Kevin Doyle talks Boxing Day and Leicester v Liverpool

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Tottenham Hotspur v Brighton, Thursday, 12:30

Tottenham Hotspur suffered a disappointing loss over the weekend. I thought they would have too much at home for Chelsea who have been blowing hot and cold over the last few weeks. Jose Mourinho has them playing like they are enjoying their football again. In fairness, they did not do too much wrong, Chelsea just played better very well.

On the day, Spurs were just not good enough and the Blues showed excellent attacking intent. It was interesting to see the dynamics between Mourinho and Frank Lampard on the touchline and the apprentice has certainly done well with his young team.

I think Spurs will bounce back and get the win against Brighton in this game. Mourinho has done well and turned their fortunes around since he came in. They are in the Champions League last 16, they are seventh in the league table and moving in the right direction.

Top four is still very much up for grabs this season. Mourinho usually gets the most out of new teams in the first six months to a year after he joins so I expect Spurs to kick on for the rest of the season.

They will have too much for a plucky Brighton side and I see them securing a comfortable 2-0 home win.

Prediction: Tottenham Hotspur 2 Brighton 0

Bournemouth v Arsenal, Thursday, 15:00

Only time will tell whether Mikel Arteta’s appointment will be a success or not. It’s a gamble as he has no direct top flight management experience but he knows the club very well, what it stands for and he has been understudy to possibly the best manager in the world in Pep Guardiola.

You would hope he has picked up some great experience in recent years which he will bring to his management tenure at Arsenal. He won’t need to settle in, to learn the culture or know the area which is an advantage. But he will have to deal with big personalities on the board and in the dressing-room so he must be the one making the big decisions.

I thought Arsenal would go with someone with more experience but they tried that avenue the last time and it didn’t work out. They have gone for a younger, fresher more exciting prospect who understands the club well and will encourage the style of play and philosophy they want.

He must have a lot of good things said behind the scenes that Arsenal would take the risk and give him the job.

I see Arsenal improving under Arteta and the players will be really trying to prove themselves over the coming weeks to get themselves established in the first eleven. This is a game where both teams like to play good passing football. I see Arsenal going away to Bournemouth and getting a 2-1 win.

Prediction: Bournemouth 1 Arsenal 2

Chelsea v Southampton, Thursday, 15:00

Chelsea will be brimming with confidence after the weekend and it would be stupid of me to call anything other than a Chelsea win at home.

However, I think Southampton may cause problems for them. Shane Long, a former Irish International playing partner of mine has been put back in the team and is taking some pressure of Danny Ings who’s scoring some good goals.

Long is doing a lot of the dirty work for him, disrupting and causing problems for defenders. Although, Southampton are on a bit of resurgence lately, I think Chelsea will have too much for them at Stamford Bridge and I see a 3-1 home win.

Prediction: Chelsea 3 Southampton 1

Sheffield Utd v Watford, Thursday, 15:00

I might surprise a few people here, but I think Watford will go to Sheffield Utd and get a win. Although the Blades have been playing great this season, I just think this is the type of game they might struggle in.

They will go into this game as favourites and under pressure to win which mentally might be more challenging for them.

Watford will certainly have taken confidence with Sunday’s win over Manchester Utd. New boss Nigel Pearson did the impossible previously with Leicester a few years ago and kept them up from relegation late in the season.

You really got the sense from Sunday’s performance that this Watford team have a new lease of life and a bit of renewed vigour installed in them, which should carry through to bagging some decent results over the next few games.

Prediction: Sheffield United 1 Watford 2

Man Utd v Newcastle Utd, Thursday, 17:30

Steve Bruce is obviously doing a great job with Newcastle moving up to 9th in the table. It’s amazing how fortunes change in a matter of weeks. Newcastle secure a few wins and Steve Bruce is back in the fans favour after initially receiving a mixed reception when he was announced as the new manager.

Bruce is a consistent manager, he doesn’t have too many bad seasons and has done a decent job in most of the clubs he has gone too. I like him as a man, like him as a manager who always comes across well.

It will be interesting to see whether Man Utd will play Paul Pogba who had a great cameo off the bench last weekend. You would imagine he will start against Newcastle and I am looking forward to seeing what sort of performance he will put in.

The Red Devils have a great record against Newcastle and especially at Old Trafford over the years. As poor as United are playing, I am still going to go for them to win 2-0 today.

Prediction:  Manchester United 2 Newcastle United 0

Leicester v Liverpool, Thursday, 20:00

With Leicester being beaten by Manchester City last week, they are now 10 points adrift of Liverpool, with the league leaders having a game in hand. Some have said it is a must win game for Leicester but to be honest I think the title is already decided barring a major capitulation by Liverpool which is highly unlikely. 

But it is still a massive game for both clubs. I don’t see Leicester finishing second in the league and I think they will be happy to finish in the top four. It has been a fantastic season for them so far but I just think Liverpool have a much stronger squad and will be full of confidence after winning the Club World Cup. I just don’t see them being stopped.

The only thing is the travel and the tiredness from Qatar which might be a factor. Although, I think they have a strong enough squad to cope with Leicester on the day.

I would like to see Liverpool sign a few extra players in January to take some weight of the starting 11; to give them a bit of a boost into the latter half of the season but for this game, I see them just having too much firepower for the Foxes.

Prediction: Leicester City 1 Liverpool 2

Five-Fold ACCA

Tottenham v Brighton: Spurs Win

Bournemouth v Arsenal: Arsenal Win

Chelsea v Southampton: Chelsea Win

Man United v Newcastle United: Man Utd Win

Leicester City v Liverpool: Liverpool Win

Kevin.

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Kevin Doyle

After a top-line career banging in the goals for Reading, Wolves and Colorado Rapids, former Republic of Ireland international Kevin Doyle now brings Ladbrokes his thoughts and opinions on the beautiful game.