Espanyol vs Atletico Madrid : Match Preview & Prediction

Team News

Espanyol
  • Changing system last time out seemed to improve some aspects of Espanyol’s play, so few changes are expected here.
  • Victor Sanchez is suspended for the hosts, so Javi Lopez could return at right-back after injury.
  • Sergio Garcia and Leo Baptistao should continue in close support of Gerard Moreno.
Atletico Madrid
  • Sime Vrsaljko will continue at right-back for the away side after contributing two assists in his last two games.
  • Augusto Fernandez may start in the centre of midfield over Thomas Partey, with Saul pushed out wide.
  • Fernando Torres netted Atleti’s winner against Alaves last time out and could partner Antoine Griezmann up front.

Match Facts

Atleticoareundefeated in their last 20 away matches (La Liga).

Atleticohave kept a clean sheet in their last 5 away matches (La Liga).

Espanyolhave seen under 2.5 goals in 9 of their last 10 matches against Atletico in all competitions.

There have been under 2.5 goals scored in 9 of Atletico‘s last 11 games (La Liga).

Atleticohave kept a clean sheet in 6 of their last 7 matches against Espanyol in all competitions.

There have been under 2.5 goals scored in Espanyol‘s last 5 home games (La Liga).

Atleticoareundefeated in their last 7 matches against Espanyol in all competitions.

Atleticohavewon with a 1 goal margin in their last 3 matches (La Liga).

Prediction

  • Espanyol are winless in their last three games, with the Catalan club hovering dangerously close to the relegation zone with only a five-point cushion to spare them for now.
  • Gerard Moreno has scored over 50% of their league goals this campaign, with the Spanish striker absolutely vital to their attempts to clamber into the top half of the table.
  • Atleti have kept two consecutive clean sheets in the league, with Diego Simeone’s men continuing to scrape narrow results and maintain their unbeaten start to the league campaign.
Prediction:

Espanyol logoEspanyol

1

1

Atletico MadridAtletico Madrid logo

Real Betis vs Athletic Bilbao : Match Preview & Prediction

Team News

Real Betis
  • Fabian and Victor Camarasa should continue in midfield for the home side, with Andres Guardado still out with an injury.
  • Ryad Boudebouz is still struggling with a knock, which should see Joaquin and Cristian Tello deployed on the flanks yet again.
  • Javi Garcia should come back into midfield, with Jordi Amat set to drop to the bench as a result.
Athletic Bilbao
  • Kepa is set to miss out again with a foot injury, meaning that Iago Herrerin will continue in goal.
  • Mikel Balenziaga should be out until the new year, with Enric Saborit filling in at left-back.
  • Mikel San Jose and Mikel Rico should maintain their partnership in central midfield, with Oscar De Marcos and Inigo Lekue doubling up down the right.

Match Facts

Real Betis have seen under 2.5 goals in 5 of their last 6 home matches against Athletic Bilbao in all competitions.

There have been over 2.5 goals scored in 5 of Athletic Bilbao‘s last 6 away games (La Liga).

There have been under 2.5 goals scored in Real Betis‘s last 3 games (La Liga).

Athletic Bilbaoareundefeated in their last 5 matches (La Liga).

Prediction

  • Real Betis managed to pull off a 2-0 win over Malaga last time out in La Liga, with Quique Setien’s men needing that boost of confidence desperately. Now, ending the year on a high at home would be huge for them.
  • Athletic are unbeaten in their last four games and have kept three clean sheets in that time. Los Leones have found some balance at last, but they are incredibly dull to watch.
Prediction:

Real Betis logoReal Betis

2

1

Athletic BilbaoAthletic Bilbao logo

Klopp’s heavy metal football drowning out Wenger’s Arsenal orchestra

Rather fittingly, at a time of year dominated by those donning red and white, two sides as synonymous with those colours as Mr Claus himself will be seeking to spread their own brand of festive cheer at Emirates Stadium on Friday.

Some 48 hours before St. Nick starts on his rounds, Monsieur Wenger and Herr Klopp will reach into their proverbial sack and endeavour to pull out three points which will help to make a feast of Brussels sprouts and visits to the in-laws a little easier to stomach.

There will be no Christmas No. 1 spot up for grabs in north London – with a bearded man with seemingly magical powers who operates from an inclement northern base having already wrapped that up – but there are important chart positions up for grabs.

Arsenal and Liverpool both have the opportunity to ensure that a standing inside the Premier League’s top four is secured before settling down for their turkey dinner on Monday, but only one of them can claim that coveted berth.

The men from Merseyside find themselves in pole position at present, and taking anything from their latest visit to the capital will keep them inside the Champions League places heading towards 2018.

For the Gunners, only victory will do – with it possible that defeat could leave them languishing in seventh, back behind arch-rivals Tottenham, by the time they discover whether they were on the naughty or nice list.

Arsene Wenger’s side will not be home alone in their quest – with there likely to be some 59,000 visitors popping round to theirs – but they need to find a way of keeping the back door bolted and repelling the efforts of Jurgen Klopp’s ‘Wet Bandits’ to breach their defence.

They need to call the tune and have Liverpool dancing to their beat.

Unfortunately, that has been a problem for Arsenal in recent times, with their refined musical tastes rather drowned out by the more garish fancies of an old adversary.

To use Klopp’s own words to explain the differences between himself and Wenger: “He likes having the ball, playing football, passes. It’s like an orchestra, but it is a silent song. I like heavy metal more. I always want it loud.”

Arsenal, then, find themselves cast as the easy-listening Cliff Richard type, while Liverpool unsettle the establishment as hard-rocking Rage Against The Machine.

It is an approach which has served the Reds well, with Klopp yet to taste defeat against the Gunners since accepting a managerial post at Anfield back in October 2015 – with Arsenal having taken just one point from him in four outings and shipped a rather alarming 14 goals.

The German has found a formula that works, but you do not need to be a tactical genius or even a seasoned performer on Football Manager to appreciate the benefits of the Gegenpress – with position often winning out over possession.

Klopp is renowned for his high-energy, high-press approach, and Arsenal have struggled to counter that with a winning methodology of their own.

They have been breached at least three times in each of their last four meetings with Liverpool, with important figures across the board heading in the wrong direction once they are pitched into battle with the Reds.

On any given Premier League day, the Gunners average 59% possession, boast close to 84% passing accuracy from around 575 attempts, take in over 774 touches, make 65 recoveries and fire in 15 shots on goal.

All of those numbers dip against Liverpool, with Wenger’s side yet to hit their mean in any of those areas over the last two-and-a-bit seasons, while they end up going over their average in terms of fouls conceded, yellow cards received, saves made and errors leading to shots.

Clearly, they are forced to work much harder against Klopp’s men than they are most other opponents, with Wenger’s side given no time in which to settle and dictate the tempo in a manner which plays to their strengths.

As a result, the orchestra plays out of time, chief conductor Wenger drops the baton and everything becomes a bit of a mess.

Klopp, meanwhile, is busy gurning and growling his way around the technical area like a bespectacled Ozzy Osbourne as the volume gets turned up another notch in the Liverpool dugout.

Arsenal will get another opportunity to pull that plug on Friday, but if a Merry Christmas is to be enjoyed at the Emirates, then the Gunners must find a few rock star qualities of their own – with Wenger needing to be less Santa and Le Professeur and more Slash and Lemmy.

Top Facts

Ternana have drawn their last 5 home matches (Serie B).

Cadiz have won their last 7 matches (Segunda División).

Avellino have drawn 6 of their last 7 matches (Serie B).

Gent have won their last 5 home matches (Jupiler League).

Vitoria de Guimaraes B have lost their last 6 away matches (Liga Vitalis).

Ascoli Picchio FC 1898 have won their last 7 home matches against Pescara in all competitions.

Salernitana have drawn 5 of their last 6 home matches (Serie B).

Frosinone have drawn 5 of their last 6 matches (Serie B).

Siah Jamegan have lost 8 of their last 9 matches (Persian Gulf Pro League).

Gil Vicente have drawn their last 3 away matches (Liga Vitalis).

Apollon Limassol have won their last 5 matches (First Division).

Naft Tehran have lost their last 5 away matches (Persian Gulf Pro League).

Entella have drawn their last 3 away matches (Serie B).

Sepidrood Rasht have lost their last 5 matches (Persian Gulf Pro League).

Feyenoord have won 7 of their last 8 matches (KNVB Cup).

Eibar have won their last 3 home matches (La Liga).

Cesena have drawn their last 3 home matches against Palermo in all competitions.

Xanthi have won their last 4 matches (Cup).

Pescara have lost their last 4 away matches (Serie B).

Aris Limassol have lost their last 4 matches (First Division).

Eibar vs Girona : Match Preview & Prediction

Team News

Eibar
  • Joan Jordan should continue in central midfield ahead of Gonzalo Escalante for the home side.
  • Anaitz Arbilla will continue at centre-back, with Ivan Ramis set to miss another few weeks due to injury.
  • Charles should be preferred to Kike Garcia up front once again.
Girona
  • Pere Pons returns from suspension for Girona and should replace the banned Alex Granell in central midfield.
  • Bernardo is likely to come back into the team at centre-back, allowing David Timor to step up into midfield.
  • Borja Garcia is carrying a knock at present, but he should still be preferred to Aleix Garcia.

Match Facts

There have been over 2.5 goals scored in 7 of Eibar‘s last 8 games (La Liga).

Eibar have won their last 3 home matches (La Liga).

Eibar have scored at least 2 goals in their last 4 home matches (La Liga).

Girona are undefeated in their last 6 away matches (La Liga).

Prediction

  • Eibar have taken 13 points from their last available 15 in La Liga, with the return of Ivan Alejo ushering in a spell of much-improved form.
  • Recent victories against the likes of Espanyol and Valencia at Ipurua demonstrate that the hosts can break down an organised opponent.
  • Girona have lost just one of their last five league matches, with two recent 1-0 wins over Getafe and Espanyol boosting their confidence even further.
Prediction:

Eibar logo Eibar

2

1

Girona Girona logo

Arsenal vs Liverpool : Match Preview & Prediction

Team News

Arsenal
  • Shkodran Mustafi was not risked in midweek but is expected to return to first-team action on Friday night against Liverpool.
  • With Aaron Ramsey still injured, Arsenal may persist with a four-man defence and that could push Nacho Monreal out to left-back.
  • Alex Iwobi and Danny Welbeck compete for a spot in attack. The former may get the nod after Welbeck started in midweek.
  • Olivier Giroud will miss Friday’s game after suffering a hamstring injury in the 1-0 win over West Ham on Tuesday. Francis Coquelin also picked up a knock in that game and is a doubt.
Liverpool
  • Liverpool have had a full midweek to prepare for this fixture and Jurgen Klopp may resist changes from the side that beat Bournemouth 4-0 on Sunday.
  • Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain comes up against Arsenal for the first time since leaving for Liverpool over the summer and will hope to start at the Emirates.
  • Joel Matip returned to training on Tuesday and has a chance of featuring here, while illness may keep Daniel Sturridge out agains the Gunners.
  • Emre Can and James Milner will push for starts on Friday night.

Match Facts

Arsenalhavewon 13 of their last 14 home matches (Premier League).

Liverpoolhavescored at least 3 goals in their last 4 away matches (Premier League).

Liverpoolhavescored at least 3 goals in their last 4 matches against Arsenal in all competitions.

There have been over 2.5 goals scored in 9 of Liverpool‘s last 10 away games (Premier League).

Arsenalhave kept a clean sheet in 6 of their last 8 home matches (Premier League).

Arsenalhave been winning at both half time and full time in 6 of their last 8 home matches (Premier League).

Liverpoolhave been winning at both half time and full timeiLiverpool have won their last 3 matches against Arsenal in all competitions.n their last 4 away matches (Premier League).

Arsenalhave seen over 2.5 goals in 8 of their last 9 matches against Liverpool in all competitions.

Liverpoolhavewon their last 4 away matches (Premier League).

Liverpoolhavewon their last 3 matches against Arsenal in all competitions.

There have been under 2.5 goals scored in Arsenal‘s last 3 games (Premier League).

Arsenalhavescored at least 2 goals in 5 of their last 6 home matches against Liverpool in all competitions.

Prediction

  • Arsenal progressed into the League Cup semi finals in midweek and did so without needing any of their regular starters, meaning they should have a fresh team to face Liverpool on Friday. However, things do not look good for Arsene Wenger’s side.
  • Liverpool are in devastating form at the moment. They’ve won their last four Premier League away matches and scored at least three goals in each of those wins. Jurgen Klopp’s side have also scored at least three goals in each of their last four meetings with Arsenal.
  • While Liverpool have scored for fun of late, Arsenal have been oddly wasteful in front of goal. The Gunners have not scored more than one goal in any of their last four league matches and that could prove a real problem against this freescoring Liverpool side.
Prediction:

Arsenal logo Arsenal

1

3

Liverpool Liverpool logo

 

Alaves vs Malaga : Match Preview & Prediction

Team News

Alaves
  • No changes are expected from the home side, who have looked good lately.
  • Abelardo is still waiting for Carlos Vigaray to come back to fitness, meaning Martin continues at right-back.
  • Alfonso Pedraza, Burgui and Ibai Gomez should continue to support Munir up top.
Malaga
  • Roberto Rosales and Adrian Gonzalez both miss out due to suspension, with the latter also having a hamstring problem.
  • Cifu should fill in at right-back for the away side in place of Rosales.
  • Esteban Rolon is expected to step into central midfield, with Diego Rolan preferred to Borja Baston up top.

Match Facts

Alaves have seen under 2.5 goals in 5 of their last 6 home matches against Malaga in all competitions.

There have been under 2.5 goals scored in Malaga‘s last 3 games (La Liga).

Prediction

  • Alaves have won three of their last four competitive games, with the arrival of Abelardo as boss helping to boost the hosts’ confidence.
  • The hosts have scored in four of their last five matches, with the likes of Munir and Ibai Gomez starting to get back on the scoresheet once again.
  • Malaga have lost just one of their last four competitive games, with Michel’s men starting to pick up in terms of form.
Prediction:

Alaves logo Alaves

2

1

Malaga Malaga logo

Lille vs Nice : Match Preview & Prediction

Team News

Lille
  • Thiago Maia is a doubt with a hamstring issue; look for Yves Bissouma to take his place in midfield.
  • Ibrahim Amadou is even less likely to play, with youngster Boubakary Soumare an option in defensive midfield.
  • Lille should go back to a 4-3-3 after their 4-4-2 failed to pull up any trees in a disappointing loss to Dijon.
Nice
  • Christophe Jallet remains a doubt, but Maxime Le Marchand has looked steady enough in the veteran’s absence.
  • Pierre Lees-Melou impressed in a deeper role at the weekend, but should be moved to the flank here.
  • Look for the likes of Nampalys Mendy and Vincent Koziello to start here after being rested at the weekend.

Match Facts

Lille have drawn 5 of their last 6 matches against Nice in all competitions.

Nice have won their last 4 matches (Ligue 1).

There have been over 2.5 goals scored in 7 of Lille‘s last 8 games (Ligue 1).

Nice are undefeated in their last 11 away matches against Lille in all competitions.

Prediction

  • Nice are in great form at the moment, having catapulted themselves back into European contention with the returns of Cyprien and Seri; they should be good value for a victory here.
  • Lille have looked better since the departure of Marcelo Bielsa, but still are too often blunted in attack with only Ezequiel Ponce as an orthodox striker. Even playing at home during this festive period won’t be enough for a result against their in-form opponents.
Prediction:

Lille logo Lille

0

2

Nice Nice logo

Bristol City vs Manchester United : Match Preview & Prediction

Team News

Bristol City
  • Bristol City will be without Gary O’Neil, Jens Hegeler, Famara Diedhiou and Eros Pisano for the reception of Manchester United.
  • Callum O’Dowda has missed the last three matches for Bristol City and remains a doubt on Wednesday.
  • Lee Johnson has to decide between going for a huge cup upset of rotating his squad with promotion from the Championship in mind.
Manchester United
  • Jose Mourinho says he will not rotate his squad too much out of respect to a strong Championship opponent, Bristol City.
  • Nevertheless, Antonio Valencia will not be risked and the likes of Nemanja Matic, David de Gea and Ashley Young are expected to be given the night off.
  • Paul Pogba will start for Manchester United after completing a three-match suspension, while Henrikh Mkhitaryan will return to the squad after being axed for eight of United’s last nine matchday squads.
  • Zlatan Ibrahimovic will push for his first start since April after being eased back from injury by Mourinho this season.
  • Daley Blind, Luke Shaw, Victor Lindelof, Scott McTominay, Matteo Darmian and Anthony Martial will also push for starts on Wednesday.

Prediction

  • Bristol City knocked out Premier League opposition on three occasions (Watford, Stoke and Crystal Palace) to set up this glamour home tie with holders Manchester United.
  • Lee Johnson’s side are third in the Championship and have only lost three games all season. Up against a United side that haven’t kept a clean sheet in their last five away games, Bristol City cannot be underestimated on Wednesday night.

Prediction:

Bristol City logo Bristol City

2

2

Manchester United Manchester United logo

Top Facts

Monaco have won 17 of their last 19 home matches (Ligue 1).

Celtic have won 20 of their last 21 matches against Partick Thistle in all competitions.

PSG have won their last 9 home matches (Ligue 1).

Las Palmas have lost 13 of their last 15 away matches (La Liga).

Borussia Dortmund have won their last 5 matches (DFB Pokal).

Roma have won their last 8 home matches against Torino in all competitions.

Lyon have won 8 of their last 10 matches (Ligue 1).

Montpellier have drawn their last 3 away matches (Ligue 1).

Lille have drawn 5 of their last 6 matches against Nice in all competitions.

Lyon have won their last 5 matches against Toulouse in all competitions.

Club Bruges have won their last 6 matches against KV Mechelen in all competitions.

Juventus have won 9 of their last 11 home matches against Genoa in all competitions.

Marseille have won their last 5 home matches against Troyes in all competitions.

Troyes have lost their last 4 away matches (Ligue 1).

Nice have won their last 4 matches (Ligue 1).

Bloemfontein Celtic have drawn their last 4 matches against SuperSport United in all competitions.

Venezia have drawn their last 3 matches (Serie B).

Sevilla have lost 5 of their last 6 away matches (La Liga).

Borussia M.Gladbach have won 6 of their last 7 matches (DFB Pokal).

AEK Larnaca have won their last 5 away matches (First Division).