Chelsea will be looking to kickstart the New Year with a win after a torrid end to 2019 that saw them throw away a comfortable lead in the race for Champions League qualification.
The Blues developed an unfortunate inhibition against teams in the bottom half of the table and slipped to unlikely defeats against relegation-threatened West Ham, Bournemouth and Southampton at Stamford Bridge.
Brighton are in a similar position to those teams and pose a similar threat to Chelsea’s hopes of playing elite European football next season. Graham Potter’s men currently lie five points clear of the relegation zone and require a couple of wins in January to give themselves breathing room in the battle to stave off the drop. They will not fear a Chelsea team who have dropped points against the three teams placed directly below them in recent weeks and will look to spring an upset.
Chelsea’s consistency has dipped to hitherto unseen levels under Frank Lampard and there is no longer any confidence that they can win any given game. They were as lethargic against Southampton as they were superb against Tottenham and it seems as though they are beginning to mimic Manchester United – excellent against teams above them and insipid against relegation fodder.
It wouldn’t be a major shock if they didn’t manage to win on the South Coast.
Pick: Brighton (+1) @ 5/6
The other early kick-off, running concurrently with the above fixture, sees two teams in desperate need of a win for different reasons.
Aston Villa need the three points in order to leapfrog West Ham and clamber out of the relegation zone. The Villans have endured a difficult week, despite beating basement boys Norwich at home on Boxing Day. Suffering comprehensive defeats at the hands of Southampton and Watford – two of their closest relegation rivals – has left their Premier League survival in a perilous situation. Their defeat to a rejuvenated Watford was especially substandard and they need an improvement, fast.
Burnley, meanwhile, need a win to arrest a worrying run of results that has seen them lose five of their last seven and fall closer to the bottom three.
Their form since Christmas has been particularly worrying. Sean Dyche has seen his side have just one shot on target in 180 minutes as Burnley slipped to lacklustre defeats against both Everton and Manchester United.
Against United, Burnley’s tactics genuinely centred around aimless long balls into Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood that made life extremely easy for United’s centre back pairing. That it was United’s first away clean sheet in the league since February is indicative of Burnley’s plight in front of goal.
Wednesday’s winner will boil down to who can snap their losing momentum and Villa have a greater need to do so. That, coupled with Burnley’s impotency in front of goal, could swing it for them.
Pick: Aston Villa to win @ 3/1
A £/€1 double on these selections returns £/€7.94 including stake on pp.com. Odds correct at time of posting, subject to change.