The famous and most competitive league in the world, English Premier League, enters its busiest period starting with weekend with the first of four games in the space of 11 days.
Kicking of the beehive of football action in the festive season is the intriguing encounter between league leaders, Liverpool, and promoted side, Wolverhampton Wanderers at the Molineux on Friday night.
The Reds are the only unbeaten side left in the PL and following their impressive 3-1 defeat of Northwest rivals, Manchester United, last time out, the question is, can Júrgen Klopp and his men solidify and extend their run and lead at the top of the table?
I spoke to two PL fans, Wole and Sensei, who gave their thoughts on that game, which is one of three standout matches in the PL this weekend you cannot afford to miss, with the other two being Everton against Tottenham, and the game between Manchester United and their new caretaker manager, Olé Gunnar Solskjaer, and Cardiff in Wales.
Wolves vs Liverpool: Reds set to continue high flying run
The Reds have really been a hard nut to crack for their hosts, who have only won just one in eight PL meetings. Therefore, according to our two analysts, while Wolves, who are gunning for a fourth consecutive win in the PL for the first time since 1972, won’t be an easy meat, they expect the visitors to take all three points.
Wole: “Wolves have been very decent at home this season especially against the top sides. They picked a point against Manchester City and took all three points against Chelsea.
They are coming against a Liverpool team that are yet to taste defeat this season and flying high going into the busy festive fixtures. I expect a closely contested game between both sides but Liverpool [to] narrowly nick this game due to the quality they possess in attack.”
Prediction: Wolves 1 – 2 Liverpool
Friday night under the Molineux lights ?
— Wolves (@Wolves) December 21, 2018
Sensei: “Two things- Liverpool could still be hung over from Sunday [game against United] and succumb to a Wolves side back on the rise, having won their last three games. Or,
Liverpool can show their title credentials and get something out of the game, a point or all three.
Won’t be easy, I expect a close game but Liverpool to edge it.
Prediction: Wolves 1-2 Liverpool
Cardiff City vs Man Utd: Solskjaer, a breath of fresh air
Following the sack of José Mourinho as their manager, Manchester United have since named former player, Solskjaer, as their caretaker manager for the rest of the season, a decision Wole and Sensei believe will be a needed catalyst to revive the Red Devils.
Solskjaer will lead his side against former club, Cardiff, who he managed in 2014, on Saturday, a perfect match to kickoff his second stint in the PL.
Sensei: “I didn’t want to analyse this because I’d want to see OGS in the dugout for at least three games to form an opinion. That said, I expect drive and the “spirit of United” to take over.
Just as Giggs won his first game 4-0 against Villa, this would be a win for United, but will in no way predict what United will become under OGS. We should see that around January.”
Prediction: Cardiff 0 – 3 Man Utd
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) December 19, 2018
Wole: “A breath of fresh air or huge relief as some would say considering the horrific campaign United have had under former manager, Jose Mourinho who was sacked just under 48 hours ago.
Renewed hope for both players and fans with the temporary appointment of former Reds, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who takes this United side to his former club Cardiff. The Welsh team has had a turgid campaign under Neil Warnock and struggled for decent results.
But for United fans, they would hope for an exciting encounter under the stewards of the 45-year-old Norwegian and I expect United to nick this tie.”
Prediction: Cardiff 1 – 3 Man Utd
Everton vs Tottenham: ‘Inconsistent’ Toffees to test Spurs’ resolve
Despite all the money they have spent so far, Everton have really not impressed many including one of our analysts today. The Toffees welcome a determined Spurs side, who they have always struggled against.
Spurs, who have not lost any of their last 11 PL games against Everton, are yet to draw a game in the league this season, a situation that could change this weekend according to Sensei.
Sensei: “Another close one. Everton have greatly improved under Marco Silva but haven’t really had the results to back the claim.
New signing, Andre Gomes, has given their midfield a new lease of life and is a perfect complement to Idrissa Gueye, while another new acquisition, Richarlison is beginning to justify the investment made to lure him from Watford.
However, defensively is where they still lack a bit of concentration and are prone to conceding poor goals (a significant weakness of Marco’s teams).
Spurs on the other hand have been Spurs, they won’t get an easy game in Merseyside, and I don’t think they can prevent Everton from scoring. I’m going for a score draw, 1-1 or 2-2.”
Next up: Everton away ?
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) December 21, 2018
Wole: “Everton haven’t exactly lit up the season with their performances which can be described as somewhat inconsistent. The Merseysiders come up against the flying side from North London, who are having a brilliant and an exceptional season.
There have been widespread speculations about Mauricio Pochettino’s future since the sacking of Jose Mourinho by Manchester United but attention turns to events on the pitch and this is poised to be an explosive encounter.
I expect Spurs to edge this game due to their consistency both at home and away.”
Prediction: Everton 1 – 3 Spurs