Paul Hgham runs through a bumper card of football fixtures on New Year's Day and has four best bets to get your 2020 off to a winning start.
For details of advised bookmakers and each-way terms, visit our transparent tipping record
Arsenal v Man Utd
- 8pm BT Sport 1
It's not the first time this season we've asked if Man Utd have got their act together after a couple of wins, and they're still a tough team to trust away from home as they visit an Arsenal side that played well for the most part against Chelsea, but had individual errors to blame for losing.
A worry for the hosts is that United set up perfectly for the counter-attack and Arsenal have been wide open throughout the season - Mikel Arteta will know this but sorting it out is a different story. There were definitely positive signs against Chelsea though, and if they can replicate that and cut out the mistakes then they could be on to something here.
With doubts around both, perhaps the draw is the way to go, but there is a strong fancy for goals to come in this game and the hosts in particular should get a couple - you just wouldn't want to bet on them keeping them out at the other end.
Prediction: Arsenal 2-2 Man Utd (Sky Bet odds: 11/1)
Bet bet: Arsenal to score 2+ goals at 11/10
Key Opta stats
- Arsenal are unbeaten in their last three Premier League meetings against Man Utd (W1 D2) – they’ve not gone four without defeat against them since February 1999 (W3 D1).
- When playing their first league game of a calendar year at home, Arsenal haven’t lost since 1985 (1-2 vs Tottenham), winning 13 and drawing eight since.
- No team has won more Premier League games on New Year’s Day than Arsenal (9).
- Manchester United have won their first league game in each of the last four calendar years. Their last such defeat came in 2014 at home to Spurs (1-2).
Man City v Everton
- 5.30pm BT Sport 1
Carlo Ancelotti's side arrive as huge 10/1 shots to win at the Etihad, but they've not been playing like such underdogs since Marco Silva left, and make no mistake they'll give City all they can handle if they can keep up their levels of attacking energy and defensive discipline.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin has come alive of late and his endless running power and strength is exactly what you need to unsettle City's shaky rearguard, so while it's hard to see the Toffees winning it's quite easy to see them scoring against the champions. City have been making noises that they've given up on the title, but Pep Guardiola will never stand for anything less than maximum effort so don't expect them to take it lightly in their first game of 2020.
Everton are improving and while still not enough to match City at their best, they should have some joy going forward and have enough quality about them to get on the scoresheet.
Prediction: Man City 3-1 Everton (Sky Bet odds: 9/1)
Key Opta stats
- Man City have won their last four Premier League games against Everton – they’ve never won five in a row against the Toffees in the top-flight.
- Manchester City have lost only three of their last 32 Premier League home games (W27 D2 L3), although two of those losses have come in their last seven at the Etihad (W5 L2). However, Man City have won 52 of their 67 Premier League home games under Pep Guardiola – more than any other Premier League team since the start of 2016-17.
- Carlo Ancelotti is looking to become only the second Everton manager to win each of his first three Premier League games in charge of the club, after Joe Royle in 1994. However, in the Italian’s previous stint in England, he lost more league games vs Man City than against any other side (3).
- Everton striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored five Premier League goals in December 2019, the most by a Toffees player in a single month since Romelu Lukaku scored five in February 2017.
Norwich v Crystal Palace
- 5.30pm BT Sport ESPN
The form guide for both of these makes for tough reading as even when Norwich put good performances together they're only enough for draws, albeit against Leicester, Spurs and Arsenal. They're good points, but draws won't be enough to keep them up and losing to teams around them as they have been doing is killing their survival hopes.
Away-day specialists Palace have in fact won more points at home this term and on their travels they've managed just nine goals - but goals have been plentiful at Carrow Road this season with nine out of Norwich's 10 games seeing at least three scored.
Palace are experts at not getting drawn into a shootout though and they've got enough top-flight experience to produce the sort of trademark away performance that we've become used to over the last couple of seasons.
Prediction: Norwich 1-2 Crystal Palace (Sky Bet odds: 10/1)
Best bet: Crystal Palace to beat Norwich at 2/1
Key Opta stats
- Having been unbeaten in their first eight Premier League games against Crystal Palace (W4 D4), Norwich have lost each of their last three against the Eagles in the top-flight.
- Crystal Palace have won three of their last four away league games against Norwich (L1), as many as they had in their previous 15 visits to Carrow Road (W3 D6 L6).
- Norwich have conceded at least twice in each of their last nine Premier League home games, the second longest ever such run in the competition after Wolves in April 2012 (11).
West Ham v Bournemouth
- 5.30pm BT Sport 2
This game was a last-man-standing affair before Manuel Pellegrini got sacked and now David Moyes can come in and get the famed 'new manager bounce', which merely means that the players who had downed tools will now suddenly be busting a gut to impress their new boss.
Bournemouth beat Chelsea and drew with Arsenal and yet the atmosphere around the club just doesn't feel right - they've got three wins and ten goals away from home this season and with the undoubted talent the Hammers have in their squad, this looks like being a typical first game under a new boss when all will seem right with the world.
Prediction: West Ham 2-1 Bournemouth (Sky Bet odds: 15/2)
Best bet: West Ham to beat Bournemouth at Evens
Key Opta stats
- Bournemouth haven’t won their first league game in a calendar year since 2012 (2-0 vs Wycombe), though six of their subsequent seven games have ended level (L1).
- West Ham have lost their last four home Premier League games, their worst run since January 2006 (also four defeats in a row). They haven’t lost five home league games in a row since April 1931.
- Since winning back to back games against Everton and Southampton, Bournemouth have won just 10 points in the Premier League (W2 D4 L8) – only Norwich (7) and West Ham (8) have won fewer points over this period.
- Among all permanent West Ham managers in the Premier League, only Avram Grant (18.9%) and Gianfranco Zola (27.8%) have a lower win rate at the club than returning boss David Moyes (29.6%).
Brighton v Chelsea
- 12.30 BT Sport 1
Just as when you dive in for the last few Celebrations in the tub at this time of year, you never really know what you’re going to get with Chelsea recently. You may get an impressive win at Spurs (Galaxy caramel) or home defeats to Bournemouth and Southampton (both a Bounty) and that’s a real worry as they take on a lively Brighton.
Graham Potter’s men are handy at home having won four of the last seven at the Amex, each time scoring the first goal of the game - which will again be key to their prospects of an upset here.
Chelsea were lucky to win at Arsenal last time out and now this trip is tricky enough to avoid taking odds-on on the away win. No games have averaged more goals than Chelsea away games and only one league trip has seen a clean sheet, so expect goals to kick-off 2020 in the Premier League with both sides expected to contribute.
Prediction: Brighton 1-2 Chelsea (Sky Bet odds: 8/1)
Key Opta stats
- Brighton’s only victory in any competition against Chelsea came in the FA Cup in January 1933 (2-1) – since then they’ve drawn one and lost 11 of their 12 meetings.
- Chelsea have won all nine of their league meetings with Brighton – the best such 100% record in English football league history.
- Brighton have only lost their first league game of a calendar year in one of the last 10 years (W6 D3), going down 0-1 at home to Wolves on New Year’s Day in 2016.
- Chelsea have won seven of their last nine away Premier League games (L2) – only Liverpool (25) have more away points than the Blues this season (21).
Burnley v Aston Villa
- 12.30 BT Sport 2
Again the Christmas leftovers theme continues as two off-colour Clarets clash at Turf Moor with both needing perking up a bit going into 2020. Villa have just one win in seven, while Burnley have managed to win just one more from the same period. Villa have only won at Norwich so far while Sean Dyche's side have a 50-50 record at home, several of their five defeats having come against top opposition.
Burnley's remarkable formula for success and failure has remained intact over Christmas - if they concede a goal they simply can't win, as all seven of their victories have come with clean sheet, and that will be the basis of their game plan against Villa, who were soundly beaten at Watford last time out.
Burnley haven't drawn at home yet this season. In some respects this would look like a prime candidate to break that duck but there's not enough confidence about Villa's play to suggest they can hold out for a point. This should be a cagey, nervy affair with few goals - and three points for the hosts.
Prediction: Burnley 2-0 Aston Villa (Sky Bet odds: 8/1)
Key Opta stats
- Burnley have lost just one of their last 11 league meetings with Aston Villa (W5 D5), losing 2-5 at Villa Park in February 2010.
- Aston Villa haven’t won any of their last 14 away games against Burnley in all competitions (D6 L8) since a 2-0 victory in the FA Cup in March 1959.
- Aston Villa have picked up just seven points from their last 28 away Premier League matches (W1 D4 L23), with five different managers overseeing matches in that time (Sherwood, MacDonald, Garde, Black and Smith).
- Burnley have lost just one of their last 18 Premier League matches against teams starting the day in the relegation zone (W9 D8), a 2-4 defeat at Fulham in August 2018.
Newcastle v Leicester
- 3pm BT Sport 2
Three defeats in four has just seen the wheels start to come off after a positive run for Steve Bruce, and one of the sides he wouldn't want to see now is Leicester, who were able to overcome nine changes and still win at West Ham last time. Brendan Rodgers' Foxes responded well to tough defeats to Man City and Liverpool and are clearly still the best of the rest.
With the Foxes able to bring back their big guns and Newcastle looking tired against Everton, it's an away win banker to add to your New Year's Day coupon, but for an individual bet we're looking at the returning Jamie Vardy who is back after welcoming a new addition to the family.
Yes, there are a few bags under the eyes but the 'Nappy Factor' can work for us here and you can almost see him doing the 'sucking the thumb' or 'Bebeto baby rocking' celebration after bagging one of the goals at St James' Park.
Prediction: Newcastle 0-2 Leicester (Sky Bet odds: 6/1)
Key Opta stats
- Newcastle have lost their last three Premier League home games against Leicester, as many as they had in their previous 22 against the Foxes at St James’ Park in the top-flight (W13 D6 L3).
- Leicester won the reverse fixture against Newcastle 5-0, their joint-biggest margin of victory against the Magpies in the top-flight (also 6-1 in January 1930). The only previous Premier League season that Leicester did the double over Newcastle was their title winning campaign of 2015-16.
- Newcastle have won their first league game of a calendar year in just one of the last seven years (D1 L5), beating Stoke 1-0 on New Year’s Day in 2018.
- Leicester haven’t lost their first league game of a calendar year since 2008 (1-3 vs QPR in the Championship), winning seven and drawing four since then. The Foxes have also won five of their last six league games on New Year’s Day (D1).
Southampton v Tottenham
- 3pm BT Sport 1
Similar to Chelsea, Tottenham are a box of chocolates side as well with all kinds of performances coming both before and since Jose Mourinho took over, with about their only consistent facet being they almost always concede. They've shipped 17 since Mourinho took charge and nobody in the league has kept fewer clean sheets than their two this term.
That's something Mourinho will have to sort out if they're to add to their two away wins this term, especially with an in-form Danny Ings facing them at St Mary's. All these factors, though, mean we can get odds-against an away win here and, although the Saints have improved at home recently their overall record is poor and you don't usually get two bad performances back-to-back from Spurs.
Prediction: Southampton 1-2 Tottenham (Sky Bet odds: 8/1)
Best bet: Tottenham to beat Southamption at 23/20
Key Opta stats
- Tottenham have won 11 of their 15 Premier League against Southampton since Saints returned to the top-flight in 2012 – against no side have Spurs won more league games in that time.
- Tottenham haven’t lost their first league game of a calendar year since 2009 (0-1 at Wigan), winning eight and drawing two since then. The Lilywhites have also won their last six Premier League matches played on New Year’s Day.
- Tottenham boss José Mourinho has never lost an away league match against Southampton in six previous meetings (W3 D3) – Mourinho has faced Saints more often than any other side without losing away from home in his managerial league career.
Watford v Wolves
- 3pm BT Sport ESPN
All hail Troy Deeney! Nigel Pearson is rightly getting the credit for turning Watford around but it's no coincidence that their inspirational skipper has also returned to lead them to two wins in three and give them hope of avoiding the drop - which is all music to the ears of our columnist Dale Tempest who has backed them to stay up.
There is an angry set of Wolves arriving though after more VAR misery saw them lose at Anfield after another excellent performance from their laughable schedule of playing Man City and Liverpool inside 48 hours. They've had a bit longer to rest this time and will come out fighting.
It looks an away win on paper and it's tempting to pull the trigger, but with tiredness still a factor after gruelling festive schedules this could be a good candidate for the draw, with them having 16 stalemates between them so far. Nobody has more home draws than Watford and only Sheffield United have drawn more on the road than Wolves - it all adds up.
Prediction: Watford 1-1 Wolves (Sky Bet odds: 5/1)
Best bet: Watford to draw with Wolves at 12/5
Key Opta stats
- After winning their first Premier League meeting with Wolves, Watford have lost their last two against them, including a 1-2 loss in this exact fixture last season.
- Wolves have won three of their last four away league games against Watford (L1), more than they had in their first 15 such visits against them (W2 D5 L8).
- Wolves Raúl Jiménez has been directly involved in 26 goals in 31 games in all competitions this season (17 goals, 9 assists), more than any other Premier League player. It’s two more than the Mexican was involved in 44 appearances last term (17 goals, 7 assists).
Follow Sporting Life on social media - find us on Facebook here or tweet @SportingLifeFC
Related football links
- Football review of the decade
- LISTEN: Premier League podcast
- Champ: Leeds win nine-goal thriller
- Watch: Gary's Premier League grades
- Pep breaks Premier League record
- Football awards for 2019
- Sporting Life Quiz of 2019
- Sporting Life Best Bets for 2020
- Super 6: Enter NOW!
- Fantasy Football: Pick your team now!
- Football results