- Manchester City host Leicester as both teams look to close gap to Liverpool
- Arsenal travel to Merseyside to face Everton
- Jose Mourinho faces his former player Frank Lampard at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
The Premier League Christmas schedule begins properly on Matchday 18. Nine fixtures take place across December 21st and 22nd as teams ready themselves for the challenge of three matches in a handful of days over Boxing Day and New Year.
Saturday’s action sees a clash between two teams in the process of appointing new managers. Arsenal are set to confirm the hiring of former player Mikel Arteta before their trip to Goodison Park to face an Everton side who are appointing former double-winning manager Carlo Ancelotti as the permanent replacement for Marco Silva. Ancelotti was recently sacked by Napoli.
Liverpool are in Club World Cup action so are not playing this game week. Their two closest challengers for the title, Manchester City and Leicester, meet at the Etihad Stadium. The late kick-off on Sunday sees Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham host Frank Lampard’s Chelsea.
Premier League Matchday 18 Odds
|Everton||pk, -0.5 (-103)||+135||O 3 (-112)|
|Arsenal||pk, +0.5 (-123)||+179||U 3 (-108)|
|Aston Villa||pk, -0.5 (+107)||+138||O 2.5 (-120)|
|Southampton||pk, +0.5 (-127)||+188||U 2.5 (+100)|
|Bournemouth||pk, -0.5 (-104)||+144||O 2.5 (-114)|
|Burnley||pk, +0.5 (-124)||+189||U 2.5 (-106)|
|Brighton||pk, -0.5 (-115)||+125||O 2, 2.5 (-114)|
|Sheffield United||pk, +0.5 (-105)||+215||U 2, 2.5 (-106)|
|Newcastle||pk, -0.5 (+104)||+144||O 2 (-120)|
|Crystal Palace||pk, +0.5 (-124)||+205||U 2 (+100)|
|Norwich||+0.5 (-110)||+270||O 2.5, 3 (+100)|
|Wolves||-0.5 (-110)||-110||U 2.5, 3 (-120)|
|Manchester City||-1, -1.5 (-124)||-256||O 3, 3.5 (-111)|
|Leicester City||+1, +1.5 (+104)||+620||U 3, 3.5 (-109)|
|Watford||+0.5, +1 (-119)||+340||O 2.5 (-120)|
|Manchester United||-0.5, -1 (-101)||-112||U 2.5 (-101)|
|Tottenham||pk, -0.5 (+107)||+148||O 3 (-109)|
|Chelsea||pk, +0.5 (-127)||+174||U 3 (-111)|
Odds taken Dec. 19
EPL Pick 1: Everton vs Arsenal
Two great results for Duncan Ferguson and a difficult spell for Freddie Ljungberg combines to leave Arsenal just four points ahead of Everton. Ferguson is expected to lead the Toffees on Saturday lunchtime, while Mikel Arteta may make his managerial debut against his former club. The Spaniard is an unknown quantity as a manager, and he arrives into a daunting situation.
The Gunners have taken seven points from their last nine Premier League matches. Sokratis, Kieran Tierney, Hector Bellerin and Rob Holding are all unavailable, and Sead Kolasinac is a doubt. Arteta has some difficult decisions to make in defense, and he could choose to bring Alexandre Lacazette back into the eleven after the Frenchman dropped out of favor under Ljungberg.
? “My philosophy will be clear. I will have everyone 120% committed, that’s the first thing. If not, you don’t play for me. When it’s time to work it’s time to work, that commitment is vital.”
-Mikel Arteta pic.twitter.com/RDvPVQvcWb
— PurelyFootball UK (@PurelyFootball) December 19, 2019
Everton have their own selection issues with a lot of first-team players unavailable. Ferguson may have Djibril Sidibe and Gylfi Sigurdsson back after illness, but his options are limited. It will be interesting to see if Moise Kean makes the matchday squad after Ferguson’s questionable substitution last weekend.
Goals are to be expected here. Both defenses are vulnerable and it should be a very open match.
Pick: Over 3.5 total goals, both teams to score (+161)
EPL Pick 2: Manchester City vs Leicester
With Liverpool in Qatar, Leicester have a chance to close the gap at the top. The Foxes are ten points behind Jurgen Klopp’s side. Manchester City, meanwhile, will remain in third regardless of the result at the Etihad on Saturday – they are currently 14 points behind Liverpool and require a record-breaking turnaround in the second half of the season if they are to defend their Premier League crown.
? "Alexa, what is a bagsman?" pic.twitter.com/iWKCafVUq2
— Leicester City (@LCFC) December 19, 2019
Brendan Rodgers saw his side’s winning run come to an end against Norwich last weekend. Leicester then drew with Everton in midweek before knocking the Toffees out of the Carabao Cup on penalties. Their form has taken a slight dip, but there’s no doubt they pose a serious threat to a Manchester City side that has been vulnerable against counter-attacking teams. Leicester lead the league in goals from counters.
This match has the makings of a thriller. Rodgers will likely leave Kelechi Iheanacho out to get an extra body in midfield, but this should still be a very entertaining encounter with plenty of goals. Premier League leading scorer Jamie Vardy could have a lot of fun against this City defense.
Pick: Jamie Vardy to score (+160)
EPL Pick 3: Tottenham vs Chelsea
Tottenham were 14th and 12 points behind Chelsea when Jose Mourinho was appointed. Victory for Spurs on Sunday will see the north London club swap places with Chelsea and move into the top four. The Blues have lost four of their last five in the league and Spurs have won four of five. Frank Lampard’s record against the top clubs has been criticized and this would be the perfect time for Chelsea’s all-time leading scorer to get his first win against one of the ‘big six’.
— CFC Babble (@CFCbabble) December 14, 2019
Mourinho has quickly made it clear how he’s going to set his Spurs side up. Dele Alli has thrived since Mourinho arrived and Eric Dier has been installed at the base of the midfield. Chelsea’s defense has been shaky throughout the campaign – their midfield will need to be wary of Alli’s runs from deep.
Despite poor results, Chelsea are still creating plenty of chances. The Blues are a good bet to find the net on Sunday, though it might not be enough to avoid defeat against an in-form Spurs side.
Pick: Spurs to win, over 2.5 total goals (+210)