Chris Hughton can enjoy his return to Tyneside when his Brighton side visit Newcastle United on Saturday.
The 59-year-old had an 18-month spell in charge of United before being unceremoniously axed in December 2010 and went on to enjoy spells at Birmingham City and Norwich City before joining the Seagulls almost exactly three years ago.
The St James’ Park clash could be a low-scoring affair as Newcastle have only found the net 19 times in their first 20 Premier League games of the campaign, while Brighton have scored on just 15 occasions.
Brighton edged to a 1-0 victory against Rafa Benitez’s team in September on home soil when Tomer Hemed was on target and another win for Hughton’s team by a one-goal margin is available at 15/4, while Brighton are 23/10 to keep a clean sheet in the encounter.
Meanwhile, troubled Southampton are unlikely to enjoy any relief at Old Trafford when Mauricio Pellegrino’s side take on Manchester United.
Saints are only two points clear of the drop-zone following a dismal seven-match winless sequence and their previously tight defence has looked very suspect during recent heavy defeats to Leicester City (4-1) and Tottenham (5-2).
Charlie Austin’s absence because of a hamstring injury means it is difficult to see where Saints’ goals are going to come from while the news that Virgil van Dijk is set to join Liverpool next month has only added to the gloom that is currently enveloping St Mary’s.
Jose Mourinho’s side have produced some patchy displays of late, edging to victories against Bournemouth and West Brom and drawing with Leicester and Burnley. However, they should brush a patched-up Southampton team aside with a 3-0 win for United available at 8/1 while Juan Mata is 9/4 to score at any time in the match.
Bournemouth showed great spirit to draw 3-3 with West Ham on Tuesday but they head into the 21st round of fixtures in the bottom three and are 21/10 to be relegated this season.
The Cherries have failed to win any of their last eight top-flight fixtures and have conceded 11 goals in their last three games.
The malaise that was affecting Everton only one month ago has dissipated and they are now ninth in the table after a run of four wins and three draws in their last seven matches.
Sam Allardyce has brought some much-needed organisation to the Toffees defence and they have only conceded two goals during that run. Looking at Saturday’s game, they are decent 12/5 to keep a third clean sheet in a row on Saturday.
Chelsea needed to be patient before scoring twice after the break as they secured what was in the end a routine 2-0 victory against Brighton on Boxing Day and it may be a similar scenario at Stamford Bridge this weekend when Stoke City visit the capital.
Despite enjoying an encouraging festive period to date- beating West Brom 3-1 and drawing 1-1 at Huddersfield – Mark Hughes’ side still have the worst defensive record in the Premier League.
Chelsea are an entirely different proposition to those two teams though as the Potters found out in September when they suffered a 4-0 home loss to Antonio Conte’s team.
Burnley make the short trip to Huddersfield buoyed by their excellent display at Old Trafford where they were disappointed to eventually have to settle for a point from a 2-2 draw.
Everything points to this game being a low-scoring, tight encounter with a draw at 21/10 the most likely outcome.
The Terriers have struggled for goals all season and a repeat of the goalless draw between the two teams at Turf Moor at 11/2 is not out of the question.
The goals continue to flow for Liverpool who, after the blips against Everton and West Brom earlier this month, have plundered 12 goals in their last three matches and were particularly impressive in Tuesday’s 5-0 demolition of hapless Swansea.
Leicester were strangely off colour during the 2-1 setback at Watford and will be desperate to bounce back with a much-improved performance at Anfield.
The Reds edged a five-goal thriller at the King Power Stadium in September and it could be another exciting game on Saturday between two attack-minded teams. A Liverpool win and both teams to score is available at 13/10, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is 11/4 to score at any time against the Foxes.
Swansea are in danger of being cast adrift at the foot of the table and this could be the perfect time for Watford to play the struggling Welsh outfit.
The Swans were dreadful in the 5-0 defeat at Anfield and their lack of goals is a massive concern – they have only scored 11 times in 20 Premier League fixtures to date.
Watford brought a worrying run to an end by beating Leicester on Boxing Day and Marco Silva’s side should make it back-to-back triumphs with something to spare.
Richarlison has missed a hatful of good chances recently but he can get back on the goal trail this weekend by opening the scoring against Swansea at 4/1 while a victory by a two-goal margin for the Hornets is available at 15/4.
Manchester City are so good that it is difficult to see who can beat them this season and, although it will not be easy at Selhurst Park on Sunday, they should be able to get the better of Crystal Palace.
City managed to secure yet another victory against an ultra-defensive Newcastle side on Wednesday and Eagles boss Roy Hodgson is expected to adopt a similarly cautious approach this weekend.
However, another 1-0 win for Pep Guardiola’s team at odds of 19/2 seems realistic.
Finally and West Brom, now winless in 18 Premier League matches following a goalless draw against Everton, may have to settle for another stalemate against Arsenal.
Salomon Rondon is Albion’s top scorer with four goals but the Venezuelan was woefully off-form against Sam Allardyce’s side so it may be worth looking elsewhere for a Baggies goalscorer with Hal Robson-Kanu 33/10 to score at any time against Arsene Wenger’s team.
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