football

The Battle of the North-West Giants: Who Will Prevail?

January 12, 2017

- Grant Whittington

 

While the Premier League may be taking a well-deserved break as the FA Cup takes centre stage this weekend, it set to return with a vengeance on Sunday, 15th January. On this day, the four powerhouses of the North-West will compete directly against one another, in the quest for crucial Premier League points and local bragging rights.

At Old Trafford, Manchester United will entertain old rivals Liverpool, while Everton will host Manchester City at Goodison Park. These games could have a crucial bearing on an increasingly competitive title race in the EPL, while they will certainly be packed-full of drama, intensity and high octane football.

Who Will Prevail on North-West Derby Day?

Make no mistake; it is the clash at Old Trafford that is really setting pulses racing. While Liverpool have consistently blown teams away with their fluid football and high-intensity pressing this season, their fierce rivals are in the midst of a 14-game unbeaten run and have won six consecutive Premier League games. This has put them within three points of the top four, while propelling them into what can now be considered a six-way title shoot-out.

We can expect an entirely different game to the one that was played out at Anfield earlier in the season too, as United will be far more expansive and place a greater on testing Liverpool’s supposedly fragile defensive line. From the Reds’ perspective, they will be without their explosive forward Sadio Mane, who is travelling to compete in the African Cup of Nations. Without his express pace, and with United looking increasingly strong and resolute, United may be narrow favourites to win and close the gap on Liverpool to just two points.

At Goodison, Everton will be looking to build on an unbeaten run of three games that has seen them return to the sanctuary of sixth place in the league. To do this, they must overcome Pep Guardiola’s unpredictable Manchester City, who were poor in defeat against Liverpool and started the New Year with an unconvincing win against Burnley. This will probably be a tight and keenly contested game, while the performers of potential match-winners Romelu Lukaku and Kevin de Bruyne may prove crucial in determining the final result.

The Last Word on a Seminal Day for the North-West

With the three of the six Premier League title favourites in action, Sunday 15th January is likely to be a seminal day in the title race. It will also be equally significant for the fans of the clubs involved, as they have a great deal of pride in their teams and will be keen to earn local bragging rights.

While you would not bet against both matches ending in stalemates, a win for any of the three EPL title contenders would represent a huge statement of intent. This is particularly true for Manchester United and Liverpool, who are among the form teams in the League and have been beaten just once between them during their last 20 outings.

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