Here are Dan’s festive predictions for Wednesday and Thursday and it is the last game of the first half of the season. There always seem to be a few shocks as fatigue and injuries take their toll, and Dan has made some pretty brave choices. See what you think….
Boxing Day 12.30
Fulham 2-1 Wolves
There were actually many things Wolves did well against Liverpool, making more chances then most have done against the leaders. I have long felt though that they struggle to motivate themselves for this type of game. It’s like they show up believing in their own hype and don’t fight enough. Fulham need these points more. A clean sheet at Newcastle is something to build on. They need to find positives where possible
Burnley 1-0 Everton
It’s an English tradition to have lots of football at this time of the year. That can be a problem when you have had the humiliation that Everton have had. Two days is not going to be enough to recover from that, the last thing they want is an away trip against opposition which will be in your face. Sean Dyche will suddenly see this as the perfect time to welcome the Toffees to Turf Moor.
Crystal Palace 1-0 Cardiff
Palace have the individual talent to produce results like they did at the Etihad. What frustrates their fans is their consistency. Having beaten the champions, it wouldn’t surprise you if they struggled to see off a newly promoted side. There will be a feel-good factor at Selhurst Park after their famous win but also even more of an expectation to celebrate Xmas with three points. A different kind of mental challenge.
Leicester 1-1 Man City
So, who would have thought we get to Boxing Day with the Champions under serious pressure? Despite everyone calling them one of the best ever sides this country has seen, they suddenly can’t afford to blink before Liverpool do. Both kick off at the same time with the leaders having the easier game on paper. I still think Pep has the best squad, but he will be worried that the few times his men have fallen behind, they seem to panic. After Palace maybe more teams will be inclined to have ago at City and not just park the bus.
Liverpool 4-0 Newcastle
If Liverpool could have picked any game, it would be this one. They know Newcastle will come to Anfield and park the bus not having the self-belief to attack. News of how City are getting on will only further motivate everyone. The Kop is awesome when things are going well, and I can see them blowing the Toon away.
Man United 3-0 Huddersfield
Any coincidence that Jose leaves and suddenly Manchester United are recording their biggest win of the season, out running the opposition for the first time as well. It’s too easy to say that proves the players were not playing for the Portuguese. But maybe it’s as simple as talented individuals being allowed to play exciting football? The Xmas Fixture list is kind to Solskjaer and suddenly I can see them winning games with a few goals, you know like Man United should be doing.
Spurs 4-0 Bournemouth
Hate to say it but Spurs completed one of the most impressive 90 minutes of the season at Everton. Not many sides will make the mistake that Marco Silva did in terms of saying you play we play. Eddie Howe will though. He won’t sacrifice his footballing principles even after what his scouts would have witnessed at Goodison. The Cherries will play into the home side’s hands.
Brighton 2-1 Arsenal
The type of game we would have shown up to in the last campaign and not have had the right attitude. I’m worried in the last couple of weeks old habits are creeping in. Big names are going missing while others are losing confidence, in general we are looking tired and our manager is making some odd choices. We need to battle Brighton, earn the right to play and then take it from there. I hope I’m wrong!
Watford 2-1 Chelsea
Nightmare game for Chelsea. They will kick off last, possibly having lost their place in the top 4 and having to make up lost ground. That should be enough incentive for their attitudes to be focused but Watford are playing so well at the moment they might see this as a good time to have this derby.
Saints 3-1 West Ham
It sounds so obvious but the main thing the new Southampton boss has changed his the players are working harder.
After a few days in training he noticed they simply were not fit enough so is now working them hard at a point where traditionally you rest after games. That they were getting away without giving their maximum under Mark Hughes shows the Welshmen’s lack of time on the training field and a lack of understanding of what his men needed.