Mark your card for Saturday's Premier League games with George Pitts providing a best bet and score prediction for each clash.
For details of advised bookmakers and each-way terms, visit our transparent tipping record
*Click links to add selections to betslip*
Everton v Arsenal
- 1230 kick-off on BT Sport
The battle of the interim managers, Duncan Ferguson and Freddie Ljungberg.
Everton have performed really well for Ferguson, securing four points from a difficult couple of fixtures against Chelsea and Manchester United, with that penalty shootout defeat to Leicester in the Carabao Cup meaning he is still technically unbeaten.
Ljungberg, meanwhile, has won just one of five in all competitions and the Gunners look all at sea, having been taught another harsh lesson by Manchester City last weekend.
With both close to appointing new managers in Carlo Ancelotti and Mikel Arteta respectively at the time of writing, new bosses could be watching from the stands at Goodison and the players will be looking to impress.
But Everton look much more capable of getting all three points and the 3/1 price on a simple match result and BTTS looks too good to pass up.
The hosts are around 13/10 favourites and, going on their displays so far under Ferguson, you cannot argue against it. The Scot's influence has clearly fired Blues players up and if they dig in and show that attitude again here they can get the better of Arsenal's lacklustre defence.
The Toffees only made one change in midweek and have not kept a clean sheet in their last eight and the Gunners can at least get on the score sheet, so this combination looks a good-priced option.
Prediction: Everton 2-1 Arsenal (Sky Bet odds: 17/2)
Best bet: Everton to win and BTTS at 3/1
- Everton won this exact fixture 1-0 in April, but haven’t won back-to-back league games against Arsenal since a run of three between March 1985-April 1986.
- Since losing 2-6 at home to Tottenham in December last year, Everton have won four of their last five home Premier League games against London sides (D1).
- In all competitions, Arsenal are without a clean sheet in their last 14 games, their longest streak since a run of 21 games between October 1983-February 1984.
- Everton have scored a league-high share 65% of their Premier League goals in the first half of games this season (13/20). Meanwhile, only bottom three sides Norwich (20) and Southampton (18) have conceded more goals in the opening 45 minutes than the Gunners (16).
- Arsenal have conceded the first goal in more Premier League games than any other side this season (11). In no other Premier League season have the Gunners conceded first in as many games before Christmas (also 11 in 2006-07).
- 14 different players to have previously played for Arsenal in the Premier League have then scored against them in the competition, with Everton’s Alex Iwobi and Theo Walcott potentially joining that list in this match. Cesc Fàbregas was the last player to do so in Chelsea’s 3-1 victory at Stamford Bridge in February 2017 against the Gunners.
Aston Villa v Southampton
A bit of a six-pointer, with Villa's run of just one win in their last eight league games dragging them back to level on points with 18th-placed Southampton.
That poor spell has even seen Dean Smith go into third in the betting to be the next top-flight boss to leave his job (9/1 with Sky Bet) and Ralph Hasenhuttl is second in the list at just over 3s.
It has felt like the Saints have been due a turn-the-corner performance each week but after a shocking display against West Ham it is difficult to see that coming anytime soon.
Their away record was good at one stage but they have now collected just nine points from a possible 24 on the road and Aston Villa can see this as a great opportunity to get a much-needed win on the board.
They are 6/4 favourites and just short of evens in a draw no bet which is equally as tempting. But due to both sides' unpredictability and poor form it is one we'd rather sit out.
Prediction: Aston Villa 2-0 Southampton (Sky Bet odds: 12/1)
Best bet: Aston Villa in draw no bet at 8/11
- If Southampton fail to win, they’ll be in the relegation zone at Christmas in the Premier League for the first time since 2004-05, when they suffered the drop at the end of the season. However, only Sunderland (3) and Wigan (3) have avoided relegation having been in the drop zone at Christmas in the competition than Saints (2 – in 1993-94 and 1998-99).
- Southampton haven’t kept a clean sheet in any of their last 12 Premier League games – no side is currently on a longer run without one in the competition.
- Excluding penalties, Aston Villa have conceded a Premier League high 10 goals from set-piece situations this season. Meanwhile, six of Southampton’s last eight goals in the competition have come from a set-piece.
- Aston Villa have faced more shots than any other Premier League side this season (312), while they also have a higher expected goals against value than any other side (33.87). Their record of 18.4 shots faced per game is the most in a Premier League campaign since Reading in 2012-13 (18.6).
- Excluding own goals, 15 of Southampton’s 18 Premier League goals this season have been netted by English players, the highest ratio in the division (83%). Indeed, each of their last 13 strikes have been netted by Englishmen.
- Of the 16 sides to have taken a penalty in the Premier League this season, Aston Villa are the only one yet to score from the spot, with Wesley missing against Norwich and Jack Grealish missing against Sheffield United last time out.
Bournemouth v Burnley
Inconsistent Bournemouth got a surprise win at Chelsea last weekend, so it would be about right that they lose to Burnley now to bring them back down to earth.
I have had a frustrating run in this season's Premier League tips when tipping goalscorers, tipped to score at appealing prices, then doing so in the following fixture: John Fleck, Allan Saint-Maximin (both for their first top-flight goals), Sebastian Haller (after a long goalscoring drought) and Kevin De Bruyne, to name but a few from recent weeks. So, after tipping Jeff Hendrick last week, it would be no surprise to see the Irish international finding the back of the net here at 11/2.
Burnley have won three of their last six and one aspect Sean Dyche's side could do with improving is their away form, having won just once on the road all season.
The Clarets generally perform pretty well against bottom-half sides and Bournemouth, with a number of injury problems, could fall victim here in a game that has a history of goals.
Their last six meetings have seen over 2.5 goals and Burnley's last five away games have all seen the goals total pass this threshold, so backing Burnley to win and over 1.5 total goals at just under 3/1 looks great value if you favour an away win.
Prediction: Bournemouth 1-2 Burnley (Sky Bet odds: 10/1)
- Burnley have won four of their six Premier League meetings with Bournemouth (L2), including both fixtures last season.
- All five of Bournemouth’s Premier League wins this season have been with Josh King in the starting lineup – they’ve lost four and drawn one of their five games without the Norwegian in the starting XI.
- Burnley striker Chris Wood has scored more Premier League goals than any other Clarets player this season (7) and has netted three goals in his four top-flight matches against Bournemouth.
- Since the start of last season, Burnley’s Chris Wood has scored more headed goals in the Premier League than any other player (10). Indeed, of players with at least 25 goals in Premier League history, Wood has scored the eighth highest ratio from headers (46.4% - 13/28).
Brighton v Sheffield United
A tough one to call at the Amex - Albion are strong at home and Sheffield United are unbeaten on the road in the Premier League this term.
It may well have draw written all over it and, for that reason, the preference is to stay away from the result with discipline the area to focus on here.
As much as they both like to play good football, they have shown the ability to dig in and a tendency to be shown a booking or two.
With 36 yellows to their name this season, Sheffield United are third in the aggression standings while Brighton have received 23 in their last 11 league games. The pattern seems to be that when one goes in the book, one or two Seagulls players usually follow.
Looking at both teams and how they approach the game, it could be a good watch but possibly scrappy at times. With this in mind, the 7/4 available on both teams to receive at least two bookings looks good value with no investment in the outcome.
Prediction: Brighton v Sheff United (Sky Bet odds: 5/1)
Best bet: 20+ booking points each team at 7/4
- Brighton have gone three Premier League games without defeat (W1 D2), last enjoying a longer unbeaten run in the competition in March 2018 (five games).
- Sheffield United have already gained more away points this season (12) than they did in the whole of their previous campaign in the top-flight (11 in 2006-07).
- Sheffield United are looking to become only the second newly-promoted team in the history of the English top-flight to remain unbeaten in their first nine away matches of a season, with Burnley in 1947-48 the only other instance.
- Only Watford (55), Crystal Palace (55) and Newcastle (59) – the three lowest scorers in the Premier League this season – have had fewer shots on target than Sheffield United this season (60). However, only three of the current top four (Liverpool 47, Leicester 48 and Chelsea 55) have faced fewer shots on target than the Blades (58).
- Neal Maupay has scored seven of Brighton’s 21 Premier League goals this season – no other player has more than two for the Seagulls. He could become the first player to score in four consecutive Premier League matches for the south coast side.
- Of the nine English goalkeepers to play more than once in the Premier League this season, Sheffield United’s Dean Henderson has the best minutes-per-goal conceded ratio in the competition (one every 111 minutes).
- Sheffield United’s John Fleck has scored four goals in his last seven Premier League games – as many as he had in his previous 98 in league competition for the Blades. Indeed, he’s already matched his highest ever goal tally in a single season in English league football (also four in 2015-16 and 2016-17).
Newcastle v Crystal Palace
A match at St James' Park that does not scream goals.
Crystal Palace (55) and Newcastle (59) are two of the three lowest scorers in the Premier League this season and they have had just 55 and 59 shots on target respectively, so there might not be much in this one.
Newcastle could edge it and continue their unbeaten run on Tyneside. The current streak stands at seven matches and, even with a few injuries in the team, Bruce will make his side difficult to beat.
With the way this clash is expected to go, just one goal might do it and the 21/20 price on the hosts to score the game's last goal looks a nice odds-against shout in a game that should really be one for the purists.
Prediction: Newcastle 1-0 Palace (Sky Bet odds: 11/2)
Best bet: Newcastle to score last at 21/20
- Newcastle lost this exact fixture 0-1 in April but have never lost consecutive home league games against Crystal Palace.
- The last five Premier League meetings between Newcastle and Crystal Palace have produced just five goals (3 for Newcastle, 2 for Crystal Palace), with no side scoring more than once in that time. Indeed, the match that immediately preceded this run saw more goals scored (Crystal Palace 5-1 Newcastle, November 2015).
- Newcastle United are unbeaten in their last seven home Premier League matches (W3 D4), last enjoying a longer unbeaten run at St James’ Park back in April 2012 (nine unbeaten).
- Newcastle lost their last Premier League game against Burnley – they haven’t lost consecutive league matches since their opening two games of the season (vs Arsenal and Norwich).
- London clubs have won six of their last seven Premier League away games against Newcastle (D1), keeping a clean sheet in each of the last four. This comes after a run that saw sides from the capital lose seven of eight visits to St James’ Park in the competition (W1).
- Crystal Palace have scored a league-high ratio 73% of their Premier League goals in the second half of games this season (11/15). The Eagles are the only side yet to score in the opening 15 minutes of games this season, with their earliest strike coming in the 21st minute.
- Crystal Palace’s Premier League games have seen just 34 goals this season (F15 A19), fewer than any other side in the competition. Just one of the Eagles’ 17 games has seen a side score more than twice (0-4 vs Tottenham).
- Seven of Jordan Ayew’s first nine shots in the Premier League this season were on target, with two of those finding the net. Since then the Ghanaian striker has had 17 shots, but just two have been on target (both scored).
- Newcastle boss Steve Bruce enjoyed his joint-biggest ever margin of victory as a manager in a match against Crystal Palace, beating the Eagles 7-1 with Huddersfield in August 1999.
- Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson has faced Steve Bruce more often without losing than he has any other manager in the Premier League (7 – W3 D4). This is the first meeting between the two managers since Hodgson’s West Brom drew 2-2 at Bruce’s Sunderland in October 2011.
Norwich v Wolves
With a midweek break allowing Wolves fresh legs, they look great value to bounce back from the defeat at Tottenham, which saw them concede so late in injury time.
There is little value in backing the visitors, so my preference is to look at the goalscorer market and a man that could be due to find the back of the net again.
That player is Ruben Neves, a defensive midfielder by trade who likes to contribute the odd strike every now and then.
Neves has two goals to his name this season, averages three shots per game in the Europa League and nearly two per game in the Premier League. He is an eye-catching 11/2 to get on the score sheet anytime.
But, more notably, all 28 of his league efforts have come outside of the box and, as well as shooting from distance, he has established himself as a bit of a set piece specialist.
Therefore backing him to net from 18 yards or more gets you an even better price considering his deep-lying position.
Prediction: Norwich 1-2 Wolves (Sky Bet odds: 15/2)
- Norwich are without a clean sheet in their last 12 home Premier League games, their joint-longest such run in the competition (also 12 between October 2004-March 2005). The Canaries have conceded 40 goals in their last 17 top-flight home games, as many as they had in their previous 40 at Carrow Road.
- Wolves have both scored and conceded in 13 Premier League games this season – no side has done so in more. Wolves have found the net in their last 16 games, the second longest current run in the competition (Liverpool, 26).
- Norwich have the biggest negative difference (-37) between shots on target (66) and shots on target faced (103) in the Premier League this season. They’re facing 6.1 shots on target per game this season – since 2003-04, the 14 clubs to have faced 6+ shots on target per game in a complete Premier League campaign have all been relegated.
- Norwich striker Teemu Pukki has scored nine Premier League goals this season – the last player to reach double figures in a season before Christmas for a newly-promoted side was Odion Ighalo in 2015-16 for Watford (12 goals).
- Raúl Jiménez’s assist last time out against Spurs was his 31st goal involvement in the Premier League (19 goals, 12 assists), more than any other Wolves player in the competition. He needs just one more goal to become just the second player to reach 20 for the club in the Premier League (Steven Fletcher, 22).
- Diogo Jota has scored five goals in his last three appearances for Wolves in all competitions, more than he had in his previous 24 for the club (4).
Manchester City v Leicester
The battle for second?
Victory for Leicester here would move them seven clear of Manchester City and the Foxes travel to the Etihad a few days short of a year since their shock 2-1 win over City at the King Power on Boxing Day.
That result came as City lost to Palace and Leicester in the space of a few days to rock their title hopes, while the Foxes were then under the stewardship of Claude Puel.
The Premier League champions go into the game on the back of a brilliant performance at Arsenal and a much changed side booked their place in the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup for the third year in succession on Wednesday.
Leicester, meanwhile, also in the last four of the cup, saw their winning run come to an end with a draw against Norwich last weekend.
Against the top teams so far this year, they came so close but fell short in their away games at Man United and Liverpool and earned a well-deserved draw at Chelsea. While they should give them a good game here, the feeling is City will probably triumph narrowly.
The 2/1 price on a one-goal winning margin was tempting, but the eye-catching price is on Jamie Vardy to have two shots on target in the first half at 12/1 with Sky Bet.
We know all about the 32-year-old and his excellent goalscoring run came to an end last weekend as his header against the Canaries was eventually awarded to Tim Krul.
But his rate of shooting is impressive, registering four or more shots in one match in four of his last five appearances. Given that Leicester will give it a good go and have plenty of chances, and that he will be at the centre of it all against a questionable Man City defence, this price is well worthy of a small stake with no reliance on the final score.
Prediction: Man City 3-2 Leicester (Sky Bet odds: 20/1)
- Manchester City have won 249 Premier League games since 1st January 2010 – they could become just the second team in English top-flight history to reach 250 victories in a single decade, after Manchester United in the 2000s (255).
- Leicester have won their last four Premier League away games, by an aggregate score of 17-1. The Foxes have never previously won five consecutive away games in the top-flight.
- Leicester are one of just two teams with a 100% winning record when scoring first this season (along with Liverpool), winning all nine such games so far. Meanwhile, no side has won more games when conceding the first goal than the Foxes (3).
- Man City’s Sergio Agüero has scored five goals in his five home Premier League games against Leicester, despite the Argentine failing to score in three of those matches.
- Leicester’s Jamie Vardy has the most goals in the Premier League this season (16), while Man City’s Kevin De Bruyne has the most assists (9). They’re the top two players for most goal involvements in the competition this season (Vardy 19, De Bruyne 15).
- Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers’ next defeat will be his 50th in the Premier League – only against Manchester United (8) has he lost more games in the competition than he has against Manchester City (4).
Available exclusively at this price, thanks to our friends at Sky Bet
Odds correct as of 1500 GMT on 19/12/19
Follow Sporting Life on social media - find us on Facebook here or tweet @SportingLifeFC
Related football links
- Premier League highlights
- Best & Worst: City's dynamic duo
- What can Ancelotti achieve?
- Nicholas: Arteta is the right man
- Sporting Life Advent Calendar
- Super 6: Enter NOW!
- Fantasy Football: Pick your team now!
- Football results
We are committed in our support of responsible gambling. Recommended bets are advised to over-18s and we strongly encourage readers to wager only what they can afford to lose.