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EPL Week 19 Predictions: Premier League Picks, Key Players and Fixtures

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistDecember 23, 2019

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 21: Jamie Vardy of Leicester City runs with the ball past Nicolas Otamendi of Manchester City during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Leicester City at Etihad Stadium on December 21, 2019 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

There are nine Premier League fixtures to savour on Boxing Day, with division leaders Liverpool taking on their nearest positional rivals in Leicester City.

The Reds return to domestic action after their success at the FIFA Club World Cup and are now 10 points clear at the summit, having played a game fewer than Leicester. The Foxes will be able to reduce the gap to seven if they were able to win at the King Power Stadium.

Mikel Arteta will take charge of Arsenal for the first time at Bournemouth, while Carlo Ancelotti's first match as Everton boss will be at home to Burnley. Elsewhere, Manchester City travel to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Friday.

Here is the schedule in full, a prediction for each match and a look at a couple of players capable of being the difference-makers for their respective sides.

      

Premier League Fixtures

Thursday, December 26

12:30 p.m., Tottenham vs. Brighton & Hove Albion (2-0)

3 p.m., Aston Villa vs. Norwich City (3-1)

3 p.m.,  Bournemouth vs. Arsenal (1-2)

3 p.m., Chelsea vs. Southampton (3-0)

3 p.m., Crystal Palace vs. West Ham United (2-1)

3 p.m., Everton vs. Burnley (2-0)

3 p.m., Sheffield United vs. Watford (2-1)

5:30 p.m., Manchester United vs. Newcastle United (2-0)

8 p.m., Leicester City vs. Liverpool (2-2)

  

Friday, December 27

7:45 p.m., Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Manchester City (1-2)

    

Jamie Vardy, Leicester

If Leicester are to become the first team to beat Liverpool in the Premier League this season, they'll likely need a huge performance from Vardy.

The striker has been in sensational form this term and grabbed the opening goal for his side in Saturday's clash with Manchester City, finishing after a trademark surge behind the defence:

Sky Sports Premier League @SkySportsPL

It's..........JAMIE VARDY! He polishes off a stunning counter attack from Leicester 🦊 📺 Watch on Sky Sports Premier League 📱 Follow #MCILEI here: https://t.co/P6XsoIQGSG 📲 Download the @SkySports app! https://t.co/7q7lSLM6GL

That was the 17th goal of the Premier League season for the 32-year-old, who is racing clear in the bid to clinch the golden boot. Under manager Brendan Rodgers, his form has been sensational and is now six goals clear of his nearest rival for the prize.

You can imagine the striker causing issues for Liverpool given the Reds typically play a high line, which Vardy will seek to exploit. 

The Leicester forward not only has the attributes to thrive against expansive sides, his strong mentality and tenacity shine through in the biggest games, per ESPN FC:

ESPN FC @ESPNFC

Jamie Vardy shows up for the big games 💪 https://t.co/yOB6CiNjrL

After their trip to Qatar, where they won the Club World Cup, Liverpool may be a little jaded at the start of this encounter. Leicester will be desperate to capitalise, and with Vardy looking razor-sharp in front of goal, they will give the league leaders more issues than any side has done this season.

     

Kevin De Bruyne, Manchester City

Although City have been inconsistent overall this season, in De Bruyne they boast arguably the division's standout individual performer.

The midfielder has been in sensational form throughout 2019-20, and after shining in the win over Arsenal, he was excellent against Leicester in the 3-1 win at the Etihad Stadium.

Statman Dave provided the numbers behind his masterful display against the Foxes:

Statman Dave @StatmanDave

Kevin De Bruyne vs. Leicester City: • most chances created (7) • most tackles won (5/5) Also registered an assist. 🅰️ https://t.co/oEx0Lba9L7

Per Squawka Football, in terms of creativity there's no player in the division who can match his output:

Squawka Football @Squawka

Kevin De Bruyne has created 69 chances in the Premier League so far this season, at least 17 more than any other player. Nice. https://t.co/A5c6xgBLKX

In addition to his pinpoint passing and shooting, his positioning on the right flank causes defenders many issues, and it'll be intriguing to see how Wolves, who operate with three centre-backs, try to plug that gap.

Not many opposition coaches or players have found a way to limit the Belgian's influence this term, and you suspect he'll have a big say in how the game goes at Molineux on Friday as City seek to take revenge for the defeat they suffered to Wolves earlier in the season.