Second Place Within Sight As Chelsea Host Stoke At The Weekend
Three wins out of the last four games has seen Chelsea move to within a point of second place. They will be looking to continue that run and build pressure on the sides around them with a win at home to Stoke tomorrow. Chelsea have won the last three against Stoke in the Premier League including the 4-0 win earlier in the season. Stoke, however, have found some form over the festive period and picked up four points in the last two games. That run had helped move them away from the bottom three but they will be considering any points in this game a bonus.
Manchester City must wait until Sunday to see if they can continue their winning streak. Wednesday’s win at Newcastle was their 18th league victory in a row, extending their record. They now travel to Crystal Palace who have only won twice in this fixture through the years. Palace’s last win in this game came in April 2015, but only twice have they beaten City in the Premier League. Last nights defeat to Arsenal kept Palace in 16th place. A win on Sunday could move them up as high as 12th, but a hefty defeat may mean they slide back into the bottom three.
Two points from the Christmas games has seen Manchester United fall further behind the league leaders and into the chasing pack. They are now 15 points off the top but are still sitting in second. They face an out of form Southampton side at Old Trafford. Southampton have performed well in this fixture in recent years and won back to back games in 2015 and 2016. They have, however, picked up just two points from their last five league games and sit 14th.
Liverpool haven’t lost in their last 11 league games ahead of their home match against Leicester. Four draws in that run though has hindered their climb up the table and they sit 4th at the moment. They hold only a one-point advantage over the sides below them and so continuing to win is vital. Leicester had been on a good run themselves but two defeats and a draw in their last three games has halted that form. They are 8th in the table, 11 points behind Liverpool, and looking more likely to slide back down the league than mount a challenge for Europe at the moment.
Arsenal remain just a point outside the top four following their win over Crystal Palace last night. They now travel to West Brom searching for the win which could help them break into the Champions League places. With a difficult schedule coming up, Arsenal will be hoping that West Brom’s poor run continues in this game. The home side have not won in the league since August and have since tumbled to the bottom two places in the table. They did win this fixture last season though and a repeat of that result could move them out of the relegation places.
Burnley’s run of difficult fixtures has seen them drop points over the last few games and they travel to a resurgent Huddersfield this weekend. Points in four of their last five games have helped to put their season back on track and ended a run of four straight defeats. They are now 11th in the table and, although still a long way from survival, are giving themselves a good chance. Burnley are an impressive 7th but they need to pick up their form again soon to avoid a slide down the league.
Everton are yet to beat Bournemouth away from home in the league but get another shot this weekend. They travel to face a side who have fallen into the relegation zone after gaining one point from four games. The Boxing Day draw at home to West Ham would have helped their confidence a little and it ended a three-game losing run. Everton have not lost in their last seven league games and have turned their season around. A win this weekend could move them into the top eight and within sight of the European places.
Watford’s win at home to Leicester last time out ended a six-game winless run. After an impressive start to the season, they have dropped to 10th and into the mid-table battle. A win at home to Swansea on Saturday could help improve the situation and start a good run for the Hornets. Swansea are in a bad run themselves after three defeats from their last four games. They are now bottom of the league and losing ground each week. They are now five points from safety and that could increase over the coming weeks if they cannot change their form. It won’t be easy though as they have never beaten Watford away from home in the Premier League.
Both Newcastle and Brighton have just one win in their last five league games and the pair meet in the northeast on Saturday. Earlier in the season, Brighton won 1-0 and a repeat result could move them to 11th in the table. Newcastle, however, are just a point above the relegation places but a win would take them level on points with their opponents.
Tottenham Hotspur vs West Ham United is postponed this week and will take place after the next fixtures. Spurs are currently 5th and could fall further behind the top four if results go against them.
For Chelsea, second place at the end of the season would be a disappointment, especially after last seasons win. This, however, is a difficult season to judge at the moment as Man City seem that far ahead of the rest. If they crumble in the second half of the season then Chelsea need to position themselves in order to take advantage. Good results throughout January could lay the foundations for a second place, or who knows, higher when the season ends.