Manchester United and Chelsea will look to close the gap on Premier League leaders Manchester City with home fixtures in Week 21.
The third-placed Blues play host to Stoke City on Saturday before the Red Devils welcome Southampton at Old Trafford in the evening kick-off, while Pep Guardiola’s side face Crystal Palace away on Sunday.
The Eagles almost pulled off a comeback to clinch a draw at home to Arsenal on Thursday but lost out in a slim 3-2 defeat, and the Gunners are on the road again as they make the tricky trip to West Bromwich Albion on Sunday.
Seventh-placed Burnley can climb to within a point of Arsenal if they win at Huddersfield Town on Saturday, while Liverpool host Leicester City as they bid to cement their top-four status.
Read on for a breakdown of the Week 21 schedule, complete with score predictions and a preview of some of the biggest matchups on the slate.
Full fixtures and predictions:
Saturday, December 30
3:00 p.m. Bournemouth vs Everton (1-2)
3:00 p.m. Chelsea vs Stoke City (4-0)
3:00 p.m. Huddersfield Town vs Burnley (1-2)
3:00 p.m. Liverpool vs Leicester City (3-1)
3:00 p.m. Newcastle United vs Brighton & Hove Albion (2-2)
3:00 p.m. Watford vs Swansea City (1-0)
5:30 p.m. Manchester United vs Southampton (2-0)
Sunday, December 31
12:00 p.m. Crystal Palace vs Manchester City (1-3)
4:30 p.m. West Bromwich Albion vs Arsenal (1-2)
Chelsea Seeking a Stoke Statement
Premier League champions Chelsea come into Week 21 with 16 points separating them from leaders Manchester City, a void that looks insurmountable as we pass the midway point of the 2017-18 campaign.
The Blues are unbeaten in their last four league games and not only play host to a Stoke side that’s looked weak away from home this term but is struggling with a defensive injury crisis, according to Goal’s Nizaar Kinsella.
Mark Hughes on Stoke’s defensive injury crisis ahead of Chelsea: “It’s similar to the home game against them (Chelsea) when we ended that game with no recognised centre halves.” Zouma, Martins Indi, Shawcross, Johnson and Pieters may all be out.
Potters manager Mark Hughes has seen his side take only six points outside the bet365 Stadium this season—one win and three draws—while Saturday’s hosts have lost just two of their 10 outings at Stamford Bridge.
Despite the fact the title defence may look to be over for the west Londoners, manager Antonio Conte wants his troops to fight until the end as noted by ESPN FC’s Liam Twomey.
Conte on Chelsea motivation: “I think in this league there is a great motivation for all: To try to stay there & fight until the end. I don’t know if we can do this for the title because this depends on Man City, & they are doing something extraordinary”
Saturday will mark three months to the day since they suffered their last home defeat, a narrow 1-0 loss to Man City in September, and they’ve kept clean sheets in each of their last three league matches.
That’s the response Conte will have been seeking following the shock loss at West Ham United on December 9, and an injury-ridden Stoke could be at risk of a demolition in their trip to Stamford Bridge.
Burnley Show Bite Against Terriers
Every Premier League season tends to throw up one or two surprise contenders for European qualification behind the usual suspects, and Burnley have done well to last as this season’s shock troops.
Their most recent statement was securing a 2-2 draw at United on Tuesday, a match they could have won after going 2-0 up despite the gulf in squad value between the two, per Bill Rice of BBC Radio Manchester.
Burnley’s team cost £40m – less than half of what #MUFC spent on Paul Pogba
The Clarets are without a win in three games, but they travel to face a Huddersfield outfit that has dropped off after a promising start to the season.
The Terriers have failed to win either of their last two games at the John Smith’s Stadium, and Burnley have shrugged off their reputation as a team that only performs at home, winning 16 of their 33 points away from Turf Moor this season.
Manager David Wagner’s Huddersfield side has kept only one clean sheet in their last nine games, leaving the somewhat goal-shy Burnley with cause to feel optimistic of scoring and looking to maintain their run as European qualification dark horses.
Culled from Bleacherreport.