That’s right, Christmas!!!
The festive period is upon us and with games a plenty we will do our best to keep you updated throughout the holidays. Though the format may change a little with a massive 19 Premier League games in 5 days. It would have been a full house of 20 had smug Bob Crow not cancelled London’s underground service on Boxing Day and delaying West Hams visit to Arsenal until the end of January.
Anyone who listened to me last week will be the cat that got the cream after I bagged 7 out of 9 predictions. As I sit here writing this piece with a smug smile similar to the one Ian Hislop has every week on Have I Got News For You.
Anyway, enough of me trying to come over like an 80s comedian, Oops bit of politics! Let’s get down to business with team news and then my Premier League Predictions at the bottom!.
United are flying despite appearing to defend like my old Sunday Morning side at times. If they manage to match their first half of the season in 2013 the Premiership title is theirs. Van Persie is looking like the signing of the season and Vidic is back from injury. it just gets better for the reds!
Christmas Manchester United Team News: Hamstring injuries could keep Carrick and Evans out over the festive period.
Festive Manchester United Dream Team Star Man: Robin Van Persie
Roberto Mancini is under a bit of pressure now after crashing out of Champions League in the group stages and already lagging 6 points behind their city rivals. You feel he may have to win the FA Cup and close that gap to survive the summer.
Christmas Manchester City Team News: Nasri, Kolorov and Kompany are all on the comeback trail and will feature in at least one of the two upcoming games.
Festive Dream Team Star Man: Sergio Aguero
Can they close a double digit gap to the top of the table? If not, it really is going to be a dull second half of the season apart from the two domestic cups. At least it gives Roman time to line up his next manager.
Christmas Chelsea Team News: John Terry is fit again after his long lay-off but Mikel misses the Villa game through suspension.
Festive Chelsea Dream Team Star Man: Juan Mata
Although sitting 4th, the position which was their minimum aim at the start of the season, they seem to be missing something, perhaps the returning Scott Parker will solidify a team which not only leaks goals, but can’t keep hold of a lead. It will be interesting to see if AVB can shift Daniel Levy’s last minute transfer buying policy in January.
Christmas Tottenham Team News: Gareth Bale has recovered from his hamstring injury and Scott Parker is now fit to start a fixture. Dawson is also back, however Adebayor may not be risked in the first game after he went off last week with a hamstring problem.
Festive Tottenham Dream Team Star Man: Gareth Bale
Now if I was a lame tabloid newspaper with space to fill over the Christmas period, I would probably fill space by reporting on Arsenal’s season, so far it’s a C- Must do better! But hopefully you know me better than to stoop to that sort of level….
Arsenal fans will be pleased by the contract renewals this week of Ox, Jenkinson, Gibbs and Wilshere, probably not so much Aaron Ramsey!!
Christmas Arsenal Team News: Arsene Wenger has received an early present this year as he has no new injuries and a few players including Santos could be back soon.
Festive Arsenal Dream Team Star Man: Jack Wilshere
Everton are in the top six at Christmas, if Davie Moyes can get The Toffees to have their usual second half of the season, perhaps Champions League football may be on the horizon; however Felliani is suspended for the whole Christmas period, and right after that the transfer window opens. Call me a cynic, but Chelsea will need a defensive midfielder before a few players go off to the African Nations and Felliani has recently said he considers himself a defensive rather than attacking midfielder… Watch this space…
Christmas Everton Team News: Felliani is suspended until the New Year, whilst Everton will also be missing a host of players such as Neville, Hibbert and Mirallas.
Festive Everton Dream Team Star Man: Leighton Baines
West Bromwich Albion
7th place, what an achievement! That really does sound patronising but The Baggies organised counter attacking plan has really worked well. Things haven’t been quite so bright recently, with 4 games and no goals. Hopefully Steve Clarke will come up with a plan B, and they can continue moving on upwards.
Christmas West Bromwich Albion Team News: Ben Foster is fit to return in goal, whilst Yacob and Ridgewell may feature at some point.
Festive West Bromwich Albion Dream Team Star Man: Shane Long
If I was dishing out manager of the 2012, Chris Hughton would be straight on my shortlist. Under difficult circumstances he did an outstanding job in the Midlands before moving over to East Anglia on what some people described as a hiding to nothing after Paul Lamberts successful first season in the EPL.
However, after a terrible start The Canaries are on a ten match unbeaten run in the League (only matched by Barcelona in the whole of Europe) and have only lost once all season at home. If they can add some firepower in January who knows where this season could go.
Christmas Norwich Team News: Grant Holt is doubtful for Saturday, but better news that loanee prospect Harry Kane is fit to start, and scored a few goals in midweek for the reserves.
Festive Norwich Dream Team Star Man: Karl (Anthony) Pilkington
Another team who have slid into the top half of the table on the blindside after appearing to draw every game this season. Stoke are a little different this time around and appear to be playing a little less direct. Itt was also good to hear of Ryan Shawcross being involved in a violent conduct charge last week where he was the victim for a change!
Christmas Stoke Team News: No new problems for The Potters.
Festive Stoke Dream Team Star Man: Asmir Begovic
Defend deep, invite teams on you and then hit them on the counter. It is a risky tactic that has served The Swans well this season, and I’m sure they would have bitten your hand off if you said they would sit in the top half of the table after 17 games. My one big fear is if Michu’s goals dry up, as I’m not sure where else they will come from.
Christmas Swansea Team News: Vorn could return in goal for The Swans who also hope to welcome back Angel Rangel. Michu is fit despite his collision at White Hart Lane last weekend.
Festive Swansea Dream Team Star Man: Michu
West Ham United
Big Sam should be commended on the job he has done so far this season, another 15 points should see the Hammers safe, and to their credit they have defended very with clean sheets aplenty. Collins and Reid typify this attitude and seem to put their bodies on the line week in, week out with the amount of blocks they get in. They spread the goals around amongst the team but if they can get Carlton Cole or Andy Carroll regularly finding the back of the net, they could finish in the top half of the table.
Christmas West Ham United Team News: West Ham will have a number of players patched up for the Everton game, but the weeks rest before the fixture may help them get bodies back after only being able to name 6 subs last weekend.
Festive West Ham United Dream Team Star Man: James Collins
As a man who grew up in the Home Counties in the 80s, I know a lot of Liverpool fans, but for some reason none of the next generation seem to support them. No idea why that is!! Brendan Rodgers has had an indifferent start to the season and is another manager who needs added firepower in the transfer window.
Christmas Liverpool Team News: No new problems for the Reds, who hope to welcome back Sahin from his facial injury.
Festive Liverpool Dream Team Star Man: Luis Suarez
If you look up the word inconsistency in the Oxford Dictionary, the words Craven Cottage may appear! At times they’ve looked great, especially when Berby is on song, but at others, just plain awful! Brede Hangeland sums this up more than most, bullied by Andy Carroll, out skilled by Taarabt but at other times he has looked like Bobby Moore.
Christmas Fulham Team News: Steve Sidwell serves a one match ban, but its grim news with Riether only rated as 50/50.
Festive Fulham Dream Team Star Man: Dimitar Berbatov
I’ve given them quite a bit of stick this season, but to be fair, Paul Lambert has turned it around recently and his young team has looked a lot better in recent weeks. If Christian Benteke can keep scoring they shouldn’t have many problems staying up this year.
Christmas Aston Villa Team News: Ron Vlaar is still a doubt for The Villa, but Gabby Agbonlahor should return from injury.
Festive Aston VillaDream Team Star Man: Christian Benteke
If you think of 2012, you will probably think the Toon Army have had a good year, finishing 6th in the EPL, playing European football again, tying their management team down to 7 year deals and most importantly for the fans, they can call the ground St James again. However they will be looking down more than up for the rest of this season and with rumours of Demba Ba fleeing a sinking ship, it could get a lot worse.
Christmas Newcastle Team News: Newcastle still have massive injury problems, but the good news (some may say indifferent) is that Obertan should play apart soon.
Festive Newcastle Dream Team Star Man: Papiss Cisse
Another team who need to buck their ideas up, they’ve spent big in recent seasons and handed out some hefty salaries with not much in return. Martin O’Neill is going to have to justify his salary now, and get the team to dig in.
Christmas Sunderland Team News: Fletcher and Rose should return after being subbed recently with knocks but Cattermole faces another month on the sidelines.
Festive Sunderland Dream Team Star Man: Seb Larsson
They’ve looked a lot better recently and this is shown in the current form table; only one loss in 6 is impressive for a team fighting relegation. If they can manage to keep the individual howlers out of their repertoire they have a punchers chance of surviving this year.
Christmas Southampton Team News: The Saints had a massive blow in the week that captain Lallana is out for a while.
Festive Southampton Dream Team Star Man: Rickie Lambert
Now, I know I’m meant to be your all seeing eye when it comes to football, but I was surprised to see Wigan back in the bottom three. I think my judgement may have been clouded after back to back wins over West Ham and Spurs earlier in the season… I guess they will need a second half of the season like the one they produced last year to get out now.
Christmas Wigan Team News: Ramis should be back to sort out the Wigan defence, and James McCarthy should also escape the treatment table.
Festive WiganDream Team Star Man: Ivan Ramis
Well, 3 weeks ago they were as good as gone, but ‘Arry is unbeaten since he has came in and they’ve looked a lot better at the back from set pieces recently. Taarabt is going to be so important in the coming weeks before he buggers off to the African Cup of Nations.
Christmas QPR Team News: No new problems for The R’s
Festive QPR Dream Team Star Man: Adel Taarabt
Christmas Reading Team News: Danny Guthrie has put his personal disagreements behind him and could feature. Jem Karacan should also return.
Festive Reading Dream Team Star Man: Adam Le Fondre
Premier League Christmas Predictions
Saturday 22 December 2012
Wigan v Arsenal – 0-3
Man City v Reading – 2-1
Newcastle v QPR – 1-1
Southampton v Sunderland 2-1
Tottenham v Stoke 2-1
West Brom v Norwich – 1-1
West Ham v Everton – 1-0
Liverpool v Fulham – 3-1
Sunday 23 December 2012
Swansea v Man Utd – 1-3
Chelsea v Aston Villa – 2-0
Wednesday 26 December 2012 – Boxing Day
Everton v Wigan – 1-1
Fulham v Southampton – 2-1
Man Utd v Southampton – 3-1
Norwich v Chelsea – 1-2
QPR v West Brom – 2-0
Reading v Swansea – 1-0
Sunderland v Man City – 1-2
Aston Villa v Tottenham 2-1
Stoke v Liverpool – 1-1
There we have it, the weeks Christmas Premier League all wrapped up and ready to be put under your tree! Stay tuned on twitter for updates as we go, and have a great Christmas!!