Premier League preview and predictions: Game Week 21

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Football continues to come close and fast during Christmas, with more matches planned for the New Year weekend.

Manchester City have changed their style in recent weeks and have a form side to deal with on Saturday when they travel to London to face Arsenal.

Elsewhere, Chelsea host Liverpool on Sunday with both sides wanting to keep up with current league leaders City, while Manchester United end the weekend with a home game against Wolves.

Let’s take a look at the matches and check out the current state of the Premier League.

Former colleagues Arteta and Guardiola meet again on Saturday / Laurence Griffiths / GettyImages

When is kick off? Saturday, January 1, 12:30 PM (GMT)Where is it played? Emirates Stadium, LondonTV channel? BT Sport 1 (UK), NBC / fuboTV (USA), DAZN (Canada)Highlights? BBC Match of the Day (UK), Sky Sports Football YouTube channelJudge? Stuart AtwellWHERE? Jarred Gillet

After a lousy start to the season, it looks good again for Arsenal.

With stars such as Martin Odegaard, Emile Smith Rowe, Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli all contributing up front, the Gunners have not suffered from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s expulsion from the squad. They have won their last four Premier League matches, and shot up to fourth place in the process.

Saturday’s early kick-off with the current league leaders is, however, a completely new type of acid test.

Manchester City look like title winners again and have created a gap between themselves and the hunting group thanks to ten straight wins. It’s hard for anyone to compete against that kind of form, and although Mikel Arteta’s side may get a hit themselves, Pep Guardiola’s outfit should be too strong and unbeatable to handle at the Emirates.

Prediction: Arsenal 1-3 Manchester City

Read the full 90mins preview of Arsenal vs Manchester City here.

The club can confirm that our planned match against Leicester City (Saturday, January 1) has been postponed following a decision by the Premier League board. ⬇️ # NCFC | #LEINOR

– Norwich City FC (@NorwichCityFC) December 30, 2021

Unfortunately, there will be no football on New Year’s Day at King Power Stadium.

Norwich have struggled with squad availability in recent weeks and a combination of Covid-19 cases and injuries forced the Canary Islands to postpone their trip to Leicester.

Two Italians take the road at Vicarage Road / ADRIAN DENNIS / GettyImages

When is kick off? Saturday, January 1, 3:00 PM (GMT)Where is it played? Vicarage Road, WatfordTV channel? Premier Player (UK) NBC / fuboTV (USA), DAZN (Canada)Highlights? BBC Match of the Day (UK), Sky Sports Football YouTube channelJudge? Robert JonesWHERE? Lee Mason

Things are just starting to get a little tough for Watford at the bottom of the table.

The Hornets have lost five games on trot and are just two points ahead of 18th place Burnley, who have one game in progress.

They probably did not need a match with Antonio Conte’s rejuvenated Spurs, who are unbeaten in the Italian’s first seven league games.

They fought on in Southampton and only managed to play 1-1 even though they had a player advantage, but they should not have the same problem on Vicarage Road.

Prediction: Watford 0-2 Tottenham

Read the full 90mins preview of Watford vs Tottenham here.

Palace broke Norwich last / Chloe Knott – Danehouse / GettyImages

When is kick off? Saturday, January 1, 5:30 PM (GMT)Where is it played? Selhurst Park, LondonTV channel? Sky Sports Main Event (UK) NBC / fuboTV (USA), DAZN (Canada)Highlights? BBC Match of the Day (UK), Sky Sports Football YouTube channelJudge? Michael OliverWHERE? Chris Kavanagh

This should be an entertaining meeting to end Saturday’s action.

Both Crystal Palace and West Ham put rocky spots behind them in their recent excursions and took wins against Norwich and Watford respectively.

Some recent hiccups have seen the Hammers fall behind in the race for the Champions League qualifiers, but they are back on the horse again and should get three points here.

Forecast: Crystal Palace 1-2 West Ham

Read the full 90mins preview of Crystal Palace vs West Ham here.

Thomas Franks Brentford ran Man City close in his last match / Chloe Knott – Danehouse / GettyImages

When is kick off? Sunday 2 January, 14:00 (GMT)Where is it played? Brentford Community Stadium, BrentfordTV channel? Sky Sports Main Event (UK), Peacock (USA), DAZN (Canada)Highlights? BBC Match of the Day (UK), Sky Sports Football YouTube channelJudge? Craig PawsonWHERE? Michael Oliver

Even with his current injury list, Brentford gave a good account of themselves in the 1-0 loss to Manchester City.

They could not find a draw after Phil Foden’s start, but Bees has a more realistic chance to score on Sunday when they host Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa.

The villa has won and lost alternately since the end of November but was last defeated 3-1 at home by Chelsea. They should be able to bounce back here in what could be an entertaining points draw.

Prediction: Brentford 1-1 Aston Villa

Rafa hits a powerful bag / Chloe Knott – Danehouse / GettyImages

When is kick off? Sunday 2 January, 14:00 (GMT)Where is it played? Goodison Park, LiverpoolTV channel? NBC / fuboTV (USA), DAZN (Canada)Highlights? BBC Match of the Day (UK), Sky Sports Football YouTube channelJudge? John BrooksWHERE? Stuart Atwell

Everton are likely to be quite rusty on Sunday, having had their last three Premier League matches postponed.

They have not played since mid-December and are hosting a team from Brighton that is almost impossible to predict.

The Seagulls rarely make things easy but they stole a late point in Chelsea last time thanks to Danny Welbeck’s nod.

For two sides struggling to finish matches, a draw seems quite realistic.

Prediction: Everton 1-1 Brighton

Leeds are unbeaten in their last four games / Stu Forster / GettyImages

When is kick off? Sunday 2 January, 14:00 (GMT)Where is it played? Elland Road, LeedsTV channel? Peacock (USA), DAZN (Canada)Highlights? BBC Match of the Day (UK), Sky Sports Football YouTube channelJudge? Kevin’s friendWHERE? Graham Scott

This really has scrapfest written all over it.

Leeds have all kinds of injuries that hurt their squad at the moment, although Raphinha is still performing excellently and Patrick Bamford may be available up front. The form has been difficult to achieve – they conceded 14 goals in their losses against Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal.

Burnley catch up after receiving a number of postponed matches and could not get a positive result against Manchester United on Thursday, which went down 3-1 at Old Trafford.

Both teams need points to push themselves away from the relegation zone, but Leeds’ high-octane strategy can help them overwhelm the Clarets.

Prediction: Leeds 2-1 Burnley

???? ??? ❌ #NUFC’s match against Southampton at St. Mary’s on Sunday has been postponed due to ongoing Covid-19 falls and injuries among Magpie’s first team squad.

– Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) 31 December 2021

Another of the postponed matches of the Christmas period.

Newcastle will be happy that this match has been postponed given that Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin both went with injuries earlier this week.

Chelsea were shocked late by Brighton / Justin Setterfield / GettyImages

When is kick off? Sunday 2 January, 16:30 (GMT)Where is it played? Stamford Bridge, LondonTV channel? Sky Sports Main Event (UK), NBC / fuboTV (USA), DAZN (Canada)Highlights? BBC Match of the Day (UK), Sky Sports Football YouTube channelJudge? Anthony TaylorWHERE? Paul Tierney

Chelsea had looked like a powerhouse that won the Premier League title earlier in the season, but injuries have ravaged Thomas Tuchel’s squad and they are now eight points behind leader Manchester City.

Draws have been their crutch recently, and they have failed to find a winner in three of their last four matches, with the 1-1 draw with Brighton as a particular disappointment.

Liverpool have suffered a similar dropout and drew with Spurs before losing to Leicester. Mohamed Salah is goalless in his last two matches, even though he has scored 15 league goals already this season, so there are hardly any panic stations for him yet.

The Reds may be able to get away from Stamford Bridge on Sunday, but it will certainly be a tight deal.

Prediction: Chelsea 1-2 Liverpool

United sawed off by Burnley / Dan Mullan / GettyImages

When is kick off? Monday 3 January, 17:30 (GMT)Where is it played? Old Trafford, ManchesterTV channel? Sky Sports Main Event (UK), NBC / fuboTV (USA), DAZN (Canada)Highlights? BBC Match of the Day (UK), Sky Sports Football YouTube channelJudge? Mike DeanWHERE? Andre Marriner

Manchester United’s journey to chase a top four spot continues as they end the game week’s schedule with a clash against frugal Wolves on Monday night.

Burnley did not prove to be a match for Ralf Rangnick’s team on Thursday when the Red Devils took a regular 3-1 victory, but Wolves have proved to be a difficult nut to crack for most top six teams this semester.

The Wanderers have had their last two games postponed but had registered a victory in Brighton before holding Chelsea’s draw.

For more from Jude Summerfield, follow him on Twitter!

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