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EPL Week 18 Predictions: Picking Boxing Day's Most Thrilling Matches

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EPL Week 18 Predictions: Picking Boxing Day's Most Thrilling Matches
Paul Gilham/Getty Images

The festive period throws up a crucial run of games for all Premier League clubs, testing squad depth, fitness and mental strength.

A Boxing Day win can kick-start a jaunt up the division for any side and will go a long way to providing confidence across the busy schedule.

Which games should you be watching out for? Let's take a look.

Premier League Week 18 Fixtures and TV Schedule
Fixture Date Time TV Info Prediction
Hull vs. Man Utd Dec. 26 12:45 GMT/7.45 ET Sky Sports 1-2
Aston Villa vs. Crystal Palace Dec. 26 15:00 GMT/10:00 ET 2-1
Cardiff vs. Southampton Dec. 26 15:00 GMT/10:00 ET 1-3
Chelsea vs. Swansea Dec. 26 15:00 GMT/10:00 ET 2-0
Everton vs. Sunderland Dec. 26 15:00 GMT/10:00 ET 4-0
Newcastle vs. Stoke Dec. 26 15:00 GMT/10:00 ET 2-0
Norwich vs. Fulham Dec. 26 15:00 GMT/10:00 ET 1-0
Tottenham vs. West Brom Dec. 26 15:00 GMT/10:00 ET 2-1
West Ham vs. Arsenal Dec. 26 15:00 GMT/10:00 ET BT Sport 0-2
Man City vs. Liverpool Dec. 26 17:30 GMT/12.30 ET BT Sport 3-1

premierleague.com

 

Picking Boxing Day’s Most Thrilling Matches

Hull vs. Manchester United

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Steve Bruce will be immensely proud of his side's start to the Premier League season. The former Manchester United player will be particularly pleased with the squad's home form—which has seen Hull lose just one of eight, per WhoScored.com—ahead of the Red Devils' trip to the KC Stadium.

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Shrewd summer moves for Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore have paid dividends already, as Hull's side is blessed with the physicality to mix it with the best. Although David Moyes' team have won four consecutive games across all competitions, Hull have very little to fear in their own backyard.

Their dogged style and ability to impose themselves on elite opposition came to the fore during the 3-1 win over Liverpool on Dec. 1. Livermore netted within 20 minutes that day, and if Hull can open the scoring early on once more, the visitors will have to chase the game.

A panicky United is a beatable United, as we saw during their losses to Everton and Newcastle. With a strong crowd and sense of confidence behind them, Hull have enough to make this a thrilling tie—if not a victory.

 

Tottenham vs. West Brom

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Spurs' 3-2 win over Southampton couldn't have come at a better time for the North London outfit. Tim Sherwood has broken his Premier League duck at the first attempt, but more importantly, the interim manager already has the team playing an exciting brand of attacking football.

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This is largely down to dropping Andre Villas-Boas' cautious approach of playing a lone striker and three similarly built central midfielders. Emmanuel Adebayor has joined Roberto Soldado up front, and in two games, has netted three excellent goals.

West Brom also have a caretaker manager in the form of Keith Downing, reported by Sky Sports, and need to get their season back on track after winning just one game in their last six, per WhoScored.com.

The Baggies have had very little to scream about in recent times, and in all honesty, have failed to look consistently threatening after Romelu Lukaku headed back to Chelsea at the end of last season. The defence is out of sync, conceding six in their last three, while the midfield also lacks a certain bite.

Downing would do well to follow Sherwood's lead and employ a more attacking approach ahead of this one. Spurs have intrigued whether they win or lose this season, so expect more of the same at White Hart Lane.

 

Manchester City vs. Liverpool

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This fixture needs little buildup, but it is a shame we won't see Sergio Aguero lining up against Luis Suarez after the Argentinian recently succumbed to injury, per James Nursey of the Mirror.

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Even so, Manuel Pellegrini's squad possess the firepower to waltz through anyone in the Premier League. City have already netted six in matches against Spurs and Arsenal in recent weeks and remain unblemished at home, winning all eight of their fixtures.

Brendan Rodgers' team have no need to be frightened and certainly possess the most potent weapon in the match. Suarez has scored 19 in 12 this season and has contributed 10 of Liverpool's 17 goals across the last four games—not counting his four assists in this time, per WhoScored.com.

Former Liverpool player Alan Hansen suggests the Reds need to continue gaining points until Suarez inevitably comes to a halt, per his column for the Daily Telegraph:

No player in the history of English football has been able to sustain, for an entire season, the kind of form Suárez is producing.

People may point to the modern era throwing up the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, who have scored in incredible numbers for Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively, but that is in Spain.

It is a different matter in England and Suárez will, inevitably, go three or four games without scoring and that is when Liverpool could hit trouble.

Whether than run begins now remains to be seen, but we can rightfully expect plenty of goals in this one. Both sides have an affinity for conceding even when they romp through opponents, so expect a back-and-forth encounter of many chances.

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