With the Premier League reaching the seventeenth round of fixtures this coming weekend, here are five of the games to look out for in what looks set to be yet another thrilling set of Premier League fixture.
Arsenal vs Man City
In what will be the last game of the weekend, Arsenal host Manchester City knowing that a win would open up a four-point gap between the two teams. After convincingly despatching of Aston Villa last weekend, Arsene Wenger’s team will be full of confidence, particularly after their Champions League exploits last week, where an Olivier Giroud hat-trick confirmed the Gunners place in the last 16 of the competition.
With five goals in his last three appearances, Giroud will be the man to watch from a goals perspective for Arsenal. Mesut Ozil has a remarkable thirteen assists from fifteen Premier League matches this season and looks set to be a contender for the PFA Player of the Year, come the end of the campaign.
Manchester City scraped to a 2-1 win over Swansea City last time around and were extremely unconvincing in doing so. Their recent form in the Premier League has followed suit and they will need to up their performance level if they are to get anything from the Emirates.
Southampton vs Tottenham
Southampton’s wretched run of form continued last weekend as they fell to a 1-0 loss away to Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
After picking a defensive team, Ronald Koeman’s side had their chances throughout, notably through Shane Long and Steven Davis, but were unable to make the breakthrough.
Without a win in five, the Saints will need to produce a big performance at home in order to pick up all three points. Spurs slumped to a 2-1 defeat at home to Newcastle last weekend, ending their unbeaten run since the opening day of the season.
With Mauricio Pochettino returning to face his side, he will be hoping to see a reaction from his team when he makes just his second trip back to St Mary’s as Spurs boss.
Watford vs Liverpool
Watford sit two places above their opponents heading into this fixture, and are proving to be yet another one of this season’s surprise packages, with many expecting Quique Sanchez Flores’ side to struggle this term.
However, the excellent partnership up front of Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo have caused numerous Premier League defences problems all season, and look set to do the same against Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool this time around. After four wins in a row, Klopp’s side have now gone three matches without a win after being held to a 2-2 draw with West Brom at Anfield.
Liverpool have looked better away from home under Klopp during his tenure thus far, and will need to pick up an in here to get close the gap on their rivals in the hunt for the Champions League.
Newcastle vs Aston Villa
Newcastle earned a precious victory over Tottenham last time out, taking them out of the relegation zone thanks to Aleksandar Mitrovic and Ayoze Perez’s goals from the bench to make it back-to-back wins for Steve MccLaren at Newcastle.
In what looks every part a relegation six-pointer, Newcastle will have to replicate their level of performance from their outings with Liverpool and Spurs once again against an Aston Villa team struggling for form.
Aston Villa are eight points adrift of safety and need a win to avoid falling 13 points behind Newcastle. They currently look destined for relegation, but a win at St James’ Park would give them a much-needed morale boost ahead in the congested Christmas period.
Man United vs Norwich
There aren’t too many clubs in the world where you will be under such immense scrutiny and pressure when sat in 4th place in the table, but Louis van Gaal is currently experiencing that phenomenon at Manchester United.
After crashing out of the Champions League and losing 2-1 away to Bournemouth last weekend, the onus will well and truly be on United to attack right from the off and produce a big performance.
Norwich earned a decent point at home to Everton in their last league outing and know they are under no real pressure or expectancy to get anything from this clash, with the knowledge that their season will not depend on trips to Old Trafford.
However, the fact they slipped into the bottom three last weekend will alarm Alex Neil slightly, who knows how big a result would be for his side both in terms of the league table and for the morale of his squad and the supporters.