Liverpool v Leeds
Live on BT Sport 1
Leeds United are unlikely to recover until their injuries clear up, and one of the main reasons Marcelo Bielsa teams historically implode - and long before the four-season mark - is that the Argentine refuses to adapt. Leeds will always press high and hard, always manically charge around the pitch, always empty central midfield to man-mark their opponents.
This led to a 7-0 defeat to Manchester City a fortnight ago as part of a sequence of 14 concessions in three matches. Leeds just won't tighten up, leading to frantically stretched matches as the stand-in players struggle to cover the gaps; Liverpool should win this match very easily, possibly even eclipsing Man City's score.
Jurgen Klopp's three rotating forwards are particularly adept at pulling opponents out of shape, and so Leeds' man-marking system should see them disintegrate into wild zig-zag lines. But more importantly, Leeds will commit lots of bodies forward on the counter-attack and push up the pitch to defend, meaning just one clever forward pass will allow Liverpool to play quickly in the transition - a rare treat for Klopp these days.
Back Liverpool to win with a -2 handicap at 2.01/1
Man City v Leicester
Despite ultimately losing on penalties, the way Leicester City raced into a 3-1 lead at Anfield in the EFL Cup tells us they are moving back towards their true selves. James Maddison is back in top form, looking to play incisive vertical passes in behind for Jamie Vardy once more, while the return of Youri Tielemans has added balance back to the Leicester midfield.
They consistently sit off the bigger teams, happily playing on the counter-attack and keeping things tight at the back. It is a humble way of playing that very nearly worked in the reverse fixture, a 1-0 defeat in September, and a similar tactical style - don't press the centre-backs, stay compact and narrow, force City to play slowly 30 yards from goal - to the one deployed by Tottenham, Southampton, and Crystal Palace. They all kept clean sheets against City.
City have scored 11 goals in their last two but these were very easy games, whereas before that they were hugely fortunate to beat Wolves 1-0 with a dodgy penalty. Kevin de Bruyne is still below his best and Man City still badly need a striker to make clever runs in the box. Without one, they can be forced to pass sideways, becoming suffocated, while with Maddison, Tielemans, and Jamie Vardy ready to hit on the break, Leicester could record a shock result on Boxing Day.
Back the draw at 7.513/2
Spurs v Crystal Palace
Tottenham Hotspur have recently begun showing signs of adaptation to Antonio Conte's methods, the 2-2 draw with Liverpool arguably a crucial moment in the project as the Italian moved to a 3-5-2 - getting the best out of Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son as a partnership - and upgraded to a more adventurous central midfield. Dele Alli, Harry Winks, and Tanguy Ndombele are more direct and assertive than Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Oliver Skipp.
They'll need all that extra energy and forward momentum for Sunday's clash with Crystal Palace, a team strugging for goals but remaining solid defensively. Patrick Vieira's system relies upon snapping into an aggressive press in the middle third of the pitch, cluttering the most important area and creating claustrophobic matches with few goals. It is easy to imagine Conor Gallagher and Will Hughes out-battling Skipp and Hojbjerg, should Conte return to his first preference.
But if he takes the risk of releasing Dele between the lines, then Tottenham stand a chance of breaking through Vieira's stubborn formation and getting Kane on the ball in dangerous areas. There is no doubt this will be a low-scoring game, and one with minimal space for either team, but that injection of impetus from Dele - and an improving Kane - gives the hosts an edge.
Back Spurs to win and under 2.5 goals at 4.03/1
Aston Villa v Chelsea
Live on Sky Sports Premier League
This is probably the worst-hit game by Covid, with Aston Villa and Chelsea both facing a crisis in recent days that makes it very hard to predict the line-up. Steven Gerrard has hinted at the use of academy players, something we will see a lot more of now the Premier League has announced any team with 14 fit players (incuding one goalkeeper) must fulfil their fixture.
But tactically, this one does look like another tricky game for Chelsea. Their goalscoring woes are likely to continue until Romelu Lukaku is match fit, which won't be the case here after a recent positive test, and indeed the narrowness of Thomas Tuchel's 3-4-2-1 could play right into Villa's hands.
Gerrard has implemented a 4-3-2-1 formation that essentially tesselates with Tuchel's, simplifying the defensive job as Villa engage in a sharp press in the middle third of the pitch. However, Chelsea hold a slight advantage on the flanks, where their overlapping wing-backs should find space on the outside of Villa's midfield. The hosts are too light on numbers in wide areas, so if Tuchel targets the width Chelsea might find a way through. Don't expect a high-scoring game, however.
Back under 2.5 goals at 1.758/11