Brentford vs Tottenham
Brentford signed off for the World Cup break with an outstanding 2-1 win at Manchester City and it could be argued that the break came at the wrong time for the Bees.
The away-day showing was as good as it gets under Thomas Frank, but at home they have drawn their last two against Chelsea and Wolves. And the warm-up action at home has also seen the Bees continue to struggle.
Defeats to Bordeaux and Celta Vigo were followed by a draw with Wolfsburg, but the time together for Frank and Brentford could prove to be invaluable.
The Bees had just six players at the World Cup, whereas Spurs had 11 players involved, including Hugo Lloris and Cristian Romero, who both played in the World Cup final.
Rodrigo Bentancur and Richarlison sustained injuries on World Cup duty and will miss out while Ivan Perisic is also likely to be absent.
Antonio Conte did not manage to get his squad away for any warm weather training and the XI that drew with Nice may well be pretty close to the side that starts against Brentford. With that in mind it does not make too much sense to back Spurs at a shade odds on.
Instead Brentford, who have thumped Leeds and Man Utd on home soil, could be a value punt.
Leicester vs Newcastle
The King Power Stadium will host two of the Premier League’s most in-form teams on Boxing Day.
Leicester have turned things around in a big way and they have won four of their last five. They also had a tune-up in midweek with a 3-0 win over MK Dons in the EFL Cup.
Brendan Rodgers fielded a strong side and that workout was valuable after some down time and a trip to Abu Dhabi.
However, Newcastle also had a run out in the Carabao Cup and the 1-0 win over Bournemouth kept up their excellent run of form too.
Eddie Howe’s men had won five on the spin before the World Cup and they headed off on their trip to Saudi Arabia in good spirits. Howe put out a strong team and a similar line-up to what he will probably field against the Foxes. It certainly looks like being one of the best games over the Christmas period.
Leicester have been rock solid defensively, keeping a clean sheet in five of their last six Premier League matches. However only Manchester United have stopped Newcastle from scoring in their last nine league games and both teams to score looks like a bet.
Leicester have also hit the goal trail recently and they look like a bit of value at odds of around 23/10 with Novibet for a home win. Newcastle, though, are starting to look like genuine top-four contenders and it may well pay to back goals in the Midlands on Boxing Day.
Aston Villa vs Liverpool
Liverpool sprung back into action at The Etihad with a 3-2 EFL Cup defeat against Manchester City on Thursday. But while Jurgen Klopp was complaining about VAR after the defeat, Liverpool’s players will have been switching their focus back to the Premier League.
Liverpool, without Virgil van Dijk and Alisson, showed plenty of spirit and caused City problems, but Pep Guardiola’s men were good value for the win. And that game should give the Reds the upper hand at Villa Park on Boxing Day.
“We should defend all three goals much better,” said Klopp. “Third goal especially, we are not switched on when they start their little routine. We were not in the right position, not enough players watching the ball. But we had our moments.
“It was a spectacular game, high intensity. A lot to take from it.”
Van Dijk and Trent Alexander-Arnold, who was ill on Thursday, are expected to come into the frame, but Ibrahima Konate will be available after his World Cup efforts.
New Villa boss Unai Emery took his squad to Dubai for some warm weather training and they have faced Cardiff and Brighton, while they defeated Chelsea 1-0 and lost to Villarreal by the same scoreline at Villa Park.
Emery will have had plenty of time to get his ideas across, but Villa face a tough assignment against a Liverpool side who had a valuable runout against Man City.
Arsenal vs West Ham
If ever a team needed a break over the last month it was West Ham.
David Moyes’ men went into the winter sabbatical on the back of three straight defeats in the league. A 1-0 defeat at Manchester United was followed by damaging home defeats to Leicester and Crystal Palace.
The Hammers have worked at home during the break, but they did make a trip to Italy and defeated Udinese 3-1. They also warmed up for their return to league action with a draw against Fulham.
David Moyes desperately needs to find some form from somewhere, but with only one away win under their belts this season, a win against Arsenal at The Emirates looks beyond them.
West Ham have not been conceding too many goals of late and five of their last six games have gone under 2.5 goals. That may well be the call once again however, Arsenal should be too good on home turf.
Mikel Arteta has challenged his side to go and grab their title opportunity by the horns and they have been busy over the last month. A trip to Dubai has been supplemented with friendlies against Watford, AC Milan, Lyon and Juventus. The 2-0 defeat to Juventus may well have been a wake-up call for the Gunners, who fielded a strong line-up.
In the league, though, they hold a perfect record at The Emirates and interestingly all of their six wins have gone over 2.5 goals. But the Hammers have been tight on the road, losing 1-0 on four separate occasions.
The visitors will be hard to break down in Moyes’ preferred 4-2-3-1 formation and there’s value in going under the 2.5 goals line again. However we may expect Arsenal to get the job done and make it seven from seven at home.
Brentford drew 0-0 with Spurs last season at home and lost 2-0 away
Tottenham have conceded at least two goals in their last five Premier League matches
There have been over 2.5 goals scored in Tottenham’s last four Premier League games
Newcastle have won their last five Premier League matches
Leicester have kept a clean sheet in five of their last six Premier League matches
Arsenal have won seven of their last eight Premier League matches
Arsenal have kept a clean sheet in their last three Premier League matches
There have been under 2.5 goals scored in five of West Ham’s last six Premier League games
Last season Liverpool won both games against Aston Villa (1-0 at home and 2-1 away).
Aston Villa haven’t won any of their last four games against Liverpool
Aston Villa vs Liverpool BTTS 4/6
Liverpool to beat Aston Villa 8/11
Brentford to beat Tottenham 14/5
Arsenal vs West Ham under 2.5 goals Evens
Arsenal to beat West Ham 1-0 6/1
Leicester vs Newcastle BTTS 7/10