The first Sunday in December is derby day in the Premier League when London and Liverpool take centre stage.
Rock-bottom Fulham’s visit to Chelsea starts the day, followed by Arsenal’s eagerly-awaited clash with Tottenham, and finally the Merseyside derby at Anfield as Everton attempt to end Liverpool’s unbeaten start to the campaign.
Spurs to draw with Arsenal @ 13/5
On paper, the Emirates Stadium match is the hardest to call as Arsenal seem to be back on track under Unai Emery, while Spurs are on course to clinch a top-four finish for the fourth season in a row.
The Gunners are unbeaten in their last 11 top-flight fixtures and showed great character to win 2-1 at Bournemouth last weekend. However, Spurs have won 10 of their 13 Premier League matches and produced arguably their best display of the season last weekend when dismantling previously unbeaten Chelsea at Wembley.
Recent matches between the two teams have been tight, but the Gunners have managed to continue their excellent home record in north London derbies, with last season’s 2-0 victory meaning Spurs have only won once at Arsenal since 1993.
That success came eight years ago when Spurs came from two goals down to win 3-2 thanks to efforts by Gareth Bale, Rafael van der Vaart and Younes Kaboul.
Harry Kane has scored seven times in derbies, but only twice at Emirates Stadium, and the prolific England international – 33/10 to score the first goal – may need to be at his best if Mauricio Pochettino’s team are to avoid defeat.
Spurs have the best away record in the Premier League, having won seven of their eight fixtures on the road, and they are well-placed in the table as after this weekend’s games, nine of their 14 encounters will have been away from home.
The Gunners have moved into top-four contention despite continuing to look fragile defensively and have conceded more goals than any other team in the top six, and one more than 11th-placed Wolves.
Spurs are the only Premier League side not to have drawn yet this season but that could come to an end, with a 1-1 draw against Arsenal available at 13/2.
Liverpool to win and both teams to score @ 29/20
Everton’s recent record in Merseyside derbies has been abysmal and there is little to suggest Marco Silva’s team can bring their barren run to an end this weekend.
Everton have not won at Anfield since a 1-0 victory in 1999, when Kevin Campbell scored the only goal of a tempestuous match that saw three players, including the then teenage Steven Gerrard, sent off.
It is over eight years since the Toffees enjoyed any derby success – they beat Liverpool at Goodison Park in October 2010 – with the Reds unbeaten in the last 17 encounters between the two clubs.
Liverpool enjoyed comprehensive 4-0 victories against their rivals in 2014 and 2016, but it should be a closer affair this time given Everton are in good form and have moved up to sixth in the table after winning five of their last seven matches.
However, 16 of their 22 points have come on home soil and they have only managed to win one of their six away games – at Leicester City in October.
Everton did manage to draw 1-1 at Anfield last term, while the match at Goodison ended goalless, but Jurgen Klopp’s team edged to a 2-1 victory against their local rivals in the third round of the FA Cup.
Daniel Sturridge is the leading scorer in the derbies among current players but as he is unlikely to feature on Sunday, Sadio Mane may be a good bet to score the first goal at 19/4.
Liverpool are 10 points better off than they were at this stage last season and, if not for an incredible Manchester City side, the Reds would surely be on course to claim their first title for almost three decades.
Klopp’s team have certainly tightened up defensively, conceding only five goals compared with 18 at this stage last season, while their goalscoring record is almost identical. Liverpool may well settle for a 1-0 victory on Sunday, which is available at 8/1.
Chelsea to win by three-goal margin @ 7/2
Chelsea have the perfect opportunity to bounce back from last weekend’s first defeat of the season against Spurs when Fulham visit Stamford Bridge.
Claudio Ranieri will be returning to a club he managed between 2000 and 2004 after taking charge of the Cottagers just over a fortnight ago, making a winning start as boss after Fulham came from behind to defeat Southampton 3-2.
Despite that victory, Fulham are at the foot of the table and have conceded 33 goals, six more than Burnley, who have the 19th worst defensive record in the top flight.
It has been a difficult return to the Premier League for Fulham following their promotion from the Championship via the play-offs last term, but if anyone can improve them defensively then surely it is Ranieri.
Former boss Slavisa Jokanovic seemed incapable of combining last season’s players with his summer acquisitions and made a host of changes to his side in the vain hope of finding a winning formula.
Unlike many of the other struggling teams, Fulham do know how to score goals – no side in the bottom half of the table has found the net more often than them – and in Aleksandar Mitrovic they have a proven marksman.
The 24-year-old Serbian – 3/1 to score at any time at Stamford Bridge – has scored seven goals in the Premier League already this season and has grabbed a further six goals for his country.
Chelsea traditionally have the upper hand against their west London rivals and should triumph in what could be an entertaining, high-scoring encounter.
Maurizio Sarri was very critical of his players last week but despite the setback against Spurs, Chelsea remain a tough proposition and should ease to a relatively comfortable victory.
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