This week sees a round of Premier League fixtures. Only two matches were played last night with Everton and Bournemouth winning at home against Arsenal and Leicester respectively. There are eight more games but which three are the most important to watch out for?
Middlesbrough vs Liverpool
This meeting should be tight given Boro’s defensive record. Both sides are looking for a win for very different reasons. Middlesbrough will be eying up three points at home in order to move away from the relegation zone, whereas Liverpool need the win in order to boost their title credentials.
Liverpool will surely look to attack given their strength up front with Sadio Mane and Robert Firmino capable of getting the goals. Their defence however is wobbly and the Teessiders will look to reverse their poor scoring record by exposing the Reds’ flaws in the backlines.
Their last meeting in September 2014 saw a 1-1 draw at the end of 90 minutes in the League Cup. Both clubs have however evolved making this match tough to predict. You would have to fancy the Teessiders to get something from this game because every point counts come the end of May.
Jurgen Klopp will have to think about which goalkeeper is best suited to his style given recent controversy surrounding Loris Karius’ performances, which contributed to the defeat at Bournemouth and Sunday’s 2-2 home draw with West Ham.
Sunderland vs Chelsea
Bottom plays top and Sunderland in recent years have saved their best performances for the top sides. The Black Cats will have to pull one of those performances out of the bag tonight if want to stay hot on the heels of their relegation rivals.
Chelsea are however in the midst of a nine game unbeaten run and will surely be expecting a easy win against the basement club. This could however cost them because teams fighting for the title have often got a shock when visiting the basement club.
Sunderland are unbeaten in their last three home games across all competitions (W 2, D 1) against the Blues making this trip even tougher for Antonio Conte’s side.
With rumours circulating about Sunderland’s plans for the January transfer window, could this be the distraction that Chelsea need in order to end their tough run of visits to the Stadium of Light?
Manchester City vs Watford
This is a huge match if the Citizens want to get back into the title hunt. They drew Monaco on Monday in the Champions League round of 16 but Arsenal and Leicester who were also in the draw, lost their matches last night albeit away from home.
Could being at home just be what Guardiola’s side need right now after seeing their fellow CL clubs suffer defeat last night on the road?
They however face an unpredictable Watford side that beat Everton 3-2 on Saturday. This will surely give the Hornets the desire to go to the Etihad and try and get a win that could put them in the Europa League reckoning for next season.
The one problem that they might face is an angry City side who need to produce a reaction to Saturday’s shambolic defeat at Leicester City. If Guardiola fails to get an reaction out of his team tonight, he will surely need to go and spend next month in the transfer window.
For both sides, tonight could potentially decide their paths for the remainder of this season because there is a huge confidence boost on offer to the winning team, heading into the festive period.