EPL Predictions & Team News 26 Dec 2013
Last updated on November 15th, 2015 at 12:08 pm
Men walking around in dodgy festive jumpers looking like extras from a Shakin’ Stevens video, England struggling Down Under in the Cricket and Liverpool top of the league at Christmas. It would be quite easy to think I’m talking about the 80’s but that is what is happening right here, right now in 2013!!
So Christmas is out the way, your Missus has had her way with the festive TV, but now it’s Boxing Day and it’s all about Sport. We’ve started the morning with the Cricket, then we have a full Premier League fixture list with three live games, as well as the King George at Kempton for those of you who like your Horse Racing.
Hull City v Manchester United – Wednesday 26 December 2013 – 1245Ko
Hull fans are probably relishing the chance of taking on United at this stage of the season. Who would have possibly thought that the points gap between the sides would only be eight going into this fixture?
But that is all it is, and Hull battled away for a good away point on Saturday at The Hawthorns but you do feel it is starting to click now for United, they’ve started to attack with a bit more purpose in recent weeks and looked comfortable last time out against a one-paced West Ham side.
Premier League Injuries: In a rarity for EPL football, Steve Bruce looks to name an unchanged side for the 4th successive game. United have doubts over Welbeck, but Carrick and Van Persie are nearing fitness.
Premier League Betting Prediction: 0-2
Sky Sports Fantasy Star Man: Wayne Rooney
Aston Villa v Crystal Palace – Wednesday 26 December 2013 – 1500KO
This is a game both sides will be targeting for a win. Villa are now dropping back down the table and will be looking over their shoulders after a third successive defeat against Stoke at the weekend. Whilst back to back defeats for Palace, and you have to wonder whether the momentum Tony Pulis brought into Selhurst Park is starting to evaporate.
Premier League Injury News: Benteke is receiving treatment back in Belguim, but Villa welcome back Agbonlahor from suspension. Westwood serves a one match ban for Villa as does Chamakh for Palace. Gayle should replace him.
Premier League Betting Prediction: 1-0
Sky Sports Fantasy Star Man: Gabby Agbonlahor
Cardiff City v Southampton – Saturday 26 December 2013 – 1500Ko
A short bloke, with high trousers, an acquired dress sense and dodgy sunglasses, I could almost be talking about my brother-in-law, but Vincent Tan has played the pantomime villain perfectly throughout December, right down to the leather gloves he has been sporting!
Somehow Malky Mackay remains in charge of Cardiff and the support he received from the travelling Bluebirds away at Anfield on Saturday morning was superb. In the first half you thought they were going to go the same way Spurs did, but they actually put in a decent second half performance and showed Liverpool do have a few frailties.
The Saints were also on TV at the weekend, in a great end to end fixture against Spurs. I don’t expect this one to be as open but Adam Lallana could easily pull the strings again.
Premier League Team News: Bo-Kyung is expected to start for Cardiff who are without talisman Craig Bellamy who still has a knee complaint. The Saints see their injury woes ease a little for this one with the possibility of Shaw, Davis, Clyne and Osvaldo all retuning to the starting XI.
Premier League Betting Prediction: 1-2
Sky Sports Fantasy Star Man: Adam Lallana
Chelsea v Swansea City – Saturday 26 December 2013 – 1500KO
Despite the appearance of Chelsea being a bit ragged at the moment, they’ve actually only lost one in the last seven in the league, and I’m sure if Mourinho would have taken being only two points off the top at Christmas at the start of the season he would have taken it. They will continue to grind out results at home, but it’s away where they will win or lose the title this year.
The Swans have had an up and down December so far with 5 points from 5 games and will be hoping to nick a point, but that will be even harder without Michu for the next few weeks, although he has been misfiring of late.
Premier League Injuries: The Chelsea squad could be fully utilised today with Cole returning at full-back whilst a number of others could be rested ahead of Saturdays fixture against Liverpool. As mentioned Michu has joined Dyer and Worm on the treatment table but Britton returns after a broken toe.
Premier League Betting Prediction: 2-0
Sky Sports Fantasy Star Man: Demba Ba
Everton v Sunderland – Wednesday 26 December 2013 – 1500KO
Manager of the season so far? Martinez has certainly got to be in with a great shout. 5th in the table, 2 points off the top and using the loan market brilliantly. Not to mention the Toffees are playing some fluent football, some of the most entertaining in the league. I think the water companies must be adding something to the water on Merseyside at present.
Sunderland find themselves bottom at Christmas. I’m sure the fans are already bored of the cliché!
Premier League Injury News: Despite knocks both Pienaar and Distin are expected to start. Everton are also boosted by the return of Leighton Baines. Sunderland are without the services of Wes Brown after his weekend dismissal but O’Shea should be passed fit.
Premier League Betting Prediction: 1-1
Sky Sports Fantasy Star Man: Emanuele Giaccherini
Newcastle v Stoke City – Wednesday 26 December 2013 – 1500KO
The Geordies are actually going about their business quietly and effectively at present. Without the pressures of playing in Europe and with a settled side they have won 6 of their last 8 EPL matches. Was appointing Joe Kinnear the key??!!
Stoke have also hauled themselves up the table and are unbeaten so far in December, picking up an impressive 8 points.
Premier League Team News: Guiterrez is a worry for Alan Pardew who is already without the services of Tiote. Adam is pushing for a place in Stoke’s starting line-up and Steven Ireland is available after not being able to play against his parent club at the weekend.
Premier League Betting Prediction: 1-1
Sky Sports Fantasy Star Man: Loic Remy
Norwich v Fulham – Wednesday 26 December 2013 – 1500Ko
The Canaries will be hoping to put the gap between themselves and relegation to 9 points today against a Fulham side who have just appointed Alan Curbishley as Technical Director for the first team. Who knows what that role entails, but at least it means he may not be linked to every managerial vacancy that appears like he has been since leaving West Ham 5 years ago.
Premier League Team News: Howson is a big doubt for the home side who do have Russell Martin fit again. Fulham will also check on Berbatov’s groin before their XI.
Premier League Betting Prediction: 1-2
Sky Sports Fantasy Star Man: Scott Parker
Tottenham v West Bromwich Albion – Wednesday 26 December 2013 – 1500KO
He comes from Boreham Wood, he made Spurs look quite good. I’m not sure many Spurs fans would have thought Tim Sherwood would have the job on a permanent basis, but Daniel Levy has given him the reigns and in both sides he has picked so far we’ve seen an attacking 4-4-2 and a rejuvenated Adebayor.
Keith Downing is still very much in the caretaker role for West Brom however, although he did manage to halt a 4 match losing streak last time out against Hull.
Premier League Injuries: The Spurs boss should be able to name Moussa Dembele in his side despite him limping off on Sunday at St Mary’s, and has no other new problems to contend with. Anichebe is out for The Baggies.
Premier League Betting Prediction: 3-0
Sky Sports Fantasy Star Man: Emmanuel Adebayor
West Ham v Arsenal – Wednesday 26 December 2013 – 1500Ko
The second of the live TV games today and at 3pm. It always seems slightly weird watching games when lots of others are going on elsewhere.
I can only see this one going the way of The Gunners, Chelsea went to The Emirates to do a job on Monday and West Ham will perhaps try the same tactics, however they were so poor against Manchester United, confidence will be very low.
Premier League Team News: James Tomkins is available for West Ham despite his altercation at the notorious Sugar Hut! What is it with West Ham defenders and going out at Christmas? Hayden Foxe anybody!! Nolan returns from suspension. Wilshere is suspended for The Gunners against the side he supported as a child, whilst Podolski and Bendtner could both be handed starts.
Premier League Betting Prediction: 1-4
Sky Sports Fantasy Star Man: Mezut Ozil
Manchester City v Liverpool – Wednesday 26 December 2013 – 1730Ko
What a way to finish of a Boxing Day feast, it’s just a shame Aguero isn’t fit as it would have been exciting to see both him and Suarez showing their skills on the same pitch.
City at home have been unplayable this season and with Suarez already 6 clear in the Golden Boot charts (with 19 goals) despite his enforced late start to the season, I’m expecting to see a few goals in this one.
Premier League Team News: Hart is expected to continue in goal for City who still have no recognised right back to choose from. Liverpool are still without Steve Gerrard and Flanagan is doubtful after straining a hamstring.
Premier League Betting Prediction: 3-2
Sky Sports Fantasy Star Man: Alvaro Negrado