Now we do not have European games round the corner, thus we can expect a brilliant Game-week in English Premier League. Leicester City is still on the top of the table and they have a two point cushion over Arsenal, who are currently in the second place after a stellar performance against Manchester City. Every team wants to end their calendar year on a high note and this guarantees a very exciting set of matches.
Here we present to you the five talking points ahead of Gameweek 18:
- Last match for Loius Van Gaal as the manager of Manchester United ? [Stoke vs. Manchester United]
Well it will be a cold windy night at Stoke when Manchester United will face Stoke City on Boxing day. Manchester United have lost their last match to Norwich at home. Trusted sources reveal that Van Gaal was given an ultimatum to get at least two wins from the next three matches. The loss to Norwich implies that Manchester United needs to win the next two matches if Van Gaal wants to retain his position. Recent mandatory press conference confirmed that the gaffer was in troubled waters. English media was to blame, but we also understand that Van Gaal is in a troubled state of mind. Trevor Sinclair’s “school boy error” almost made the whole world believe that Van Gaal was sacked. This match may serve as the clarion’s call to the Glazers, who are believed to be minutely watching Van Gaal and his results. On the other side Stoke City will leave no stone unturned to continue their winning form and extend it to five wins in a row.
2. Can Leicester City continue their dream run? [Liverpool vs. Leicester]
Leicester City are currently the league leaders and they have defeated the title holders – Chelsea. They have also drawn against Manchester United which is the only match which they failed to win in their last six matches. Liverpool are currently a very exciting team who are trying out all the options available in their disposal. Their current striking form is on the weaker side when compared to that of Leicester City, but in football you never know. Leicester are undefeated in the last ten Premier League matches. To sum it up, all eyes are on Vardy and Mahrez pairing against a very shaky and injury stricken Liverpool defence. If Liverpool succeeds in stopping Ranieri’s side, then it will be a strong message from Klopp to all the other teams in the Premier League.
3. Ighalo vs. Zouma, can Kurt Zouma stop the most prolific striker of Game-week 17? [Chelsea vs Watford]
Zouma has the club-highest clearances, 77 to his name. Chelsea maybe in a very dicey situation but Zouma has stayed strong the whole season. Ighalo is in hot form. He scored two goals when Watford defeated Liverpool 3-0. Watford is currently seventh in the league table and a win is very precious for them considering the current situation where teams are slightly separated from each other. Zouma also has the highest number of aerial wins (46) for Chelsea. Terry will also be in the line-up along with him and they will definitely try to stop a flamboyant Watford side.
4. Dead ball specialists Crystal Palace face a set-piece fragile Bournemouth .
Glenn Murray will be facing his old side Crystal Palace on Saturday when Bournemouth will host them. Crystal Palace is in winning form with three wins in last four matches. This match is a special match when we analyse the statistics of both the teams. Bournemouth have conceded season worst 12 goals from dead ball situations whereas Crystal Palace have scored a league leading 11 goals from dead ball situations. Alan Pardew will definitely be counting on Yohan Cabaye to make use of this opportunity. Alan Pardew’s side is statistically the second best when we consider the last six league matches.
5. Southampton vs. Arsenal will be a treat to the eyes and can we expect Ozil to continue his wizardry?
Arsenal are currently second in the league and they will try their best to end this year on a high. If Leicester fails to win, it will be the best chance for Arsenal to regain their position at the top of the table. Ozil is currently the best midfielder in Premier League and he has the highest number of assists in the league with 15 assists. Ozil is only five short of Premier League record assists in a season. The feat was achieved by Thierry Henry in 2002-2003 season when he managed 20 assists. Considering the fact that we are not even halfway down the season, we can expect Ozil to break Henry’s record.
Photo by theglobalpanorama