📝Premier League Match Previews Ahead of Round 20 on December 28-29
Liverpool vs Wolverhampton Wanderers
Having raced away from their pursuers, Liverpool are ready to round off a perfect ending to 2019 as they host Wolverhampton Wanderers at Anfield for their final match of the year.
The Reds stormed further clear at the top of the Premier League table after a 4-0 win at closest challengers Leicester City on the Boxing Day, their 26th win from their last 27 league games.
Liverpool have also won each of their last 17 top-flight games, although they will be careful of a Wolves side that has already beaten Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium this season.
Wolves travel to Anfield, trying to achieve another outstanding victory on the final day of the campaign.
- Liverpool have lost just one of their 10 Premier League games against Wolves (W7 D2), winning the last five successive matches by an aggregate score of 12-1.
- Wolves have lost 15 of their last 17 top-flight away matches against Liverpool, winning the other two, 1-0 in January 1984 and December 2010. Wolves have failed to score in 10 of their last 14 league visits to Anfield.
- Liverpool have won their final league game in each of the last five calendar years, since losing 2-1 at Chelsea in 2013.
- Wolves have won their final league game in four of the last five calendar years, losing 2-1 at home to QPR in 2016.
- Liverpool are unbeaten in their last 49 Premier League home games (W39 D10). If they win this match, it would be their third unbeaten home run of 50+ games in English top-flight history.
- The two clubs have met on 11 occasions since the turn of the millennium, and Wolves have recorded three successes and two draws during that period.
- Klopp’s squad kept clean sheets in three of the previous six meetings at this venue.
- Wolves kept a clean sheet back in 2010.
- The last time the two teams met, Liverpool won 2-0.
- Seven of the former ten wins went to the Reds.
- This meeting represents the 104th competitive meeting between the two clubs, with Liverpool registering 50 wins in comparison to 36 victories for Wolves.
Liverpool might want to shuffle their pack, especially after a string of tough games in the past few days. Therefore, Adam Lallana, Divock Origi, and Xherdan Shaqiri could be given the nod at Anfield.
Apart from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who have been sidelined due to an ankle injury in the Middle East, the Reds don’t have any other injury concerns, although they might worry about the fitness of Jordan Henderson, who hobbled off in their encounter against Leicester City.
Injuries: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Dejan Lovren, Fabinho, Joel Matip
Doubtful: Jordan Henderson
Nuno could decide to keep the same first XI, although the Portuguese has previously spoken about handing minutes to the third-choice goalkeeper, Will Norris.
Romain Saiss, Morgan Gibbs-White, Ivan Cavaleiro, and Helder Costa may be considered for starting roles if Nuno gives consideration to some of his squad being involved in international tournaments during the summer.
Possible Starting Lineups:
Liverpool XI: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Fabinho, Milner; Mane, Origi, Salah
Wolves XI: Norris; Bennett, Coady, Boly; Doherty, Dendoncker, Moutinho, Neves, Jonny; Jota, Jimenez
Manchester City vs. Sheffield United
City are still trying to catch-up with the unstoppable Liverpool and they might have to do this for the rest of the season. This Sunday, owing to the game taking place at the Etihad, and Sheffield’s relative inexperience in the top flight, Manchester City have the opportunity to dominate the game.
Sheffield United, on the other hand, shared the spoils with Watford on Boxing Day, with the team extending their unbeaten streak in the English elite division to four games. The Blades did well to beat Brighton in their last away fixture, but they will have a tough test against Man City, who are desperate to stay in the title race.
Head to head result:
- The last time these two teams met, Sheffield won 2-1 against City.
- However, two of the former three wins went to Manchester City.
- At home, the Citizens are unbeaten against this opponent in the past 20 years.
- Sheffield are yet to score a goal here in the last two decades.
- Man City have never lost a Premier League match against Sheffield United (W3 D3), with this the first such meeting since a 1-0 win at Bramall Lane in December 2006.
- Sheffield United have failed to score in their last seven away league visits to Manchester City, with five of the last six finishing 0-0.
- Manchester City are unbeaten in their last 37 Premier League home games against promoted sides (W33 D4) since a 0-2 loss against Reading in February 2007. Only Chelsea (43 games from 2001 to 2015) and Man United (40 games from 2002 to 2015) have had longer such runs in the competition.
- Sheffield United have lost 15 of their last 16 away league games against reigning top-flight champions, with a win in that time coming at Arsenal in August 1971.
- Manchester City have only lost their final league game of a calendar twice (W8 D9 L2), going down 1-4 against Charlton in 2000 and 0-1 at Liverpool in 2016.
- When playing their final league game of a calendar year away from home, Sheffield United have lost 10 in a row, in a run stretching back to 1982. Their most recent such game was a 1-2 loss at Port Vale in League One in 2014.
- City have dropped points in three of their nine Premier League home games this season (W6 D1 L2), as many as in their previous 37 at the Etihad (W34 D1 L2).
- If Sheffield United avoid defeat, they will equal the English top-flight record for longest unbeaten away streak from the start of a season for a promoted side.
- Sergio Agüero is Man City’s highest Premier League goalscorer in home games this season with five goals despite the Argentine have not found the net at the Etihad since November 2nd.
- On the other hand, David McGoldrick has had more shots (34) and shots on target (16) without scoring than any other Premier League player this season. He also has the highest expected goals total of any player not to find the net (6.1).
Ederson is suspended after being sent off in Friday's 3-2 defeat away to Wolves. Claudio Bravo will take his spot.
There will be some tired legs in the Manchester City camp and Pep Guardiola will have no choice but to make some changes.
Sergio Aguero was sacrificed midway through the first half as a result of Ederson's red card and will be fine to start here.
Kevin De Bruyne was substituted off during the second half with this game in mind, so it's safe to assume he will start against Sheffield United.
Phil Foden, Oleksandr Zinchenko, and Ilkay Gundogan will push for starts on Sunday. Guardiola will hope to have Gabriel Jesus available after the Brazilian missed out against Wolves because of illness.
Simon Moore is the only injury concern for Sheffield United ahead of Sunday's clash at the Etihad.
The only possible changes may come in the attack, with Lys Mousset rotating with one of the strikers.
Possible Starting Lineups:
Manchester City XI (4-3-3): Bravo, Zinchenko, Fernandinho, Otamendi, Cancelo, Foden, Gundogan, Bruyne, Sterling, Aguero, Mahrez
Sheffield United XI (3-5-2): Henderson, Basham, Egan, O’Connell, Lundstram, Norwood, Fleck, McGolrick, Mousset
Tottenham vs. Norwich City
Last meeting: 02 Feb 2016: Norwich City 0-3 Tottenham (Premier League)
Tottenham aim to boost their chance of top-four teams when they take on bottom of the table Norwich City at Carrow Road on Saturday.
Norwich slipped to the bottom of the table following a 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa at Villa Park on the Boxing Day and they are now seven points from safety.
- Tottenham won 3-0 in both league matches with Norwich in the 2015-16 campaign; they last won three in a row against the Canaries in April 1995.
- Tottenham lost their last league game in 2018, going down 1-3 against newly-promoted Wolves. They’ve not lost their final league game in consecutive years since 2003.
- Norwich have won just one of their eight home Premier League games against Tottenham (D2 L5), winning 1-0 in February 2014.
- Norwich have won just one of their last 14 Premier League games (D3 L10), and are winless in six (D2 L4). However, when starting the day bottom of the Premier League table, the Canaries are unbeaten in six games (W5 D1), going back to April 2005.
- After a run of 12 Premier League away games without a win, Tottenham have won two of their last three on the road (L1). The Lilywhites are without a clean sheet in 16 Premier League away games, their longest run without one in the top-flight since a run of 20 from April 1976-April 1977.
- Tottenham’s Harry Kane has scored four goals in his two Premier League appearances against Norwich. Indeed, in all competitions since the start of 2014-15, Kane has scored 17 goals in 15 games against sides he’s previously played for (13 in 12 vs Leicester, 4 in 2 vs Norwich, 0 in 1 vs Millwall).
- Tottenham’s Dele Alli has been involved in more goals in all competitions for the club under José Mourinho than any other player.
Timm Klose remains sidelined due to a knee problem; Ben Godfrey is out until February with a knee issue, and Josip Drmic is expected to return from a thigh complaint next month.
It remains to be seen whether Grant Hanley will be fit enough to play after only recently returning to action following a three-month lay-off while Max Aarons received a hefty whack to his Achilles against Aston Villa.
Farke said: ‘I hope it’s not too bad, we have to wait just a short time to recover, just 48 hours, I hope he’s okay for the next game.’
Mourinho has fewer injury issues to contend with than Farke with Hugo Lloris (elbow) and Ben Davies (ankle) the only two first-team players currently sidelined through injury.
However, both Harry Winks and Moussa Sissoko are suspended after each collecting their fifth bookings of the season against Brighton while Heung-Min Son serves the second of his three-game ban after receiving a red card against Chelsea.
Tanguy Ndombele was left out of the 18-man squad entirely on Boxing Day but could be back due to the absence of Winks and Sissoko.
Possible Starting Lineups:
Tottenham XI: Gazzaniga; Foyth, Sanchez, Alderweireld, Rose; Dier, Ndombele; Lo Celso, Alli, Eriksen; Kane
Norwich City XI: Krul; Aarons, Zimmermann, Hanley, Byram; Vrancic, Stiepermann; Buendia, McLean, Hernandez; Pukki
Burnley vs. Manchester United
Manchester United looks to keep up its push toward the Top Four with a visit to Burnley at Turf Moor on Saturday.
- Manchester United have conceded just one goal in their five Premier League away games against Burnley, keeping a clean sheet in each of the last four and winning the last three.
- Manchester United haven’t lost their last league game in a calendar year since 2011 (2-3 vs Blackburn Rovers), winning four and drawing three since.
- Since winning their first-ever Premier League meeting with Man Utd in August 2009, Burnley are winless in their subsequent nine against them in the competition (D4 L5).
- Burnley haven’t lost their last league game in a calendar year since 2012 (0-1 vs Leicester in the Championship), winning three and drawing three since.
- None of Burnley’s last 16 Premier League home games have finished level, with the Clarets winning eight and losing eight at Turf Moor. No other side is a longer run without a draw at home in the competition
- Manchester United have won just two of their last 13 Premier League away games (D4 L7). They’ve failed to keep a clean sheet in their last 14 on the road while failing to score in four of their last seven away from Old Trafford in the top-flight.
- Burnley have mustered just one shot on target over their last two Premier League games, Jay Rodriguez’s goal against Bournemouth. The Clarets have failed to have a single attempt on target in two different Premier League games this season – only Newcastle (3) have done so in more.
- No side has kept fewer clean sheets in the Premier League this season than Manchester United (2). The Red Devils have conceded at least once in each of their last 14 games, the longest current run in the top-flight.
- Among teenagers in the top five European leagues, only Jadon Sancho (12) has scored more goals in all competitions this season than Manchester United’s Mason Greenwood (8).
- Marcus Rashford is enjoying his best-ever goalscoring season in the Premier League for Manchester United, with 11 from his 19 appearances. Meanwhile, only Mohamed Salah has scored more winning goals in the Premier League this term than Rashford (4).
Burnley are unlikely to be without the services of either Ben Gibson or Aaron Lennon for this match through injury or illness, and Jeff Hendrick is available after a one-match ban.
Barnes is expected to come back into the side having started on the bench against Everton, while Danny Drinkwater is doubtful to feature.
Dyche is likely to resist the temptation to make wholesale changes, though, with the likes of James Tarkowski, Wood, and Dwight McNeil certain to continue in the starting XI.
Scott McTominay is a huge doubt following a knee injury against Newcastle, and it seems unlikely for him to be fit to take part at Turf Moor.
Paul Pogba could, therefore, start alongside Fred in central midfield, while Jesse Lingard is pushing to return to the starting XI at the expense of Andreas Pereira.
As a replacement for Luke Shaw, Ashley Young could be another change that could occur at left-back with Solskjaer mindful of the latter's fitness, while Mason Greenwood could also drop to the bench.
In general, the starting XI is expected to be mainly the same from Boxing Day, with in-form pair Rashford and Martial both keeping their spots in the final third of the field.
Daniel James was rested against Newcastle, so it seems likely that the Wales international will be among the starting squad.
Possible Starting Lineups:
Burnley XI: Pope, Pieters, Mee, Tarkowski, Lowton, McNeil, Westwood, Cork, Gudmundsson, Barnes, Wood.
Manchester United XI: De Gea, Young, Lindelof, Maguire, Wan-Bissaka; Fred, Pereira, Pogba; Lingard, Rashford, Martial.
West Ham United vs. Leicester City
Leicester City and West Ham United are locking horn on Saturday at Olympic Stadium and calls for Pellegrini to be sacked might be intensified if Leicester win the game.
Last meeting: April 20, 2019 - Leicester City 2-2 West Ham United
- The Hammers have won just one of their last nine Premier League meetings with Leicester (D4 L4), with their 2-0 victory in May 2018.
- Leicester are unbeaten in their last four away Premier League matches against West Ham (W2 D2), having lost seven of their previous eight in this run (W1).
- Leicester lost their final league games in both 2017 (1-2 vs Liverpool) and 2018 (0-1 vs. Cardiff). They also lost their final league game in three consecutive years from 2004 to 2006.
- Leicester are unbeaten in their last three Premier League games in London (W1 D2). They’ve never gone four games without defeat in the capital in the competition. Having beaten Crystal Palace 2-0 in their last such game, they’re looking to secure back-to-back league wins in London for the first time since 2015-16 (vs West Ham and Spurs).
- West Ham have lost their last three Premier League home games, last losing four in a row at home in the competition back in January 2006.
- West Ham have lost their last three Premier League home games, conceding three goals in each defeat. Only three teams in Premier League history have conceded 3+ goals in four consecutive home games (Crystal Palace, Bradford, and Fulham).
- West Ham have dropped a league-high 15 points from winning positions in the Premier League this season, more than they had in the entire season in both 2018-19 (12) and 2017-18 (14).
- Leicester have lost their last two Premier League matches, conceding more goals in these defeats (7) than they had in their previous 11 league matches combined (6).
- Robert Snodgrass has scored three goals in his last nine Premier League appearances for West Ham, more than he had in his first 52 for the Hammers in the competition (2).
- Leicester’s Jamie Vardy is the highest Premier League goalscorer in 2019 with 29 goals, and could become just the seventh different player to score as many as 30 in a single calendar year in the competition.
Ryan Fredericks will be back from suspension, but full-back Aaron Cresswell is unavailable.
Left-back Cresswell received his fifth yellow card of the campaign in the 2-1 defeat away to Crystal Palace on Boxing Day and joins Jack Wilshere and Winston Reid on the sidelines.
Manuel Pellegrini could stick with Roberto in goal, despite Lukasz Fabianski and David Martin (both thigh) closing in on a return, but Manuel Lanzini is back again and featured off the bench in the clash at Selhurst Park.
Brendan Rodgers has decided to make changes for Saturday's fixture at West Ham. Although his squad emerged unscathed from the 4-0 Boxing Day defeat to Liverpool at the King Power Stadium, his frustration with the congested fixture list means he will freshen things up against the Hammers.
Therefore, Marc Albrighton, Ayoze Perez, Hamza Choudhury, James Justin, and Kelechi Iheanacho could join the starting squad.
Possible Starting Lineups:
West Ham XI: Roberto; Fredericks, Diop, Ogbonna, Masuaku; Snodgrass, Noble, Rice, Lanzini; Antonio, Haller
Leicester XI: Schmeichel; Pereira, Evans, Soyuncu, Chilwell; Perez, Maddison, Ndidi, Tielemans, Albrighton; Vardy