With a full round of fixtures this midweek, there’s little time to catch your breath in the Premier League during its busy festive period.
Just eight points separate current table-toppers Tottenham Hotspur (25 points) and Wolverhampton Wanderers in 13th (18 points) in what has been an enthralling start to the campaign.
Those clubs outside that bracket will be hoping to stay in touch with it, or even break into it, during this glut of games before attention turns to the FA Cup third round on January 9/10.
Premier League Match of the Round: Liverpool vs Tottenham Hotspur
Jurgen Klopp vs Jose Mourinho. Mohamed Salah vs Harry Kane. Second vs First. Wednesday’s meeting of the top two in the Premier League represents a fascinating encounter between defending champions and title hopefuls.
Separated by only goal difference, the Reds’ current placing is hardly surprising as they look to retain their crown, although Spurs’ development have caught a few by surprise, especially when you consider how poor they were on the opening day of the season against Everton – their only league defeat so far.
Klopp’s Premier League record against Mourinho isn’t too bad, losing just once in seven meetings (W3, D3), including a famous 3-1 win over the Portuguese native’s last visit to Anfield during his time as Manchester United manager – his last game in charge of the club before being dismissed the following day.
A lot of the focus will be on the attacking talents on show, and rightly so, such as Salah and Kane, although this game could simply come down to which right-back, either Trent Alexander-Arnold or Serge Aurier, deals with their direct opponent in Son Heung-min and Sadio Mane.
With 10 goals and four assists already this season, Son has been one of the league’s best players so far, and could give Alexander-Arnold a difficult night. Mane meanwhile, who is without a goal in his last seven league games, is still a daunting prospect for any defender, with Aurier producing a rash challenge on Mane in this exact fixture last season, resulting in the winner from Salah penalty, so he knows what kind of evening he could be in for if he isn’t at it from the start.
Despite their placing in the table, Mourinho has quashed talk that his side realistic challengers for the Premier League, describing his Spurs team as a “pony in the title horse race”, although we will have a better understanding come full time how far his north London “pony” can go in this title race.
Rest of the Round
Wolves host Chelsea at Molineux to start the midweek proceedings, while Manchester City take on West Bromwich Albion.
Wednesday sees Arsenal face an in-form Southampton, with the Gunners hoping to avoid a fifth-successive home league defeat, while Leeds United play Newcastle United.
Leicester City host Everton, Fulham face Brighton & Hove Albion and West Ham United take on Crystal Palace.
There are also two games on Thursday, as Aston Villa welcome Burnley to Villa Park, while Sheffield United face Manchester United.
Premier League Player to Watch: James Maddison – Leicester City – £1.81
A match-winning assist last weekend against Sheffield United and a brace in the win against Brighton on Sunday, James Maddison is hitting his stride for Leicester, which is a major plus for the Foxes as they, like the rest of the league, look to navigate a busy December.
The creative hub that is able to decide a game on his own, the 24-year-old will be hoping injuries are now behind him for this season at least, as he looks to help power Leicester to a top-four place that they narrowly missed out on last season, while success in the shape of the Europa League shouldn’t be out the question, especially if he remains fit.