Match of the Week
Liverpool 1-2 Manchester United
After losing 2-0 to PSG in the Champions League, Manchester United settled their fans’ worries with a convincing 2-0 FA Cup victory over Chelsea. Though they looked a class apart in the Champions League, Manchester United was back to their very best against the blues. Pogba and Herrera filled in with goals in the absence of Lingard and Martial. Pogba, who dominated the game, will play a crucial role yet again this Sunday.
After his masterclass against Chelsea, Pogba will need to set the tempo for United. Though he started on the bench in their defeat against Liverpool earlier in the season, Pogba will start this match in a more advanced, attacking role. Whether or not he can inflict his will on a Liverpool back-line that will see VVD back in the lineup will determine the outcome of the match.
Liverpool, though they looked strong in their 0-0 draw to Bayern Munich at Anfield, remain in a cloud of nerves. A string of draws and narrow victories saw them lose their top spot to Manchester City. Though Liverpool has a game in hand, they will need more than a mere inconsistency in the table if they hope to take home the League title.
Though Manchester United will feel the need to deliver at home against their massive rivals, Liverpool bears the pressure in this match. That is why, if Liverpool comes away with a point this weekend, they will see that as a decent result. Not necessarily because Manchester United pose a massive challenge, but because – now that the pendulum has swung and Liverpool are finding goals slightly harder to come by – Liverpool know how valuable this match will be.
Ultimately, this match will be decided by the more clinical side. If Liverpool finishes the way they did against Bayern Munich, missing golden opportunities to go ahead, Manchester United will make them pay. Due to each side’s respective form and the benefit of Manchester United playing at Old Trafford, the reds of Manchester will take this won – slightly.
Friday, February 22nd
Fulham 0-2 West Ham
Two sides that got last weekend off due to no longer being involved in the FA Cup, West Ham and Fulham pick up play this evening.
Deep in the relegation zone, Fulham remains desperate for points wherever they can scrounge them and will be hoping to find a few at the London Stadium.
Manuel Pelligrini’s men, however, are sitting comfortably in 10th place in the Premier League after consecutive 1-1 draws against Crystal Palace and Liverpool ended a stretch of three straight losses.
After their humiliating defeat at home to Wimbledon, West Ham will have used their extended break to stabilize themselves and prepare for this weekend’s London Derby against Fulham. As the home side, West Ham will be happy to know that Fulham is the only team in the league that is yet to win away from home. West Ham will comfortably handle Fulham in a performance that will see the Hammers gain a full three points for the first time in over a month.
Watford 2-1 Cardiff City
After back to back wins to start the month of February, Cardiff City looks to continue their surge for safety with a win against Watford. Though Cardiff currently sits one spot above the relegation zone, they will need to separate themselves from the pack to ensure they stay up.
Watford will prove a challenging test as the Hornets have only lost twice in their last fourteen matches. Also, unlike their opponents, Watford took part in the FA Cup matches last weekend wherein they beat QPR 1-0 thanks to an Etienne Capoue strike.
As Watford battle to be the “best of the rest,” and Cardiff struggle to secure safety, the Hornets good form will prevail. Javi Gracia’s rugged 4-4-2 should provide enough action to break down Neil Warnock’s 3-5-2 and grant the London club the win.
Saturday, February 23rd
Tottenham 1-0 Burnley
The big story of the Burnley Spurs match centers around whether or not Harry Kane’s name will feature on the team sheet. After going down with an ankle injury in Tottenham’s defeat against Manchester United in January, Harry Kane has been banished to the sidelines. Though Spurs were knocked out of the FA Cup by Crystal Palace and the Carabao Cup by Chelsea, Tottenham has remained hot in the league and are coming off of a complete 3-0 victory of Dortmund in the Champions League.
Having not played since last week, Spurs will put out a refreshed lineup. Even if Pochettino decides to go with his recent attack of Son and Llorente, do not be surprised if Kane gets a few minutes if Spurs take a demanding lead. The English forward was back in training this week and will be eager to get back on the pitch even in a limited capability.
Tottenham will continue their pursuit of Liverpool and City with a win against a potentially testy Burnley side that has lost only one League match in 2019.
Wolves 2-0 Bournemouth
An inconsistent Bournemouth side plays host to Nuno Espirito Santo’s Wolverhampton Wanderers this weekend. Though Bournemouth has a slight historical advantage, winning six of the last 12 fixtures between the two sides, they approach this weekend as slight underdogs.
After beating West Ham and Chelsea in consecutive matches, Bournemouth lost both of their first two matches of February, failing to score a goal in either game.
In what will prove a repeated result from their last top-flight meeting, Wolves will win this game by two goals to nil. Their attractive, energetic football will overwhelm a Bournemouth side that continues to struggle to find an identity in the premier league, regardless of their success in staying up.
Huddersfield 0-3 Newcastle
Newcastle takes on a Huddersfield town side who currently sit 14 points below them in the table. Though Rafa Benitez will caution his team against complacency, they will have little excuse for not picking up at least a point against a Huddersfield Town team that has not won since November.
Newcastle should continue to separate themselves from other relegation riddled sides with a victory over the Terriers this weekend. To do so, however, they must execute a fixed mindset that sees them take hold of the game from the start. In matches against Everton and Watford this season, Newcastle’s sluggish play early in the game cost them crucial points after ninety minutes. The Terriers, however, lack quality at any position and will likely concede with ease.
Crystal Palace 1-1 Leicester City
Claude Puel will hope to put rumors of his inevitable sacking to bed with a victory over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park this weekend. To do so, however, his Foxes will have to complete the difficult task of beating Palace at Selhurst Park, Palace’s home ground on which they have been ruthless in recent weeks, most notably in their 2-0 victory over Tottenham in the FA Cup.
Crystal Palace has emerged from a difficult patch at the turn of the year, winning three of their last five games in all competitions. Though much of their success has come in the FA Cup, Crystal Palace would like to direct their good form back toward the league. The Eagles are only three points above the relegation zone and must capitalize on every opportunity if they hope to hold their position above the drop.
Sunday, February 24th
Southampton 1-2 Arsenal
Arsenal is set to continue their good form at the Emirates with another home win against Southampton on Sunday. Arsenal has won six straight home wins in the league and will benefit their fans support against a somewhat resurgent Southampton.
In their last match, Southampton lost a thriller against Cardiff City, snapping their five-match unbeaten run. Though Southampton beat Arsenal 3-2 at Saint Mary’s Stadium in December, they will have to pull off a similar miracle if they want to leave London with three points this weekend.
Though Southampton is in the relegation zone, they are seven points clear of second-to-last Fulham and only three points away from13th place Crystal Palace – it’s that close. Though they are unlikely to stifle a dangerous Arsenal attack, Southampton will be looking to come away from this one with a much-needed point.
Arsenal, however, will dominate the game and continue their streak of home wins. Look for Arsenal to concede but still come away with three points this weekend.
Liverpool 1-2 Manchester United