Desperate Teams Will Make For Entertaining Weekend In English Premier League
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Last weekend was another exciting round of matches in the English Premier League. Manchester is Red (or at least until the return match). United absorbed City’s attacking threat in the Manchester derby and ran out as deserved 2-1 winners, this is now two tremendous results in a row for Ole Gunnar Solkjaer’s men.
It may also have put the final nail in the coffin for Manchester City’s title challenge – now at a whopping 14 points behind league leaders, Liverpool. However, the title challengers come from Leicester.
Another stunning result at Aston Villa where the Foxes ran out 4-1 winners. The gap between first and second is eight points, and Leicester are not going away. On the back of manager, Brendan Rodgers’ new five-and-a-half-year contract, they are settled at the back and ruthless on the counter-attack.
So far, the Foxes have had minimal injuries. If they can keep it that way, then I think they’ll continue to push the Reds at the top of the table.
Southampton v. West Ham United
We start at the other end of the table with KSL 5’s premiere match on Saturday with kick-off slated for 10:30 a.m. It is 18th versus 16th respectively.
Both teams have struggled mightily this season. Both teams have capable squads; Southampton less so and are likely going to be involved in a potential relegation battle, but West Ham’s current status is a big shock. At the start of the season, you would’ve fancied them to challenge for the Europa League places. Having only one win in their last six games (the other five were losses) show what problems the Hammers have.
They’ve had a few injury issues, but nothing out of the ordinary. West Ham were decent for the first hour against Arsenal on Monday night, but fell apart after the Gunners equalized. Now manager Manuel Pellegrini is odds on favorite to be the next coach to lose his position. A poor result against the Saints could seal his fate; a Saints’ win would leapfrog them above the Hammers.
Southampton, before the loss to Newcastle last weekend, were unbeaten in their previous three matches, picking up seven points, almost half of their points this season.
Goalscorer, Danny Ings scored his ninth goal of the season. He’s scored in each of his last five matches and is one of the most in-form players in the league. He’ll be vital to Southampton’s survival hopes.
West Ham have had issues putting the ball into the back of the net. Sebastien Haller started the season off well, but he’s dried up and hasn’t been able to add to his four league goals, and two of their top five goal scorers are defenders.
That said, both teams try to play good football and believe you’ll be thoroughly entertained. West Ham fans will hope they come out and play the entire game like they did initially against Arsenal.
Southampton will look to take advantage of a passionate home crowd and the fact they have been on the right results path recently. For this reason, I’ll go with the south coast club to get all three points.
Prediction: 2-1, Southhampton
Manchester United v. Everton
This is the fixture of interest for me this weekend. Sunday’s upcoming encounter between an in-form United and an interim-managed Everton has many factors to consider. Yes, United might only have two wins in a row, but beating Spurs and Man City, this team is in form. I want to see the results between this new United against an Everton who recently let their manager go and appointed a club legend, Duncan Ferguson, as the interim boss and are coming off a resounding 3-1 victory over a stuttering Chelsea last weekend.
Everton spent heavily in the summer and by all accounts should have been challenging for Europa League positions. Well, long story short, Marco Silva was fired on December 5th after getting thumped by city rivals, Liverpool. Despite losing their manager, what we saw on Saturday against Chelsea was a team filled with hope and desire.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin was a constant goal threat, something that has been extremely hit and miss in his fledgling career. Richarlison will once again be the main man. He’s been a menace to the opposition and a bright spark this season for the Toffees, regardless of results.
As noted previously, Manchester United have been very good the last couple of weeks. The settled central midfield pair of Fred and Scott McTominay have done very well, and it’s given the attacking quartet a platform to do what they’re employed to do, break at speed and find the back of the net.
Marcus Rashford has been a huge beneficiary of this partnership, goals are flowing. His well-taken penalty against City at the weekend moving him into double figures in the EPL this season. The midfield two have also made United a lot harder to break down demonstrating how important it was for Ole Gunnar Solkjaer to get the line upright. I’ll stand by my comments that I don’t think he’s the man long term to lead the Red Devils back to the elite, but he’s at the wheel. He’s doing it, he’s doing his thing.
It’s going to be a tight affair, but I think at Old Trafford, United get it done.
Prediction: Manchester United, 2-0
Arsenal v. Manchester City
This match rounds out the weekend for me as Arsenal host the champions Man City. For the time being, the Gunners still have Freddie Ljungberg as the interim manager, but names are flying around of potential long-term replacements.
Arsenal have been hit and miss all season, for large portions of their last match with West Ham United they were underwhelming and short of ideas. Then a devastating nine-minute stretch where everything they did seemed to come off, scoring three goals in the process, holding on for their first EPL win in eight games.
Nicolas Pepe has looked short of confidence since his move over from France, but his finish was fantastic. His pace can cause problems and if he can take confidence from this last outing, I expect him to give City’s Angelino or Mendy plenty to compete with.
The problem is that Arsenal are coming up against a desperate Man City. Fourteen points behind league leaders, Liverpool, and six points behind second-placed Leicester (Man City play the Foxes on Dec 21, insert heart eyes emoji). This is vital for the Citizens, they must be near perfect to chase down the teams in front of them.
They didn’t play bad in the Manchester derby, they just came against a well-drilled United. City still looked dangerous throughout. Gabriel Jesus is in a rich vein of goal-scoring form. Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva are absolutely fantastic. When it comes together, their speed and movement is great to watch.
With Arsenal’s continued struggles in defense, I have to pick Pep Guardiola’s men in a hugely entertaining match.
Prediction: 3-1, Manchester City
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