Another weekend of Premier League Football is upon us and we’ve given you all the things you need to look out for in our weekly preview…
Game of the weekend
It is often said that title-winning teams need to develop the habit of winning ugly when necessary, but that did not apply to Manchester City in 2017/18. Pep Guardiola’s side swept all before them last term, amassing a record 100 points, winning 32 of 38 matches and scoring 106 goals.
The champions were certainly required to dig in on Wednesday night, however, when they squeezed past a spirited Everton side by two goals to nil. That victory moved them back to the top of the Premier League – albeit having played a game more than Liverpool – and they will be looking to make it three wins on the bounce when Chelsea come to town on Sunday.
The Blues won the reverse fixture at Stamford Bridge but have endured a lengthy wobble since then. They must recapture the resilience which underpinned their title triumphs of 2015 and 2017, although City could well prove too strong for the Blues regardless.
All eyes on
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is enjoying a lengthy honeymoon period as Manchester United manager, with last Sunday’s 1-0 win at Leicester meaning he has now taken 22 points from a possible 24 since replacing Jose Mourinho in the Old Trafford hot seat in mid-December.
United were 11 points adrift of the top four after Mourinho’s final game, a dismal 3-1 reverse against Liverpool. Less than two months later and the gap is now just two points, while the fact that the Red Devils take on Fulham in the Saturday lunchtime fixture means that they will climb into the Champions League spots for the first time under Solskjaer with a win.
Given that Chelsea face a tricky test at the Etihad, there is a good chance that fourth place will still belong to United come Sunday evening.
Man in form
Son Heung-min was Tottenham Hotspur’s saviour last time out, scoring the only goal of the game in as Mauricio Pochettino’s men finally broke down a stubborn Newcastle United rearguard in the 83rd minute. The South Korean was briefly unavailable for Spurs last month as he jetted off to the United Arab Emirates for the Asian Cup, but he has picked up where he left off since returning to action in the Premier League: the forward has now scored 10 goals and provided four assists in his last 12 top-flight outings.
There are differing views over whether or not Tottenham are in the title race, but there is no doubt that Son will be crucial to whatever they go on to achieve between now and the end of the campaign.
One to watch
On the face of it, Liverpool have little to fear when Bournemouth visit Merseyside on Saturday. Eddie Howe’s team have a dire record away from home of late, with last weekend’s 2-0 reverse against Cardiff City their seventh successive defeat on the road.
The Reds were distinctly mediocre against West Ham United last time out, though, and there could be a few nervous jitters around Anfield if they fail to make an early breakthrough. Could Jordan Ibe, a lively performer off the bench against Cardiff, and Dominic Solanke come back to haunt their former employers?
Manager under pressure
Everton turned in a much improved performance in their 2-0 defeat by Manchester City, but the bottom line is that they have now triumphed in only three of their last 13 Premier League encounters. The concession of yet another set-piece goal – their 17th of the campaign – proved decisive in midweek, and Marco Silva may begin to fear his future at Goodison Park if his side slip up at Watford on Saturday.
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