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Jesse Lingard and Romelu Lukaku celebrate
Jesse Lingard and Romelu Lukaku celebrate

David John says the goals should flow at Old Trafford in the late kick-off as Manchester United take on Southampton.

Manchester United v Southampton (1730, BT Sport 1)

The Saints move on from Virgil van Dijk with a trip to Old Trafford but it is probably not a bad thing as they now have £75m in the kitty to rebuild and the Dutchman has been nothing but a pest and a distraction once forbidden to leave St Mary’s in the summer.

Some cash for manager Maurico Pellegrino has certainly arrived at the right time to reinforce a team that now sits just two points above the relegation places and were never at the races on Boxing Day in a 5-2 thrashing at the hands of Tottenham.

United have both the creativity and firepower to repeat that sort of scoreline in front of the TV cameras but met more than their match in the first half last time against Burnley before a dominant performance in the second period only yielded enough to secure a draw in the game.

They just about remain in second place but are now 15 points behind Manchester City and the frustration for Jose Mourinho over not getting on any sort of run that might close the gap on the leaders is clear for all to see following consecutive stalemates.

There is the potential to exploit the home side’s insecurities even taking into account the current form of the visitors with Mourinho overseeing a run of displays by his team where they have been unable to keep a clean sheet – the tally stands at just one in their last nine outings.

No Charlie Austin for the Saints is a serious dent to their hopes of finding a breakthrough as Shane Long’s drought continues so the pressure will be on the likes of Dusan Tadic, Nathan Redmond and the tricky Sofiane Boufal to come up with the requisite craft and guile in the final third.

David De Gea has looked much less invincible over the last month and Steven Defour’s superb free-kick for the Clarets gives some hope that the trio named above might have a chance to beat the Spaniard from outside of the box - both teams to score does make some appeal.

Prediction: Manchester United 3-2 Southampton - Sky Bet odds: 28/1

Bournemouth v Everton (1500 GMT)

Controversy swirled around the Vitality Stadium after the Cherries nabbed an unlikely late point against West Ham on Boxing Day but whether it was offside or handball as the ball went in via Callum Wilson, the hosts are still enduring a very rocky patch.

They have picked up just four points since thrashing Huddersfield in mid-November and are unlikely to find Everton’s backline in as generous mood as the Hammers, who gifted them two of their three goals when unable to successfully clear the ball downfield from centres into the box.

The Toffees have conceded just one goal against Liverpool and another against Swansea since Sam Allardyce took over, although they had some exceptionally incompetent finishing from West Brom to thank for the most recent clean sheet at The Hawthorns.

Now safely ensconced inside the top 10 with the defence on the up and up, the key now is to start finding a way to put the ball in the opposition net more frequently.

There could be much more creativity in the pipeline if the dangerous Yannick Bolasie can get a decent run in the first team but the winger may still be a month away from the sort of devastating form he showed for Crystal Palace as he gets back to full speed.

Besiktas striker Cenk Tosun could be on radar too for next month so my view is that Allardyce will be more than happy to keep the backdoor shut until any reinforcements arrive and chip away with the narrow victories to keep things ticking over.

Prediction: Bournemouth 0-1 Everton - Sky Bet odds: 15/2

Alvaro Morata can add to his tally this season against Stoke
Alvaro Morata can add to his tally this season against Stoke

Chelsea v Stoke (1500)

There was some festive respite for Mark Hughes in the Stoke hot-seat having taken four points from their games against West Brom and Huddersfield but they are the biggest price of the day on Saturday’s coupon at 20/1 in places with the Potters expected to experience a hefty thud back down to earth.

The trip to Stamford Bridge will be much more of a test of their credentials in terms of that recent revival under the Welshman, who probably still remains one bad result or performance away from his exit visas.

The feeling around the club though is that they might have turned a corner and actually have something to build on heading into 2018 while the fact they are just three points above the drop zone makes it very dangerous for Chelsea to consider them as bit of a soft touch.

The champions took their time to finally get on top against Brighton on Boxing Day and the impression is they are much more functional this season and just don’t have that additional gear or gears Manchester City possess.

Alvaro Morata certainly makes a big difference to their approach in the final third and his return to the starting line-up provided an immediate dividend against the Seagulls so the focus once more will be the Spaniard, bearing in mind too he notched at hat-trick at the bet365 Stadium earlier in the season.

His task seems to have been made a bit easier too with Stoke in the midst of a central defensive crisis so I would not be surprised at all if Morata were able to fill his boots to the tune of a least a couple of goals.

Prediction: Chelsea 3-1 Stoke - Sky Bet odds: 10/1

Huddersfield v Burnley (1500)

The Clarets once again represent some good value away from home at bigger than 2/1 as the bookmakers still underestimate how good this team is under the impressive Sean Dyche.

The record books might read that they only got a creditable point in the 2-2 draw at Old Trafford but it took until added time for Manchester United to get on level terms and a repeat of that first-half display would be much too good for the likeable Terriers to keep up with.

Dyche has surprising depth within the ranks so they did not miss a beat despite Chris Wood being ruled out as Ashley Barnes stepped in with an excellent all-round display of quality forward play capped by an early goal against the Red Devils.

The option for Dyche to rotate during this frenetic spell then does not worry me as much as it would for other teams and they get the vote to give punters an exceptionally good for run for their money in West Yorkshire.

Huddersfield continue to graft away manfully and put points on the board but looked a tiny bit leggy in the second period against Stoke and were arguably a little fortunate to hold on for a point under some intense pressure.

They have to dig deep and go again quickly so I can see them coming up short against such a well-organised side, who know just how to consistently play to their strengths - back the visitors for all three points.

Prediction: Huddersfield 0-2 Burnley - Sky Bet odds: 14/1

Burnley are a good bet for three points at Huddersfield
Burnley are a good bet for three points at Huddersfield

Liverpool v Leicester (1500)

If Liverpool could put a full 90-minute shift in against their rivals there would be a serious chance of them registering a goal tally in double figures before the end of the season.

Jurgen Klopp and the fans have to be patient though and wait for sporadic bursts of dominance, the Boxing Day success over Swansea a good example as they only really started to turn on the style in the last 30 minutes.

A clean sheet will have pleased Klopp anyway – they all count, even against the toothless Swans – as will the news that Virgil van Dijk is at last heading north with the German boss hoping he can solve their on-going issues at the back that has seen them concede six more goals than Burnley.

The Foxes are a big threat then to get in amongst the Merseysiders and still give the impression they are in reasonably good nick despite going three Premier League games without a victory.

They perhaps should have been out of sight at Watford but were found out at the back on a couple of occasions to concede two very soft goals and gift the hosts all three points.

That performance might just help sharpen the focus of Kasper Schmeichel, Harry Maguire and Wes Morgan as they attempt to put their best foot forward ahead of a daunting task at Anfield.

There are fewer concerns at the other end of the pitch as key components Riyad Mahrez, Marc Albrighton and Jamie Vardy are all thriving, so manager Claude Puel does have the opportunity to stand and trade punches with the hosts to some extent.

I very much like both teams to score but clearly so do the layers with an odds-on quote but over 4.5 total goals is a livelier option and a reasonable price worth snapping up.

Prediction: Liverpool 3-2 Leicester - Sky Bet odds: 20/1

Newcastle v Brighton (1500)

Toon contained Manchester City better than most on Wednesday but still came out of the game with nothing that leaves them on a run of a just one victory since the end of October and in the thick of the fight for survival.

There were plenty of negative comments about Rafa Benitez’s approach as Newcastle showed a lack of ambition to get level but perhaps he was happy enough to sacrifice the game with a narrow defeat rather than finishing on the wrong end of the sort of confidence-sapping hiding that City frequently dish out.

There will be no place to hide here for the Spaniard and the home support will expect much more gusto against a visiting team that has failed to trouble the scorer in their last four away trips.

Rumours of a big-money deal for Celtic hotshot Moussa Dembele continue to circulate and Chris Hughton is certainly in need of a huge boost from someone in front of goal as the Seagulls have managed just 15 all season in the top flight – only Swansea and West Brom have been less productive.

Any deal for Dembele is still in the planning phase at best so no use for this clash on Tyneside and Benitez’s opportunity to recall Matt Ritchie, Christian Atsu and Dwight Gayle to his starting line-up again should just tip the balance in their favour.

That said, 6/5 for a team that has lost five on the spin at home is not very tempting and backers could well be made to sweat for their winnings if investing any cash along with their faith in the Geordies.

Prediction: Newcastle 1-0 Brighton - Sky Bet odds: 9/2

Richarlison remains a serious threat in the penalty box
Richarlison remains a serious threat in the penalty box

Watford v Swansea (1500)

Well done to Swansea for not allowing their search for a manager drag on although Carlos Carvalhal might have been a bit of decision out of left-field.

He has apparently already taken training this week in the build-up to their trip to Hertfordshire and is immediately tasked with rescuing a season at the Liberty Stadium that is spiralling out of control with them long odds-on to be playing in the second tier in 2018.

Caretaker Leon Britton’s limitations were brutally exposed on Boxing Day with a rubbish performance against Liverpool so Carvalhal’s first job will be to restore some confidence and direction to a team that has managed just two Premier League victories since September 10.

Some punters might be ready to roll the dice on the Portuguese’s arrival having an immediate positive effect but they bump into a Hornets outfit who rediscovered some form of their own after a rather bumpy spell thanks to a come-from-behind success over Leicester.

They are 8/11 chances to follow up but I prefer an odds-against wager instead on Richarlison to get on the scoresheet at some time after another frustrating 90 minutes against the Foxes which saw him hit a post and also go round the goalkeeper and then ram his attempt into the side netting.

The exciting Brazilian could be the main beneficiary if, as expected, it takes some time to iron out the issues Swansea have in their defence and he could be in for a good day if the floodgates do finally open.

Prediction: Watford 3-1 Swansea - Sky Bet odds: 14/1

Recommended bets

1pt Alvaro Morata to score two or more goals v Stoke at 7/2

2pts Burnley to beat Huddersfield at 13/5

1pt over 4.5 total goals in Liverpool v Leicester at 13/5

1pt Richarlison to score anytime v Swansea at 24/13

2pts both teams to score in Man United v Southampton at 6/5

Posted at 1720 GMT on 28/12/17.

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Most Read Football

=?UTF-8?Q?Burnley=E2=80=99s_Ashley_Barnes_celebrates?=1

Chelsea misfire in top-four battle

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