The busy festive period in the Premier League is here. This weekend serves up some interesting talking points including Mourinho v Lampard, Man City v Leicester and Villa v Southampton. Here are Things to look out for in Matchweek 18. Bet on the Premier League here.
Jose Mourinho v Frank Lampard
Jose Mourinho and Frank Lampard meet again as their teams Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea face off in a London derby on Sunday. A few weeks ago, the top four looked impossible for Spurs after a poor start to the season. A win over their bitter rival however would see them leapfrog the Blues into the Champions League qualification places. The former Chelsea manager has rejuvenated Spurs which has seen them close in on the top four, while Chelsea’s run of four defeats in their last five league games has put them under pressure to get back to winning ways. Spurs are on a roll at the moment and Chelsea desperately need a win. Who will take the bragging rights?
Another stern test for Manchester City
Manchester City and Leicester City clash in Saturday’s late kick-off with the reigning league champions looking to close the gap on the Foxes in second place. The visitors are ten points behind league leaders, Liverpool, while City are 14 behind and their chances of catching the Reds look very slim. The Foxes are still well-positioned to chase Liverpool even though they were held by relegation-threatened Norwich City last weekend. If City want to keep the title race alive, they can’t afford to lose tomorrow. However, they’ve shown, they are capable of producing an incredible run of results. Still, they have to go past a difficult Brendan Rodgers side first.
New manager bounce at Goodison?
Everton host struggling Arsenal on Saturday looking to heap more misery on them. Both teams are on the verge of appointing new permanent managers. Everton are expected to announce former Real Madrid, Chelsea, AC Milan and Bayern Munich coach Carlo Ancelotti. The Toffees look like a different side under interim manager Duncan Ferguson and with Ancelotti expected to be in the stands, the players should be playing out of their skins. Former Everton and Arsenal midfielder Mikel Arteta has now officially taken over at Arsenal. The Gunners are having one of the worst runs of forms in a long time. Arsenal were demolished by Manchester City last weekend and will definitely need to make a statement at Goodison. They have players who are capable of winning the game, but they lack control.
Aston Villa and Southampton clash on Saturday in a huge game in the bottom of the Premier League. Defeat will see Southampton spend Christmas in the relegation zone, but a win would see them leapfrog Villa to 17th. Dean Smith’s side are also desperate to get maximum points from this clash. Defeat would be detrimental heading to the New Year. Therefore, it’s fair to say that both teams are desperate for maximum points, but Ralph Hasenhuttl is certainly the manager under more pressure.
Man United away struggles
United are looking to get back on track in the Premier League when they face Watford on Sunday. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are having a stop-start season. Two wins over Tottenham and Man City were followed by a 1-1 draw with struggling Everton at Old Trafford. United have an excellent record against the Hornets. They’ve won 11 of their 12 league meetings with Watford, a ratio of 92%. Of teams they have faced at least ten times, they only have a higher win rate against Wigan Athletic, with 94%. Still, their away struggles mean it won’t be smooth sailing at Vicarage Road.
Sheffield United away form
Sheffield United can become only the second promoted team in top-flight history to remain unbeaten in their first nine away matches of a season, after Burnley in 1947/48. This is a phenomenal record given they were favourites for relegation when promoted. They travel to Brighton on Saturday and they just might break that record.