It looks increasingly likely that it will be a two-horse race for the title this season with Liverpool and Manchester City at the top with four points separating them. Jurgen Klopp’s team are title favourites, and he needs to keep the players concentrated, and continue to pick up wins as they did before the team finally lost 2-1 at City. Meanwhile, Pep Guardiola’s team simply dare not slip up.
Losing a league game for the first time this season and then being knocked out of the FA Cup raised a few questions about Liverpool’s credentials. However, the Reds returned to winning ways with a narrow and deserved 1-0 victory away to a stubborn Brighton last weekend. A second win in a week looks more than probable as Liverpool entertain fourteenth in the table Crystal Palace this weekend. Struggling for central defenders, manager Jurgen Klopp deployed Fabinho alongside Virgil van Dijk, and the Brazilian performed well enough to ensure a place in the starting line-up. Klopp hasn’t reported any new injury concerns, so the usual suspects of Salah, Mane and Firmino should lead the attack while Shaqiri is also a strong candidate for a starting eleven.
Crystal Palace delivered a major upset when they beat Manchester City 3-2 at the Etihad recently, and are now looking to repeat the same trick at Anfield on Saturday. However, the victory over City was only one of six league wins this season, and lightning doesn’t usually strike twice. Roy Hodgson’s Palace are resilient and organised but the outcome will largely depend on Wilfred Zaha, and his scoring opportunities.
Playing a day before Manchester City, Liverpool will be determined to widen the gap at the top, and crank up the pressure on Guardiola’s team. Palace will provide tough opposition and would probably be happy to take a point from this game. Liverpool have cracked tougher nuts than the ‘Eagles’ but they shouldn’t underestimate them. On paper, Liverpool should be capable of winning by a couple of goals. It’s going to be an interesting encounter.
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Arsenal are six points behind today’s opponents Chelsea and a massive sixteen off the top of the table. Arsenal have to go all out for victory over Chelsea in Saturday’s home game at the Emirates, and that should suit the ‘Blues’ counter-attacking style. The ‘Gunners’ defence remains work in progress with Koscielny looking like a top flight defender now. Alex Iwobi is more than worthy of a starting place as is recent signing Lucas Torreira. There remains a huge question mark over Mesut Ozil, and it appears that Aubameyang will be the focus in Arsenal’s attack. Manager Unai Emery may be tempted to play him alongside Lacazette up front, knowing this is a must-win game.
Fourth in the table and ten points behind Liverpool, Chelsea go into the game as marginal favourites, which looks like a reasonable bet at around 13/10. Chelsea have some transfer woes that could unsettle them. However, they have consolidated their defence unlike the hosts, and with Willian, Hazard, and Pedro all likely to start could mean that Arsenal will find themselves outgunned.
In all probability, there is only one logical outcome for Sunday’s meeting between Huddersfield and Manchester City at the John Smith’s Stadium. The odds at the moment are 1/9 for a City, and reflect how this game should go. Under- eighteens coach Mark Hudson steps into the void left by David Wagner’s shock departure, which is a real baptism of fire for the new man in charge. Huddersfield have no injury worries heading into this match but plenty of concerns about the team they are about to face. Rooted to the bottom of the table with just two wins in twenty-two games, the ‘Terriers’ are unlikely to see victory number three, and a draw would be seen as a victory by the fans.
City are playing catch-up with Liverpool and must continue to win every game. Manchester City have a magnificent team and are completely solid in defence. Guardiola doesn’t have any team injuries to worry about, so his only problem is team selection. Pep has excellent players throughout the team sheet, which should see City win comfortably – short of a miracle for Huddersfield of course. Gabriel Jesus is a slight worry for Sunday’s match although it looks more than likely that he will start alongside Sane, who is in incredible form at the moment.
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