There are six live TV matches from the Premier League over the Christmas period. Liverpool and Tottenham are featured twice and all the teams from 2nd to 9th in the table will be shown. The anomaly is that viewers will not be able to see Manchester City in live coverage between Friday night and Tuesday evening. That is strange because City will be the 2017/18 Premier League champions. Some bookmakers have already paid out customers who have backed City to win the league.
There is a definite air of playing for second place and is it stands Manchester United are in pole position to finish runners-up. However, the focus may be on the Champions League at that point when Jose Mourinho believes the league has gone. Players could be rested before the big European matches which means United will slip down the table. The pack are gathering but Tottenham could emerge as genuine contenders for second place even though they are currently 10 points off the pace.
Burnley are the surprise package and reached their highest position in the top flight since 1975 after playing one more match than the teams around them in the table. Tottenham can win their two matches covered, away to Burnley and then at home to Southampton. If they pick up maximum points over Christmas they will be right back in the mix for Champions League qualification from their league position. That’s on the cards thanks to two eminently winnable fixtures.
Tottenham have won just two of their last six Premier League matches but that’s a rare run of average form. The best players have not lost their ability and Mauricio Pochettino is still one of the best young managers in the game. Overall Tottenham have under performed over the first half of the season but they have not become a poor side overnight. They have lost in the league at United, Chelsea and Arsenal but until recently were seen by some as the second best team in the league.
Arsenal and Liverpool are now vying for second place and the meeting at the Emirates Stadium on Friday will be critical in that context. The visitors are one point and one position ahead of their opponents in this match but a win for Arsenal would take them above Liverpool. The Gunners face uncertainty over the future of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil but they can help their current employers beat a Liverpool team whose defensive frailties are a major concern. Despite these weaknesses Liverpool will have too much for Swansea at home on Boxing Day.
Leicester were competitive in defeat to Manchester City on penalties in the EFL Cup in their last home fixture. United are in town on Saturday and this fixture smacks of a draw. The home side are looking like a competent mid-table outfit and United are the second most consistent team in the league. Losing to Bristol City in the EFL up is no more than an annoyance because the club are chasing Champions League honours and Mourinho will soon target the competition. United have not been impressive but the manager is a past master at grinding out results on the road.
Chelsea have a thin squad and the demands of European football have taken their toll. Everton under Sam Allardyce have become a tough nut to crack so the meeting at Goodison Park on Saturday could be a scoring draw. The fixture is part of the live action which will not feature the champions-elect because Manchester City are not live on television over Christmas.