By News Team
18th December 2020
The final round of fixtures before Christmas looks one not to be missed with some great matches in store as teams jostle for position as the hectic festive period begins.
Having a fruitful time of it over the next couple of weeks almost always plays a key role in how the season unfolds, so these matches take on an added significance.
Here is our preview of a selected bunch.
Spurs v Leicester
Jose Mourinho claimed that the ‘better side lost’ as his Spurs side went down 2-1 in a top of the table clash with Liverpool on Wednesday. The late Roberto Firmino header would have been hard to take for Mourinho and the Spurs fans, but there is no doubt that the north London club had the chances to win the game and showed enough to suggest they are very much in this title race.
Mourinho knows how to win titles and he’s got a bunch of players who are clearly buying into his methods, although they haven’t got the biggest squad and it will be interesting to see how they cope if they lose key players. Spurs have lost just one of their last 11 home games in the league, after losing three of their first eight home matches under Mourinho, and they are 11/10 to continue the fine sequence against Leicester on Sunday.
Like many of the teams in the league, Leicester have become very hard to work out. You’ve got the side that pummelled Man City 5-2 at the Etihad, who look like title contenders, and then there’s the side that limply lost 2-0 at home to Fulham. Such inconsistency must be incredibly frustrating for Brendan Rodgers as will the fact that he’s faced Mourinho more times without ever winning in all competitions than he has against any other manager in his career. The Foxes are 13/5 outsiders here.
The visitors will once again be hoping for a bold showing from Jamie Vardy, who has scored 18 goals in his last 18 away Premier League appearances. He has scored away league goals against Spurs at White Hart Lane and Wembley and will be the first player to score away goals against an opponent on three different grounds if he scores against them at 11/10 on Sunday.
Southampton v Man City
High-flying Southampton host Man City on Saturday afternoon and few would have thought that it would be the Saints who would sit higher in the league at this stage. Ralph Hasenhüttl’s side continue to impress and their points haul of 24 leaves them third in the league – and they show no sign of letting up. Southampton were perhaps a tad unlucky not to pick up all three points against Arsenal in midweek, with the Gunners being reduced to 10 men for the final stages and they’ll be looking to back up that solid performance with another against City here.
Southampton, who have lost just twice this season, are 11/2 to take home all three points and, in doing so, complete back-to-back wins against their opponents for the first time since 2003.
Man City continue to struggle for consistency and having played out a drab Manchester Derby at the weekend, they were held by relegation-threatened West Brom in midweek, meaning they are already eight points behind Liverpool, albeit with a game in hand. City are not the only side who are playing short of their best, but the longer they take to get back to that, the more at risk they are of getting detached in the title race.
As such, a win here is imperative for which they are 1/2. Their striker Sergio Aguero has a good record against Southampton having been involved in 10 goals in his last 10 Premier League games against Southampton, scoring six and assisting four. He’s 16/5 to score first at St Mary’s, while he’s 10/11 to score anytime.
Man Utd v Leeds
Fortress Old Trafford has been anything but this season, with Manchester United winning just one of their six home games so far. They’ve taken just five points from their six games at Old Trafford, meaning they are 17th in the home form table. To give that some context, the Red Devils are first in the away table having won all five of their matches. Given their substandard home form, it’s fairly impressive that United sit in the top-half of the league table and a win here could move them closer to the top four. Despite their home struggles, United still go into this as the 7/10 favourites.
After a promising start, Leeds haven’t quite hit their early hights and have lost two of their last three. However, they thumped Newcastle 5-2 in their most recent outing in a performance that looked much of the Leeds side that we’ve become very fond of. Marcelo Bielsa is clearly a superb tactician and his side are a joy to watch, but they do concede frequently and that’s something that is going to harm them in the long run unless they don’t become a bit more pragmatic. Leeds are 7/2 for a win on Sunday.
Given Leeds’ gung-ho attitude, this one has the feel of a game that will have plenty of goal-mouth action, so the 11/8 on over 3.5 goals looks a tempting option.