Martin Laurence’s Pick 8 preview including City v Spurs
Manchester City vs Tottenham – 1/X
While by the admission of most of their competitors that the title already belongs to City, Guardiola will know that any slip up before Christmas will reignite confidence that the race isn’t won yet. This meeting with Spurs is crucial as a result, and while Pochettino’s men are well out of the running they will be keen to secure another statement win. Tottenham have earned 10 points from the last 12 available against their hosts after all, but the tide has turned almost immeasurably in City’s favour this season.
Cardiff vs Hull – 1
Cardiff’s surprise standing in second can surely no longer be considered as much, so long have they been Wolves’ closest challengers this season. Their defensive record is superb and Warnock’s men are unbeaten at home so Nigel Adkins will need to pull off a real upset to get a result in Wales. The Tigers have won just once away from home all season and that’s highly unlikely to change come Saturday.
Borussia Dortmund vs Hoffenheim – 1/2
When Dortmund replaced Peter Bosz with Peter Stoger last week it’s fair to say the decision was met with some bewilderment. The former Cologne boss was sacked having failed to win a single league game in 14 attempts but did secure three points in his first match in his new post in midweek. The Austrian is believed to be merely a place holder in the BVB hot seat for opposite number Julian Nagelsmann this weekend, and the young Hoffenheim coach will be keen to prove a point on Saturday.
Roma vs Cagliari – 1
Undoubtedly one of the more predictable games on the ticket, Roma will be outstanding favourites at home in this one but Cagliari have caused them problems in recent meetings. That said, Di Francesco’s men are right in the thick of a competitive title race and know that they can’t afford to drop points in matches like these.
Verona vs AC Milan – X/2
Gennaro Gattuso’s start to life as Milan boss may have been an embarrassing one but his side bounced back from a stalemate with bottom club Benevento last time out and now face 19th placed Verona. The underdogs are unbeaten in the last three league meetings between the sides though, and will be confident against a vulnerable high profile opponent so a point certainly isn’t beyond them.
Hearts vs Celtic – 2
It takes a brave man to bet against Celtic in the SPL, so I guess I’m just not that brave! Brendan Rodgers’ side haven’t been quite so dominant this season, drawing five of 17 league games, but their recent record against Hearts is comprehensive to say the least. With six wins from six, 20 goals scored and just three conceded, the visitors should have too much yet again.
West Brom vs Manchester United – X/2
While it was yet another game without a win for West Brom in midweek, the fans will be hoping the point against Liverpool can be a turning one under new manager Alan Pardew. There was another underwhelming performance in victory over Bournemouth for United in the meantime, and The Baggies unquestionably have the players capable of frustrating Mourinho’s men. It’s more than plausible that they will do just that, with this kind of game representing something of a free hit, and a stalemate wouldn’t surprise me.
Bournemouth vs Liverpool – 1/2
It’s fair to say Jurgen Klopp’s rotation policy implemented in the derby last weekend has backfired. Back-to-back draws with Everton and West Brom have dampened their Christmas spirit and the cherry on top of a dismal week would be a defeat to the Cherries. Bournemouth posed United real problems in the week and of course secured a remarkable comeback to draw 3-3 in this fixture last season. I can’t see the Reds drawing three in a row but also wouldn’t bet against an upset come Sunday.