For the first time in Premier League history, there will be a winter break. However, unlike in other countries, the teams will have differing weekends off, which means there will still be action in England’s top flight as Manchester City host West Ham United and Everton host Crystal Palace.
Manchester City vs West Ham United
Any hopes that Manchester City had of winning the Premier League title for the third year in a row have ended, but they will still be hoping to finish the season in second place. City’s form over recent weeks has plummeted, as they have lost back to back games against Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur. However, this is a good fixture for them to get themselves back into form.
City’s last game against Tottenham Hotspur was one of the strangest of the season, as Jose Mourinho’s side produced a smash and grab. The game changed in the first half as Ilkay Gundogen missed from the spot. City continued to create the best chances and just couldn’t find a way through. They were made to pay three minutes after Oleksandr Zinchenko was sent off as Steven Bergwijn scored on his debut for Spurs. Tottenham doubled their lead shortly after through Heung Min-Son. It was typical of City’s luck on the afternoon that they struck the crossbar in the final seconds of the game, but they will need to be more clinical against the Hammers.
West Ham haven’t won a game since David Moyes’ first match in charge against Bournemouth. Since then, they have gone five Premier League games without a win. Their last game was evidence of why they find themselves in the position that they are. They squandered a two-goal lead to allow Brighton back into the game, and made two terrible defensive mistakes to help Brighton scored three.
It is almost impossible to see past Manchester City for this fixture. Despite being unlucky in front of goal over recent weeks, they will get their chances in this match. City should win by at least three if West Ham continues to defend as they have done over recent weeks.
Everton vs Crystal Palace
Carlo Ancelotti is starting to make his impression at Goodison Park, as the Toffees have only been beaten once in the seven games that he has been in charge for. Their only defeat during that run of games was against Manchester City at the Etihad.
Everton aren’t exactly setting the world on fire with their beautiful attacking displays, but they are grinding out results, and that has seen them enter the top half of the table. They are now just four points off fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur. Their last game in the Premier League saw the Toffees fightback from 2-0 down to secure a 3-2 win against Watford. Yerry Mina scored twice in first-half injury time before Theo Walcott scored the winner in the final minutes.
Crystal Palace ended the festive period in a safe spot in the top half of the table. However, their recent form has seen them drop down the table quickly. They haven’t won in their last five league games, and they have lost their last two games. Their recent defeat came against Sheffield United, where an own goal from Vicente Guita was the decisive moment in the game. Palace have struggled in front of goal throughout the season, but they will need to start scoring to ease that six-point gap between themselves and the relegation places.
Everton have been in strong form, and a win in this game could open the door for a potential finish in the Europa League places. Punters will have enough confidence in Dominic Calvert-Lewin leading the Toffees to a narrow win.