EPL Week 26 Preview: United Target 4th Spot; Liverpool’s Wake Up Test; City & Blues Go Head-to-Head

Victor Kekereekun
20% Complete
 08-Feb-2019

Manchester United great team spirit under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer saw them bounce back to winning ways at Leicester last week after Burnley draw. With nine wins and a draw in ten outings since mid-December, the Red Devils travel to Fulham for their Matchday 26 clash looking to challenge Chelsea at the 4th spot.

Arsenal’s away form has been poor since mid-December, but visiting a Huddersfield side who are heading relentlessly towards relegation from the Premier League, the Gunners should cruise to victory.

Liverpool, meanwhile, have had the wake-up call they may just have needed in the Premier League title race and will seek to return to winning ways decisively against Bournemouth.

In another game, third-place Spurs will hope to keep up their recent momentum when they host Leicester on Sunday

Wholly the star match this weekend in the Premier League, Manchester City will host Chelsea as the two look set to put their inconsistency in the rear-view mirror. Here is APRECON’s build-up to EPL Week 26 action;

Fulham vs Manchester United

Date: Saturday, 9th February
Kick-off: 13.30 pm CET
Venue: Craven Cottage, London
History: Played 83: Man United 50 vs Fulham 14 (19 Draws)
Last League meeting: December 8, 2018: Man United 4-1 Fulham

Manchester United are just two points outside the top four – and still unbeaten since Ole Gunnar Solksjaer took the managerial reins. An early Marcus Rashford goal gave them a 1-0 win at Leicester in Week 25, their third straight clean sheet on the road.

This United team will travel down to Craven Cottage, to take on a Fulham team who has struggled to pick up points in their battle against relegation – as they suffered losses to Arsenal (4-1), Oldham Athletic (1-2), Burnley (2-1), Tottenham (1-2), and most recently Crystal Palace (2-0) despite finding the net on the regular.

Second-last Fulham are seven points from safety and running out of time to avoid a return to the championship. Despite showing some late-December defensive resolve, the Cottagers have conceded 12 goals in their past five games ad they can only do little not to concede much against an opposition that walloped them 4-1 earlier this season.

With the best Fulham have managed in their last 11 clashes with United being two draws, United seem very priced against a genuine relegation battler – you can count on Solskjaer’s men to romp to victory with 4th place in sight.

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Huddersfield Town vs Arsenal

Date: Saturday, 9th February
Kick-off: 16:00 pm CET
Venue: John Smith’s Stadium
History: Played 77: Arsenal 36 vs Huddersfield 16 (25 Draws)
Last League meeting: December 8, 2018: Arsenal 1:0 Huddersfield

Arsenal have gone off the boil lately, but struggling Huddersfield Town should prove an ideal easy ride for Emery’s men as Huddersfield’s last win over Arsenal was in 1971, picking up just two draws in 11 games since. But the last two encounters – including in Week 16 at the Emirates – were won just 1-0 by Arsenal.

The Gunners, however, have lost four of their last nine games, including a 3-1 defeat to Man City last weekend. Arsenal’s away form has been poor since mid-December, but surely they cannot fail to beat a Huddersfield side who are heading relentlessly towards relegation from the Premier League.

In fairness to the Gunners, they have had to visit Manchester City, Liverpool and Manchester United within their last six away league games, yet have also lost to Southampton and West Ham and drawn at Brighton. The unspoiled fact remains that you have to go back to January 2015 to find the last time Arsenal won away to one of the other ‘big six’ in the Premier League.

The Championship beckons for Huddersfield Town next season, unfortunately, as they sit in last place 13 points from safety. Huddersfield have managed just one point – from a scoreless draw at Cardiff – from their last 12 games and lost 5-0 to Chelsea last week.

In reality, Arsenal should not have any problem at all waltzing past their relegation-bound hosts.

Liverpool vs Bournemouth

Date: Saturday, 9th February
Kick-off: 16:00 pm CET
Venue: Anfield
History: Played 14: Liverpool 10 vs Bournemouth 1 (3 Draws)
Last League meeting: December 8, 2018: Bournemouth 0:4 Liverpool

League chasers Liverpool have given up four points in the past fortnight and will be desperate to bag all points at Anfield in Week 26 with Man City breathing down their necks. The Reds were held to 1-1 draws by Leicester and West Ham after winning 11 of their previous 12.

Bournemouth are in 10th spot but are still recovering from a woeful 2-0 loss at Cardiff last weekend. The Cherries won their preceding two games against West Ham (2-0) and Chelsea (4-0), giving no indication of the listless performance that was ahead on their trip to Wales.

Liverpool have won their last three against Bournemouth by a combined 11-0. Mo Salah bagged a hat-trick in Liverpool’s 4-0 away win in Week 16.

With Liverpool poised to provide a response to their recent slips, it is tough to see anything else rather than a victory for Liverpool in this one as anything else may signal an end to their title hopes.

Tottenham v Leicester

Date: Sunday, 10th February
Kick-off: 14.30 pm CET
Venue: Wembley Stadium
History: Played 111: Tottenham 55 vs Leicester 35 (21 Draws)
Last League meeting: December 8, 2018: Leicester 0:2 Tottenham

Tottenham have endured a couple of shaky moments recently in third spot, but they will be eager to keep winning and stay in touch with Liverpool and Man City. Spurs have won their last three against Fulham, Watford and Newcastle, though each was by a one-goal margin.

Leicester, meanwhile, are in a bit of a hole despite drawing at Liverpool a couple of weeks ago, losing three of their last four games. The somewhat slump has the 2015 EPL Champions drop to 11th on the league.

Spurs downed the Foxes 2-0 away in Week 16 and have scored 14 goals in the teams’ last four encounters. Leicester have managed a win and two draws in their last four away games against Tottenham, however.

It shapes as a tough affair but Tottenham – who haven’t scored a first-half goal in their last four games – should get the job done eventually – even if it is by a lone goal.

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Man City v Chelsea

Date: Sunday, 10th February
Kick-off: 17:00 pm CET
Venue: Etihad Stadium
History: Played 161: Chelsea 67 vs Man City 55 (39 Draws)
Last League meeting: December 8, 2018: Chelsea 2:0 Man City

Manchester City have won six of their last seven games, putting their slip-up at Newcastle firmly behind them with victories over Arsenal (3-1) last weekend and Everton (2-0) midweek.

Chelsea, meanwhile, have been notably up and down, going down to Arsenal (2-0) and Bournemouth (4-0) before trouncing Huddersfield 5-0. They are clinging to fourth but Man United are only two points behind.

Chelsea snapped up an infamous victory at home in the first part of the season against Man City – and Pep Guardiola’s men will view this match as a payback time – especially as they hope to keep their heads straight in the League race.

The Citizens have won 12 of their 13 home games this season, while Chelsea have lost four of their last seven on the road. A typically clinical Man City display may be too much for the Blues to handle in this one. Fingers crossed!

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