Despite the government’s announcement in midweek meaning that only four Premier League clubs can host fans for home games – Brighton & Hove Albion, Everton, Liverpool and Southampton – it doesn’t stop the football feast from continuing this weekend.
A quick turnaround following the clashes earlier in the week, the December period is often viewed as a war of attrition for managers as they look to manage their squads – or what’s left of them – during this busy period.
With little to split the teams at both ends of the table, it promises to be an enthralling time in England’s top-flight.
Premier League Game of the Weekend: Manchester United vs Leeds United
It’s a marquee fixture in English football that has been absent as a league contest for 16 years, but this weekend marks the return of Manchester United against Leeds United.
The last fixture between the two at Old Trafford took place in the third round of the FA Cup in 2010, with Jermaine Beckford scoring a 19th-minute winner for the visitors in a season that saw them promoted from League One and Manchester United finishing second, just a point behind Chelsea.
For as good as Manchester United’s away form has been this season – winning all six away games in the Premier League – their home form has left a lot to be desired.
Just one win and five points in six games so far highlights one of the many areas of improvement for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, yet the incentive that a win could see them go just three points off the top spot with a game in hand, if results go their way, could help change their fortunes at home.
They will be made to work for it however against Leeds, who have earned plenty of plaudits for their full-throttle approach in every game so far, albeit if they haven’t got the results they’ve sometimes deserved. Marcelo Bielsa’s side have proven they can cause problems for any side in the division, just ask Liverpool and Manchester City, as they look to make a positive start in what is a new chapter in this historic rivalry.
Rest of the Weekend
Current league-leaders Liverpool get the round underway on Saturday with their trip to Crystal Palace, while high-flying Southampton host Manchester City in the hope of repeating their 1-0 win in this fixture last season, despite the visitors clocking 26 shots.
Mikel Arteta returns to one of his former clubs as Everton face Arsenal, while the day is concluded by Fulham’s long trip north to face Newcastle United.
Sunday begins on the south coast as Brighton play Sheffield United, while Tottenham Hotspur face Leicester City in one of the standout games of the round, before a Midlands derby rounds off the weekend between West Bromwich Albion and Aston Villa, in what is Sam Allardyce’s first game in charge of the Baggies.
There are two games on Monday, the first being Burnley against Wolverhampton Wanderers, before a London derby between Chelsea and West Ham United.
Premier League Player to Watch: Daniel Podence – Wolverhampton Wanderers – £0.89
Daniel Podence has seen his stock rise considerably this season following a number of impressive displays, including in recent outings against Arsenal and Chelsea.
A savvy and skilful player, he’s been key to a lot Wolves good work in the final third, with only Pedro Neto (4 goals, 2 assists) involved in more Premier League goals than Podence this season (3 goals, 2 assists).
With Raul Jimenez out for an extended period of time, Wolves’ forward line will have to share the workload in his absence, and Podence is doing just that.