While Mikel Arteta can’t have had much time to implement any real change at Arsenal, his appointment should at least give the Gunners a lift for his first game in charge – similar to Jose Mourinho at Tottenham.
And his side need any lift they can get. Their recent win over West Ham looked to have stemmed the tide of endless bad results, but Arsenal have since racked up another three winless games. That solitary win against the Hammers is Arsenal’s only victory in their last 13 games in all competitions and that record simply needs to improve on Boxing Day against Bournemouth.
Eddie Howe’s side are enduring an almost equally terrible run and have lost six of their last seven league games. Their only positive result came recently against a horrendously out of form Chelsea outfit and the Cherries have since reverting to losing ways once again.
With Arteta at the helm, Arsenal should inflict more misery on a Bournemouth side that they have done well against historically.
Pick: Arsenal to win @ 10/11
Watford’s shock win over Manchester United benefitted Sheffield United in their surprise bid for European football almost as much as it benefitted the Hornets in their bid to stave off the threat of relegation.
While Nigel Pearson’s men were compact against United on Sunday, however, they still lacked creativity against the Red Devils and ultimately relied on two moments of madness from United’s defence to eke out a victory.
They will find it even harder to create against one of the most watertight defences in the league on Boxing Day.
Sheffield United have the third best defensive record in the league so far this season and will look to contain a Watford side that boast the worst goalscoring record.
They should complete a fine half season with a win on Thursday.
Thursday also sees a meeting of two of the most inconsistent teams in the league.
Crystal Palace have had their moments this season, but ultimately the Eagles have failed to perform regularly and find themselves in the bottom half of the table as a result.
West Ham, meanwhile, have blown more hot than cold and now teeter increasingly close to the bottom three, leaving serious question marks over Manuel Pellegrini’s future. They have recorded two successive wins on the road though, including a first win at Stamford Bridge in 17 years.
With a rest weekend behind them, the Hammers can make it three from three away from the London Stadium.
Pick: West Ham to win @ 21/10
Chelsea stopped an alarming run of results with a hugely impressive win at Tottenham on Sunday in what was arguably their first win against a big team under Frank Lampard.
They simply have to back that win up on Thursday with another positive result.
Their opponents Southampton have hoisted themselves out of the relegation zone recently with a relatively impressive run of ten points from their last 18.
In truth, Southampton took advantage of a highly favourable run of fixtures and should come unstuck against the sternest challenge they have faced in well over a month.
Pick: Chelsea (-1) @ 10/11
Like Arsenal, Everton should be buoyed by their new managerial appointment on Thursday without being actually tactically influenced by it.
Everton will surely continue with the same tactics that brought them recent success against Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal and employ two banks of four to ensure that they do not concede chances easily against a wildly unpredictable opponent.
Burnley have won their last two games 1-0 in a typically Burnley fashion, but conceded 11 goals in three successive defeats prior to that. Before that run of defeats, the Clarets strung back-to-back 3-0 wins together after suffering a 3-0 reversal themselves at the hands of Sheffield United.
The outcome of Thursday’s game depends greatly on what Burnley turn up, but Everton, with the momentum of a new manager at the helm, should continue their newfound resilience.
Pick: Everton to win @ 8/13
- Arsenal to win @ 10/11
- Sheffield United to win @ 4/5
- West Ham to win @ 21/10
- Chelsea (-1) @ 10/11
- Everton to win @ 8/13
A £/€1 five-fold acca on these selections returns £/€32.85 including stake on pp.com. Odds correct at time of posting, subject to change.