EPL fixtures and talking points at a glance

DOMESTIC action resumes after European competition took centre stage mid-week with some big names such as Manchester United and Newcastle facing possible early exits.

Fans of the English Premier League (EPL) will also be looking forward to treble champions Manchester City playing host to Tottenham Hotspurs in the weekend’s plum tie.

Let the action commence!

Arsenal v Wolverhampton Wanderers (Sat, 11pm)

Everything seems to be going swimmingly for Mikael Arteta and his Arsenal side. The Gunners are sitting pretty at the top of the table and also won handsomely in midweek when Lens were dispatched 6-0. Arteta has built a quietly efficient winning side that is also maturing into a team that knows how to win ugly.

Wolves have already pulled off some impressive wins this season, most notably against reigning champions Manchester City and high-flying Spurs. They will be hoping to pull off another upset but they will need to be at their very best against an Arsenal side that is seeking to cement their place at the summit.

Brentford v Luton (Sat, 11pm)

Luton Town’s next three matches are against Brentford, Manchester City and Arsenal. If they are to try clawing their way out of the bottom three during the busy festive period, a positive result against The Bees is a must. Easier said than done as Brentford has solidified itself as a Premiership outfit and is fully deserving of their top-flight status.

Indeed, Brentford are the model all newly promoted clubs would like to emulate but not everyone has Thomas Frank at the helm. The Danish coach has made The Bees robust as well as lightning-quick in transition, qualities that are essential to survival at the elite level.

Burnley v Sheffield United (Sat, 11pm)

This will feel like a Cup final for both sides. Failure to take three points will have massive consequences for both teams looking to avoid a swift return to the championship. Burnley have failed to take a single point at home this season while the Blades away form has just been as woeful. It is very possible that this game may determine which one of them survives the drop. It will be a massive test of mental strength as both sets of players look to avoid any costly slip-ups. Expect a cagey affair with a very likely outcome.

Nottingham Forest v Everton (Sun, 1.30am)

Having been slapped with a ten-point penalty for financial wrongdoings, Everton will need to start registering some wins to salvage their season. Escaping relegation despite being second-bottom is very possible given how feeble teams in that zone have been this season. But the Toffees will need to beat the likes of Forest after succumbing somewhat timidly to Manchester United at Goodison Park last weekend.

Sean Dyche will be confident that his side can do better, especially with a fit Dominic Calebert-Lewin leading the attack. He will feel that his side should be able to beat a Forest side struggling for form.

Newcastle United v Manchester United (Sun, 4am)

Both teams didn’t get the results they wanted in mid-week, with elimination from Europe’s top competition a very real possibility for both. The Magpies will feel especially hard-pressed by a controversial VAR decision to award PSG a stoppage time penalty, denying them maximum points. These big European nights will have whetted the appetite of Newcastle players who will want to ensure they can continue with such adventures by securing a top-four finish.

They will want to start with a home win against a wounded Manchester United smarting from twice letting slip two-goal leads against Galatasaray in Istanbul.

Liverpool v Fulham (Sun, 10pm)

Liverpool will want to make the most of its home advantage against an inconsistent Fulham side struggling for goals. Jurgen Klopp’s men have made Anfield a fortress again and have won all 10 home games across all competitions this season. The Merseysiders will not be able to call on Alisson in goal who has a hamstring issue but Caoimhin Kelleher should prove an able deputy.

The Republic of Ireland stopper will be keen to show that he can actually step up and fill some mighty large gloves. Having helped Liverpool win a couple of domestic trophies a couple of seasons ago, Kelleher will be looking to show he is ready to play successor, rather than just understudy, to arguably one of the finest keepers on the planet.

Chelsea v Brighton & Hove Albion (Sun, 10pm)

Chelsea were shredded 4-1 by Newcastle last weekend and will be desperate to get back to winning ways. They will have benefited from extra training sessions during the week due to the absence of European football this campaign but that will probably help in their quest for a top-six finish.

Brighton will have similar pretensions for European competition next season but may be feeling the exertions of a hard-fought victory against AEK Athens in mid-week. They will still fancy their chances against an inconsistent Chelsea side that is still finding its feet under Mauricio Pochettino.

(Photo credit: Avfc)


Bournemouth v Aston Villa (Sun, 10pm)

Aston Villa are riding high in fourth and are making a serious case for Champions League football next season. Their ability to soak up pressure was on display last weekend when they snatched all three points against the Spurs. In Ollie Watkins, Villa have a genuine top-class forward who can break the 20-goal per season mark. His form will be key to Villa’s success this season.

Bournemouth are finally getting used to Adoni Iraola’s tactical demands and have begun pulling away from the danger zone. The Cherries will want to add as many home points as possible to secure mid-table safety and could capitalise on Villa’s European hangover after their victory against Legia Warsaw in mid-week.

West Ham United v Crystal Palace (Sun, 10pm)

The Hammers had to dig deep to secure a 1-0 win away to Backa Topola which put them in the top spot in their Europa League group. Prone to European hangovers, David Moyes will want his players to be up for the challenge of a London derby in front of home fans. Palace are struggling with injuries and have only won once in their last six league outings, putting manager Roy Hodgson under significant pressure.

The Eagles will have to strengthen in the January transfer window to avoid being sucked into a relegation battle. They will need to buy players with better injury records than those currently keeping the Palace physiotherapist extremely busy.

Manchester City v Tottenham Hotspurs (Sun, 1.30am)

(Photo credit: Reuters)


Spurs are reeling from three straight defeats and have slid to fifth after being early pace setters. Injuries have not helped matters and Ange Postecoglou has his work cut out for him as he tries to stop a rampant City side. The good news for the Spurs manager is that City have looked fallible this season, having lost to Wolves and Arsenal. They also conceded four at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea managed to breach their usually very reliable back line.

Last weekend’s home draw against Liverpool will feel like a missed opportunity for Pep Guardiola as his City side were dominant for much of the game. The Citizens will want to stay in touch with leaders Arsenal, who ironically will be cheering for their North London rivals to do them a favour. – Dec 2, 2023


Main photo credit: The Independent

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