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Week 20 Pre-Deadline Chat + Stats & Trends

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With 2015 underway for many of us, let's focus on getting our first team of the New Year finalized before the Week 20 Deadline. Here's some info that might help you make your final decisions.

Will Southampton remain in the Top 4 on New Year's Day, or will Arsenal overtake them?
Will Southampton remain in the Top 4 on New Year's Day, or will Arsenal overtake them?
Michael Steele/Getty Images

Stoke City v. Manchester United

  • The Red Devils are undefeated in their last 9 Premier League matches this season
  • Stoke have scored in 4 of the last 6 League encounters against United
  • A Michael Carrick own goal and Charlie Adam strike gave Stoke a 2-1 win in this fixture last season
  • Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney have each scored 3 goals in their last 5 matches against Stoke

United have been in excellent form, but Stoke have proven to be giant killers this season. Don't expect a clean sheet for either side in this one, though a low-scoring encounter seems likely. If you have Rooney or RVP at discount, you may want to keep hold for the time being.

Queens Park Rangers v. Swansea City

  • The last time these two sides met at Loftus Road resulted in a 5-0 Swansea away win in 2012
  • 9 of Charlie Austin's 12 League goals this season have been scored at home
  • Before the 4-1 defeat against Liverpool, Swansea had only allowed 19 goals against in 18 games
  • Harry Redknapp's side are undefeated in their last 6 home games (4 W, 2 D)

Charlie Austin's goalscoring form at home makes him a good option at striker this weekend, though another multi-goal loss seems unlikely for the Swans. This could also be your last chance to field Wilfried Bony for the next month as he will leave to take part in the African Cup of Nations.

Southampton v. Arsenal

  • 4 of the last 5 fixtures between these two clubs has been a draw or decided by one goal
  • Neither team has scored more than 2 goals in a match against the other in their last 5 meetings
  • Theo Walcott could make his first start of the season with Olivier Giroud out and Danny Welbeck doubtful
  • Graziano Pelle has scored 7 of his 8 Premier League goals this season at St. Mary's

This fixture should be a cracker given the close results between these two teams recently, as well as their current positions in the league table. Alexis Sanchez has been less effective when leading the line for the Gunners, but should still be a solid option.

West Ham United v. West Bromwich Albion

  • There have been a combined 20 goals scored in the last six meetings, including a scoreless draw
  • Caretaker manager Rob Kelly takes over West Brom after three consecutive league defeats
  • West Ham won the previous fixture this season 2-1 on the road at The Hawthorns
  • West Brom have conceded an average of 14 shots per game on their travels this season

This looks like a home banker for the Hammers, but we've all seen what can happen after a club sacks their manager. I'm still looking to West Ham for a win and potential clean sheet, so Stewart Downing, Aaron Cresswell and Andy Carroll are all in my thoughts for the weekend.

Newcastle v. Burnley

  • Alan Pardew will not be on the sidelines as manager, with John Carver stepping in as caretaker
  • Burnley could escape the relegation zone with a point or more against Newcastle
  • A 1-1 draw was the result when these teams faced off at Turf Moor earlier in the season
  • Newcastle have won 5 of their last 6 home matches in the Premier League

I'm not sure what effect Pardew's absence will have on the players, but the fans will certainly be in full voice behind their team. Burnley will be on an emotional high following their thrilling comeback against Man City, though, so I see goals for both sides in this one and will be avoiding the popular Jak Alnwick.

Manchester City v. Sunderland

  • Sunderland have kept a clean sheet in each of their last 4 away matches in the League
  • Manchester City have scored at least 2 goals in each of their last 6 home encounters against the Black Cats
  • David Silva has scored in each of his last 3 Premier League appearances
  • Costel Pantilimon, Jack Rodwell and Adam Johnson could all face their former club

Wow...I didn't realize how strong City's home form was against Sunderland given the Black Cats' reputation as their bogey team. City seems to be capable of putting in big performances regardless of who is on the pitch.

Aston Villa v. Crystal Palace

  • Crystal Palace have not won a Premier League match since before Thanksgiving
  • The past 5 meetings between these sides have resulted in 2 wins and a draw for each team
  • Aston VIlla have earned at least a point in their last 4 home matches
  • The Eagles have failed to score in 5 of their previous 7 matches on the road

This looks like an even match on paper, though the Eagles' struggles recently may have to wait until Alan Pardew takes the reigns. Missing their captain, Mile Jedinak, I'm expecting a tough time for Palace in this one.

Hull City v. Everton

  • Everton have lost 3 consecutive Premier League matches for the first time under Roberto Martinez
  • Hull have conceded at least 2 goals in each of their last 4 home matches against the Toffees
  • Nikica Jelavic has recovered from injury in time to face off against his former club
  • Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman could be utilized as wingbacks in a 3-5-2 formation

It surely can't be 4 straight losses for Everton, right? With Tim Howard missing and doubts surrounding many of the Merseyside club's defensive ranks, perhaps Hull can right the ship and get back to winning ways.

Liverpool v. Leicester CIty

  • Liverpool have lost just one match in their past 5 fixtures, while the Foxes have won just once
  • Following his brace against Swansea, Adam Lallana is now joint-top scorer for the Reds this season
  • Leicester's leading goalscorer, Leonardo Ulloa, has recovered from a minor knock and is set to start
  • Liverpool are averaging nearly 20 shots per game at Anfield this season, but only 7% have gone in

Despite Leicester's victory in their last match, I can't see them making it two in a row at Anfield, particularly after Liverpool's impressive display against Swansea. Brendan Rodgers finally seems to have found a formation and tactical setup that is working for his side, and I see another win here.

Tottenham Hotspur v. Chelsea

  • Spurs have not beaten Chelsea in their previous 6 encounters in the Premier League (2D, 4L)
  • Chelsea have drawn 3 and lost 1 of their last 6 fixtures away from Stamford Bridge
  • Mauricio Pochettino's men have not lost since their last meeting with Chelsea on December 3
  • Christian Eriksen has scored 5 League goals at home this season (Harry Kane has only scored 1)

Chelsea have experienced most of their trouble this season away from home, and given Tottenham's form it won't be an easy fixture for the Blues. However, Jose Mourinho has got his side settled and has managed to get the core group through the majority of the busy period without issue, so I think the League leaders will continue with another three points.

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Has the information above altered your plans at all? I'm certainly considering bringing in more Manchester City players given their home form against Sunderland, and possibly looking to Aston Villa to keep a clean sheet against a struggling Crystal Palace front line (though Ken's suggestion to do "the Ledley" has me questioning that decision.

How are your teams shaping up? What are your predictions for New Year's Day? Let's chat!