By Toyin Akiode
Premier League matches resume this weekend after two weeks of international break and the excitement could literally be touched due to the parings of this round. As usual in the league; there is always something at stake. It is either a club is fighting to avoid relegation, battling for European spot, aiming for top four finish or going for the big one – the EPL crown.
Liverpool Vs Everton
Merseyside derby – Always a feisty affair
Straight to business, the Merseyside derby between Liverpool and Everton had always created intense atmosphere, passion and emotion for fans on both ends. Liverpool are at home and hosting Everton at this time holds more significance than in the past.
Liverpool are fourth on the table with 56 points while Everton has 50 points and are seven. It could be just three points separating the two sides if Everton wins the early Saturday kick-off or nine points if the Reds get one better than Ronald Koeman’s side.
Head to Head
On the balance of play and recent records, Liverpool are on top with four games won and six drawn. Everton are riding high in the league with three wins in the last five. Whether they will be able to continue their fine form against Jurgen Klopp’s erratic side remains to be seen. However, as in the past, this derby will be packed with drama and excitement.
Chelsea Vs Crystal Palace
Chelsea set to ensure that the Eagles don’t fly
Runaway league leaders and champions in waiting, Chelsea host a resurgent Crystal Palace. Under their new manager, Sam Allardyce, the Eagles have turned it round by clawing their way out of relegation zone into relative safety. With three wins on the bounce, who will bet against an upset at Stamford Bridge tomorrow?
One major hurdle to be crossed by Allardyce is to knock Chelsea In the teeth with a sucker punch by winning this match! Unfortunately the Blues have proven themselves to be up against anyone and hardly lose matches.
Crystal Palace campaign to remain in the Premier League will likely suffer a bit of interlude tomorrow as Conte’s juggernautsare tough as steel and will claim maximum points at the Bridge!
Manchester United Vs West Brom Albion
Manchester United have their work cut out against the Baggies
Jose Mourinho will be facing Tony Pulis for the sixth time in his Premiership career and he might not be savouring the prospect! The Welsh had done better than the Portuguese in the league in matches involving the two.
Manchester United will be without inspirational Swede, Zlatan Ibrahimovich who is serving a three match ban for dangerous play. Paul Pogba is yet to hit the mark and if many are to be believed; he is a wasted investment.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial must step up to the plate to halt any ambition that the Baggies could be nursing. Fresh from their excellent showing against Arsenal where they defended and played on the counter like warriors; they will definitely be fancying their chances against a mostly Old Trafford muted Red Devils.
Arsenal Vs Manchester City
A must win for Arsenal
Tottering, erratic, infantile and mostly unreliable; Arsenal confronts the fire power of Kun Aguero, David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne at the Emirates. It is another stern test for Wenger’s fragile side. They have be failing alarmingly in the recent past!
On current form, Arsenal is as good as being under relegation threat! They have won one only one game in the last five. They lost four. It couldn’t be worse than this for a team who seem to have mastered the art of flattering to deceive.
Head to Head
Champions League football is looking more like a mirage for Arsenal and Wenger is looking likely to sign a new contract. Beating Manchester City at the Emirates is now a do or die affair. Leaving with nothing will be the last thing Guardiola will have in mind at kick off on Sunday but that is what Wenger has to enforce to calm frayed nerves!
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