Burnley v Manchester City @ Turf Moor
Manchester City gets the chance to go top of the table, if only for a couple of hours, when they visit Burnley in the early kick-off on Saturday at Turf Moor. For the visitors, captain Vincent Kompany has suffered a fresh injury blow, ruled out for 4 to 6 weeks with a knee complaint, whilst Sergio Aguero is in some doubt with a foot injury. City got a much needed victory last start with a 2-1 win at Palace, memorable for the return to the team of popular midfielder Yaya Toure who had found himself on the outer with Guardiola. However, looking fit and lean, his double helped City achieve a crucial victory. Burnley were thumped 4-0 at West Brom on Monday Night Football, however have been far harder to toss at home this season. Burnley have 4 wins and a draw from 6 home games, and defeated Manchester City last time the two teams met at Turf Moor back in 2015.
Verdict - Manchester City 2 Burnley 0
Manchester City have been better away from home at times this year and I feel they can overpower Burnley on the road. Expect Burnley to concede close to 80% of possession here and look to strike with a set piece. Whilst I think this game will be tense and tight, City should have too much class.
Hull City v West Bromwich Albion @ KC Stadium
Hull City hosts a resurgent West Bromwich Albion on Saturday at the KC Stadium. Hull had an opportunity to rid themselves of the relegation zone last week when they were thumped on the road 3-0 by fellow cellar dwellers Sunderland. Despite a last start home victory over Southampton, Hull have just one win from their past ten starts, and they need to pick up something from this game to avoid slipping further down the hole. West Brom are up to 9th, after an impressive 2-1 away win at Leicester City was followed by a thumping 4-0 home victory against Burnley. Hull are yet to lose to the Baggies at the KC Stadium in the Premier League with one victory and 2 draws. West Brom are going for three straight victories for the first time since 2012.
Verdict - West Brom 2 Hull 0
West Brom have hit their straps of late and despite being on the road I think they are going far better then Hull. When Tony Pullis's side get the bit between their teeth they can become a very tough nut to crack. Hull just look far too unreliable at the back at the moment and I just can't see them keeping a clean sheet.
Leicester City v Middlesbrough @ King Power Stadium
Champions, Leicester City are in desperate need of a victory as they host fellow strugglers Middlesbrough at the King Power Stadium on Saturday. Leicester have eked out just 14 points from 12 Premier League matches and are in danger of being dragged into a relegation struggle if they don't start picking up victories shortly. They will have to do without star midfielder Danny Drinkwater on Saturday as he is suspended for three matches with a violent conduct charge. Middlesbrough have been extremely competitive of late against some of the big guns of the Premier League. Hard fought draws against Arsenal and Manchester City were followed by a narrow 1-0 home loss to Chelsea. Despite their dogged performances, Karanka’s men remain just one point ahead of the relegation zone on 11 points in 15th spot. The Foxes have an ordinary record against their visitors in the Premier League having not won against Middlesbrough since 2000 with a run of 2 draws and 3 losses since. On the flip side of that, Middlesbrough have a shocking record at the King Power Stadium with 6 draws and 6 losses from their last 12 visits.
Verdict - Leicester City 1 Middlesbrough 1
The Champions are really struggling in the Premier League unlike their Champions League exertions. However they have struggled to back up from these mid-week games and Middlesbrough are proving a tough side this year and I think they can pinch a draw here.
Liverpool V Sunderland @ Anfield
The Reds will be looking to get back in the winners circle against Sunderland after they relinquished top spot to Chelsea last week after a 0-0 draw at Southampton. Jurgen Klopp’s men would have been kicking themselves all the way home from the south coast after squandering a number of opportunities in front of goal on a wild and rainy afternoon. It was just the second blank Liverpool had drawn all season after a 2-0 loss at Burley way back in Week 2. David Moyes' Sunderland finally appear to be showing signs of life with back-to-back victories at Bournemouth and at home to Hull City having propelled them to 8 points. Whilst they remain in last position, Sunderland have been renowned for their shocking starts over the past five years, but each year have somehow found a late escape route. Liverpool have been swashbuckling at home scoring 17 goals from their 5 home matches this season. Sunderland earned a surprise 2-2 when they last visited Liverpool in the Premier League back in February.
Verdict - Liverpool 3 Sunderland 0
David Moyes has got his men on the up swing, however there is no tougher test in football right now than a trip to Anfield. I expect Liverpool to win comfortably.
Swansea City v Crystal Palace @ Liberty Stadium
Two sides in huge form ruts meet when Swansea host Crystal Palace at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday. Despite managing a fighting draw at Everton in their last start, Swansea remain rooted to the bottom of the table with just 6 points and 1 victory from their opening 6 starts. New Manager, Bob Bradley, desperately needs a victory here if he has realistic ambitions of holding on to his job post -Christmas. Alan Pardew is under similar pressure at Crystal Palace after an awful start to the season sees Palace with just 3 victories from 12 games, and just 11 points, leaving them precariously in 16th spot. Pardew could claim his side have been unfortunate at times, losing 5 games by just a single goal including last week’s home game against Manchester City, when City only secured victory with a goal inside the final ten minutes. The two teams played out a 1-1 draw when they last met at the Liberty Stadium in the Premier League back in February.
Verdict - Palace 2 Swansea 1
You could not tip Swansea with stolen money at the moment. I expect to see them struggle again here despite being at home. Palace's form looks pretty rotten, however they have been edged out in a number of games this year and I expect their luck to turn here.
Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur @ Stamford Bridge
It is the match-up of the round here with a fierce London Derby between pace setters Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge in the late kick-off on Saturday. Last year's infamous 2-2 game late in the season at the Bridge all but ended Spurs’ title hopes with the game being named "the battle of the Bridge" as it descended into chaos, with both sides picking up a number of bookings for some vicious tackling. Chelsea are flying high under Antonio Conte, having won their last 6 matches, scoring 17 goals and conceding 0 in the process. After some average performances earlier in the season, the likes of Eden Hazard, Namanja Matic, Gary Cahill and Company look to have rediscovered their best form and Chelsea look every bit a title chance. Spurs got a much-needed victory last week, breaking a sequence of 3 consecutive draws. Their 3-2 win over West Ham proved a dramatic escape with two goals in the final five minutes, reversing the results and leaving Spurs just 4 points behind Chelsea. Spurs have a terrible record at Stamford Bridge, having not won there since way back in 1989.
Verdict - Chelsea 1 Spurs 1
Mouthwatering game at Stamford Bridge which is sure to be fiercely contested. Spurs are undefeated this year and I expect them to prove hard to break down despite Chelsea having the lion's share of the chances. Game could easily have a send-off or two if it is anything like last year's Battle of the Bridge.