The winter fixture list often proves to be a tide-turning section of the Premier League calendar; a period in which many teams can be hopeful of escaping any bad form previously blighting their campaigns.
As such, a host of clubs in the English top flight will be hoping to come upon a bit of Christmas magic this Boxing Day, which throws up a treat of blockbuster billings.
From top to bottom, whether competing for silverware or staving off relegation, the next round of Premier League action promises to reignite the form of some outfits during these frigid months. There is a full list of predictions detailed ahead.
|2013/14 Premier League Week 18 Predictions|
|Hull City vs. Manchester United||Dec. 26||12:45 p.m. GMT/7:45 a.m. ET||1-2|
|Aston Villa vs. Crystal Palace||Dec. 26||3 p.m. GMT/10 a.m. ET||1-1|
|Cardiff City vs. Southampton||Dec. 26||3 p.m. GMT/10 a.m. ET||2-2|
|Chelsea vs. Swansea City||Dec. 26||3 p.m. GMT/10 a.m. ET||2-0|
|Everton vs. Sunderland||Dec. 26||3 p.m. GMT/10 a.m. ET||3-0|
|Newcastle United vs. Stoke City||Dec. 26||3 p.m. GMT/10 a.m. ET||3-1|
|Norwich City vs. Fulham||Dec. 26||3 p.m. GMT/10 a.m. ET||2-1|
|Tottenham vs. West Brom||Dec. 26||3 p.m. GMT/10 a.m. ET||1-0|
|West Ham vs. Arsenal||Dec. 26||3 p.m. GMT/10 a.m. ET||1-2|
|Manchester City vs. Liverpool||Dec. 26||5:30 p.m. GMT/12:30 p.m. ET||2-2|
Hull City vs. Manchester United
At the start of the campaign, a Manchester United trip to the KC Stadium may not have looked like the most lip-smacking encounter, but Thursday's early kick-off nonetheless makes for a intriguing encounter.
Hull City have managed to maintain their momentum as the best home defence in the Premier League, conceding an average of just 0.38 goals per game when playing in front of their own fans.
However, if any side should be deemed capable of breaking down Steve Bruce's men, it's Manchester United, who currently have the best away attack in the English top flight, netting an average of 2.13 goals when playing outside of Old Trafford.
On paper, this meeting is set for fireworks as David Moyes' side will seek to do what Liverpool could not in defeating the Tigers in their own turf.
Danny Welbeck's rise to form has been wonderfully timed in the absence of the injured Robin van Persie and the Red Devils' wealth of attacking depth is likely to overrun their midweek hosts.
Prediction: Hull City 1-2 Manchester United
Manchester City vs. Liverpool
Easily the highlight of the Christmas schedule, Boxing Day couldn't hope of coming to a more dramatic end than with two of the Premier League's title contenders duelling for top spot in our late clash.
Manchester City have scored a superb average of 4.38 goals per game at the Etihad Stadium this season and Liverpool's defence will face a massive test of its Premier League championship credentials against one of Europe's most in-form attacks.
Opta stats show that the Citizens haven't been quite as assured away from home, however.
One crucial aspect for the visiting Reds on Wednesday will be the continued success of Luis Suarez in front of goal; a player capable of scoring against anyone right now and top of the division's scoring ranks with 19 to his name.
That being said, City's attack also looks capable of exposing any defence at the moment, but the absence of the injured Sergio Aguero will likely tell on this occasion.
Prediction: Manchester City 2-2 Liverpool
Newcastle United vs. Stoke City
In their respective campaigns, Newcastle United and Stoke City have shown the kind of form worthy of relegation, never mind top-half contention.
However, the Magpies and the Potters, sixth and 10th respectively, are currently benefiting from the influence of some encouraging management of late, with Alan Pardew and Mark Hughes turning around the fortunes of their teams.
While Hughes' Stoke transformation continues to open the club up to new possibilities, this week's meeting makes for an exciting collision between two of the division's expanding teams—the two teams producing an average of 2.47 goals per game between them so far this campaign.
Travelling to St. James' Park, however, Stoke's lack of a solid defence away from home should prove to be their undoing, while Pardew's attack continues to thrive in all aspects.
Prediction: Newcastle United 3-1 Stoke City
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