Liverpool are the only unbeaten team in the Premier League but Manchester City have the superior goal difference by eight. The league leaders deserve respect for not losing any of their first 17 matches. Liverpool have conceded just seven goals in those fixtures and the forwards are now showing the form they produced last season. They are aiming to be the champions of England for the first time since 1990. The club can stay on track with a win at Wolves on Friday night.
The home side can expect to earn more points after Christmas than during the first half of the season. In fact Wolves have the potential to break into the top six. They have won their last three matches in the Premier League and are now in seventh place, just one point and one position behind Manchester United. Wolves have underachieved based on statistics but avoiding defeat against Liverpool even at home looks beyond them.
Arsenal lost to Southampton in their last league match after an unbeaten run of 14 fixtures. However, they have conceded 23 goals which is the highest total of the top five by seven goals. Arsenal also have the worst goal difference of the quintet of teams at the top of the table. The club has new energy under Unai Emery but Arsenal could be in a slightly false position but are 8 points ahead of Manchester United in sixth place. Burnley are at the Emirates on Saturday.
Burnley overachieved last season based on wealth and their wage bill and playing in the Europa League at the start of the season did not help. The weekly cycle of playing on Thursday and Sunday set the club back at the start of the season. Burnley are now in the bottom three and a match at Arsenal is unlikely to bring any points. However, they are slowly turning things around and losing to Arsenal on the road would be expected of a team further up the table.
Cardiff have limited resources but two wins in four fixtures have taken them into 16th place ahead of the home match against Manchester United. However, only one of their 14 points has been won away from home and they have already played six of the bottom nine at home. Cardiff have the least financial clout in the Premier League which means other clubs can afford to spend more money during the transfer window.
Finishing in the top four looks out of reach but United still have the quality to pick up three points in South Wales.
Tottenham are third in the Premier League despite a difficult start to the season. Nine of their squad were involved in the World Cup semi-finals. The club did not invest in players during the summer and there is the ongoing issue of the new stadium. Nobody really knows if Mauricio Pochettino will have his head turned by overtures from Manchester United. Tottenham visit Everton on Sunday afternoon.
The home team are still in the top half of the table despite no wins in four fixtures. Losing at Manchester City is no disgrace and they were within a fluke goal at Liverpool in the 96th minutes from drawing the Merseyside derby. Everton look destined for mid-table safety, with little chance of qualifying for the Champions League and free of relegation issues. A draw at home to Tottenham would fit that scenario which means there should be no shocks in the live TV matches.
Today’s Sports Betting Preview – By Rick Elliott
The Baby Faced Assassin Is Back At Old Trafford
Three words are engrained in the heart and mind of Manchester United fans: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, otherwise known as the baby faced assassin. The clubs new caretaker manager scored the winning goal against Bayern Munich in the final of the 1998-99 Champions League in Barcelona. He has been plucked from the mediocrity of Norwegian football to take over at one of the biggest football clubs in the world.
The United cult hero is unproven in management at this level and his only Premier League experience was a disaster at Cardiff City in 2014. Mauricio Pochettino is the favourite to be in charge at Old Trafford at the start of next season while SOLSKJAER is 3/1 with William Hill to be the permanent appointment.
There are eight second round matches in the PDC World Championship today, starting from 12:40 until about 10pm. The closest match according to the betting is Mervyn King against Jan Dekker. The former is the marginal favourite and should have enough to beat an opponent who has had a poor season. KING is 20/23 with Betfair to progress to the third round of the world darts.
There are two huge jumps festivals over Christmas in Britain and Ireland, both starting on Boxing Day. Kempton over two days and Leoparsdtown over four stage several mid-season championship races that could have implications for similar contests at the Cheltenham Festival. The King George V1 Chase and Christmas Hurdle are the features at Kempton but there are eight Grade 1 races at Leoparsdtown
The best trainers and jockeys come to the fore at the Irish track at this time of the year. Six days ahead of the meeting APPLE’S JADE is the banker at 4/5 with Paddy Power to win Ireland’s Christmas Hurdle. The race and the other 27 races over four days will be covered by our Leopardstown Christmas Festival special.
Chelmsford should be applauded for putting up over £100,000 in prize money at tonight’s All-Weather fixture. The feature race is the Class 2 handicap over one mile and six furlongs at 8pm. On ratings there is very little to choose between most of the field but one horse is progressive and stands out at the weights. AIRCRAFT CARRIER is well treated and is the nap of the day at 15/8 with Coral.