Last Week of 2015!!

With games just yesterday, the English calendar continue to come thick and fast as most teams have about 48 hours off between their games yesterday and their games either tomorrow, Tuesday, or Wednesday.  Here are five games to watch over the next three days.

  1. Manchester United vs. Chelsea ~ Old Trafford

December 28, 2015 at 12:30 pm EST on NBCSN

These two giant clubs come into this game really cold.  United have lost 3 games in a row and might be looking for a new manager soon.  They are winless in their last 5 games and have dropped from second in the table to sixth place.  Chelsea is in 15th place and have just let go of their “special” manager in Jose Mourinho.  Since his departure, the club has earned 4 points against Sunderland and Watford.   In terms of style, these two teams are very similar.  They both have been rotating their squads quite a bit.  They both play possession football and attack down the left.  They also like to control the game in the opposition’s half and make a series of short passes.  This will be a fascinating matchup.  The big team news is that Diego Costa is out due to suspension.  Eden Hazard might start as he continues to work back from injury.  Terry may also be rested due to playing 90-minutes yesterday.  For Manchester United, Morgan Schneiderlin hasn’t started in any of the last four games.  Wayne Rooney should return to the starting lineup with Memphis likely to lose his spot.  Bastian Schweinsteiger is available after serving his three-match suspension.  Matteo Darmain is also close to returning.  Look for this to be a back and forth tightly fought match.   The only issue I have is I am not sure who scores the goals this weekend, if anyone.

Betting Odds

Match Result – United 6/4, Chelsea 21/10, Draw 23/10

First Goalscorer – Martial 6/1, Depay 7/1, No Goalscorer 7/1, Mata 7/1

Predictions

My Pick – United 1, Chelsea 1: Goals by Herrera and Willian

James’ Pick –

  1. Leicester City vs. Manchester City ~ King Power Stadium, Leicester

December 29, 2015 at 2:45 pm EST on NBCSN

In this top four matchup, Leicester will try to make it to their first season goal of 40 points.  Claudio Ranieri has insisted that this is the goal right now, as 40 points is usually enough points to guarantee your place in the Premier League for next season.  The goals might change for the season, but they will look to accomplish this soon.  This Monday, they will hope to bounce back quickly from a loss at Anfield when they face Manchester City.  Manchester City is looking to string back to back wins for the first time since October.  In their last 6 games, they have 3 wins and 3 losses.  Leicester will work to get back to their counter attacking ways and finishing off the chances that they create.  Manchester City will attempt to create a lot of scoring chances with their speed and strong wing play.  The team news is interesting since these teams will get an extra day of rest.  Jamie Vardy played against Liverpool with a fever and Mahrez looked very tired.  Ranieri may have a headache with this since Drinkwater, Schlupp, and Matt James are out.  For City, Komany is likely to miss as he was injured during the game yesterday.  Aguero picked up a minor knock and may come back in for this game.  This could be the start of Leicester slip down the table, but since City is without Kompany they could be vulnerable.

Betting Odds

Match Result – Leicester 16/5, City 10/11, Draw 14/5

First Goalscorer – Aguero 10/3, Bony 4/1, Vardy 5/1

Predictions

My Pick – Leicester 2, City 3: Goals by Vardy, Ulloa, Sterling, Aguero, De Bruyne

James’ Pick – Leicester 2, City 2: Goals by Mahrez, Vardy, Sterling, De Bruyne 

  1. Watford vs. Tottenham Hotspur ~ Vicarage Road Stadium, Watford

December 28, 2015 at 10:00 am EST on NBCSN

This matchup features two of the hottest teams in all of England.  Watford is in the midst of a 5 game unbeaten run.  Tottenham has just lost 1 game in their last 6 with 3 wins.  This also features two of the better defensive teams in the league.  Tottenham has the best defense, giving up just 14 goals all season.  Watford has conceded just 18 goals in their 18 games.   Watford is lead by their two big strong forwards and their ability to create shooting opportunities.  Tottenham has one of the hottest strikers in the league and will look to create chances for him.  In terms of team news, Watford should have Nathan Ake back in the lineup, having not been allowed to play against his parent club Chelsea.  If Quique Sanchez Flores wants to rotate his squad he may put Ikechi Anya into the side for Jurado.  For Tottenham, there are not many injuries so it only matters how much Pochettino wants to rotate.  Ben Davies could keep his place or we could see Danny Rose.  Heung-Min Son may also come in to the squad.  Dembele picked up a bit of a knock on his ankle and could be rested with Tom Carroll ready to come in. Watford will be tough to break down and Deeney and Ighalo are both menaces.  Look for this to be a tight game with few chances.  It will all come down to who finishes their chances.

Betting Odds

Match Result – Watford 11/4, Tottenham 11/10 , Draw 5/2

First Goalscorer – Kane 4/1, Ighalo 13/2, Deeney 7/1, Heung-Min 7/1

Predictions

My Pick – Watford 2, Tottenham 2: Goals by Deeney, Ighalo, Kane, and Heung-Min

James’ Pick –

  1. West Ham United vs. Southampton ~ Boleyn Ground, London

December 28, 2015 at 12:30 pm EST on NBC Sports Live Extra

This Monday, we take a look at two midtable English clubs.  Both of these two teams are hoping to cement themselves in the middle of the table and turn their focus towards potentially reaching a European place this season.  A win for either team will ensure they will start the New Year a safe distance from the relegation zone.  West Ham comes into the game on a 5 game unbeaten streak, but has drawn each of those 5 games.  Southampton is coming off their best performance of the year in a decisive win over Arsenal.  They will hope to carry this momentum this week.  West Ham will look to attack down the middle of the field and take a lot of shots.  Southampton will attack down the wings and look to create a bunch of scoring chances.  Dimitri Payet is still a ways off from returning for Slaven Bilic.  James Tomkins, Andy Carroll, and Aaron Cresswell will all face late fitness tests.  Enner Valencia or Nikica Jelavic are both vying for the spot up front.  Southampton will be without Graziano Pelle and Cedric Soares again.  Fraser Forster is close to returning, but still about a week out.  Look for Shane Long to feature again.  I think the momentum of the big win will help carry Southampton.  They are the healthier team and should be more up for the game.

Betting Odds

Match Result – West Ham 5/2, Southampton 5/4, Draw 12/5

First Goalscorer – Juanmi 7/1, Jelavic 15/2, Valencia 8/1, No Goalscorer 8/1

Predictions

My Pick – West Ham 1, Southampton 2: Goals by Valencia, Long, and Tadic

James’ Pick –

  1. Arsenal vs. Bournemouth ~ Emirates Stadium ~ London

December 28, 2015 at 12:30 pm EST on NBC Sports Live Extra

Is this the game that Arsenal takes top spot with?  With a golden chance to take the top spot yesterday, Arsenal came out really flat.  They did not look up for the game and were punished by Southampton.  Their opponent this weekend will not go down easily and may surprise them as well, like they beat Manchester United and Chelsea recently.  Bournemouth plays with width and like to take long shots.  They also defend well as a team.  Arsenal will have the majority of the possession and will have to break down the Bournemouth defense.  Arsenal has no new injuries.  Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Keiran Gibbs are ready to come back into the side.  For Bournemouth, Joshua King is close to being fully fit and could return to the side.  Eunan O’Kane could start this game after a strong performance from the bench.  Arsenal is the stronger team in terms of individual talent, but Bournemouth has shown that they have great spirit.  Look for a rebound performance from Arsenal but a strong defense from Bournemouth.

Betting Odds

Match Result – Arsenal 4/9, Bournemouth 7/1, Draw 15/4

First Goalscorer – Walcott 9/2, Iwobi 11/2, Ramsey 13/2

Predictions

My Pick – Arsenal 2, Bournemouth 1: Goals by Walcott, Ramsey, and Murray

James’ Pick –

EPL Games on Monday

Norwich City vs. Aston Villa – 10:00 am EST on NBC Sports Live Extra

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

Everton vs. Stoke City – 10:00 am EST on NBC Sports Live Extra

Crystal Palace vs. Swansea City – 10:00 am EST on NBC Sports Live Extra

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

EPL Games on Wednesday

Sunderland vs. Liverpool – 2:45 pm EST on NBCSN

La Liga Games on Wednesday

Real Madrid vs. Real Sociedad – 10:00 am EST on beIN Sports

Rayo Vallecano vs. Atletico Madrid – 12:15 pm EST on beIN Sports USA

Barcelona vs. Real Betis – 2:30 pm EST on beIN Sports

Las Palmas vs. Granada – 5:25 pm EST on beIN Sports

We will be back with a quick recap on Thursday and then a new weekend preview on Friday.  Hope you are all having a wonderful holiday break.

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