Spurs Won’t Need Any Extra Motivation
The game of the weekend by a canter, Tottenham Hotspur fans will be desperate to avenge their club’s 3-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge at the start of the month and will be buoyed by their run of five games without defeat, their marked improvement defensively and will the possibility that the fragility exposed by Jose Mourinho Chelsea’s 1-1 draw with Southampton on Sunday might be something more than the early stages of the Portuguese coach’s legendary “mind games.” Chelsea definitely had a legitimate penalty disregarded at St Mary’s this weekend, but is the world really against the West London team? Of course not! That’s Mourinho’s way of closing ranks in this most hectic of periods, but that’s not to say it’s definitely going to work. More than any other team in the Premier League, Tottenham Hotspur will be motivated to beat Chelsea this weekend and will make use of every drop of energy left in the Christmas tank to make sure their run isn’t spoiled by the team they despise the most.
The truth of the mater is that we could pitch every Chelsea fixture for the remainder of the season as the one that truly defines Mourinho’s title charge, but that’s what it’s like when you’re sat at the top of the tree as comfortably as the West London club have been. So why don’t you tell us what’s going to happen. RT this post and predict the score in the game using #JDOneToWatch on Twitter to win the shirt for the winning team.
Hull City and Everton Need To Turn Cash Into Points
We’ve kept a close eye on the goings on at Hull City this winter with Steve Bruce surely feeling the pressure of his side plummeting down the table despite an active and expensive summer of transfer business, but we haven’t afforded Everton and Roberto Martinez the same treatment despite the club resting in 12th place following an even more active and expensive summer’s transfer business. On a run of three straight defeats and with just one win in seven, when does Martinez begin to feel the pressure of his job? Arsene Wenger, Louis van Gaal, Brendan Rodgers and Mauricio Pochettino have all had their positions questioned this season, but the patient nature of fans at Goodison Park are being well and truly tested this season. Steve Bruce is currently one win in 10 games, with just five points collected from a potential 30 and with Everton tomorrow, an FA Cup Final repeat against Arsenal on Sunday and an away fixture at similarly relegation threatened West Brom less than a week later, it feels as if The Tigers will need their experienced coach to turn things around before the January Transfer Window expires if they’re to stand the best possible chance of remaining in the Premier League this season. As for Everton, we’re not sure what their targets for the 2014/15 season were in August, but we’re sure heading into the New Year in the bottom half of the table was not part of the plan. With big money comes new expectations and Roberto Martinez is in a unique position as Toffees boss of having to match those and fast.
The Top Four Battle Gets Going Early
To begin the new year the way they ended the last, Arsenal are one game away from a place in the top four and while the football world will steal a giggle at Arsene Wenger’s apparent obsession with the Premier League’s third runner up spot, there’s no denying how valuable that Champions League place really is. Ronald Koeman has rightfully drawn plaudits for not only steadying what had appeared to be a seriously rocky Southampton ship over the summer and pushing them into genuine European contention, but also for doing it in serious style. Sitting above three teams who had designs on Champions League qualification in Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur, The Saints are also able to look down on three teams who stripped them of some of their most important assets this summer and will loathe to give that spot away at St Mary’s on Saturday. Whether or not Southampton can outperform the big hitters for the entirety of the season remains to be seen and if squad size alone decides it, then it seems unlikely, but in facing an in-form Arsenal side at home they have the perfect opportunity to stake their claim. An injury ravaged Arsenal could be without Danny Welbeck, leaving Yaya Sanogo as the main striker, which won’t fill Gooners with hope, but the possible return of former Saints winger Theo Walcott could prove the difference in the attacking third.
“Tired” United Face Tough Away Day
Louis van Gaal doesn’t like the seasonal fixture list and he’s been quite vocal about that fact, but if there’s one thing he likes even less that Santa’s love of congested football fun, it would be his side’s away form. With just two victories coming in their nine Premier League games away from Old Trafford so far this season (not to mention that one Capital One Cup game at Stadium MK in August), the Dutchman is unlikely to fully understand what his side faces at The Britannia on Thursday. If this improving United team struggled to match the atmospheres in Burnley, West Brom, Sunderland and Tottenham then there’s little to suggest that they’ll be ready for what The Potters have got in store for them. When these two met for the first time this season at the beginning of December, United’s 2-1 victory marked their fourth straight win and saw them climb into the top four for the first time in over a year, but with Stoke expected to attack the “tired” Red Devils from the start, the game is likely to prove not only United’s hardest game of the festive period, but also their hardest away game of the season so far. Get through the early kick-off with three points though and even the biggest doubter will have to reassess Manchester United’s targets this season.
January Is Liverpool’s Month
It’s only been two wins in their last five, but defeats of Burnley and Swansea City and a last gasp draw with Arsenal have got Liverpool fans feeling a lot better about their campaign and will see bottom placed Leicester City’s visit to Anfield as the perfect way to begin the New Year. It was the start of the current year in which Brendan Rodgers masterminded one of the great charges to the top of the table and despite a lack of Luis Suarez, the young coach will be telling explaining exactly how much can be done through belief and form and with the likes of Raheem Sterling, Jordan Henderson and Adam Lallana coming into their own in recent weeks, the tools are all there for Liverpool to banish the memory of what has been a horrible second half of 2014. In Leicester City, Liverpool will face a team desperate for every single point and in full and certain knowledge that with every loss a return to The Championship edges closer. It’s hard to fully reconcile what Nigel Pearson’s team is capable of this season, lest we forget that they defeated Manchester United 5-3 early in the campaign, but it’s surely time for the plan to be revealed if they’re to stand any chance of staying up.