02 Dec, 17:30
After a week of blood-pumping Champions League action, we are back to the domestic league action.
December is here and we are slowly but surely approaching the tight bend, where league front runners are expected to take a step forward from the rest of the pack. In the English Premier League, it is still a little too early to call. It is however, not false to deduce that defending champions Leicester will certainly not be amongst the teams contesting for the diadem this season.
Burnley is first up, hosting Manchester City. This looks like an extremely tricky fixture, where City will certainly be cautious. It is Burnley's impressive record at home, that will keep City on red alert. Burnley recorded a 1-0 victory over City last term, a fete they would want to replicate. The Clarets have won four of their last six matches at Turf Moor and collected 13 of their 14 points at the same venue.
City has not won back to back league ties since September, and Pep will be keen to break that record by winning at Turf Moor. Interestingly, Sergio Aguero will be keen to help his side to victory, and break his record of failing to score against Burnley. This should be a really tight one, with fewer goals. City is likely to come out top with a tiny margin.
Defending champions Leicester welcome Middlesbrough to the King Power stadium for another top drawer.
Both sides have a couple of injury worries ahead of the trip, with George Friend the biggest worry for Boro. Danny Drinkwater is likely to miss a place as Leicester line up for this one.
Leicester lies a point above Boro on the log. The head to head record between the two sides tips in Leicester’s favour. Further, The Foxes are unbeaten in their last 12 meetings against Middleborough. This should be a tough for Boro, and Leicester should earn a routine victory here.
On song Liverpool face a rejuvenated Sunderland side that has recorded back to back victories and boasts of the division's top scorers Jermaine Defoe.
This will a strong tactical battle, where Jurgen Klopp and his men should not have an easy sail.
Both sides have good scorers in their fortes and we expect both sides to register at least a goal. Over the last couple matches, Liverpool have adopted a ‘you score three, we score four mentality’ hence this is likely to be a high scoring tie, with the Reds coming out top with a small margin.
Chelsea versus Spurs is the toast of the day as a fierce battle is expected between the two sides at Stamford Bridge.
Unbeaten Spurs face a stern test, and statistically, this could be Mauricio Pochettino’s maiden league loss this season.
Ahead of the clash, everything seems to tip in Chelsea’s advantage. Antonio Conte and his men are on a strong winning streak, a solid home advantage and an strong head to head record over Spurs. Plus Conte has a fully fit squad to pick from. Only 6 of the current Spurs players were born when their team last defeated Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Both teams have a strong defensive record and hence we might witness fewer goals too.
Arsenal get to business on Sunday with a match against AFC Bournemouth. The Gunners are on their longest unbeaten run for nine years. Despite boasting that record, there is still some silent murmurs amongst discontent faithfuls who still do not have strong faith in their side's ability to contest for the league title.
However, with December approaching, Gunners look to have an edge over Bournemouth in terms of quality, and hence should win.
A Manchester United side that has had to endure a wavy campaign thus far welcomes a rising West Ham United to the Old Trafford for a top of the table encounter.
United’s only undoing this season has been in defense, and it just got worse with the laying off of defenders Eric Bailly and Chris Smalling. However, United’s midfield and attack have compensated for the defensive issues.
The Hammers too have a solid defense that has shown great potential too. We are likely to witness a goal fest here.
Ronald Koeman meets his former employers at the Saint Mary’s Stadium. This is a tight match, where both sides know each other quite well. Saints are quite defensive, and both sides are likely to sit back and serve us a boring tie, to seal the business in round 13.