As the Premier League attempts to emerge from the festive period unscathed, a further two games in Gameweek 21 have already been postponed due to COVID-19, with currently eight games set to go ahead for the New Year weekend. Forming a headline double act, GW21 begins at the Emirates Stadium as Arsenal welcome Manchester City.
When last the two sides met in GW3, the Gunners were in decidedly different waters; rock bottom of the standings with boss Mikel Arteta clinging to his job after a 5-0 thrashing to his former employers. Fast forward four months however, and the picture in the garden of Arsenal is far rosier.
Having won their last four league games, the north Londoners sit in fourth spot with a four-point lead – albeit with teams below them having games in hand. Not only have the hosts tightened up at the back, their attack is looking potent also, which could cause problems for City here. With that said, Pep Guardiola’s men have not dropped a point in the league since late October, conceding just two away from home in that time. Nevertheless, Arsenal look value here for the draw at 19/5 with SBK, even though they have not taken a single point versus City since April 2017, although that was at the Emirates.
Sunday afternoon then sees Chelsea and Liverpool meet in a tantalising clash at Stamford Bridge. On the heels of the Reds’ second loss of the season, Jurgen Klopp takes his side to west London, with Chelsea themselves having fallen off the pace in the title race. Dropping points in three of the last four league outings, the hosts are now eight points off the leaders – a gap which could grow depending on the outcome at the Emirates.
For two of Liverpool’s star men in Mo Salah and Sadio Mane, this will be the last game they play before the African Cup of Nations, and after missing a penalty against Leicester City in midweek, the Egyptian King will be keen to depart on better terms. Defensively, Chelsea look shaky without Ben Chilwell and at home have not kept a clean sheet since their 7-0 hammering of Norwich City way back in GW9. If we throw in off-field politics that threaten to intervene also, Liverpool look primed to heap further festive woe on the Blues. At a price of 6/4 with VBet, QuinnBet and Betfair, the visitors may not come at a better price all season for the win.
At Selhurst meanwhile, Crystal Palace kick off 2022 with a London derby versus a West Ham side who picked up their first win in six on Tuesday evening. As the Irons look to build momentum with two games on the slate for GW21, their opponents the Eagles were again in the goals on home turf in midweek. On paper, a stalemate does not look on the cards here. Indeed, in six of Palace’s last eight at home, BTTS has landed, with four of those games seeing over 2.5 goals scored. For BTTS and over 2.5 goals therefore, a price of around 2.3 with SBK appeals. For a scorer double, Odsonne Edouard and Jarrod Bowen are hinting at runs of form and for both men to net, a small acca with MansionBet will build to 14/1, or for Bowen to score anytime alone, MansionBet, 10Bet and SportNation all carry 7/2 odds.
In the weekend’s other capital derby – of sorts – Watford host Tottenham Hotspur, where similarly, goals appear the order of the day. At least three goals have been scored in the Hornets’ last six league meetings, with Claudio Ranieri’s charges shipping ten times in the last four at Vicarage Road. Harry Kane in particular will be a keen recipient of such charity having now scored in successive league games after his drought in front of goal and for the England skipper to grab a brace, a 5/1 shot with Betfred looks inviting.