Stoke City 1 Chelsea 2
A route one approach involving Peter Crouch gave Chelsea serious food for thought in the reverse fixture.
Antonio Conte could thus deploy Kurt Zouma as part of his back three and move Cesar Azpilicueta to right wing back. Alternatively, he could have Nemanja Matic, Cesc Fabregas and Ngolo Kante playing at the same time.
Boro 1 Man Utd 1
Adopting an ultra defensive approach eventually cost Aitor Karanka his job. Boro should thus benefit from the bounce that comes with appointing a new tactician. Playing both Rudy Gestede and Alvaro Negredo from the start is key to getting a result from a United side reeling under the weight of fixture congestion with Zlatan Ibrahimovic out
West Ham 1 Leicester 1
While Burnley are the team often cited as clueless on the road, outgoing champions Leicester aren’t too far behind. Craig Shakespeare’s side are yet to win away from home. I reckon that will be a factor as Manuel Lanzini and Michail Antonio trouble them.
Sunderland 1 Burnely 1
If Sunderland don’t win this English Premier League (EPL) game, they are cooked. Simple as that. And yet they don’t seem to have adequate quality to break down organised defences. Last Sunday at Anfield, Burnley showed the mettle and skill that is needed to thrive at difficult away grounds. Even Stevens is my call.
Bournemouth 3 Swansea 2
A first victory of the new year fell Bournemouth’s way in their last fixture despite the Cherries missing two penalties. This means they are creating chances. Swansea didn’t play with their usual energy at Hull City where they were torn apart by Oumar Niasse. Joshua King will be hoping for a similar return.
Man City 2 Liverpool 1
If the EPL was awarded on the basis of results between the top six, Kop would be thriving. Jurgen Klopp has bossed most of ties against direct rivals for Champions League qualification. Unfortunately, I can’t see him matching City. With Phillipe Coutinho off form and Jordan Henderson out injured, the gengenpress is impossible to execute.
Everton 2 Hull City 0
Hull City’s mini revival has been premised on strong home form and goals from on loan Everton striker Oumar Niasse. In his absence, I don’t think Hull will carry a sufficient attacking threat to puncture Everton’s back three.
West Brom 1 Arsenal 1
West Brom have taken their eyes off the ball. It may have something to do with reaching the 40-point mark. However, I remain sceptical about Arsenal’s ability to put together a winning run. There is too much acrimony over the Bayern debacle and uncertainty over the futures of Arsene Wenger, Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil.
C. Palace 2 Watford 1
Confidence should be high among the Palace faithful after Andros Townsend’s brilliance helped the Eagles to an unlikely victory at West Brom. This is a tight call given that this is a London derby. But I am backing Palace’s big name players to provide the difference.
Spurs 2 Southampton 1
Manager Claude Puel is building himself a formidable Southampton outfit. I have been truly impressed by Nathan Redmond and Manolo Gabbiadini. But even without their injured talisman Harry Kane, Spurs should edge it. They have won 10 in a row at White Hart Lane and they simply can’t afford any more slip ups.