AFC Bournemouth vs Everton
Eddie Howe still looks like a Christmas choirboy despite knowing full well his team are in a fully blown relegation battle. It doesn’t get any easier for Bournemouth as there is nothing Big Sam likes more, apart from maybe a pint of wine and a cigar, than shutting out teams that think they play nice football. Bournemouth certainly fit into that category, though Simon Francis’ “challenge” during the week suggests they might be prepared to rough it up a bit too. Considering West Ham managed to score three against Bournemouth there is every chance that Sam might look at this one and opt for just seven or eight men behind the ball at any one time. If Bournemouth lose this they can pretty much guarantee that 2018 will be the year they depart the top flight.
AFC Bournemouth 0 – 1 Everton
Chelsea vs Stoke City
For a team in the top three, there really is nothing to say about Chelsea. Unless Antonio Conte is on the verge of walking out or telling strikers via text that they are never going to play for the club again it is all a bit a boring at Stamford Bridge. Christ, since John Terry left there is no guaranteed scandal. It’s all a bit meh and so is the football. As for Stoke City, Mark Hughes does a very good indignant face when asked about his future every week. Sparky talks as if he is a manager that has done really well as a Premier League manager when, really, he has not. He didn’t win the title at Manchester City when he had plenty to spend, he felt he was too good for Fulham and his time at Stoke when it ends at some point this season won’t be remembered too fondly. And please don’t mention QPR whatever you do. Nope, Sparky is purely existing in the Premier League right now, taking up a seat that someone far better could be making better use of.
Chelsea 2 – 0 Stoke City
Huddersfield Town vs Burnley
Two decent sides these – and you wouldn’t have been expecting anyone to say that before the season got underway. Huddersfield Town have given themselves a great chance of staying up and Burnley will probably consider a Europa League campaign a good thing, unlike many of their rivals who think they could do without the hassle. This could be a cracker of a match as Huddersfield will go at Burnley and Burnley cannot really go away to Huddersfield and not try to win seeing that they nearly took all three points from Old Trafford.
Huddersfield Town 2 – 2 Burnley
Liverpool vs Leicester City
A little thought for the day – considering you could probably buy Southampton FC, stadium and all, for about £250m why do Liverpool insist in paying all that cash for their players? Just buy the bloody club and be done with it. Virgil Van Dyck won’t be able to play until the New Year so every Liverpool centre-back will now be playing for their future and yes, that includes you Dejan Lovren. If I was Jamie Vardy, I’d be licking my lips at the prospect of hitting Liverpool on the counter. If Wes Morgan et al can keep the Fab Four or Top Trump Three at bay then there could be a shock on the cards here.
Liverpool 1 – 2 Leicester City
Newcastle United vs Brighton & Hove Albion
Rafa Benitez has been hailed a tactical genius for leading Newcastle to a memorable 1-0 defeat to Manchester City this week. That’s right, just losing by one to City is now considered a miracle, particularly when you have a Championship squad to pick from. Brighton, even if they lose at St James’ Park, will look back on 2017 with a lot of pride and it would be good to see them avoid defeat in the last game of the year. They, like Huddersfield, have given themselves a very good chance of staying up this season and as we all know, Chris Hughton is one of the nicest guys around so that would be, well, nice wouldn’t it?
Newcastle United 1 – 1 Brighton & Hove Albion
Watford vs Swansea City
Allow me to go all Paul Merson for a moment – but if a 52-year-old English manager lost his job in the Championship do you think he’d be rocking up as Swansea City’s new manager? No, probably not otherwise they’d have called Nigel Adkins or someone like that. That said, Carlos Carvalhal does have a good reputation and might just be the wild card that could keep Swansea in the league. Marco Silva will have been as shocked as the rest of us to see Watford actually win their last match as they aren’t supposed to do any of that for at least a few more weeks. Who knows what could happen in this match.
Watford 1 – 1 Swansea City
Manchester United vs Southampton
Has anyone checked in on Jose since the news that Liverpool were spending as much on VVD as Jose splashed out on Romelu? Someone should, because Jose is very worried about the amounts others are allowed to spend compared to the miserly amount of pocket money Ed Woodward gives him. The more I think about it, the more it feels Pep is at the wrong team in Manchester. United always played the memorable football (or at least history cons us into believing that under Sir Matt Busby and Sir Alex Ferguson that United’s football was the best you’d ever seen). But it still feels wrong to see this slow tempo, dull fare that is getting served up time and time again by Jose especially given the fact he does have a few decent players. I’m a bit down on United right now, if you were unable to tell. Not as down as I am on Southampton though! What a shower they are right now. It’s being widely thought it was “good” that they held out on VVD over the summer. Why? If they’d taken the money that was on the table then they could have bought a striker, a midfielder and probably a decent replacement at centre back and maybe, shock, not be as terrible as they are right now. It’s not as if the Dutchman has even played that well for them in the few games he graced them with his presence.
Manchester United 2 – 0 Southampton
Crystal Palace vs Manchester City
A tip to Palace. Stop leaving it to the last minute to mount the glorious comeback. Try doing it a bit earlier in the game. Roy Hodgson’s team had been unbeaten in eight before the Arsenal loss and it looks like they will be winless in two after this one. That said, what better way to get rid of Iceland as the last main event on your CV? Go on Roy!
West Bromwich Albion vs Arsenal
If Jack Wilshere can take Crystal Palace apart, he can sure as hell do the same to West Bromwich Albion. Arsene will overtake Sir Alex for games managed in the Premier League in this game where he will be up against a manager who has probably managed about 200 games too many in the top flight. Arsenal win, Pardew’s pain to continue.