We preview each and every one of today's Premier League games, with Leicester among our best bets.
By David John and Andy Schooler
West Ham v Chelsea (1230 GMT, Sky Sports Main Event and Premier League)
It is the middle leg of a tricky triumvirate for the Hammers with Arsenal next on the agenda but the influence of David Moyes is very gradually starting to work judged on a creditable performance at Manchester City.
The bottom line still reads no points from the Etihad Stadium but they looked far from overawed against the leaders and Pep Guardiola’s manic reaction to Diafra Sakho’s late miss shows how close the visitors came to snatching a point.
The key for Moyes will be getting some consistency into his line-up but may well be forced into more changes with Cheikh Kouyate and Michail Antonio major doubts, while Adrian certainly merits some serious consideration to get the nod over Joe Hart in goal after his efforts against City.
It all adds up to more headaches for a team sat second bottom currently but West Ham already look less brittle mentally, although we will all have a much better appreciation of the situation after the Arsenal fixture.
There is still not a great deal of faith in the punting community with the London Stadium hosts trading at 13/2 to topple a team that has won eight of its last 11 outings in all competitions and are desperately trying to keep tabs on Manchester City.
They have the opportunity this weekend to apply a modicum of early pressure ahead of Sunday’s Manchester derby as Antonio Conte’s side continue to churn out the positive results without exactly firing on all cylinders while still capable of the odd clanger here and there.
Plenty will rest on the shoulders of diminutive Belgian whizz Eden Hazard, the Belgian having bagged his 10th goal in 13 games against Newcastle, while summer arrival Danny Drinkwater is improving all the time in midfield alongside old pal from their Leicester days, N’Golo Kante.
Four of the last five meetings have ended with a 2-1 success one way or the other and I am tempted to go down that route again. A one-goal winning margin for the visitors looks the bet with a lone standout moment – or mistake – proving the difference.
Prediction: West Ham 0-1 Chelsea (DJ) - Sky Bet odds: 11/2
- West Ham have won just two of their last 22 Premier League games against Chelsea (D4 L16), losing both matches last season 2-1.
- Chelsea have lost three of their last six visits to West Ham in all competitions (W3 D0 L3), losing in the League Cup and winning in the Premier League at the London Stadium last season.
- Half (4) of the eight Premier League defeats that Chelsea have suffered under Antonio Conte have been in London derby matches – Arsenal, Tottenham and Crystal Palace (twice) during the Italian’s reign.
- West Ham are now eight games without a win in the Premier League (W0 D3 L5), their worst such-run since December 2015. They haven’t gone nine successive games without a win in the top-flight since May 2011.
- This will be the 41st consecutive Premier League matchday in which David Moyes has started in charge of a team in the relegation zone, breaking the Premier League record. The previous highest tally was held by John Gorman in 1993/94 at Swindon Town (40 in a row).
- Eden Hazard has been directly involved in seven goals in his last eight Premier League games against the Hammers (four goals, three assists).
- Álvaro Morata has been involved in 13 goals for Chelsea within his first 14 Premier League appearances for the club (nine goals, four assists).
- Nine of Manuel Lanzini’s 15 Premier League goals for West Ham United have come in London derby matches (60%) – this includes two in his last two against Chelsea.
Burnley v Watford (1500 GMT)
Few would have predicted this pair being on the fringes of European contention as we begin the countdown to Christmas.
The Clarets have the upper hand by three points currently as two differing approaches to the game go on show so it will be fascinating to see which comes out on top, if they can be separated at all.
Burnley impress greatly in terms of discipline and organisation with manager Sean Dyche praising his players’ ability to remain in matches and build a platform from that point with just one of their four losses so far this season coming by more than one goal – and that was at Manchester City.
The Hornets may be a little more erratic but certainly have an edge in quality with Abdoulaye Doucoure and the magnificent Richarlison continuing to shine week on week as some of the bigger names in the division cast a covetous glance in the direction of Vicarage Road.
This looks a case of savvy over style and not a great deal to split them when it is all boiled down with the hosts marginal favourites for another three points at 6/4.
They were thoroughly involved against an improving Leicester last week as Dyche displayed his usual upbeat disposition afterwards despite eventually going down to an early Demarai Gray goal.
The loss of Robbie Brady for the season to a serious knee injury just as the Irishman was starting to find top form robs them of a much-needed creative element but if any team can take that sort of setback in their stride it is certainly this current Burnley outfit.
Former striker Andre Gray is back in east Lancashire although he is not a sure-fire starter in Marco Silva’s line-up and his presence will add an interesting dynamic to proceedings even taking into account he has not really settled in completely in his new surroundings.
I would fancy this regimented Burnley backline will be on full alert to take care of him and/or Troy Deeney anyway for the most part and a low-scoring draw gets my vote as an outcome which does neither any great harm.
Prediction: Burnley 1-1 Watford (DJ) - Sky Bet odds: 9/2
- Watford are winless in nine league visits to Turf Moor (D4 L5) since a 3-2 win in April 2004, a match in which Sean Dyche played for Watford.
- Burnley have kept four clean sheets at home in the Premier League this season, conceding just three goals and never more than once in a match.
- After a run of six away league games without a goal, Watford have scored at least twice in each of their last eight Premier League away games (once last season, and all seven this term).
- Watford have won 13 points from seven Premier League away games this season; one more point than in the whole of 2016-17 away from home (12 points from 19 games).
- Both Watford (8th) and Burnley (7th) find themselves in the top eight places of the Premier League coming in to this matchday – the first time that these clubs have both been within the top eight of the top-flight this late in to a season.
- Watford have used the most players in the Premier League this season (26), while Burnley have used the fewest in the competition after 15 games in 2017-18 (18).
- Richarlison has been involved in seven goals in seven Premier League away appearances for Watford this season so far (four goals, three assists).
Crystal Palace v Bournemouth (1500 GMT)
Palace continue in the right direction under Roy Hodgson and they received another nice little boost after climbing off the foot of the table with a hard-fought point at West Brom.
There has to be a point where the chances they continue to carve out need to be converted as wins remain thin on the ground but I would not be shocked in the slightest if one victory ahead of the busy period just around the corner sparked bit of a purple patch which can shoot them up the standings.
They are even-money chances to get rolling and I like their chances of picking up all three points – but not quite enough to back them in the outright betting so perhaps it is time to get a little creative to boost the price.
The visitors picked up a point themselves against Southampton in their south coast derby having taken a first-half lead and Eddie Howe must still be a little concerned that they are squandering points with poor defending.
The situation has improved generally since those horror early weeks of the season when every little mistake was punished but they gifted Saints the chance to get level after failing to clear their lines before Lewis Cook was robbed of the ball just outside his own area.
A similar sort of effort can’t be ruled out entirely and Palace are just the sort of fast-flowing team capable of profiting if they can finally put the ball in the back of the net.
Christian Benteke was found wanting once more at The Hawthorns when an opportunity broke his way but putting a positive spin on things would be to argue he is getting closer and closer as he regains full fitness.
There is no reason why Wilfried Zaha, Andros Townsend and Ruben Loftus-Cheek won’t continue to thrive and contribute under Hodgson so I will take a flyer the goals can at last start to flow back at Selhurst Park and pick the hosts giving up one goal on the handicap.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 2-0 Bournemouth (DJ) - Sky Bet odds: 15/2
- Crystal Palace are yet to beat Bournemouth at Selhurst Park in the Premier League (D1 L1), with their last home league win against them coming in April 1988.
- Eddie Howe has won one of his last seven managerial league encounters with Palace (D3 L3), a 2-1 win in February 2016.
- The Eagles are the first side to play out two consecutive goalless draws in the Premier League this season; the last side to string together three 0-0s in the competition were West Ham in December 2015.
- The Cherries have netted just two goals on their last eight Premier League visits to London (D1 L7) and failed to score in their last four capital clashes (L4).
- This clash will see the biggest age differential between two managers in a Premier League game (30y 113d) since April 2016 (Alex Neil v Arsene Wenger – 31y 230d).
- Roy Hodgson’s side have attempted the highest proportion of shots from set-piece situations this season in the Premier League (39% - 71/183).
- Crystal Palace have only used 30 of the 45 substitutes available to them in their 15 Premier League games so far this season; fewer than any other side.
- Crystal Palace have scored in each of their last four league games at Selhurst Park (2 in each); they’ve only ever scored in five consecutive home Premier League games twice before (Sept 1992 and Dec 1992).
- Scott Dann has scored in each of his last three Premier League games against Bournemouth (three goals) – no central defender in Premier League history has ever scored in four consecutive matches against an opponent.
Huddersfield v Brighton (1500 GMT)
There is not much between this pair in the table since their promotion but both are facing a test in terms of character having gone four matches without a victory.
This is certainly a more realistic level for the visiting Seagulls after a 5-1 spanking at the hands of Liverpool last week still leaves them without a point against any of the rivals they have faced from the Big Six.
The scoreline sounds pretty horrendous but Brighton were within one good save by Simon Mignolet from Glenn Murray’s close-range effort of getting back into things when 2-0 down only to see their rivals scorch up the other end to put the outcome beyond doubt at 3-0.
I would not be overly concerned about the late cave-in either when they conceded two more goals against the relentless Reds but Chris Hughton needs the right response against a team with a fraction of the firepower.
Hughton’s opposite number David Wagner has some serious work to do too after four defeats on the spin and there will be a lot of pressure to pick up a welcome three points at the John Smith’s Stadium.
A cluster of fixtures that has seen them face Manchester City, Arsenal and a revitalised Everton has yielded nothing and the effort they put in to almost nick a point against the first-named left them utterly drained for those subsequent outings.
The home fans have willed their side over the line on a couple of occasions and 11 of their 15 points already in the bag have come in West Yorkshire so home turf is the obvious place to get the show back on the road.
I don’t see either giving a great deal away so one goal might prove the difference in a close encounter and the vote just goes to the Terriers.
Prediction: Huddersfield 1-0 Brighton (DJ) - Sky Bet odds: 9/2
- This is the first top-flight encounter between Huddersfield and Brighton, with the previous 50 league meetings split across the second and third tiers of English football.
- Brighton have only won one of their last nine away league matches at Huddersfield (D4 L4) and lost 3-1 at the John Smith’s Stadium in the Championship last season.
- All three of Huddersfield’s home Premier League wins have been by a one-goal margin – in the top four tiers of English football last season, only Reading won as many as home league games by a one-goal margin as the Terriers (12).
- Just four different Huddersfield players have scored in the Premier League this season (Depoitre, Mooy, Mounie and van La Parra) – fewer than any other team.
- Anthony Knockaert has had a hand in eight goals in seven previous appearances against Huddersfield in all competitions (five goals, three assists).
- The Terriers have lost each of their last four Premier League games; they last lost five consecutive league fixtures in January 1993 while in the third tier.
- Glenn Murray has scored five goals in his last seven Premier League games, one more than he managed in his previous 33 appearances in the competition combined (4).
- Huddersfield have scored the fewest second-half goals in the Premier League this season (3) but have conceded the most after the break (19).
Swansea v West Brom (1500 GMT)
Paul Clement’s future continues to hang by a thread at Swansea and you would have to be extremely optimistic to see him still being employed at the Liberty Stadium by the end of the weekend if they fall foul once again.
Mind you, I have been saying exactly the same thing for three weeks now and get the impression Clement’s services are being retained as his team, on more than one occasion, have not been a million miles away from turning the corner and ending a gloomy run of what is now just one win in 11 outings.
It was a case of rinse and repeat at the bet365 Stadium last week having made a positive start to get ahead but two goals conceded in the space of four minutes saw the life ebb away once more.
Even a late long-range shot parried by Jack Butland did not drop into the path of a lurking Sam Clucas while the Stoke custodian then pulled off the save of the day to keep out an errant header from his own defender Ryan Shawcross so Clement and his team just can’t catch a break currently.
West Brom rained 20 shots down in the direction of Crystal Palace’s goal but failed to make the breakthrough and give new manager Alan Pardew a debut success.
He was pleased with the work-rate and endeavour of his new players but that is exactly what his predecessor Tony Pulis used to say so Pardew desperately needs to infuse this squad with some consistent quality.
The money from punters in the build-up has very much been weighted towards the visitors but they still have something to prove and my vote goes to the hosts to get a little bit of respite with a narrow victory.
Prediction: Swansea 1-0 West Brom (DJ) - Sky Bet odds: 5/1
- Swansea have won five of their six home Premier League games against West Brom (L1), and have won each of the last three.
- West Brom have lost 11 of their 17 away league matches at Swansea - of teams they’ve played 10 or more times away in the Football League, they’ve lost a higher percentage at Swansea than any other club (65%).
- Swansea have attempted just 27 shots on target in 15 Premier League matches this season – that tally is at least 10 fewer than every other team within the top five European Leagues.
- Of teams to play in the Premier League both last season and this season, only Everton have won as few away matches in the competition as the Baggies in 2017 (1 – W1 D6 L9).
- Salomon Rondon has scored four goals in three Premier League games against Swansea, double the number he’s scored against any other side.
- Venezuelan stiker Rondon became just the second player – along with Duncan Ferguson – to score a hat-trick of headers in a Premier League game when he did so against Swansea last season.
- Swansea have won five of their last six Premier League matches (L1) when they’ve started that day bottom of the league, with one of those victories coming against West Brom in September 2013.
Tottenham v Stoke (1500 GMT)
Spurs have beaten Stoke 4-0 in the sides’ last three games. For the record, 4-0 in this one is a 13/1 shot.
Perhaps a game against the Potters is just what the doctor ordered for the Londoners as they have stuttered of late.
Stoke have only won once away this season, too, with Mark Hughes’ side just about managing to steer clear of real trouble thus far.
Much was made of Tottenham’s move to Wembley back in the summer and they’ve certainly had their problems there.
Whether it can be put down to the ‘big occasion’ or simply sides going more defensive against a team which has proved itself capable of tearing others apart, the league’s supposed weaker clubs have proved tough to beat at the national stadium.
Burnley, Swansea and West Brom have all left with a point, while Crystal Palace and Bournemouth both stayed in the game throughout only to lose 1-0. Stoke could well put up such resistance too and I’m not keen on Spurs on the handicaps given they are odds-on to win by two clear goals.
If they are to win big, Harry Kane is likely to have a big game and he’s got some record against Stoke, netting six of Spurs’ 12 goals in those aforementioned performances.
You get little from the bookies regarding Kane these days though and perhaps a better bet for those looking to play the goalscorer markets is for Heung-min Son to bag one in this game.
The under-rated Korean has now scored in five of his last eight starts and is a constant menace to opposition defences.
At 7/5 to score at any time here, he’s more than twice the price of Kane.
Prediction: Spurs 2-1 Stoke (AS) - Sky Bet odds: 15/2
- Spurs have won each of their last three Premier League matches against Stoke all by a 4-0 scoreline.
- Stoke have won one of their last seven away Premier League matches at Spurs (D3 L3), a 2-1 win in November 2014.
- No side in the history of the top-flight of English football has won four consecutive matches against an opponent by four or more goals in each game – it has only happened twice in the history of the Football League, with Barnsley achieving it against Darlington between 1933 and 1938 and Birmingham doing so against Northwich Victoria in the 19th century.
- Stoke have won four of their five visits to Wembley Stadium in all competitions, though they did lose their last game at the ground 1-0 against Manchester City in the 2011 FA Cup final.
- There have been eight red cards in the 18 previous Premier League meetings between these sides, at a rate of one every 2.25 games – the most frequent such rate of all fixtures to have been played at least 15 times.
- Coming in to this weekend, Tottenham Hotspur are closer to the bottom of the league (16 points) than they are the top of the Premier League (18 points).
- Xherdan Shaqiri has been directly involved in nine goals in his last 11 league appearances (four goals, five assists) – his joint-best return in a Premier League season.
- Harry Kane has scored 31 Premier League goals so far in 2017 – only three players have scored more in a single Premier League calendar year: Alan Shearer (36 in 1995), Robin van Persie (35 in 2011) and Thierry Henry (34 in 2004).
- Harry Kane has had a hand in seven goals in his last three Premier League games against Stoke (six goals, one assist), with a hat-trick and an assist in this exact fixture last term.
- Dele Alli has scored in all three of his Premier League games against Stoke, netting four goals in total.
Newcastle v Leicester (1730 GMT, BT Sport 1)
Let’s keep this simple. At close to 2/1, Leicester have to be the bet here.
The Foxes have lost one of their last 10 games, that against a Manchester City side that is beating basically everyone.
Jamie Vardy is offering goal threat, Riyad Mahrez is thriving again in behind, presumably having come to terms with the fact he’s not getting a move, and at the back Harry Maguire is proving a shrewd signing.
Newcastle, on the other hand, have won just one of their last 10 – that at home to a then-bottom Crystal Palace side. That run includes losing five of their last six, home games against Bournemouth (0-1) and Watford (0-3) among them.
Following a decent start to the season they are sinking worryingly towards the relegation zone and with their defence having conceded 12 goals in their last four games, it’s not like improvement looks just around the corner.
They have home games against the Foxes and an improving Everton in the next few days so it’s an important week for the Magpies but Rafael Benitez is up against it at present with constant takeover talk hardly helping things on Tyneside.
The issue here is that Leicester have only posted one away win this season, against current basement-dwellers Swansea, but if ever they are to transfer some solid home form to the road, this looks the right game at the right time for them to do so.
Their last visit here was a 3-0 win in their title-winning season and they can repeat the trick two years on.
Prediction: Newcastle 1-2 Leicester - Sky Bet odds: 9/1
- Newcastle have lost their last three Premier League games against Leicester by an aggregate score of 0-7 – they’d only lost three of their previous 17 against them in the division (W9 D5).
- Leicester have won just two of their last 17 league visits to St James’ Park (D1 L14), though their last such visit ended in a 3-0 victory in November 2015.
- Since winning 3-0 against Stoke on September 16, only West Brom (0) have won fewer Premier League games than Newcastle (1).
- The Magpies haven’t failed to score in three consecutive home Premier League matches since February 2014 (a run of four).
- Jamie Vardy is one goal away from becoming the first Leicester City player to hit 50 Premier League goals. If he does score against Newcastle, he’ll be the 12th quickest English player to hit that milestone in the Premier League (currently on 120 apps).
- Rafael Benitez has never lost three onsecutive home Premier League matches as a manager. Claude Puel, meanwhile, is aiming to win three consecutive Premier League games for the first time as a manager.
- Shinji Okazaki scored in both fixtures the last time these sides met in 2015-16, making Newcastle the only team he’s scored in more than one game against in the Premier League.
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Posted at 0820 GMT on 08/12/17.