Manchester United are now looking like the team that dominated the Premier League during the Sir Alex Ferguson era. They are unbeaten in the league and have only lost to Hull in the second leg of the semi-finals of the EFL Cup when avoiding defeat was not critical since losing 4-0 to Chelsea in October. At that point there were doubts about the appointment of Jose Mourinho but he has turned things around and the hierarchy probably now think he should have been recruited when Ferguson retired. United can continue their run by beating Bournemouth at home on Saturday.
Bournemouth have won just one of their last 10 matches in the Premier League and have lost the last four to now figure in the periphery of relegation issues. An away match at Manchester United is not the ideal scenario for a team out of form. Fortunately there are three weaker teams at the bottom of the table but Eddie Howe will be keen to get his team’s season back on track but that process is unlikely to begin at Old Trafford and losing by more than one goal is the most likely scenario.
The fixture between Liverpool and Arsenal brings together sides managed by men under pressure. There is a good chance that Jurgen Klopp and Arsene Wenger will be in charge on the opening day of next season. However, a defeat in this fixture would not appease fans who have seen a season of great potential peter out before the end of February. Liverpool’s situation is more critical than that of their opponents.
Jamie Carragher is loyal to a fault to his former club as a Sky Sports pundit. However, he was scathing of Liverpool’s lack of determination to protect their goal in the 3-1 loss to Leicester on Monday. This is a team of players who have found their level in the lower reaches of the Premier League despite winning the title last season. Gary Neville was more surprised about Liverpool’s lack of energy but the most important critics are the supporters and they will not tolerate Klopp and his approach much longer.
Arsenal fans are divided about the future of Wenger but even the most committed loyalists are coming round to thinking the era is over. After 20 years at the cub Wenger won’t get sacked but behind the scenes his departure could have been agreed and it will be handled with dignity in the summer. His loyalty deserves an amicable conclusion to a reign that has established the club as one of the superpowers of English football. In the context of this fixture Liverpool are the type of side that can come out on top when they need a result most.
The match between Tottenham and Everton is the second leg of the North London and Merseyside double header and the team from the capital can prevail. Harry Kane has now scored three hat-tricks in his last nine matches and he is the man in form. Tottenham are too far off the pace to overhaul Chelsea but over the course of the season they have been the second best team in the league. They are now nine points adrift but are in great shape to qualify for the Champions League again.
Everton are having a solid season and are now the best of the rest in the league after the six big city superpowers. Despite some injection of cash from a new owner the club can’t compete with the bigger global brands. They need to start spending some money to break into the elite but funds may be directed towards building a new stadium which in the long run will increase match day revenue and make the club more marketable. In the meantime their supporters must accept second tier status which can be illustrated with a defeat at Spurs and another Kane goal or more.
This is the stage of the season when Sunderland start picking up points and gradually move up the table. However, that happened under inspirational managers and David Moyes is now on a run of three botched jobs out of three. Avoiding relegation looks beyond the side this season and the gloom can darken when Sunderland lose to Manchester City at home on Sunday. The weekend schedule can end with another win for Chelsea, at the Olympic Stadium against West Ham, and more bookies paying out on the side to win the Premier League.