THE PREDICTOR: Pardew to poke into Chelsea scalp as United drop points at Southhampton

Chelsea are looking invincible at the moment. Years past, Jose Mourinho relied on a defensive approach in all games. Chelsea scored goals only it mattered. Now he relies a blend of attack and defensive mettle.

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Jacobs 0. Seaman

Newcastle 2-1 Chelsea 2.45pm

Chelsea are looking invincible at the moment. Years past, Jose Mourinho relied on a defensive approach in all games. Chelsea scored goals only it mattered. Now he relies a blend of attack and defensive mettle.

Things gel even more when he looks to his bench and sees the option at his disposal, just like striker Loic Remy said. Chelsea’s squad depth is simply unmatched. For the lunchtime trip, Spain striker Diego Costa returns after sitting out the easy win over Spurs in midweek due to suspension.

His absence had not been felt but his presence will be something to worry Alan Pardew. The Newcastle tactician casted so many strong ballasts to stabilise the Magpies ship and the sail has been smooth since.

He will want to ask his boys to put up the kind of performance they did during the second half at Burnley if they are to frustrate Chelsea at St James Park, the only stadium where Mourinho has never won a game at.

Such is the confidence that defender Steven Taylor, back from injury, does not think they will look up to the manner Sunderland frustrated Chelsea. Newcastle want a win and a win it will be.

Saturday

QPR  2-0  Burnley 5pm

The two promoted sides are relegation candidates and they are battling it out for a chance to get some respite from the drop zone.

QPR knows a win at home to Burnley will be so valuable it will catapult the side from the drop zone until the Christmas packed fixture schedule.

Burnley have another nudge as they will be facing their old boy Charlie Austin, who will no doubt work extra hard to score against the visitors at Loftus Road.

Stoke   3-1 Arsenal  5pm

Arsene Wenger wants three more years. He says he is sure to win the league title within that time frame. He has never promised this much and it must be that he knows the board is wavering after fans started unfurling banners calling for his resignation.

 To convince the board that he is the man, Wenger needs to finish better than the seasonal fourth place and such an ambition means dispatching sides like Stoke City with ease.

But on the evidence of their home win over Southampton in midweek, Wenger’s injury-plagued side are far from convincing me they can do it. They will again rely on Alexis Sanchez who will no doubt be coming against a side that plays hardest ball in the English premiership.

Stoke were unlucky to go down 2-1 at United on Wednesday but they will count on home advantage to deal with a side that is missing Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere and Mesut Ozil, while Mikel Arteta and Olivier Giroud are back but not fit enough for the test at Britannia Stadium.

This is the place where Gunners face hostile fans as the City fans continue to goad Arsenal over the tackle by their skipper Ryan Shawcross that left Aaron Ramsey with a broken leg in 2010.

Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny and right-back Mathieu Debuchy could be back in contention after injury lay-offs, but this will play in favour of Stoke should the Polish keeper get the nod ahead of impressive second choice Damian Martinez.

Man City 1-2 Everton 7.30pm

Sergio Aguero is the man on song in English football. With 19 goals from 16 starts this season, he is the man who is likely to carry City to the summit if they are to win. Only lingering thing is that the Argentine forward rarely completes a season without injuries.

But he is fit to run Everton rugged at The Etihad today and this fixture coming hours after leaders Chelsea have cleaned out St James Park is an added edge assuming Chelsea drop points.

Manuel Pellegrini’s side climbed to second after beating Southampton last week and will want to keep pressure on Chelsea, who are six points ahead.

The biggest burden on City today is that they are playing with one eye on midweek do-or-die Champions League clash at Roma. City will give precedence to the European competition even though a win is all they need against the visitors.

City captain Vincent Kompany remains on the sidelines with a hamstring injury and will miss the visit of Roberto Martinez’s side.

The visitors know they need a positive result away to the champions if they are to maintain their dream for Champions League place. Can they pull it off? I think so.

Monday

Southampton  2-2 Man Utd 10pm

Manchester United have won four games on the trot to move up to third place on the table. No more pressure on Louis van Gaal but the Dutch tactician continues to whine about fixture congestion during the festive as though it is only United that is affected.

Whatever his moans, he has to keep going and the trip to St Mary’s is one of them. Southampton were doing well until the fixture decreed that they face three top guns in succession.

They went down to City, were unlucky to fall to Arsenal and will be biting their lips when United leave the pitch will all three points.

The visitors could welcome back skipper Wayne Rooney, who has been declared fit to play, but Angel Di Maria remains sidelined.

Ronald Koeman is trying to avoid three defeats on the trot and he can do it if he sees his side play like they did at The Emirates. A draw is possible.

La Liga

Saturday

Elche           0-3    Atletico       5pm

Athletic        4-0    Cordoba     7pm

Real Madrid2-1    Celta Vigo  9pm

Deportivo     0-0    Malaga      11pm

Sunday

Barcelona    3-1    Espanyol    6pm

Villarreal       2-0    R. Sociedad 8pm

Granada      1-2    Valencia     10pm

Bundesliga

Saturday

Gladbach     2-1    Hertha     4.30pm

Hannover     0-1 Wolfsburg 4.30pm

Köln             2-3 Augsburg  4.30pm

Paderborn   1-1 Freiburg   4.30pm

Stuttgart      0-2 Schalke   4.30pm

Bayern         4-1 Bayer      7.30pm

Ligue 1

Saturday

Paris SG      2-1    Nantes       6.30pm

Bordeaux     3-0    Lorient     9pm

Caen           1-1    Nice         9pm

Rennes        2-0    Montpellier 9pm

St Etienne   4-0    Bastia         9pm

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