English Premiership

Football feast in store for Arsenal and Man fans

2017-12-10 11:30
Manchester United's Marcus Rashford in action against Manchester City's Bacary Sagna during a match played at Old Trafford in Manchester. (Peter Powell, EPA)

Johannesburg - A feast of football awaits fans on Sunday with Arsenal in action before the Merseyside derby between Liverpool and Everton, which leads into the top-of-the-table Manchester derby featuring ­runaway leaders City and United.

The one thing City and United will not be lacking is motivation. Not only do both clubs relish the opportunity to get one over the other, they are also in a fierce battle for the Premier League title, with the blue half of Manchester enjoying an eight-point lead over United.

In addition to the title race and bragging rights, there is also the small matter of Pep Guardiola versus José Mourinho to look forward to. The pair are undoubtedly two of the top bosses in world football and have always been ferociously competitive.

Lose games

City remain unbeaten in the Premier League, but were surprisingly beaten 2-1 by Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday, their first defeat all season.

“It hurts. It is never nice to lose a game,” Guardiola said after the Shakhtar defeat. “But we have said many times that we cannot win all the time; we are going to lose games. This one was the first. We needed to lose a game. It will be good for the club, for all of us and the media. People say things when you win a lot and you can forget that now".

On the team news front, the Red Devils were dealt a hefty blow last weekend when their talismanic midfielder Paul Pogba was shown a red card, which sidelines him. John Stones is City’s only recent injury concern.

Addressing the team news ahead of the derby, Mourinho said: “You want the truth. The truth is Eric Bailly no chance for the weekend, Phil Jones a chance, [Marouane] Fellaini a chance, Zlatan [Ibrahimovic] a big chance and [Nemanja] Matic is injured but will play for sure. I’m telling the truth, he’s injured but will play for sure. [Michael] Carrick no chance".

Just before the Manchester bout, Liverpool and Everton go head-to-head in the Merseyside derby at Anfield. Jürgen Klopp’s side are the hot favourites to take all three points in front of their own fans after a fantastic run of form.

The Reds are unbeaten in their last nine fixtures in all competitions and won their two most recent games 5-1 and 7-0 against Brighton and Spartak Moscow, respectively.

Brimming with confidence

The Toffees may take heart from their form as well. They have won three in a row – the last two under new manager Sam Allardyce – and kept three consecutive clean sheets, winning 4-0, 2-0 and 3-0. However, Everton have not beaten Liverpool at Anfield since 1999.

The football festivities will get under way on the south coast of England when Southampton play host to Arsenal at St Mary's ­Stadium. The Saints are aiming to get back into the top half of the table, while the Gunners target a spot in the top four.

The hosts have been struggling for consistency in recent games, losing three of their last five games, but a win could push them up two spots into ninth position.

Meanwhile, Arsenal have only lost against Manchester City and Manchester United in their last seven league games, winning the other five.

They will also be brimming with confidence after hammering BATE 6-0 in the Europa League. – TEAMtalk Media

Read more on:    manchester  |  arsenal fc  |  johannesburg  |  soccer
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Sunday, 25 February 2018
Crystal Palace v Tottenham Hotspur, Selhurst Park 14:00
Manchester United v Chelsea, Old Trafford 16:05
Thursday, 01 March 2018
Arsenal v Manchester City, Emirates Stadium 21:45
Saturday, 03 March 2018
Burnley v Everton, Turf Moor 14:30
Leicester City v AFC Bournemouth, King Power Stadium 17:00
Swansea City v West Ham United, Liberty Stadium 17:00
Southampton v Stoke City, St. Mary's Stadium 17:00
Watford v West Bromwich Albion, Vicarage Road Stadium 17:00
Tottenham Hotspur v Huddersfield Town, Wembley Stadium 17:00
Liverpool v Newcastle United, Anfield 19:30
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