So this is when the English league gets good it is of course the Christmas fixture list! A time when a lot came happen the games come thick and fast and there isn’t a moment to breath! These are the non televised games
Aston Villa V West Ham
Aston Villa captain Micah Richards is expected to miss a fourth consecutive game because of a knee injury. Fullbacks Joe Bennett and Aly Cissokho have both been recalled from loan spells but will not be eligible to play until January. West Ham’s Andy Carroll could return from a thigh problem but the game comes too soon for Manuel Lanzini, who is recovering from a similar injury. Diafra Sakho, Victor Moses, Winston Reid and Dimitri Payet are still out. The struggle continues for Villa, they did put up a bit of a good fight against Newcastle getting the draw, but they are firmly on the foot of the table. West ham haven’t got the same worries they are in 8th but have drawn the last three games Nil-Nil in a row and are winless in the last two months. They are defensively sound but are struggling with goals due to the absences up front. Villa have kept just two Premier League clean sheets this season – only Norwich, with one, have a worse record. They also have a pretty bad Boxing Day record winning one of the last 14. West Ham have won just one of their last eight games at Villa Park, Villa have also managed to keep a clean sheet in 5 of them. This could be a chance to start to build momentum and get out of this struggle. But based on current form this could end up being a draw.
Bournemouth V Crystal Palace
Bournemouth pair Junior Stanislas and Josh King will miss Saturday’s game because of hamstring injuries. Lee Tomlin has been nursing groin and pelvis injuries but could be fit. Alan Pardew says Crystal Palace midfielder Yohan Cabaye is 50-50 but skipper Mile Jedinak is fit to return. Dwight Gayle and Bakary Sako are definitely out, while Pardew also has other “additional injuries” that he wants to keep private while the players are assessed. Bournemouth have picked it up and are in really good form back to back wins against Chelsea and United as well as West brom at the weekend, they will fancy there chances. On the road Palace are a good side, they have collected 35 points on the road in 2015. Palace have also have taken 13 points from their last six matches, only Leicester have more. This is the first time that the sides have met in the league, it could be a good match but I am going to go with the home side.
Chelsea V Watford
Eden Hazard could return from a hip injury against Watford in Chelsea’s first outing under new interim manager Guus Hiddink. The Blues midfielder missed last weekend’s 3-1 win over Sunderland. Watford’s Chelsea loanee Nathan Ake is ineligible against his parent club so Ikechi Anya could return to the side. The Hornets will be without fellow defenders Tommie Hoban and Joel Ekstrand, who have groin and knee injuries respectively. Chelsea turned in a bit of performance last weekend, sort of showing that they didn’t want to play for Jose. Watford have been a good side this year, they have been winning and recently they have been scoring. They have won and kept a clean sheet in three of their last four home league games. This could be an interesting match it may be a high scoring game, some bookies are predicting Watford winning 7-1. I don’t think that this will happen but I think Watford could win this; the Sunderland may have been a fluke.
Liverpool V Leicester City
Liverpool are without defender Martin Skrtel for the first time this season in the league as he faces a six-week absence because of a torn hamstring. Dejan Lovren has recovered from a knee injury but goalkeeper Simon Mignolet (hamstring) could miss out again. Leicester defender Robert Huth is back after suspension and is likely to replace Marcin Wasilewski. Danny Drinkwater will not be rushed back from a hamstring injury and Jeff Schlupp is out with a similar problem. This could be a bit of a thigh rubber and it is a massive shame that it isn’t on TV. Liverpool and Klopp want to play on Leicester, high pressing and attack on the counter. Liverpool needs to win this match in order to say in contention of a top four spot. They have 12 points from nine league matches under Jurgen Klopp, the same as they managed in eight games with Brendan Rodgers in charge earlier in the season. Leicester are unbeaten in 10 games and have won 18 of their last 26 league fixtures, losing just twice. There is a likelihood that either side won’t get a clean sheet, but I think based on the form Leicester will win a struggling Liverpool.
Manchester City V Sunderland
Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany is expected to return against Sunderland after eight games out with a calf injury. Pablo Zabaleta and Fernando are also available after lay-offs, leaving Samir Nasri as the only major absentee. Sunderland defender Younes Kaboul is likely to be sidelined for several weeks because of a hamstring problem. Adam Matthews is out with damaged ankle ligaments and Jack Rodwell is suspended but Jeremain Lens returns to the squad. Without Kompany City have really struggled, losing 5 out of the 9. Sunderland have improved under Big Sam, and they were unlucky to face Chelsea at the moment that they did. Manchester City are unbeaten at home against Sunderland in the top flight for 13 matches spanning 34 years, winning 10, drawing three and scoring 36 goals, this is something that is likely to continue.
Swansea V West Bromwich Albion
Swansea winger Wayne Routledge has overcome the minor knee problem that sidelined him last week. Defender Angel Rangel sprained his ankle against West Ham but is fit to play on Saturday. West Brom will be without suspended pair James McClean and Salomon Rondon, who both begin three-match bans. Saido Berahino is pushing for a recall after six games on the substitutes’ bench, while Claudio Yacob is available following compassionate leave. Swansea have struggled this season, causing the manager to lose his job and a replacement still hasn’t been sourced. A win or lose could really shape the season for Swansea. West Brim will also be searching for a win in order to move themselves away from the bottom of the league, as they are winless in four matches. The other side haven’t got a much better record the Swans have gone seven home matches without a victory. This could be an interesting game with two struggling sides facing off, but I think the advantage may go to West Brom whose manager will be able to get the ready to fight for these points.
Tottenham Hotspur V Norwich City
Tottenham midfielder Ryan Mason is available to face Norwich after a four-week absence with an ankle injury. Danny Rose has overcome the illness that ruled him out last week but Clinton N’Jie will be sidelined for up to three months following knee surgery. Norwich defender Andre Wisdom remains a doubt because of the hamstring strain that caused him to miss the win at Manchester United. Matt Jarvis is not yet ready to return from a knee injury. Spurs have been in good form they bounced back from the loss to Newcastle with a flowing win against Southampton. But the question is which side will turn up. Norwich will be flying high after that super win over United, which wasn’t lucky; it was because they out played them. It will be insetting to see how Norwich handle Kane, if they keep him quiet they could draw this, get lucky not eh break they could win. Tottenham have lost just one of their last 16 Premier League matches, but they have drawn 8 of them.
Anyway till next time…