Boxing Day Predictions: Tottenham, Liverpool, United to win, Arsenal, Newcastle, City to lose and more

2008 has been a remarkable season for English football. Richest league (and club) world. Best player in the world. An all-English Champions League final. English World Champions. England topping their World Cup qualifying group. English clubs being the most feared in Europe, even if (as in Arsenal’s case) they can’t defend a throw-in to safe their lives.

And yet as time passes, many things stay the same.

The Chelsea manager is under pressure despite doing relatively well for a Premiership newcomer, Liverpool are dropping points but claiming this is their year, Arsenal are bottling the small games and rocking the big ones, Sunderland and West Ham are finding it hard to cope with the rigours of an ever-improving Premier League, some mid-table club is the underdog (and hence the media’s favourite) for making the last Champions League spot, Tottenham are already planning for next season and Newcastle are being embarrassed by their owner.

And everyone hates Manchester United, who, mathematically at least, have the best chance of winning the Premier League (2 games in hand, home games against top league rivals, 7 points off the lead).

Here are our predictions for the Boxing Day fixtures – have a look and then make your own predictions:

Boxing Day Predictions

Stoke City v Manchester United

Manchester United eased past Stoke City 5-0 in the reverse fixture last moth and fresh from their Club World Cup win will be looking to secure the 3 points and keep the pressure on the league leaders. They have no new injury worries and Patrice Evra’s suspension should not worry them too much with O’Shea capable of slotting in at left-back.

Stoke have beaten Arsenal at Britannia but are going to have to work much harder if they want to stop Manchester United and just about the only thing working in their favor is the fact that Manchester United were playing half-way across the world last week and that will definitely impact player performances a bit.

Prediction: Manchester United.

Chelsea v West Brom

Don’t let Chelsea’s poor home record this season lull you into a sense of comfort – this is a game they are going to win with both hands tied behind their back. Terry will be suspended for this and the next two games but overall Chelsea have too much quality to be upset by a team staring at relegation.

There has been talk of Mowbray’s West Brom doing a Robson’s West Brom and staying up after being bottom at Christmas but this is a much tougher league than 4 years ago and West Brom will find that will other teams will be dropping points left and right, they’ll still find it near-impossible to pick up enough points.

Prediction: Chelsea.

Portsmouth v West Ham United

Pompey’s home and league advantage (10th to West Ham’s 17th) counts for little when you take into account their form and the points difference (4). Two struggling sides going into a game which is likely to be combative and more Championship than Champions League.

If Portsmouth can’t stop conceding goals, West Ham can’t seem to score any, and regardless of how this match goes the season for these two teams is not going to get much better.

Prediction: Draw.

Tottenham Hotspur v Fulham

Tottenham’s revival under Harry Redknapp has gone the way of Tottenham’s revival under Juande Ramos, with little in the team’s performances to suggest that things have changed for the better since Martin Jol. On the other hand, Fulham are on a bit of a high, an unbeaten run and going to play Tottenham in a game that both Woodgate and King may miss (but at least one of them is likely to play).

Still, Tottenham’s recent home record against Fulham and Fulham’s overall away record means that there is only one likely result.

Prediction: Tottenham.

Liverpool v Bolton Wanderers

Both teams are doing relatively well in the league and in other seasons you would give hard-playing side like Bolton a whiff of a chance against Liverpool but despite Sammy Lee taking care of matters in Rafa’s absence, this year’s Liverpool should have no trouble in doing the business against Bolton.

The only question is whether Torres will make a return, and he might get a cameo role or most likely held back for the next game.

Prediction: Liverpool.

Manchester City v Hull City

A Bizarro world match, with pre-season top-6 favourites Manchester City, now in danger of getting stuck in a relegation dogfight, taking on pre-season relegation contenders Hull City, now looking a valid bet for a top 6 or top 8 finish.

The only good piece of news for City is that Robinho should be fit to play but overall Manchester City are a mess and if Hull City’s enterprise can create three goals at Old Trafford, they can very well go on and beat Manchester City.

Prediction: Hull City.

Middlesbrough v Everton

Everton will be brimming with confidence on the back of their impressive away record this season and the home draw with Chelsea in their last game. They have the quality to hold off Boro but the quality of Alves will be difficult to contend against and we are likely to see Boro turn around their disappointing home form this season and get at least a point from this game.

Prediction: Middlesbrough.

Sunderland v Blackburn Rovers

Sunderland have scored eight goals in their last two games but are set to struggle against a Blackburn side managed by Sam Allardyce. Sunderland’s defending has been their undoing earlier in this season and Blackburn should be able to exploit these weaknesses again, although whether his own side can keep a clean sheet is a different story.

Prediction: Draw.

Wigan Athletic v Newcastle United

There’s little to separate Wigan and Newcastle going into this game and given the form of both sides you could be excused for putting this down as a draw and moving on.

However, Wigan’s squad is in a slightly better shape than Newcastle and their home advantage coupled with recent form means as long as they can score in this fixture they shouldn’t have too many problems in taking all three points.

Prediction: Wigan.

Aston Villa v Arsenal

The match of the day. 3rd vs 5th. A win for Villa takes them into next year in the top four and puts Arsenal’s Champions League qualification hopes at a slight risk. Villa have doubts on Laursen’s and Cuellar’s fitness but Arsenal’s problems are arguably much greater – Fab’s absence means a weak and inexperienced central midfield will be ruthlessly exploited by Martin O’Neill and with Adebayor suspended, Arsenal have a big hill to climb over on Friday.

In all previous ‘must-win’ games or ‘must-avoid-defeat’ games, Arsenal have won or at least avoided defeat. Here’s their 4th such game of the season and against a side that has already beaten them this season at the Emirates – can Wenger’s kids avoid defeat and live to fight another day?

Prediction: Aston Villa.

Your Predictions

You can copy-paste the fixture list and add your predictions in the comments section.

Stoke City v Manchester United
Chelsea v West Bromwich Albion
Portsmouth v West Ham United
Tottenham Hotspur v Fulham
Liverpool v Bolton Wanderers
Manchester City v Hull City
Middlesbrough v Everton
Sunderland v Blackburn Rovers
Wigan Athletic v Newcastle United
Aston Villa v Arsenal

Relegation Watch: Tottenham, West Ham, Manchester City, Newcastle and Sunderland all struggling
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