Tony Cascarino's predictions

While the rest of Europe hibernates over the Christmas holiday period, the English Premier League indulges in an orgy of football, with Boxing Day the highlight of this secular and often maligned tradition.

With barely any time to digest the Christmas turkey, teams come out the next day to play as part of a series of fixtures running into the first days of 2016.

Former English football veteran Tony Cascarino tackles the main talking points as the season enters the vital festival period:

Will Arsene Wenger win the title, and if so, should he retire like Alex Ferguson?

If you're asking whether Arsenal will finish above Manchester City, I'd say yes because Manuel Pellegrini's team are defensively and tactically suspect.

Will they finish above Chelsea? That's pretty much certain. Manchester United? With their style, I think so.

So, really, the question is whether they can finish above Leicester City. Yes, I'd say - Arsenal have a great opportunity.

But why would Wenger step down? I think that's ridiculous. Look at how badly the transition has been handled at Old Trafford since Ferguson's retirement - the perfect example of how not to do it. If the Frenchman fails from this point, it's a different story.

Is Jose Mourinho a gamble worth taking for United?

Mourinho fits somewhere between the excitement of Ferguson's teams and the conservatism of David Moyes and Louis van Gaal.

Would he win trophies at Old Trafford? Probably. Is he ideal? I'm not so sure.

I don't see him suddenly playing expansively.

Can Guus Hiddink lift Chelsea? And, if he can, how high?

His approach will be lighter and more easy-going. You don't have to worry about fitness at this stage of the season so it's about preparation. That's why he suits them.

I'd be very surprised if he doesn't get them into the top eight, but fifth or sixth is still viable.

Where should Pep Guardiola go?

I always thought that he would be best suited as Wenger's replacement - because of the Gunners' style - but he looks likely to join City.

But United need him far more than their neighbours, given the way that they play and their brand. It would be a fantastic challenge for him too. Effort will also be necessary at City because a few players there, such as Yaya Toure, don't fit his work ethic without the ball.

Where will Leicester finish?

Second. That may be a brave prediction but I don't see any reason why they cannot, given what they've achieved and the assorted woes of the leading clubs.

What does Juergen Klopp get out of 10 so far and why?

Seven. Klopp has shown his qualities but his next big test is the transfer market.

Liverpool have players, such as Adam Lallana, Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino, who fit with how he wants to play.

But he needs to change their personnel.

Can Tottenham Hotspur break into the top four again?

Mauricio Pochettino has the most organised team in the Premier League. There may not have been enough wins along the way but they're well-drilled and everybody knows their role. They could finish above City or United.

Who is going down with Aston Villa?

I think Sunderland will join them. They have a history of lifting themselves from trouble, and Sam Allardyce has vast experience, but it looks very, very difficult unless the manager pulls a rabbit or two from his hat next month.

Which player would you realistically like to see come to the Premier League in January?

Antoine Griezmann, the Atletico Madrid and France forward. He's a real handful, combining pace with ability and a good goal ratio.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 25, 2015, with the headline 'Tony Cascarino's predictions'. Print Edition | Subscribe