Mark your card for Sunday's Premier League games with Paul Higham providing a best bet and score prediction for each clash.
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Arsenal v Manchester City
A couple of morale-boosting results for Arsenal as they came from behind twice to beat West Ham and draw at Standard Liege - but it's a different story altogether facing Man City even if they're not firing on all cylinders right now.
City have won the last four Premier League meetings and there are other stats that do not bode well, such as them conceding at least two goals in their last three home games and conceding first in their last five league games.
That's not what you need against City who, for all their defensive problems, still have plenty of firepower to punish any trademark Arsenal sloppiness at the back.
The Gunners, though, will also fancy getting at that City back line as they too have more than enough to at least find the target.
Games can often not go to plan, but it screams goals at both ends and if Arsenal can offer some sort of defensive application they could easily make life uncomfortable in what could plausibly be an entertaining end-to-end contest given where both teams' strengths lie.
That's not to say that the Gunners are worth a punt at 5/1 to win or even 4/1 to get a point, but we're banking on them to at least find the target once and there's just enough in the price to be worth a bet.
Prediction: Arsenal 2-3 Man City (Sky Bet odds: 16/1)
- Manchester City have won their last two Premier League away games against Arsenal – more than they had in their previous 32 top-flight visits to Highbury/Emirates Stadium (W1 D11 L20).
- Manchester City have already lost four Premier League games this season, as many as they did in the whole of 2018-19. However, the Citizens have won 10 of their last 11 top-flight games in London (L1).
- In all competitions, Arsenal have conceded at least two goals in each of their last three home games – they’ve not done so in four consecutively since December 1965 (a run of five).
- Arsenal have conceded the first goal in each of their last five Premier League games – they’ve never conceded first in six consecutive matches in the competition. However, no side has won more points from losing positions in the Premier League this season than the Gunners (10).
- Man City’s Sergio Agüero has scored eight goals in his last eight appearances against Arsenal in all competitions. Since the Argentine joined Man City in 2011, he’s scored more goals against the Gunners in all competitions than any other player (11).
- Arsenal’s Alexandre Lacazette is the highest Premier League scorer this season with 100% of his goals coming at home (5). Meanwhile, Man City’s Gabriel Jesus is the highest scorer with 100% of his goals coming in away games (5).
- Gabriel Martinelli scored on his first Premier League start for Arsenal in their 3-1 win at West Ham. Only three players have scored on both of their first two starts in the competition for the Gunners (Ian Wright in 1992, Davor Suker in 1999, Alex Iwobi in 2016).
Manchester United v Everton
This had 'sack race' written all over it a few weeks ago, now two club legends are at the helm and both teams are high on life ahead of the game at Old Trafford.
Duncan Ferguson has breathed new life into Everton and Ole's back at the wheel and back on track after beating Spurs and Man City inside a week.
The Red Devils have been fast starters of late, scoring five goals inside the first half-hour in the last five games, and bagging twice in all of those. Contrast that with Everton's failure to keep a clean sheet for seven straight league games and home fans have every reason for optimism.
A caveat to this is, of course, the Big Dunc factor. Club legend Ferguson masterminded a win over Chelsea after just a couple of days, imagine what he can do with a full week! United also had a game in midweek, even though a full-strength team was not put out.
Everton are also unlikely to go hell for leather from the start and leave themselves exposed to United's high-octane counter-attack, and United have struggled to break down well-organised and well-stocked defences this season. That's the next stage of their evolution from just a side that plays exclusively on the break.
Our own Dale Tempest thinks this game is a stick-on for bookings in his latest column, and I have to agree having watched the Toffees against Chelsea, and I also have a slight suspicion that goals will be at a premium, as long as Everton can hold out early doors.
If they do, they can at least keep things level until the break.
Prediction: Man Utd 2-1 Everton (Sky Bet odds: 15/2)
- Manchester United have won 36 of their 54 Premier League games against Everton (D9 L9), more than any side has won against another in the history of the competition.
- Everton have won just one of their last 26 Premier League away games against Man Utd (D5 L20), winning 1-0 at Old Trafford in December 2013.
- Manchester United are looking to win three consecutive Premier League games for the first time since winning their first six under Ole Gunnar Solskjær back in January.
- Everton’s Gylfi Sigurdsson has scored four goals in his last five Premier League away games against Manchester United. Indeed, in Premier League history only Steven Gerrard (5) has scored more goals at Old Trafford as a visiting player than Sigurdsson (4).
- As a player, Everton caretaker manager Duncan Ferguson scored more Premier League goals against Man Utd than he did against any other side (7 goals in 16 games). However, the Scotsman also lost more games against the Red Devils than any other team (10).
Wolves v Tottenham Hotspur
Wolves have only lost once in the league at home this season, and Tottenham's away form overall remains dismal even if Jose Mourinho did mastermind a rare victory at West Ham - although that's looking less and less impressive as the Hammers continue to disappoint.
Spurs played right into the hands of Man United in their last away game before thumping Burnley, and that kind of sums up where they are right now.
They are able to pick apart lesser opposition but are not yet equipped to keep out better sides with their defence still needing work.
Nuno's Wolves are a tough side to beat, only two sides have managed it in the league this season, and preference was immediately for the draw with 14 stalemates between them so far this season and with Wolves having played in the Europa League during the week.
Wolves are unbeaten in 11 though, so Thursday night football hasn't necessarily meant defeats, but what it has meant is they've often started slowly and come on strong later on in games - as shown by them scoring last in nine of those 11 games.
Spurs have also been susceptible to conceding late goals themselves, so while there's some confidence behind the draw, there's more in the hosts to strike last.
Prediction: Wolves 1-1 Tottenham (Sky Bet odds: 11/2)
Best bet: Wolves to score the last goal at 11/8
- Spurs have only lost one of their five Premier League away games against Wolves (W3 D1), going down 0-1 in February 2010.
- Wolves are now unbeaten in 11 Premier League games (W5 D6), last having a longer run without defeat in the top-flight between February-September 1959 (18).
- Since the start of last season, Wolves have taken more points from the 2018-19 top six than any other side who finished outside of these places last term (21 – W5 D6 L5).
- Tottenham have won three of their four Premier League matches under José Mourinho (L1), as many as they did in their final 15 under Mauricio Pochettino (W3 D6 L6). They’ve scored three goals-per-game under Mourinho, compared to 1.3 in those final 15 under Pochettino.
- Tottenham have lost 10 of their last 14 Premier League away games (W1 D3) – their previous 10 defeats on the road came across a 44-game spell. Indeed, Spurs last suffered more away league defeats in a single calendar year back in 2006 (11).
Odds correct as of 1500 GMT on 13/12/19
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