2021 Premier League action is knocking on the door with a set of three tasty-looking fixtures on New Year’s Day.
While another Covid-19 outbreak forced the postponement of Leicester City’s home clash against Norwich City, the other three New Year’s Day matches are ready to go ahead.
Let’s have a quick look at each one of them.
Arsenal vs Manchester City
2021 Premier League action kicks off at the Emirates Stadium with a mouth-watering match-up between fourth-placed Arsenal and pacesetters Manchester City.
The Gunners closed out 2021 proceedings on a high, having won four consecutive league games to complete the calendar year, including a 4-1 victory at Leeds United last time out.
Arsenal’s noticeable upturn in form has catapulted them to fourth in the Premier League standings as their chances of securing their first top-four finish since 2015/16 looks realistic following a dismal start to the season.
However, the Londoners’ Champions League credentials face a stern test in the shape of a rampant Man City side that took the Premier League by storm in the last two months of 2021.
Since falling to a 2-0 home defeat to Crystal Palace in October, Pep Guardiola’s men have strung together ten league triumphs to move eight points clear at the summit.
Another successful weekend is well on the cards as the Cityzens have won their last nine top-flight meetings with Arsenal, including a 5-0 thrashing in the reverse fixture in August.
What’s more, except for a 1-0 loss to Sunderland in 2011/12, Man City have won seven of their last eight Premier League matches on New Year’s Day.
Watford vs Tottenham Hotspur
Hopeful that 2022 could mark the start of a new dawn at Vicarage Road, out-of-sorts Watford entertain high-flying Tottenham Hotspur in their first Premier League fixture in the new calendar year.
Despite taking an early lead through the in-form striker Emmanuel Dennis, Claudio Ranieri’s side fell to a horrendous 4-1 home defeat to West Ham last time out.
Coming into this matchday, the Hornets have lost their last five Premier League games in a row and are one reverse away from equaling their longest losing streak in England’s top-flight since 2016/17.
That prospect is not beyond the realm of possibility at all, as Watford have lost their last three Premier League home outings by 2+ goals ‘to one’ since beating Manchester United 4-1 in late November.
By contrast, Tottenham have gone from strength to strength since replacing the now ex-manager Nuno Espirito Santo with Antonio Conte over a month ago.
Led by the charismatic Italian strategist, Spurs have gone unbeaten in all seven Premier League matches (W4, D3) to return in contention for a top-four finish.
Yet, despite playing against a 10-man Southampton side for the entire second half, the London heavyweights could only manage a 1-1 draw at St. Mary’s last time out.
That might put pressure on Conte to register his first Premier League away win in charge of Tottenham.
Crystal Palace vs West Ham United
Premier League New Year’s Day action concludes with an all-London showdown between Crystal Palace and West Ham United at Selhurst Park.
Since losing 2-1 to Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa in November, the Eagles have turned Selhurst Park into a fortress, going unbeaten in their last three league games here (W2, D1).
Though scoring prowess has never been their trademark under current head coach Patrick Vieira, Palace have still bagged 2+ goals in their last three Premier League home games in a row.
In turn, they hit back twice to hold West Ham to a goal-friendly 2-2 draw at the London Stadium in the reverse fixture, highlighting the potential for another action-packed contest.
Each of the last nine Premier League meetings between these two has seen both teams on the scoresheet, with seven of them featuring over 2.5 total goals.
That record bodes well with West Ham’s recent displays in the top-flight as both of their previous league outings have witnessed both sides hitting the net in matches garnering precisely five goals.