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Premier League Preview: Tottenham Hotspur vs. West Ham

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  • Ten goals in two matches between the two this year
  • Spurs won 3-2 at West Ham
  • Irons won League Cup match 3-2 at Wembley
  • Spurs lead all-time 63W-36D-50L

The final festive fixture is upon us Thursday, as Tottenham Hotspur looks to get a season sweep of West Ham United in a match at Wembley Stadium (Watch live at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

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Both sides played and won Tuesday, with Spurs waltzing past Swans and West Ham posting a stunning comeback against West Bromwich Albion.

Spurs were able to do it without Harry Kane in a starting role, though the English star assisted Dele Alli‘s insurance goal in the 2-0 win. He’ll return to the Starting XI on Thursday.

West Ham boss David Moyes is worried that a minor injury to Aaron Cresswell will keep him from the match, as he’s short on defenders with injuries to Sam Byram, Jose Fonte, and Reece Oxford as well.

What they’re saying

Spurs’ Pochettino on putting teams away“When you don’t kill games sometimes you pay and one thing can change everything so we were anxious to score the second. It was late in the game but we felt the happiness and the three points was massive. Now we rest and work in the video room because we have another game so soon.”

West Ham’s Moyes on battling relegation“You can see how the Premier League is going to go between now and the end of the season. Games are going to be won and lost on really small margins. think you can see there’s a lot of tension at the bottom of the league this season, because two defeats and you slide back in. Two wins and you could be talking about trying to get into mid table.”

Prediction

More goals? A rested Kane should be able to find his way past an often times suspect Irons defense, though don’t sleep on in-form Marko Arnautovic and the opportunistic Arthur Masuaku on West Ham’s flank. We probably won’t see five goals, but both sides get on the board as Spurs win 3-1.

Premier League Preview: Manchester United vs. Burnley

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  • Man United has the Premier League’s best Boxing Day win percentage at 83%
  • Only Man City and Chelsea have conceded fewer away goals than Burnley
  • Burnley has not won at Old Trafford in league play since 1962

Jose Mourinho is not happy. Not happy at all. In fact, the Manchester United manager is so edgy that even the slightest misstep can set him off. It did this morning.

[ MORE: Top Premier League Storylines – Boxing Day ]

The Portuguese boss man abruptly ended his press conference when asked an odd but fair question about Paul Pogba‘s qualities as a leader and whether Mourinho sees him as a long-term challenger for the captain’s armband.

It’s easy to understand why Mourinho is so testy of late. His side has conceded a pair of late goals in critical moments over the past two matches, calling Manchester United’s performance against Leicester City “childish,” referring to both their ability to increase the lead in front of net and their defending at the death. Now, they return home to the friendly confines of Old Trafford hoping to use the home crowd to push the squad the full 90 minutes as they host Burnley on Tuesday (Watch live, 10:00 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com).

Meanwhile, Burnley has its own wounds to lick. The big picture view sees the Clarets in 7th position, a spot any supporter would take in a heartbeat heading into the Boxing Day test, but the 3-0 defeat to Spurs last time out exposed them as top four pretenders and will give Sean Dyche reason to brood over his team’s usually stout defensive abilities.

Team News

Manchester United:  Out – Eric Bailly (ankle), Antonio Valencia (hamstring), Marouane Fellaini (knee), Michael Carrick (heart). Questionable – Matteo Darmian (unspecified), Chris Smalling (unspecified)

Burnley: Out – James Tarkowski (suspension). QuestionableStephen Ward (knee), Chris Wood (knee).

What they’re saying

Burnley manager Sean Dyche on loaded upcoming fixture list“We’ve got some big teams coming, big challenges, but wherever you are in the league you’ve got to play them. They [Manchester United] were superb last season, [goalkeeper] Tom [Heaton] was saving all sorts. We know the run of games we’ve got – no problem with it, that’s life in the Premier League”

Jose Mourinho on loss to Leicester City: “Some players have childish decisions and time helps them to have maturity and to decide better. But some other players stay with childish decision until the end of their career. It’s a big frustration because they are easy goals to score and to kill the game. On top of that in the last couple of minutes, we allow the opposition to throw a few balls to the box and we couldn’t defend the last cross so I think we were punished by our mistakes.”

Prediction

While Manchester United have struggled in recent past, coming back home should provide the club a boost. Burnley has looked great at times this season and Sean Dyche should be praised for squeezing all he can out of this lineup, but the Clarets have not fared well against the best teams in the league this season, a trend that will likely continue. Mourinho and United should win this one in customary 1-0 fashion as United scores soon after halftime and closes up shop late, especially as Burnley continue to sorely miss James Tarkowski.

Premier League Preview: Leicester City vs. Crystal Palace

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  • Leicester leads all-time 26W-18D-23L
  • Foxes 3W-1D vs. Eagles since Oct. 2015
  • Palace won at Leicester in Feb. 2015

The Claude Puel revolution at Leicester City has the Foxes surging up the Premier League table, and Saturday’s visitors from Crystal Palace are making moves of their own (Watch live Saturday at 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Leicester has won four-straight matches, the latest a 4-1 beatdown of Southampton at St. Mary’s, and returns to King Power Stadium with a chance to make a dent on the five-point deficit between the Foxes and the Top Four.

 

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

After beginning the season 0-7, Crystal Palace has claimed 14 of 30 points to move from 20th to 18th on the table. Roy Hodgson’s men have two wins and four draws in their last six matches.

What they’re saying

Leicester’s Harry Maguire on the task at hand:

Palace’s Ruben Loftus-Cheek on his high-flying loan spell from Chelsea: “It’s what you aspire to be when you’re younger. Right now it’s a case of trying to improve as much as I can and to keep the performances up. As long as I’m enjoying it I think I’ll do well, so I’m really happy. The experience of playing week in week out and the physical side of things, getting my body used to playing games – sometimes three in a week – has been a massive thing for me, especially when I haven’t played for two years regularly. That was one of the main reasons I wanted to get away from Chelsea, to play regular football, get my body used to it, get more robust and I think once you have that then it’s a platform to play better.”

Prediction

This could be a fun one, with names like Zaha, Townsend, Loftus-Cheek, Vardy, Mahrez, and Gray ready to bless the match with pace and creativity. Goals have come in bunches when Leicester’s on the pitch, and we’ll call it 2-1 to the Foxes.

Premier League Preview: Chelsea vs. Southampton

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  • Chelsea leads all-time 41W-28D-28L
  • Saints have points in 3 of 5 at Stamford Bridge
  • Southampton winless in four straight league games

Chelsea returns home following an emphatic away win to meet a Southampton side fresh off embarrassment at home (Watch live Saturday at 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Saints were battered 4-1 at St. Mary’s by former coach Claude Puel, while Antonio Conte‘s Chelsea rebounded from a loss at West Ham by battering Huddersfield Town 4-1 at the John Smith’s Stadium.

Conte was asked to compare Alvaro Morata to club legend Didier Drogba, as the Spanish striker has reportedly been studying footage of the big Ivorian.

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“They are two different players with different characteristics,” he said. “Didier Drogba brought history to this club and he’s a wonderful player, a wonderful striker because he continues to play. He’s a great striker, more powerful than Alvaro but Alvaro, don’t forget, has a lot of space for improvement. He’s strong physically, he’s a technical player and I see a great future for Alvaro.”

Chelsea still won’t have David Luiz available, while Southampton has no new injury concerns despite the recent schedule congestion.

What they’re saying

Antonio Conte on Southampton premonitions“‘My expectation is for us to suffer, I have this sensation, so we must pay great attention. When you play after a bad defeat, especially at home, there is great attention of the coach and the club because they don’t want to continue a bad run. They want to give a good answer against a strong team like Chelsea.”

Saints’ Mauricio Pellegrino on facing Chelsea: “We want to show our best version. Chelsea is a really difficult side but maybe we can find more space.  We have to do a really good game to have a possibility of winning, but hopefully after a difficult moment we can bounce back. In this club, we want to show we are committed to trying to be competitive, our energy and commitment to the club.”

Prediction

Saints are wounded, but Chelsea has the better depth and form. Charlie Austin or Sofiane Boufal may force a goal past Thibaut Courtois, but look for the Blues to pull out a 2-1 win.

Premier League preview: Chelsea vs. Newcastle United

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  • Newcastle winless at Chelsea since 2012
  • Home team unbeaten in last six between them
  • Chelsea leads all-time 67W-40D-52L

Newcastle United heads to Chelsea with a bit more confidence than many expect for Saturday’s encounter at Stamford Bridge (Watch live at 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com)

For one thing, the Magpies have matched up well with Chelsea this decade. Newcastle has five wins and three draws from 13 matches against the Blues since the start of the 2010-11 season.

[ MORE: Top Premier League story lines ]

The Magpies are still without defensive lynchpin and captain Jamaal Lascelles, but are coming off a come-from-behind 2-2 draw with West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns on Tuesday.

Antonio Conte will be there, but a suspension may be looming following his being sent to the stands for arguing with referees in a 1-0 win over Swansea City.

What they’re saying

Chelsea’s Antonio Rudiger on competition at Chelsea“We have some momentum and that is why we also have to rotate and everyone needs to get in their best form. We have to keep going and winning. Football is about competition and I know we have good players like Christensen, Cahill, Azpilicueta and David Luiz, and it is important if I get the chance to try to help the team like this. I am very happy because my aim is always to help the team and if I get a goal like this it is always very good.”

Newcastle’s Ciaran Clark on the fight for safety“We’ll fight, and we’ll keep going no matter what the situation is. We’ll never give up, and I think we showed that [at West Brom]. We started the season really well, and being promoted, there is maybe a little bit of pressure. But we just try to do the best we can, that’s all we can do as players. As players, and as a club, we try to do the best we can each week, and hopefully it will be good enough.

Prediction

Chelsea has too much for Newcastle, and scoops up a pair of goals and three points in a 2-0 home win.