Actions return in the English Premier League this weekend with title and Champions League qualification up for grabs. The relegation battle is also set to intensify as games begin to run out in the fight for survival.
Manchester City’s 2-1 victory against Liverpool last week has reignited the title race, while Manchester United’s resurgence under interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has created a four -way battle with Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal for a top-four finish.
Table topper Liverpool face tricky trip to Brighton & Hove Albion in their quest to bounce back to winning away after a disappointed start to the New Year. The Reds opened 2019 with consecutive defeats, losing their first Premier League match of the season to second place Manchester City before Wolverhampton Wanderers knocked Jurgen Klopp’s men out of the FA Cup.
Liverpool have a big injury list heading into the game, including Virgil Van Dijk (illness) and Jordan Henderson (knock), who are both doubtful for the match at the Amex. Dejan Lovren (hamstring), Adam Lallana (muscle), Joel Matip (collar bone), Joe Gomez (ankle) and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee) are all sidelined for the Reds. Chris Hughton’s side are unbeaten in four games and have proved a tough nut to crack at home – only Tottenham and Chelsea have beaten them there in the league this season.
Meanwhile, the London derby between West Ham and Arsenal, as well as Wolves’ trip to Manchester City looks to be some the preference fixtures this weekend, Manchester United travel to London for a tough match against Tottenham Hotspur.
Arsenal welcome back a host of injured players as they make the trip across London to play West Ham in the Premier League. Mesut Ozil, Laurent Koscielny, Hector Bellerin, Nacho Monreal, Shkodran Mustafi and Konstantinos Mavropanos are all back in full training and under consideration for the tie. It will be welcome news for Unai Emery as they look for an away win, but the manager is aware of the tough task at hand.
“I think they [West Ham] are improving and they also have good individual players with quality, like Anderson, like Arnautovic – who are very good players,” he said.
Manchester City went through a rough patch, but they seem to have comes full circle ending Liverpool unbeaten runs in the league to close the gap on the leaders and also demolished Burton Albion 9-0 midweek. Wolves earned a heroic draw against City in the third week of the season, but the chances of a repeat are pretty low.
Tottenham welcome Manchester United to Wembley after five straight wins to kick off the Ole Gunnar Solskjaer era. Doubters, though, point to the rather lackluster opposition during this stretch. But Spurs pose the sternest test yet for United’s caretaker manager.
Tomorrow’s Sunday promises to be fascinating both on and off the pitch for football fans and analysts alike. This because from the moment Manchester United changed managers last month, speculation were high on Mauricio Pochettino as the club’s top choice for the permanent position. Solskjaer’s perfect start — and his almost folk-hero status among United supporters — makes him a legit candidate, but most still expect Ed Woodward to pursue the Spurs boss come season’s end.
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