Manchester United started the week top of the table, but neighbours Manchester City could be poised to scale the Premier League summit.
ere, the PA news agency runs the rule over five key talking points ahead of the midweek fixtures.
City ready to take top billing again
Sunday’s clash between Liverpool and Manchester United was billed as the restoration of a great rivalry – only for the hype bubble to be burst by a dour goalless draw. Manchester City promptly upstaged their two foes by thumping Crystal Palace 4-0 with a glut of fine finishes. And on Wednesday at the Etihad Stadium, City have the chance to scale to the top of the table by beating Aston Villa. Pep Guardiola’s men look primed to hit top form at the right time.
Retro bosses back in fashion
Blink and you’ll think it’s the mid-noughties as Sam Allardyce takes on David Moyes in the battle of the blunt-force tacticians. Allardyce endured a tough start to his latest Red Adair-style rescue mission at West Brom, but then pulled off a fine 3-2 Black Country derby win at Wolves. Moyes has West Ham up into mid-table, having stabilised proceedings at the London Stadium with clarity of vision on and off the field. Both bosses are out to prove their latest forays are more than just the Premier League’s answer to Back To The Future.
Can Chelsea revival gather pace?
No one expects Leicester to win the league, while everyone expects Chelsea to mount a serious challenge. But Brendan Rodgers’ Foxes are currently faring better. Leicester could go top with a home win on Tuesday night, while Frank Lampard needs wins to consolidate his Stamford Bridge future. The Blues will hope a patchy 1-0 win at 10-man Fulham can spark a revival capable of securing their manager’s long-term future and the club’s top-four ambitions.
Red Devils out to sharpen horns in west London
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United will expect a stiff test of their title credentials at Scott Parker’s much-improved Fulham. The Red Devils drew a blank in Sunday’s sour stalemate with rivals Liverpool, and will be out to sharpen up in front of goal at Craven Cottage. Fulham’s run of five-straight league draws was ended with a 1-0 home loss to Chelsea, but boss Parker has tightened the ship impressively.
Klopp’s Reds on the New Year goal hunt
Since hammering Crystal Palace 7-0 on December 19 in south London, reigning champions Liverpool have scored just one goal in four league matches. Sadio Mane’s strike in the 1-1 draw with West Brom on December 27 remains the last league goal netted by Jurgen Klopp’s usually free-scoring side. Liverpool are yet to get off the Premier League mark for 2021, courtesy of their 1-0 loss at Southampton and Sunday’s goalless draw with Manchester United. Burnley’s tight-fisted defence will prove another stern challenge.