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Premier League Matchday 18: Reds and Gunners meet in festive blockbuster
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Danny Ryan
Liverpool and Arsenal's clash at Anfield last season finished 2-2
Liverpool and Arsenal's clash at Anfield last season finished 2-2

A top-of-the-table clash between Liverpool and Arsenal is the standout fixture of the final Premier League matchday before the Christmas festivities.

Elsewhere, West Ham welcome Manchester United to East London and Tottenham host Everton, while Manchester City and Brentford are absent due to the former's participation in the Club World Cup.

Read on to discover all the key facts and stats ahead of the nine top-flight games.

Crystal Palace vs Brighton (Thursday, 8pm, Sky Sports)

The M23 derby kicks off the action and Brighton will be eager to get back to winning ways after their 2-0 defeat at Arsenal.

Crystal Palace go into the match on the back of a 2-2 draw at City, with Michael Olise converting a stoppage-time penalty after the Eagles fell 2-0 behind at the Etihad.

The last four matches between the two rivals at Selhurst Park have all ended 1-1, although Palace have lost their last four Premier League fixtures on home soil.

Michael Olise scored a stoppage-time equaliser at Manchester City last weekend
Michael Olise scored a stoppage-time equaliser at Manchester City last weekend

Aston Villa vs Sheffield United (Friday, 8pm, Sky Sports)

Aston Villa are bidding to extend their incredible run of 15 consecutive home league victories.

Unai Emery's surprise title challengers host rock-bottom Sheffield United and the Villans have won all of the last five matches against newly-promoted sides.

The Blades have triumphed in just two of their previous 33 top-flight away games and are without a win on the road this season, losing on seven of eight trips.

West Ham vs Manchester United (Saturday, 12.30pm, TNT Sports)

United will be desperate to end their recent wretched run in London when they face West Ham.

The Red Devils have won just two of their previous 12 Premier League matches in the capital and lost 1-0 in this fixture last season.

David Moyes' Hammers will be buoyed by both their 3-0 victory over Wolves last weekend and the fact United have failed to score in three out of four games this month.

Wednesday's 5-1 defeat to Liverpool in the Carabao Cup was far from ideal preparation, though.

Bruno Fernandes returns to the fold for the visitors after suspension and the Portuguese playmaker leads the way in the division for chances created this calendar year (126).

Fulham vs Burnley (Saturday, 3pm)

Alex Iwobi joined Fulham from Everton in the summer transfer window
Alex Iwobi joined Fulham from Everton in the summer transfer window

Fulham will host Burnley full of positivity after reaching the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup by beating Everton in a penalty shootout.

The Cottagers boast a formidable recent home record too, winning 5-0 against Nottingham Forest and West Ham in their last two outings.

On the other hand, Burnley have really struggled on their return to the top flight, losing 13 of 17 matches and picking up just eight points.

Luton vs Newcastle (Saturday, 3pm)

Luton and Newcastle lock horns for only the second time in any competition this century, with the last league meeting between the pair coming way back in January 1993. 

Eddie Howe's injury-depleted Magpies will be reeling from their agonising Carabao Cup exit to Chelsea on Tuesday and they have lost four of the last five matches across all competitions.

And while Toon are unbeaten in 16 outings against newly-promoted sides, they have won just one of 10 away league games this season.

Nottingham Forest vs Bournemouth (Saturday, 3pm)

A new era begins at Forest with Nuno Espirito Santo now in the hot seat following Steve Cooper's dismissal.

The Portuguese manager's first test is against an in-form Bournemouth, who famously beat United 3-0 at Old Trafford on Matchday 16.

Forest have lost each of their last three home league matches and are without a win in six attempts against the Cherries — a run that stretches back to February 2015.

Tottenham vs Everton (Saturday, 3pm)

Everton are looking to bounce back from their Carabao Cup exit against a bogey team in Tottenham.

Spurs have lost just one of their last 21 league games against the Merseyside outfit and won this fixture 2-0 last season. 

And one impressive streak will also come to an end at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday.

The hosts are on a division-high 29-game scoring run, while the Toffees go into the match on the back of four consecutive clean sheets.

Liverpool vs Arsenal (Saturday, 5.30pm, Sky Sports)

Perhaps the biggest fixture of the season so far headlines an action-packed Matchday 18.

The top two collide at Anfield, with leaders Arsenal last achieving a league victory at the iconic stadium way back in September 2012.

And the Gunners have not kept a clean sheet in any of the last 15 matches against Liverpool, shipping a concerning 43 goals in that time.

Jurgen Klopp's Reds have midfield injury concerns in Alexis Mac Allister and Ryan Gravenberch going into the fixture, although Trent Alexander-Arnold will be raring to go against the opponent he has registered the most assists against (six).

Wolves vs Chelsea (Sunday, 1pm, Sky Sports)

Finishing off the weekend is Chelsea's trip to Wolves, which is only the second ever Premier League game to be staged on Christmas Eve.

Wanderers are on an impressive home run, remaining undefeated in their last six and scoring in each of the last 15 in the top flight. 

Chelsea will be aiming to win consecutive league fixtures for just the second time this year following their 2-0 victory over Sheffield United last weekend, although the Blues have lost the last three on the road.

Cole Palmer has been a star performer for Chelsea since joining from Manchester City
Cole Palmer has been a star performer for Chelsea since joining from Manchester City

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