What is the one thing that each Premier League club will be asking Santa for this Christmas?
Here, CaughtOffside predicts those Christmas wishes, starting with the teams in the top half.
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Stoke City – A trip to Wembley
Stoke are going well again under Mark Hughes but are unlikely to make the European places. They have a shot at silverware in the Capital One Cup but must first beat Liverpool in their two-legged semi-final.
Southampton – A quiet January
The Saints are suffering a concerning dip in form – having lost four of their last five games. They could be in for a tricky second half of the season if the big clubs come calling for their best players next month.
West Bromwich Albion – A big Berahino bid
The Baggies firmly withstood Tottenham Hotspur’s summer interest in Saido Berahino – rejecting four bids for the striker, the biggest of which was £23m, according to Sky Sports. But his value is dropping as he sits on the bench and his contract winds down and Albion may fancy a big January pay day.
Bournemouth – To hang on to Howe
Much has been made about the Cherries losing some key players to injury, but their most important figure is Eddie Howe, who has masterminded their recent triumphs over Chelsea and Manchester United. Bournemouth will hope this does not prompt interest in Howe from bigger clubs.
Chelsea – A Hiddink honeymoon
Many Blues fans are angry at Jose Mourinho’s sacking, but few are upset about the return of Hiddink as his replacement. The Dutchman won 11 out of his 13 league games as Chelsea caretaker in 2009 and a similar run would see the surrendering champions rocket up the table. The top four may yet be in reach.
Norwich City – A proven goalscorer
The Canaries are far from the only team that are hoping that Santa will drop a prolific striker down the chimney. If Norwich can land one in the January window, they will fancy their chances of staying up.
Newcastle United – Some consistency
In many ways this season has been typical of Newcastle – unpredictable. The Magpies can beat Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur when they are at their best, but are too often guilty of not turning up. Steve McClaren will be yearning for some consistency that would take them clear of relegation trouble.
Swansea City – A manager ASAP
It was ridiculous that Swansea sacked Garry Monk and even more so that they have yet to appoint a replacement two weeks later, leaving themselves without a manager for the busy festive period. The Mirror reports that Argentine Marcelo Bielsa is being lined up but things are moving very slowly.
Sunderland – Shrewd Big Sam signings
Sam Allardyce is famous for pulling off coups in the transfer market, in particular attracting top players to what may be considered unattractive clubs. Sunderland is unlikely to be the dream destination of any footballer, but Big Sam needs reinforcements across the park and so must work his magic again.
Aston Villa – A Christmas miracle
Tis the season for miracles and Villa are desperately in need of one. They are firmly bottom of the table and 10 points adrift of safety, but Sunderland and Leicester recovered from this position in recent seasons to make remarkable escapes and that might give Remi Garde just the slimmest of hopes.
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