Premier League Preview: Match Day 15

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It’s December, which can only mean one things and that’s football coming thick and fast, with the Premier League no exception.

A full round of fixtures are set to take place this midweek, with players, managers and fans alike still reeling from events across the weekend.

Liverpool and Leicester City both enjoyed wins at the summit of the table, which were made to look even more significant as Manchester City drew to Newcastle United and Chelsea suffered a shock loss at home to West Ham United.

Jose Mourinho made it three wins from three as Tottenham Hotspur manager with victory over Bournemouth, while Freddie Ljungberg’s tenure as Arsenal interim boss started with a draw away to Norwich City.

Elsewhere, Southampton were the big winners at the foot of the table as they beat fellow relegation candidates Watford – a result that ultimately cost Quique Sanchez Flores his second stint as Hornets boss.

Premier League Match of the Round – Manchester United vs Tottenham Hotspur 

It’s not often that Jose Mourinho doesn’t dominate the headlines heading into a big game, although on this occasion it’s somewhat unavoidable.

The three-time Premier League winner will be returning to Old Trafford for the first time since his acrimonious sacking as Manchester United boss in December 2018, as his revitalised Tottenham side take on a United team on Wednesday night without a win in three.

Spurs’ turnaround since the appointment of Mourinho has been nothing short of staggering. While there are areas to improve on – namely the defence having conceded two in each of their three games since his arrival – their attacking thrust has been impressive.

Dele Alli looks a player reborn under Mourinho, with three goals and an assist in three games, while Harry Kane and Son Heung-min, among others, have also enjoyed similar upturns in form.

They travel to Manchester full of confidence, whereas their hosts enter the game having let leads slip in back-to-back Premier League games against recently-promoted sides in Sheffield United and Aston Villa.

It’s put Ole Gunnar Solskjaer under even more pressure, with the Red Devils currently ninth in the table and eight points off Chelsea in fourth. With the added factor that former Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino – who has been linked with the managerial post at Old Trafford – is currently without a job, it potentially adds even more significance on the result.

Rest of the Round

The action kicks off on Tuesday as Crystal Palace host a Bournemouth side without a win since their victory over Manchester United at the beginning of November.

Burnley welcome reigning champions Manchester City to Turf Moor in the other Tuesday game. Pep Guardiola’s side have endured a notable blip this season, with their current tally (29) nine fewer than at this stage last season (38) and 11 fewer than in 2017/18 (40), so know they need a win to remain in touch with leaders Liverpool.

Wednesday boasts the bulk of the midweek fixtures, with no fewer than six taking place. One of those is Chelsea’s game with Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge, as the Blues enter the game off the back of back-to-back league defeats.

Leicester City will be aiming for a seventh league win on the bounce when they welcome the league’s bottom side Watford to the King Power Stadium.

It’s another basement battle for Southampton when they take on fellow strugglers Norwich City at St Mary’s Stadium.

Wolverhampton Wanderers face West Ham United at Molineux, as the visitors look for a second away scalp against a side with aspirations of qualifying for Europe in a matter of days.

As well as United’s game with Spurs, Wednesday concludes with the small matter of the Merseyside derby, with Everton make the short trip across Stanley Park to face current league-leaders Liverpool. The Reds could set a new club record of 32 games unbeaten in the league should they avoid defeat, while Marco Silva knows a defeat could spell the end for him as Everton manager.

Two games on Thursday conclude the midweek schedule, the first of which being Sheffield United’s home game against Newcastle United.

The final game sees Freddie Ljungberg take charge of his first home game as Arsenal interim manager against West Ham United, as the Gunners look to end a run of eight games in all competitions without a win.

Premier League Player to Watch: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – Arsenal – (£2.11)

While his future at Arsenal is very much uncertain, there’s no denying the quality Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang possess when he steps out onto the pitch. 

After scoring twice for the Gunners in all competitions in November, the 30-year-old has already equalled that tally for December following his brace in the recent 2-2 draw against Norwich – the second being a well-taken finish we’ve come to expect from him.

With Arsenal set to face Brighton on Thursday, before facing West Ham on Monday, the Gabon international will have a great chance to claim both Top Striker and Star Player Dividends if he picks up where he left off at Carrow Road.

 

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