on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.

 

 

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