Welbeck to wow; Palace party
We've previewed all 10 matches in the Barclays Premier League on New Year's Day and back Danny Welbeck to strike.
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Crystal Palace's improving form also makes them a good betting proposition, according to our experts.
Nick Hext and Ian Ogg are the men giving their opinion - check out their full game-by-game verdict:
Much has been made of the Citizens' away record and three wins and two draws from nine games is, indeed, a modest return for a squad with their talent. The Liberty Stadium has hardly been a fortress for Swansea, however, and they have claimed maximum points on just two occasions, beating Newcastle and Sunderland. Up against the top sides, they drew with Liverpool but lost to United, Arsenal and Everton. City can follow suit at a perfectly fair 8/13 with the Etihad Stadium outfit's Premier League record at Swansea leaving no doubt in mind. They have lost 1-0 and drawn 0-0 in their two previous encounters in south Wales but the signs are encouraging that they have begun to conquer their away-day woes - they are undefeated in five games on the road which have included four victories. Admittedly Sky Bet Championship side Leicester and out-of-form West Bromwich Albion and Fulham feature among them but, so too, do Bayern Munich and for those who do want to side with City, the even money giving up a goal on the Asian handicaps makes some appeal. Clean sheets have been a problem for Manuel Pellegrini's side and that's reflected in the general 4/7 about both sides to score and in the over/under markets. Swansea have often been slow starters at home before the game opens up in the second half and it's worth considering the odds against about the second 45 minutes featuring the most goals but there doesn't really seem to be any sense in over-complicating this fixture with the visitors class expected to see them prevail.
Verdict: Swansea 1 Manchester City 3 (IO)
Manchester City have kept five clean sheets in their last six league meetings with Swansea.
City need two goals in this game to match the best goal total recorded by a Premier League team after 20 games (56 which they themselves set in 2011/12).
Jesus Navas has made three assists and scored one goal in his last four Premier League appearances.
Swansea took only 39 points from 37 Premier League games in 2013. They won 55 from 39 games in 2012.
I don't want to surprise any of you too much but I reckon Arsenal will win this match. The Gunners are back at the Premier League summit after Sunday's 1-0 win at Newcastle and results over the course of the last 12 months put them as the top-flight side to have accumulated the most points. That is a record to be proud of but sadly the Gunners don't get a trophy to end their famous drought. This clash with off-field headline makers Cardiff should be simple enough and there is one man I want in my corner at the Emirates. That man has labelled himself as 'one of the best strikers in the world' so Nicklas Bendtner certainly doesn't lack confidence. We all know Olivier Giroud has been the main man in attack for the Gunners this term but now appears to be a good chance for Bendtner to get a start. The Dane took advantage the last time he was named in the first XI by netting the opener in the 2-0 victory over Hull at the start of December. He is 11/2 to strike first again and that is my selection with the Gunners not worth backing to run riot. There have only been 16 goals from Arsene Wenger's men in nine Premier League home games this season with the 4-1 success against Norwich the pick of the wins. Cardiff are waiting for a new manager's era and nothing in their recent form suggests a shock is on the cards.
Verdict: Arsenal 2 Cardiff 0 (NH)
Arsenal are unbeaten in the last 12 matches in all competitions against Cardiff, winning seven and drawing five.
Arsenal have only scored 16 times in nine Premier League home games this season.
Arsenal's substitutes have provided four assists this season, more than any other team.
Cardiff are unbeaten in three league trips to Arsenal (W1 D2), though the most recent of these came back in 1962.
Tony Pulis has already gone a long way to achieving the impossible in steering Palace to four wins in their last eight games and dragging them out of the relegation places. They did lose on Saturday but emerged from their 1-0 defeat at Manchester City with their reputation enhanced having caused the hosts a few problems and they should go into this crucial clash full of confidence. In contrast, there were boos at Norwich when Chris Hughton withdrew Gary Hooper (as a precautionary measure due to an injury) and it seems as though not all the Canaries are singing from the same hymnsheet. If Hooper fails to recover, that will be a big blow to the visiting team in a fixture where goals will be at a premium with Palace having managed just five at home and City six on their travels. Norwich's survival in the top flight has been built on their home form at Carrow Road (they played well in defeat against Manchester United at the weekend) and it appears as though they will have to do the same again if they are to survive the drop, although they have picked up four points from visits to West Brom and Sunderland on their last two away-days. That suggests that they won't go down without a fight but they've picked up just two points from their last four games at Selhurst Park and could be leaving empty handed again with Pulis' men full of confidence. Prices around the 4/6 mark for under 2.5 goals look banker material while the braver are sure to be tempted by odds circa 2/1 for under 1.5 goals and a 1-0 win for the home side can be backed at 15/2. Palace are tempting 8/11 shots in the draw-no-bet market and they should be capable of seeing off poor travellers Norwich at a tasty 7/5.
Verdict: Crystal Palace 1 Norwich 0 (IO)
Crystal Palace are unbeaten in 13 home league meetings with Norwich (W9 D4).
Crystal Palace (9) only gained two points fewer than league leaders Arsenal (11) in December.
Norwich have made more goalline clearances than any other side (8) in the Premier League this season.
Norwich have won only two of their last 23 Premier League away games in London (D6 L15).
The last four fixtures between these sides at Craven Cottage have produced 16 goals (and two wins apiece) with the Hammers providing eight of those. What Sam Allardyce would give for such a free-scoring side in these 'striker free' days (with all due respect to Carlton Cole, of course) while Fulham need to bounce back from a hammering at the hands of the previously goal-shy Hull City. It would take a braver man than I to predict another glut of goals in this fixture with the Irons proving resolute on the road, netting six times and conceding 12 while Fulham's respective goals columns read six and 11 at home. Fulham aren't great at the Cottage any more, the Hammers aren't great away and it's hard to believe that this fixture between two of the bottom three will be a great spectacle. This is a game I'd rather sit back and watch (just metaphorically, of course) although backing both sides to score at 4/6 makes a modicum of appeal in a game both sides will see as a 'must win'. The Cottagers have actually scored in every home fixture this season while keeping two clean sheets against Stoke and Aston Villa but Allardyce's outfit arguably offer more threat than that pair at the moment and the Fulham defence must be low on confidence after their mauling by the Tigers.
Verdict: Fulham 1 West Ham 1 (IO)
Fulham didn't manage a single shot on target against West Ham in the reverse fixture in November.
Fulham have conceded 11 goals in London derbies this season - more than any other side.
Carlton Cole has scored seven goals in his last nine Premier League games against Fulham.
West Ham have one point fewer (15) than they did at this point in 2010/11 (16) when they were last relegated from the Premier League.
This is a big game for Liverpool after two defeats over the festive period saw them fall from first to fifth in the standings. That is a reflection of just how tight the battle at the top is and there were positives for the Reds to take from the fruitless away trips to Manchester City and Chelsea. A few debatable decisions from officials - in the case of one offside call against Raheem Sterling at the Etihad not debatable at all - have frustrated Brendan Rodgers but there isn't much between his improving side and the other contenders. Their last defeat prior to Boxing Day came against Hull on the first day of December and it's the Tigers making the trip to Anfield on the first day of 2014. Steve Bruce's men couldn't be any happier after a 6-0 win over Fulham on Saturday and they only just came up short against Manchester United on Boxing Day. Form on the road has improved as well with two draws from their last two trips and I think the men from the KC Stadium have what it takes to push Liverpool. Certainly 3/10 about the home win is far too short to get involved with despite the good times enjoyed at Anfield so far this season. The way to profit is to back both teams to score. That bet was a winner in five of Liverpool's last six games at home - all wins, coming against Crystal Palace (3-1), West Brom (4-1), Fulham (4-0), Norwich (5-1), West Ham (4-1) and Cardiff (3-1) - and this match is against a Hull outfit that have netted eight goals in their last two games. Overall, expect three points for Liverpool but only after a tough afternoon's work.
Verdict: Liverpool 2 Hull 1 (NH)
Liverpool have won seven and lost none of eight previous home games against Hull in all competitions, scoring at least twice on every occasion.
Liverpool have scored at least three goals in each of their last six Premier League home games.
Liverpool have hit the woodwork 16 times this season, twice as often as any other side.
Hull have played seven Premier League games in January and not won any of them (D3 L4).
This has all the makings of a really interesting contest at St Mary's. Southampton have been raking in the praise this season but have hit a rocky patch recently with just one win in their previous eight games. One of those defeats came against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge as the Blues recovered from Jay Rodriguez's strike after just 13 seconds to win 3-1. That goal turned out to be Saints' only effort on target so Jose Mourinho's side didn't have cause to panic following the early shock. Chelsea picked up seven points from three games between December 23 and 29 to enter this match right in the heat of the title race. They are just two points behind leaders Arsenal and know there will still be plenty to battle for after the break for the third round of the FA Cup at the weekend. Mourinho will make use of his star-packed squad on New Year's Day so it's best to wait until the team is named before looking at potential goalscorers from his ranks. Rodriguez though is the man to back from a Southampton perspective with five goals in his last seven Premier League games. There are certainly worse bets about than the 7/2 for him to net again. I don't expect too many goals though in this match and neither side should be too unhappy with a draw. That makes it the most likely outcome but far from a certainty in a match that is well worth watching.
Verdict: Southampton 1 Chelsea 1 (NH)
Southampton have only won one of their last nine Barclays Premier League games against Chelsea (D3 L5), but that was in this fixture last season.
The Saints have lost only one of their last six Premier League home games against sides from London (W3 D2).
Jose Mourinho has made more substitutions than any other Premier League manager this season (57).
The end of 2013 was far from the most wonderful time of the year for Stoke. A 5-1 Boxing Day thrashing at Newcastle as Glenn Whelan, Marc Wilson and manager Mark Hughes all saw red was followed by a convincing 3-0 defeat against Tottenham on Sunday. A return to the Britannia Stadium is definitely welcome with a decent home record of four wins, four draws and one defeat from nine Premier League matches so far this season. Aston Villa and Chelsea both departed the Potteries with nothing in December so Everton need to be on their game at the start of 2014. The Toffees ended 2013 with a 2-1 win against Southampton at Goodison and they have also been strong on their travels. A run of three wins - coming against Aston Villa, Manchester United and Swansea - and two draws - at Arsenal and Crystal Palace - is very impressive so you can understand why the visitors start as the 11/10 favourites in Staffordshire. That though is a touch harsh on Stoke and there is a case to be made for backing the Potters to win at 3/1. Don't expect much to choose between the sides and the draw may well prove to be the best way to go. Also watch out for in-form Toffees full-back Seamus Coleman with three goals in his last four games. There is 9/1 to be had if you back the Irishman to strike again.
Verdict: Stoke 1 Everton 1 (NH)
Stoke have only won two of their last 16 league games against Everton (D5 L9).
Stoke have won seven points in 11 Premier League games this season against sides currently in the top 12 places of the table (W1 D4 L6).
Everton (9) are the only Premier League team to have conceded fewer than 10 goals away from home this season.
Everton have scored inside the last 20 minutes in eight of their last 11 Premier League games.
Sunderland are unbeaten in five (league and cup) and will fancy their chances of getting all three points against relegation rivals Aston Villa, who lost four on the bounce before their 1-1 draw with Swansea. Villa are badly missing the goals of Christian Benteke who is struggling for fitness and form, with the likes of Libor Kozak, Gabriel Agbonlahor and Andreas Weimann failing to find the net on a regular basis. Playing away from home suits Villa as they're released from the grumbles and gripes of the Villa Park crowd while the pace of Agbonlahor is always likely to stretch opponents if they commit too many men forward. Villa have won two and drawn one of their last four games on Wearside and there's something to be said for the 6/4 draw-no-bet available on visitors who, after all, have garnered six more points than their rivals and have picked up 12 of their tally on the road. Can we trust them to deliver though? The answer to that is probably no, especially considering their recent poor form, while Sunderland, who have momentum behind them, don't convince sufficiently to side with at a fraction of odds against. In away games at Norwich, Hull and West Ham, Villa scored one goal (in total) without reply and this could be a similarly low-scoring encounter, but there's not enough confidence in the consistency of either side to play the unders at odds-on.
Verdict: Sunderland 1 Aston Villa 1 (IO)
Sunderland are the only team in the bottom eight not to have won a game against a fellow side currently in that section of the Premier League table.
Sunderland lead the Premier League this season in both own goals (5) and red cards (5).
Cardiff (4) were the only Premier League team to score fewer goals than Aston Villa (5) in December.
No Aston Villa manager has overseen a Premier League clean sheet in January since Gerard Houllier in 2011.
Newcastle must be feeling pretty good about life at the turn of the year. The Magpies are sitting eighth in the Premier League - higher than most pre-season predictions - and playing some very nice football in the process. Loic Remy, Yoan Gouffran and Yohan Cabaye are among the most impressive performers and the St James' Park outfit will fancy their chances of a three-point haul at The Hawthorns. West Brom are currently on the longest run without a win in the top flight with nine games having come and gone since beating Crystal Palace 2-0 on November 2. There have been positives during Keith Downing's caretaker reign with three draws from three matches but wins are now what are required to lift spirits. The Baggies are 8/5 favourites to start 2014 with three points but I wouldn't go near that given their poor recent run. Getting with the 2/1 for Newcastle to bag the victory gives much more appeal but there has been inconsistency from Alan Pardew's men on the road. The wins at Tottenham, Manchester United and Crystal Palace would please any club but losing 3-0 against Swansea and 2-1 v bottom-of-the-table Sunderland shows bad days do happen. This may well be one of the good days for the Magpies if West Brom's fortunes don't turn.
Verdict: West Brom 1 Newcastle 2 (NH)
In the last 11 league meetings between Newcastle and West Brom, neither side has kept a clean sheet.
West Brom have conceded in each of their last nine league games, only two sides (Palace and Sunderland) have recorded runs of 10 games this season.
Newcastle are yet to draw a Premier League away match this season (W5 L4).
If the Premier League season had started in November then Newcastle would be second, behind Manchester City.
New Year's Day in the Premier League ends with this cracking clash at Old Trafford and it may well turn out to be the best of the lot. Manchester United are on the charge with six wins in a row in all competitions getting them quickly back in business after successive home defeats to Everton and Newcastle. The star of the latest victory was Danny Welbeck. The striker netted the only goal of the game at Norwich on Saturday after being introduced from the bench at half time. David Moyes said Welbeck's performance "changed the game" and it's hard to see him missing out on a place in the starting XI for this match. His recent record makes impressive reading with four goals in five games, including netting first in three of those matches. You can get 21/10 for Welbeck to find the back of the net again but I feel adventurous and will back him to open the scoring. The match between these sides at the start of December ended in a 2-2 draw and more goals are on the menu here. Tottenham have won one, drawn one and lost one of their last three games and that gives a nice understanding of their inconsistency. Tim Sherwood is now in charge on a full-time basis and it has been full steam ahead with attacking football in the early stages of his tenure. United can take advantage of any freedom they get but don't expect Spurs to fall to defeat quietly.
Verdict: Manchester United 3 Tottenham 2 (NH)
Manchester United scored two goals from three shots on target in their reverse fixture against Spurs this season.
Tottenham have won just one of the last 25 Premier League matches against Manchester United (W1 D7 L17).
Tottenham have won more penalties than any other Premier League team this season (four- all scored by Roberto Soldado).
However, Manchester United have now gone 76 Premier League games without conceding a penalty (equivalent to two whole seasons).