Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Week 18 Preview: Manchester United Looks to Go Top of The Table; COVID Benches Aston Villa, Spurring Fulham to Action; Gunners Shoot for Four In a Row

Top of the Table

The off-cycle week’s action begins with Tuesday’s playing of a match postponed from Week One between Manchester United and Burnley.  The opening match after the league’s weekend hiatus could not be more meaningful as United have opportunity to move past Liverpool into sole position of first place with either a win or draw.  The Red Devils will be eager to rebound from a disappointing performance in their Carabou Cup semifinal loss to Manchester City.  

Liverpool does not play until their January 17th Matchweek 19 showdown against United. 

Third place Leicester is also idle until the weekend. 

The originally scheduled match for Wednesday between fourth place Spurs and COVID ravaged Aston Villa has been postponed. With Villa sidelined by the virus, Spurs will instead take opportunity on Wednesday to make up a previously postponed match with Fulham.  

Manchester City will seek a fourth consecutive league win when they play host to Brighton.  City is on a seven match unbeaten run the league and is coming off a win over rival Manchester United in the Carabou Cup semi-finals.  

Everton will look to get back on a winning track when they travel to Wolves.  The Toffees had won four in a row before falling 1-0 to West Ham in their last league match.

Mid Table

Wolves host Everton at Molineux Stadium where they have had success in the past versus the Toffees.  The West Midlands club have lost but once in their last six Premier League encounters when hosting Everton.  Wolves will be looking to end a current four match winless streak in the league.  

Crystal Place will be defending a four match unbeaten run against Arsenal when the Eagles visit the Emirates on Thursday.  The task will be formidable as the Gunners, on a three game winning run, seem to have finally found their range, firing eight goals past the opposition in their last three matches, more goals than they had scored in their previous twelve matches combined.  

Newcastle visit Sheffield United looking for the Magpies’ first win in six matches.  Newcastle manager Steve Bruce has won seven of the ten games he has managed against Sheffield United.

Bottom of the Table

Burnley in a rescheduled match at Turf Moor, will face an inspired Manchester United squad fighting for first place.  The Clarets have been on an impressive run which has seen them lose just once in their past six matches as they have tried to remove themselves from the relegation scrap. 

Brighton will look for a first win in nine matches when it travels to Manchester City. The Seagulls have been gradually drawn into the relegation fray despite five draws in their winless run.  

Fulham will be unexpectedly providing the opposition for Jose Mourinho’s Spurs on Wednesday in a rescheduled match from December that is now made possible by Aston Villa’s COVID woes.  The Cottagers have looked improved in four consecutive draws heading into this week’s match with Spurs.  

Sheffield United will hope to build on its win over Bristol Rovers in the FA Cup this past weekend when the Blades welcome Newcastle to Bramall Lane.  The Cup win was the first in any competition for the Blades this season.

FA Cup Update

Spurs emerged victorious in their David and Goliath match with smaller club Marine by a score of 5-0.  Sixteen-year-old Alfie Devine becoming the youngest ever goal scorer for Spurs.  Leeds was not as successful against Crawley Town, falling 3-0 to their fourth division opponent.  To further stoke the embarrassment for the Premier League side, Crawley deployed a UK reality television star in its line-up for a portion of the game against Marcelo Bielsa’s men.  Liverpool expectedly cruised past a cobbled together Aston Villa squad while the Villa regulars remained in COVID protocol.  The reward for Liverpool was a Fourth-Round draw with Manchester United in a contest between the current top two Premier League teams who face each other in league competition this coming weekend.  Other Fourth-Round draws include an all-Premier League match-up between lower table combatants Burnley and Fulham. The FA Cup competition resumes in February.

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