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Hindsight's Premier League predictions

IN FORM: Everton's Romelu Lukaku

THE FIRST weekend of 2016 promises to be as sensational as anything that 2015 had to offer. The standout match on January 2 looks like Watford - Manchester City as the buzzing Hornets look to make it another poor away day for the north west outfit who have suffered from travel sickness for the last few months.

On Sunday, there are two potential blockbusters as Crystal Palace take on London rivals Chelsea. Can Alan Pardew's men add to the Blues' woe?

The final match of the weekend as two red-hot strikers go head-to-head when Romelu Lukaku and Harry Kane face-off when Everton and Tottenham collide at Goodison Park.

All matches at 3pm unless otherwise stated

Hindsight's Premier League Predictions is in association with Sky Sports

Saturday, January 2

West Ham - Liverpool 12.45
Hammers boss Slaven Bilic will look back at 2015 with some pride. Away wins against Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool should create a sense of pride in the East End. Key for Bilic’s men have been the likes of Mark Noble and Cheikhou Kouyate. However, their home form has been less reliable and cost them points. Under Jurgen Klopp the Reds look to have a bright future too. If Daniel Sturridge can be kept fit and Phillipe Coutinho continues to improve, who knows what 2016 holds for the Merseysiders? Honours even at the final whistle.

Arsenal - Newcastle
Fixtures at the Emirates between these two teams are normally a goalfest. That may not be the case this time round as the visitors have shown signs of improvement in recent weeks. Georginio Wijnaldum has been a stand-out performer for the team from the Toon. The Dutchman has provided goals and assists and could well be a target for so-called bigger clubs in the near future. As for the hosts, they will never have a better chance of landing the top flight crown again. Pass master Mesut Ozil has been in sublime form, if he keeps it going who knows what the Gunners can achieve? Home win.

Leicester - Bournemouth
This could be a real thriller at the King Power Stadium. The Foxes have been the team of the season, so much so there is talk of winning the league. While that remains a fanciful idea, Claudio Ranieri’s men deserve enormous credit. Captain Wes Morgan has been a rock at the back alongside Robert Huth. Morgan has told the Voice of Sport that his team will keep their feet on the ground. However, they are bang on schedule for a Champions League berth come next May. Bournemouth, who have had their own successes this campaign, will be up for the battle with wins against Chelsea and Man United already. Bournemouth stun the Foxes with away win.

Manchester United - Swansea
Both of these sides have underachieved. That may be a bit harsh on the Red Devils bearing in mind that they have been in and around the Champions League’s berths since August. The gripes from United fans are based on a lack of excitement, especially at Old Trafford. While there might be some discontent at OT they still have a chance of winning the league. As for Swansea, they will hope that 2016 is more fruitful than the end of 2015. Captain Ashley Williams might be off to Euro 2016 with Wales next summer, but he has work to do at club level. Red Devils take the spoils.

Norwich - Southampton
The hosts will fancy their chances against a Saints side that have not pulled up any trees so far. Norwich will have to make some acquisitions in January, with a striker at the top of the agenda. There is some nice approach work by the Canaries but very little substance within the 18-yard box, which proves that manager Alex Neil cannot rely on his present front men. Southampton, who may lose midfield dynamo Victor Wanyama in the transfer window, but in Dusan Tadic and Graziano Pelle have match winners in their starting XI.

Sunderland - Aston Villa
This is a genuine relegation six-pointer. Villa are doomed. Simple. However, Sunderland – who perennially fight to avoid the trap door – still have a chance to save themselves. If Jermain Defoe, who on occasion does not appear to be in the manager’s thinking, can get a run of games and find his shooting boots, the Black Cats might just pull off something akin to Mission Impossible. Yann M’Vila has been in good form for the hosts in the midfield enforcer’s role. Villa are in bad shape but they might just fancy their chances in this dogfight. 1-1.

West Brom - Stoke
This Midlands face-off will start with Stoke as slight favourites. They have been eye-catching during the formative months of the season. Mame Diouf is back in their ranks after injury and he has enough goal threat to keep West Brom’s defenders honest in what is sure to be a frantic encounter. The home side have Salomon Rondon in attack and the Venezuelan will rely on James Morrison and captain Darren Fletcher to supply him with goal opportunities. Expect this fiercely competitive derby to end with an away win.

Watford - Manchester City 17.30
This could be an absolute cracker! Watford are nobody’s pushovers; win, lose or draw they give everybody a game especially at Vicarage Road. Twin threats Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo are ably backed up by the likes of Etienne Capoue and Ben Watson. City, favourites to lift the Premier League crown, have an embarrassment of riches. One of their most consistent performers has been right-back Bacary Sagna. The former Arsenal man is back to his best and always gives 100 per cent. City have just too much for the plucky Hornets.

Sunday, January 3

Crystal Palace - Chelsea 13.30
This might have been an easier proposition for the south London club while Jose Mourinho was still in charge. The Portuguese manager, now at the job centre, had clearly lost the dressing-room and was been removed from his post. I expect the under-performing Blues to up their game in the new year and climb the table. Brazilian Ramires could be key to their ascent as he brings energy and verve to the team. It will be interesting to see how the career of young and talented centre-half Kurt Zouma progresses under interim boss Guus Hiddink. Palace will hope that Yannick Bolasie and Wilfried Zaha are at their best during this capital clash. Chelsea win.

Everton - Tottenham 16.00
These two top-four contenders could serve up a feast of goals at Goodison Park. Everton have the players to take them into the Europa League spots while the Londoners have been there or thereabouts all term. However, with consistency, either of these sides could genuinely eye a Champions League berth. Blues boss Roberto Martinez has assembled a high class squad and the aim for the new year will surely be to fulfil their enormous potential. The same could be said for the players that make up the blue and white half of north London. There will be two high class front men on show during this fixture. Comparing Toffee Romelu Lukaku and opposition Cockerel Harry Kane will be fascinating. In recent weeks Lukaku has caught the eye but Kane is at his most dangerous when he is quiet. Everton give Spurs the blues.

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