Blue Christmas in Store for Arsenal

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Under-fire Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta faces London rivals Chelsea while Sergio Aguero will be hoping to fill his boots against Newcastle again.

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta

Arsenal’s wish for a Christmas miracle is unlikely to come to pass as they get set for play host to a back-on-track Chelsea side in the highlight of the Premier League’s Boxing Day offerings.

The last time the Gunners faced off against the Blues it ended with Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta celebrating the capture of his first piece of silverware as a manager and talk of a potential power shift between west and north London. The landscape has changed dramatically since August though, Chelsea having spent in the region of £220m to transform their squad into title contenders, while Arteta is the favourite to be the next manager to get the sack.

A run of one win from 10 matches has left Arsenal languishing in 15th, four points above the relegation zone, and they are the 14/5 outsiders to repeat their FA Cup heroics against Chelsea, who are 21/20 favourites having banished memories of the losses to Everton and Wolves on Monday.

Chelsea got back to winning ways with a 3-0 victory over West Ham at Stamford Bridge as they finally beat a fellow top-half-of-the-table team for the first time this season. While they haven’t found it easy against the top-10, Chelsea have dispatched those in the bottom half with relative ease so should have few issues against a struggling Arsenal team on course to register 38 points this season.

Lampard guided his men to a 2-1 win at the Emirates Stadium last season and Chelsea have lost just two of the past 17 Premier League encounters with Arsenal.

Once seen as nothing more than just another London rival by Arsenal, the Roman Abramovich era has helped Chelsea become the dominant force in the capital and they can go level on points with the Gunners in the all-time Premier League standings with a win.

There’s little to suggest Arteta’s men can prevent that having struggled at both ends of the field.

Arsenal have netted just 12 times all season and could be without top scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, while they haven’t kept a clean sheet at home in the league in 10 matches.

Chelsea can justify favouritism in this one, while Olivier Giroud is 19/10 to continue his decent form in front of goal by netting at anytime on his return to Arsenal.

Writing on the Wall for Newcastle

There are two things Newcastle have come to learn to dislike during their time in the Premier League; trips to Manchester City and Boxing Day matches. Unfortunately for them, those two elements combine as an under-pressure Steve Bruce takes his team to the Etihad Stadium.

The Magpies have lost on their last 11 visits to the Citizens, conceding 39 goals during that run with Sergio Aguero contributing a sizeable chunk of those. The Argentine, who could start this game with Gabriel Jesus unavailable, has 15 league goals against Newcastle and is 5/8 to net anytime.

Sergio Aguero celebrates scoring another goal for Man City

Aguero could be the one to inflict another Boxing Day beating on the north-east outfit, Newcastle having lost more games on St Stephen’s Day (14) in the Premier League than another other date during their time in the top flight.

Throw into the mix a run of one win in seven away matches this season and a disappointing EFL Cup exit at Brentford in midweek, it all seems to be stacking up against Bruce’s boys, who are 17/1 outsiders for the win.

While the goals still aren’t flowing in the main for Pep Guardiola’s men, they have looked better in recent weeks and can go into the top four with a win. City have the best defensive record in the Premier League, conceding just 12 goals, and are 5/8 to win to zero.

Everton Facing Blades Battle

Sheffield United are finally starting to show some small signs of life after their historically bad start to the season and can make life tough for Saturday’s visitors Everton. The Blades couldn’t quite hold out for a win at Brighton as they collected their second point of the season but have at least now registered goals in back-to-back games.

Opponents Everton went down to a disappointing loss to Man Utd in the EFL Cup in midweek but have won their last three in the league. Toffees boss Carlo Ancelotti has a host of injury concerns coming into this game though with James Rodriguez, Allan and Lucas Digne potentially out and the Merseysiders aren’t blessed with strength in depth.

This fixture tends to be tight with Everton winning 1-0 at Bramall Lane last season and another Toffees win couple with under 2.5 goals is available at 33/10. It also seems inevitable Dominic Calvert-Lewin will score against his old team with the England international 1/1 to net first or last and add to his 11-goal tally for the season.

*All odds correct at time of writing.

Chris is broadcast and written journalist with a wealth of experience, across a number of different sports. As well covering football on the radio, he is a regular online and print contributor on the likes of rugby union, American Football and Formula One.

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