The Boxing Day fixtures for round 18 of the 2011-12 Barclays English Premier League season were a surprise to many as some lowly teams manage to shut down several of the major clubs once again.
Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City all were held to draws by Wolverhampton, Fulham, Blackburn Rovers and West Bromwich Albion to once again shuffle the standings and the possible outcomes of the final week before the transfer window opens.
This also will put all 20 clubs at the halfway point of their season except Tottenham Hotspur and Everton who have a midweek make up match next week to play their week one fixture that was called off due to the London Riots.
With all of the transfer hubbub going around it is nice to be ready for another weekend of action to get underway.
Liverpool vs Newcastle United
Andy Carroll will face his old club as the England international will be forced to lead the line without a suspended Luis Suarez. Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish will at least have his captain back from injury as Steven Gerrard will likely make his first full start back.
Alan Pardew has Newcastle returning to form after a run of tough matches and will hope to steal a point at Anfield.
Predicted Score: Reds 2 – 1 Newcastle
Manchester United vs Blackburn Rovers
Sir Alex Ferguson’s side has come back level at the top of the table with Manchester City but he faces a Blackburn Rovers side that has surprised at times despite being at the bottom of the table under Steve Keane.
Predicted Score: United 3 – 0 Rovers
Arsenal vs Queens Park Rangers
Arsenal need to win in order to maintain their fourth place spot in the EPL while Queens Park Rangers will want at least a draw before the end of the year to try and make a better bid for transfer prospects in January.
Predicted Score: Gunners 2 – 1 Rangers
Bolton Wanderers vs Wolverhampton Wanderers
The first Wanderer matchup of the season sees an inform Wolves head to a troubled Trotters side. Steven Fletcher cannot seem to stop scoring and should help lift Wolves to the top .
Predicted Score: Trotters 1 – 2 Wolves
Chelsea vs Aston Villa
The Blues have struggled as of late with a host of draws amidst their recent results and truly now need a win before January. Luckily for them that has been the same fate of many others around the fourth through seventh places in the EPL. Villa likewise have been on a poor run of form but have picked up in their last two matches with much improved displays.
Predicted Score: Blues 2 – 1 Villa
Norwich City vs Fulham
Norwich City has been the surprise of the promoted clubs this season as they have managed a top ten spot for most of the season. Fulham meanwhile are proven that Clint Dempsey is all he is made out to be as the American has brought them to life the last few months.
Predicted Score: Canaries 2 – 2 Cottagers
Stoke City vs Wigan Athletic
Stoke City have only faltered against Manchester City in their recent results and should provide a difficult task for Wigan when they travel to the Britannia Stadium. Roberto Martinez’s Latics have been in great shape lately other than their 5-0 defeat to Manchester United and could prove just a tough an opponent.
Predicted Score: Potters 1 – 0 Latics
Swansea City vs Tottenham Hotspur
Swansea City has made a habit out of stealing points and preventing opposition goals at their own Liberty Stadium. Spurs will hope to defeat the who-doo and take another three points up the table with them.
Predicted Score: Swans 0 – 1 Spurs
West Bromwich Albion vs Everton
West Bromwich is in a fine run of form while Everton continues to find it difficult to score on a regular basis. That could prove costly for the Toffees as they await the arrival of on loan Landon Donovan to secure them some creativity for at least January and February.
Predicted Score: Baggies 2 – 2 Toffees
Sunderland vs Manchester City
Sunderland is in an upswing thanks to the new lease on life they have been given by Martin O’Neil. The Irish manager has seen them back to winning ways, but will find it difficult to tame the offensive machine of Manchester City.
Predicted Score: Black Cats 1 – 3 Citizens