We're looking to start off 2019 with a bang and continue the profitable run of our Premier League previews on New Year's Day.
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Everton v Leicester
Goodison Park, 1230 GMT, Sky Sports Main Event
It's been an odd festive period for these two sides.
Everton were hammered 6-2 by Tottenham at Goodison Park before following that up with a 5-1 victory over Burnley on Boxing Day. They were then beaten by Brighton last time out.
Leicester managed to secure unthinkable consecutive victories over Chelsea and Manchester City, only to go and lose to a Cardiff side who were yet to win away from home.
Everton are the favourites here but it won't be straightforward and rather than get bogged down by working out which way this may go it's best to turn to goalscorers instead.
When analysing the stats, I was quite surprised to see that Wilfred Ndidi leads the way for shots taken in this Leicester squad.
With a total of 37, you have to question how he only has one goal on his tally in the Premier League this season considering the ambition he possesses in trying to find the net.
Of those shots, 68% have come from outside the area. An Ndidi goal anytime is available at a general price of 11/2, but Sky Bet offer a huge 22/1 on him scoring from outside the box.
Given the probability that the majority of his shots will come from distance, and the fact that his goal against West Ham did come from further than 18 yards out, it's worth taking the 22s on offer and, win or lose, he's one to keep a close eye on going forward.
There is also value to be had in the shots on target market given that this is a televised game.
We're looking at Ndidi again, and Sky Bet offer 21/10 on the midfielder having at least one. He managed to hit that target in their away win over Chelsea, while he also had four shots in the away tie at Crystal Palace two weeks ago and two shots in the defeat to Cardiff.
Score prediction: Everton 1-1 Leicester (Sky Bet odds: 5/1)
- Everton have won four of their last five league matches against Leicester (L1); as many as they had won in their first 20 Premier League meetings before this (W4 D13 L3).
- Leicester have only won one of their 12 previous visits to Goodison Park in the Premier League (D7 L4), winning 3-2 in December 2015 during their title-winning campaign.
- Of fixtures to have been played 20+ times in Premier League history, Everton v Leicester has seen a higher percentage of their meetings finish as a draw (52% - 13/25) than any other matchup, although they haven’t played out a league stalemate since 2014-15.
- Everton have won just two of their last 12 league matches on New Year’s Day (D2 L8) and haven’t won at Goodison Park on that date since 1990 against Luton Town (D1 L3 at home since).
- Leicester have won four of their last five league matches on New Year’s Day (D1), scoring 15 goals across those five games.
- Everton are looking to avoid back-to-back Premier League defeats at Goodison Park for the first time since October 2017.
- After losing just four of their opening 16 Premier League matches this season, Everton have lost three of their last four in the competition.
- Leicester’s last five away Premier League games have seen just seven goals scored (F4 A3), with no side scoring more than once. One side had scored at least twice in their previous 12 league games on the road.
- Leicester striker Jamie Vardy has been directly involved in six goals in his seven Premier League appearances against Everton, scoring four and assisting a further two.
- Everton’s Richarlison has been directly involved in five goals in his last five Premier League games at Goodison Park (4 goals, 1 assist).
Arsenal v Fulham
Emirates Stadium, 1500 GMT
Arsenal will be looking to bounce back from an embarrassing defeat to Liverpool at Anfield, while Fulham are aiming to upset the odds as they continue to battle to avoid the drop.
The Gunners boast one of the best home records in the Premier League having only been defeated once in front of their own supporters, while Fulham's two points from a possible 30 gives them the worst record on the road.
This is set to be a difficult afternoon again for the Cottagers and they will likely leave empty-handed, but piling into Arsenal at short odds comes with risks - just how will they respond to such a setback?
Discipline has been a bit of an issue for Fulham away from home and that's where the value is in this one.
In particular, while Aleksandar Mitrovic is better known for his goals, the 9/4 available on the Serbian striker to be shown a card in this contest is well worth taking.
Mitrovic has four yellows to his name already this season, three of which have come away from home. Three of those games were defeats and all four came in the second-half. He's simply the sort of character who can be frustrated into a card when things aren't going his way.
The expected nature of this game could also spell trouble for Cyrus Christie, with the wide man expecting a busy afternoon down Fulham's right-hand side.
He sits in the top six in this Fulham side for fouls committed and has picked up cards in consecutive games, bringing his tally up to three for the season.
Christie should feature for the majority of the game and at a best price of 7/2, it's worth backing him to join Mitrovic in the referee's book.
Score prediction: Arsenal 3-1 Fulham (Sky Bet odds: 9/1)
Best bet: Cyrus Christie to be shown a card at 7/2
- Arsenal have never previously lost at home to Fulham in any competition, winning 23 and drawing five of their 28 home matches against the Cottagers prior to this match.
- Fulham’s only league victory over Arsenal in their last 12 such encounters was in January 2012 (W1 D4 L7), a 2-1 win at Craven Cottage under Martin Jol.
- Fulham manager Claudio Ranieri has never won a Premier League match against Arsenal in 10 previous attempts (D4 L6); he has a worse points-per-game ratio against the Gunners (0.40) than he does versus any other opponent in the competition.
- Arsenal are unbeaten in their last 22 home league matches against newly promoted opposition (W19 D3) since losing 1-0 to Newcastle United in November 2010.
- In all competitions, Fulham have lost 11 of their last 14 away matches (W1 D2), though their one win did come in London against Millwall in the League Cup in September.
- Arsenal have won all five of their home Premier League games on New Year’s Day – their last top-flight defeat at home on that day came in 1985 against Spurs at Highbury.
- Claudio Ranieri’s last Premier League match on New Year’s Day was also away at Arsenal in 2003, when he was Chelsea manager – a 2-3 defeat.
- Since losing to Watford in January 2017, Arsenal have won 25 of their 26 home Premier League matches against non-‘big six’ sides, drawing the other against Wolves.
- Arsenal conceded 14 league goals during December 2018 – their most in a calendar month since April 1979 (15 conceded).
- Fulham are looking to keep consecutive Premier League clean sheets in the same season for the first time since February 2013.
Cardiff v Tottenham
Cardiff City Stadium, 1730 GMT, Sky Sports Main Event
Cardiff will have gained confidence in their battle against the drop by picking up all three points at Leicester, but they face another tricky test against a quality Tottenham side who are looking to put Saturday's shock defeat to Wolves behind them.
Mauricio Pochettino's men remain in the title race, but it's unlikely we'll see them lifting the Premier League trophy at Wembley/the new Tottenham Megadome in May with Liverpool and Manchester City probably still a step or two ahead of them.
Neil Warnock continues to say the pressure is firmly off his side at the other end of the table. As he puts it, there are bigger sides around them that will be more worried about staying up than they are. As ever, there's a degree of grandstanding but also an element of truth in that and they might see this as a free roll.
Given their struggles on the road, Cardiff's home form has to improve if they are to retain their top-flight status next season. They've won four of their ten at the Cardiff City Stadium and that puts them in the bottom-seven in the home standings.
If they are to improve then Victor Camarasa, who scored the winning goal at the King Power Stadium last weekend, could be a key player over the coming months.
He sits third in the charts for shots taken in this Cardiff side with 27, with only Josh Murphy and Callum Paterson ahead. Sky Bet have Camarasa at 9/4 to have at least one shot on target in this game, which represents terrific value while he's high on confidence.
Cardiff may expect to be on the back foot for large parts of the game, but as they have demonstrated already against the likes of Wolves, Manchester United and Arsenal, they will get chances playing in front of their own supporters.
Score prediction: Cardiff 1-2 Tottenham (Sky Bet odds: 15/2)
- Cardiff have lost all three of their Premier League meetings with Tottenham by a 0-1 scoreline.
- Tottenham are unbeaten in their last seven league clashes with Cardiff City (W5 D2) since losing 2-3 in March 1961.
- Cardiff City manager Neil Warnock has faced Tottenham in a home Premier League match only once before; his Sheffield United team beat Martin Jol’s Spurs side 2-1 at Bramall Lane in February 2007.
- Spurs have won their last five Premier League matches on New Year’s Day since losing 1-2 away at Aston Villa in 2008.
- Cardiff have won eight of their 11 home matches in the top four tiers of English football on New Year’s Day (D2) – their only defeat was in 1992, losing 0-5 to Maidstone United.
- Spurs striker Harry Kane has been involved in six goals in his last two Premier League games on New Year’s Day (4 goals, 2 assists); only two players – Andy Cole and Steven Gerrard (5) – have scored more goals on January 1st in the Premier League than Kane’s four.
- Neil Warnock has lost 10 of his 14 league matches played on New Year’s Day (W2 D2), with his defeats coming with six different clubs – Scarborough, Notts County, Huddersfield Town, Sheffield United, QPR and current side Cardiff.
- Cardiff haven’t kept three consecutive clean sheets in the top-flight since April 1957.
- Harry Kane has scored 15 goals in his last 11 away Premier League matches against newly promoted teams for Spurs.
- Cardiff have lost their last 14 Premier League matches against the ‘big six’ sides, conceding 45 goals across those matches, with 22 of those goals conceded coming in their six defeats this season.
Odds correct as of 1715 GMT on 30/12/18