No happy return for Ranieri

Claudio Ranieri will be making an emotional return to Stamford Bridge on Sunday, but it may not be a happy occasion for the Italian as Chelsea should win their derby clash against Fulham.

Ranieri, who spent four seasons with the Blues between 2000 and 2004, replaced Slavisa Jokanovic at Craven Cottage just over two weeks ago and in his first game in charge guided Fulham to only their second Premier League win of the campaign – 3-2 against Southampton.

However, Fulham’s defensive frailties remain and, if they can allow the shot-shy Saints to score twice, relegation remains a distinct possibility.

Chelsea were dreadful last Saturday when they lost 3-1 at Wembley to Tottenham – their first defeat of the season – but they should be able to return to winning ways in what could be an entertaining and high-scoring affair at Stamford Bridge. Over 4.5 goals in the match looks good value at 3.00.

Nothing to choose between rivals

Arsenal have an excellent recent home record in north London derbies with Tottenham, only losing one of the last 25 Premier League games played at Highbury and Emirates Stadium.

Both teams are in excellent form, with Spurs winning their last three top-flight matches. The victory lifted Mauricio Pochettino’s team up to third, while Arsenal are three points further back in fifth, after a run of eight victories and three draws in their last 11 Premier League encounters.

Unai Emery’s team have scored five more goals than Spurs but also conceded five more and it is difficult to separate the two teams. A 1-1 draw seems a likely outcome at 7.75.

Liverpool have been imperious in recent Merseyside derbies and, despite Everton’s improvement under Marco Silva this season, it is difficult to see anything other than a routine victory for the Reds at Anfield on Sunday.

Liverpool are unbeaten in the last 17 derbies in all competitions, with Everton’s last success being a 2-0 victory at Goodison Park more than eight years ago.

Everton’s last triumph at Anfield was a 1-0 victory way back in 1999 when Kevin Campbell scored the winner. Jurgen Klopp’s unbeaten Liverpool team can extend the Toffees’ misery by winning this weekend’s derby, with a 2-0 success available at 7.75.

Renewed optimism on Tyneside

On Saturday, spirits will be high at St James’ Park as Newcastle United attempt to make it four wins in a row following their victories in November against Watford, Bournemouth and Burnley.

All those victories have been by one-goal margins and, despite their recent upturn in form, only Huddersfield Town, Crystal Palace and Southampton have scored fewer goals than them.

Monday’s 2-1 win at Turf Moor lifted Rafa Benitez’s side above inconsistent West Ham, who have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last seven matches since September’s goalless draw with Chelsea.

Manuel Pellegrini’s side could keep one on Tyneside though, available at 3.20 and, despite Newcastle’s memorable November, they could begin December with a narrow loss which would puncture the upbeat atmosphere in the north-east.

Six-pointer at Selhurst Park

Recent results have meant that Saturday’s match at Selhurst Park between Crystal Palace and Burnley is a crucial one in the battle to avoid relegation.

Both teams are in terrible form and head into the weekend just one point above the drop-zone, after winning just two of their first 13 fixtures.

The Clarets’ defensive solidity of last term has vanished and they have conceded 27 goals so far, while Roy Hodgson’s side have failed to win at home this season and have only scored two times in their six encounters at Selhurst Park.

Palace are without a victory in eight while Burnley are winless in six, so it would not be a great surprise if the Premier League’s most out of form teams conspired to play out a grim goalless draw (9.25).

Huddersfield can build on their impressive display and victory at Wolves by beating poor travellers Brighton in West Yorkshire.

The Seagulls have lost five of their seven away games and contrived to throw away a one-goal lead against 10-man Leicester City last weekend, eventually drawing 1-1.

David Wagner’s side may have only scored two goals at the John Smith’s Stadium, but they have momentum on their side and can edge to a victory by a one-goal margin (3.55) on Saturday.

No end in sight to Cherries’ slump

It is difficult to find any new superlatives to describe Manchester City who, if anything, look even stronger and are playing better football than last season.

The statistics speak for themselves. Pep Guardiola’s team have won their last five Premier League games, scoring 19 goals and conceding just two. They have scored four or more goals five times in the top-flight already and have found the net an amazing 40 times in 13 games. That puts them on course to score 117 goals this term, yet they remain defensively watertight and have only let in five goals.

This all makes depressing reading for Bournemouth, who have lost their last three matches and slumped to a 4-0 defeat in the corresponding fixture last December. A repeat of that scoreline is not out of the question and can be backed at 9.75.

There does not appear to be much between Leicester and Watford, who meet at the King Power Stadium.

The Hornets are one place and two points better off than Claude Puel’s team but they have both conceded 17 goals, while Leicester have scored one more than Saturday’s opponents. A draw can be backed at 3.30 for this mid-table clash.

Finally, former Manchester United striker Mark Hughes will be desperate for his Southampton side to show signs of life against Jose Mourinho’s dour outfit.

Saints are winless in nine Premier League matches since their sole success at Crystal Palace three months ago, while United have conceded more goals than the 16th-placed Eagles and have a negative goal difference after 13 matches.

It may not be pretty, but United can edge to a 1-0 victory at St Mary’s, which cam be backed at 7.75.