After a double helping of Premier League action last week, the players will enjoy some much-needed respite from competition before returning for Matchday 16 this weekend.
The landscape has changed dramatically since Matchday 1. Arsenal, who suffered a 3-1 defeat at home to Aston Villa on the opening day of the season, now lead the way on 35 points, five clear of their nearest challengers Liverpool and Chelsea.
The Gunners will face their biggest test of the season this Saturday, however, when they visit the Etihad Stadium to take on Manchester City.
City have made their home ground into something of a fortress this season, winning all seven games, while scoring 29 goals in the process.
Manchester City vs. Arsenal may be this weekend’s blockbuster clash, but there are plenty of other games to look forward to. Here’s a look at a full slate of predictions, along with information on how to watch the action.
|Man City vs. Arsenal||Dec. 14||12:45 GMT/07:45 ET||BT Sport||2-1|
|Chelsea vs. Palace||Dec. 14||15:00 GMT/10:00 ET||2-0|
|Cardiff vs WBA||Dec. 14||15:00 GMT/10:00 ET||1-2|
|West Ham vs. Sunderland||Dec. 14||15:00 GMT/10:00 ET||1-1|
|Everton vs. Fulham||Dec. 14||15:00 GMT/10:00 ET||3-1|
|Newcastle vs. Southampton||Dec. 14||15:00 GMT/10:00 ET||1-2|
|Hull vs. Stoke||Dec. 14||17:30 GMT/12:30 ET||Sky Sports 1||2-0|
|Norwich vs. Swansea||Dec. 15||13:30 GMT/08:30 ET||2-2|
|Aston Villa vs. Man United||Dec. 15||13:30 GMT/08:30 ET||Sky Sports 1||1-2|
|Tottenham vs. Liverpool||Dec. 15||16:00 GMT/11:00 ET||Sky Sports 1||2-2|
Schedule via premierleague.com
Live Stream Info
BT Sport subscribers can view Manchester City vs. Arsenal via the BT Sport app.
UK viewers can watch Sky Sports’ live games—Hull City vs. Stoke City, Aston Villa vs. Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur vs. Liverpool—on the Sky Player website or via SkyGo for laptops and mobile devices (subscription required). Live scores are also provided on Sky Sports News throughout each match.
All highlights are available without the need for subscription on Match of the Day (BBC One, Saturday) or Match of the Day 2 (BBC2, Sunday). Both can be found on BBC iPlayer Monday.
A win for Arsenal would guarantee them top spot on Christmas Day, but snatching all three points will be a tall order for Arsene Wenger’s men.
City, who drew with Southampton on Matchday 15, look a completely different side at home. Their attacks are more fluid, their defence is sterner and they emit a confidence that isn’t always present on their travels.
11 - Sergio Aguero has now scored 11 goals in his last 10 Premier League appearances for Manchester City. Deadly.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 7, 2013
If Arsenal do slip up, both Chelsea and Liverpool will be hoping to pounce. The Blues take on Crystal Palace at home, while the Reds face the more daunting task of a trip to White Hart Lane.
17 - Chelsea have already conceded more goals than they did in the whole of Jose Mourinho's debut season in 2004-05 (15). Gaps.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 7, 2013
Spurs have settled the ship since their 6-0 defeat to Manchester City, collecting seven points from their past three outings while scoring two goals in each game. A win for the North London outfit would see them pull level with Liverpool on 30 points.
Manchester United will be hoping to bounce back from their loss to Newcastle when they travel to Villa Park. Historically, the Red Devils have had little trouble dispatching of Aston Villa. In their past 34 league contests, United have lost just once, while winning 25 games—per Soccerbase.
But history isn’t as much of a predictor around Old Trafford as it once was, and Paul Lambert’s side will take confidence from the champions’ recent results.
United’s performances will be as much of a concern for fans as the defeats. They have lacked structure going forward in recent games and been picked apart at the back, something which will need to be rectified sooner rather than later.
93 - Manchester United were the only Premier League side to make fewer than 100 passes in the attacking third this weekend. Breakdown.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 8, 2013
United's opponents last Sunday, Newcastle, will be looking to continue their run when they host Southampton this weekend. Alan Pardew’s charges have now won four of their past five games, and they showed their ability to grind out a result at Old Trafford.
The Saints got back on track with an impressive draw against Manchester City on Matchday 15. They had been on a three-game losing streak having lost to Arsenal, Chelsea and Aston Villa, but they were back to their energetic best against the Sky Blues.
Both Newcastle and Southampton sit seventh and eighth in the table with the Magpies three points clear.
Another in-form side, Everton, entertain Fulham at Goodison Park. The Toffees have lost just one game all season, and they produced a magnificent display in their draw with Arsenal last weekend.
While Everton will be expected to pick up all three points, they will be wary of Fulham who experienced something of a resurgence last week.
The Cottagers, in their first two games under the watchful eye of new boss Rene Meulensteen, suffered an agonising defeat to Spurs, their sixth loss in succession, before clinching a win at home to Villa.
Elsewhere, there are some important clashes for those teams around the relegation zone.
In the history of the Premier League, just one side—West Bromwich Albion—has sat bottom at Christmas and avoided the drop in May. So each team will be doing their utmost to avoid being sucked to the bottom before Dec. 25.
The current occupier of that spot, Sunderland, travel to London to take on West Ham, while Norwich entertain Swansea, Cardiff City host West Brom and Stoke travel to Hull.