Saturday, April 21, 2018

Premier League Preview- Matchday 18

Deke Hardman in Editorial, English Premier League 26 Dec 2015

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal will be desperate to return to winning ways as his side travel to Stoke City.

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal will be desperate to return to winning ways as his side travel to Stoke City.

All twenty Premier League teams are in action on Boxing Day, with Stoke City and Manchester United getting proceedings underway at the Britannia Stadium at lunchtime.

Stoke go in to the game as underdogs despite the woeful form of their opponents, who slipped out of the top four as they extended their winless run to six games in all competitions with defeat at home to Norwich City last weekend.

The Canaries will hope to use that shock result at Old Trafford as a springboard as they look to climb further away from trouble, though they have a tough task as they take on a Tottenham Hotspur side fresh from replacing Louis van Gaal’s side in the Champions League qualification places.

Chasing pack

Title favourites Manchester City will look to bounce back from Monday evening’s defeat at the Emirates Stadium as they host second from bottom Sunderland, who have lost all three of their games so far in what is a tough December for Sam Allardyce’s side.

Arsenal begin Boxing Day just two points off the top, and will hope to at the very least close that gap as they take on out-of-form Southampton, who are without a win in six with leaders Leicester City travel to a Liverpool side who themselves are looking to return to winning ways after taking just one point from the last nine available to them.

Hiddink returns

Guus Hiddink begins his second spell in charge of Chelsea with a home game against in form Watford who remarkably go in to the game just a point off the top four after an incredible run which has seen them win their last four games.

Meanwhile, the Blues sit just points above the bottom three with almost half the season played though their win over Sunderland last time out did close the gap between them and the top four to eleven points.

Bottom of the table Aston Villa take their search for a first league win since the opening day of the campaign to West Ham United, who remain just four points behind the top four despite not winning in six, though five of those games have ended in draws including three straight 0-0’s, the latest of which came at managerless Swansea City last time out.

Swansea sinking

The South Wales side, who host West Bromwich Albion, sit in the relegation zone after a horrendous run of form though they are just two points behind Bournemouth in fourteenth.

There promises to be a good game in store on the South Coast as the Cherries take on Crystal Palace with both sides currently exceeding expectations while the remaining game sees upwardly mobile Newcastle United take on Everton, with Romelu Lukaku looking to continue his remarkable goal-scoring run which currently sees him just four short of Jamie Vardy’s record of scoring in consecutive Premier League games.

With both Manchester United and Liverpool struggling for form just now, my bet of the day is the Stoke/ Leicester double which can be backed at a generous price of just over 12/1.


Deke Hardman

Freelance football writer with a love of the game that goes back to the mid nineties when both his beloved Nottingham Forest and England had genuine hope of acheiving some level of success. A regular contributor to both and, Deke also dabbles in music journalism with his heart and head still stuck in the latter years of the twentieth century.



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