With Christmas intervening between the last round of games that finished only three days ago, many fantasy managers have struggled to cope with the pace of the festive-period fixture congestion. Happily, there is just one more calendar week until sanity and some degree of lineup predictability return. Here’s hoping you don’t get burned by rotation today.
After struggling early at home, Spurs have now settled in nicely at Wembley and are undefeated in their last 8 matches there. Tottenham also enjoy a very strong record on Boxing Day, not losing on this date since 2003. The congested festive schedule always brings rotation concerns, but one player sure to start today is Harry Kane. He is one goal short of the Premier League-era record for calendar-year scoring. Think he’ll show up hungry today?
Saints have lost five of their last six games at Spurs, and they’ve won only one of their last four matches played at Wembley in all competitions. Their prospects for today will be dented by the news that already-injured Charlie Austin has been handed a 3-match ban for doing this on Saturday:
With Cedric Soares and Ryan Bertrand injured, Virgil van Dijk apparently frozen out, and Harry Kane looking to set a scoring record, it’s hard to envision anything but a home win here.
After taking their turn as the latest side to be demolished by the clinical Citizens, Bournemouth are now winless in their last seven and dangle just one place clear of the drop.
West Ham’s home loss to Newcastle handed David Moyes his first defeat in 4 games at the helm and dropped them back into the relegation zone, just one point behind their opponents today.
Eddie Howe was forced to add Junior Stanislas to his already-crowded list of injury doubts that includes Jermain Defoe, Harry Arter, and Charlie Daniels. However, David Moyes will welcome Manuel Lanzini back to the squad after the Argentinian served his two-match ban for simulation.
Interestingly, although Bournemouth have never scored in a Premier League game on Boxing Day, a Cherry has scored a hat trick both times these two teams have met in EPL play. Do any of you even see Bournemouth’s team scoring three today, much less one of their players?
Chelsea were held scoreless against Everton on Saturday, so Antonio Conte will be delighted to welcome back Alvaro Morata from suspension. Even the incomparable Eden Hazard is diminished by the absence of Morata, whom Conte calls “our finisher.”
Brighton have only won twice on the road this season, and they’ve never beaten Chelsea in league play. Indeed, in all competitions, Brighton have only beaten Chelsea once in the club’s entire history. That was the first time the two teams met... in 1933.
Consequently I have to wonder if Chris Hughton will effectively concede this game and rest his stars for the crucial winnable games to come.
Huddersfield will be looking to climb into the top half of the table with a win today. David Wagner will put out a strong side then, including Jonas Lossl, who suffered a broken nose at the foot of Charlie Austin over the weekend.
Mark Hughes probably saved his job by defeating free-falling West Brom at home on Saturday, and he’ll now look to string together two wins in a row for Stoke for the first time this season.
The Terriers are unbeaten in league play on Boxing Day, while Stoke have won the day on four of their last six occasions. Head-to-head, Huddersfield are undefeated in their last five league matches against Stoke, with their last meeting a 0-0 third-tier draw in 2001.
Manchester United will be looking to bounce back after a gut-punch injury-time goal by Harry Maguire robbed them of full points at Leicester on Saturday. United haven’t lost a league game at home to Burnley since JFK was president, and they haven’t lost to anyone on Boxing Day day since 1978.
The normally stingy Clarets conceded 3 goals to a rampant Harry Kane on Saturday. They now arrive at Old Trafford with James Tarkowski still suspended and top-scorer Chris Wood an injury doubt. While only City and Chelsea have given up fewer away goals than Burnley this year, I see this match going United’s way today.
Defeated 1-0 at Brighton on Saturday, Watford have lost five of their last six and have now gone over a month without a victory. Key player Abdoulaye Doucoure returns from a one-game accumulation suspension, and Marvin Zeegelaar has also served his ban. But captain Troy Deeney remains suspended and will join a long list of injured players on the sidelines.
Leicester have won four of their last six, and stole a point at the death with a dramatic injury-time goal against United on Saturday. Amazingly, Daniel Amartey managed to pick up two yellow cards in just a 16 minute span after subbing on for the injury-stricken Danny Simpson, and is suspended today.
Leicester have won four of their last six against Watford, and have scored in each of their last 16 meetings. Both teams have poor Boxing Day records though, with Leicester victorious just once in eleven, and Watford is winless on this date.
These are two teams trending in opposite directions, and I’ll go with Leicester’s momentum. I see an away win here.
West Brom vs Everton
The 3-1 defeat at Stoke means that Alan Pardew remains winless in his five matches at West Brom. The Baggies remain stuck in 19th place, just one point off bottom.
The Toffees have experienced a much different trajectory under Sam Allardyce, who took one over at Everton one day after Pardew’s appointment at West Ham. Since Big Sam’s arrival, the Toffees have collected eleven points from five games and rocketed from 18th place to 9th. Wayne Rooney missed through illness on Saturday but should be in contention for today.
West Brom have now gone 17 league games without a victory. I think it will be 18 after today.
Liverpool is coming off Friday’s 3-3 gunfight with Arsenal. The extra day’s rest will be welcome, as the tight race for Champions League qualification means Jurgen Klopp will not be able to afford to keep many of his starters in reserve today. Jordan Henderson is one who will sit though, having done his hamstring over the weekend.
Leon Britton will oversee his second game for Swansea as player-manager, having drawn with Crystal Palace over the weekend. While Arsenal exposed Liverpool’s serious problems in defense, the Swans lack the firepower to put Pool to the same test. Indeed, they’ll do well to even keep this game close against Klopp’s swashbuckling attack.
Swansea won this fixture last season, but it is their only win in 16 visits to Anfield, and the Reds haven’t lost at home on Boxing Day since 1986. The last 9 meetings between these teams have generated 35 goals. I’m predicting that this game follows suit, with most of them for Liverpool today.
Will Harry Kane set the single-year scoring record today? Did you dare leave him out of your squad? Will Morata’s return reinvigorate Hazard? Will Mark Hughes be sacked if Stoke lose today? Come on in and let’s talk about it.