Newcastle is currently in 18th place, 2 points away from safety and hosting the Manchester United team that keeps dropping in standings. For anyone that has watched Steve McClaren's team play, the Magpies have shown some decent football but the missed opportunities and defensive errors (the Arsenal game is a prime example) have cost them dearly. Georginio Wijnaldum's FA Cup howler against Watford was painful to watch as has his recent performance after a 4 goal haul against Norwich, but I am keeping faith for this week and think he will get on a score sheet against the Red Devils. Also, of interest is the fact that Newcastle's last 7 competitive matches seen them concede 6 goals, including games against Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham and Everton, or less than one goal a game. Something to think about before loading heavily on United offensive players.
For a team that failed to score in their last three league games, Bournemouth recently splashed a lot of cash - around £10 million - for a 22 year old Wolverhampton striker Benik Afobe, and £7 million to resign Lewis Grabban from the relegation rivals Norwich City. Their competitors, West Ham United have copped brilliantly in the absence of key injured players due to the , but the Hammers' form away from home is not very encouraging, having scored just 3 league away goals since October 31, 0-2 defeat at Watford. Both teams are coming into the Tuesday clash in good form: Bournemouth have only lost one of their last eight league games while West Ham are unbeaten in their last seven league matches. With Dimitry Payet likely getting his first start after the injury and Afobe replacing the chance-wasteful Joshua King, expect this game to be a firecracker.
January and February are THE absolute must win months for Aston Villa before the schedule turns nearly impossible for the Villans in March. While Connor Wickham is back, Yannick Bolasie is still missing for a Crystal Palace team that has had recent trouble scoring. Nonetheless, Alan Pardew's men have the best away defensive record in the Premier League only losing twice on their travels (conceding just seven goals in their nine away games this season), while Remy Garde mens' winless run now stands at 19 games. Something has to give. I like the youth in this one, with two Jordan's - Ayew and Veretout - delivering the goods and finally getting Villa into the double digit points.