Saturday January 2 2016

Title contenders to register victories

Klopp

Despite a seventh goal of the campaign Carragher believes it is clear Klopp (L) is having difficulties with the former Aston Villa man’s style. Photo by AFP 

By Allan ssekamatte

Watford 1 Man City 2

Watford are making waves with their high energy, in your face approach. But let’s not make any mistake about it. They remain a very limited outfit. The form of striking pair Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney guarantees them goals, which should make the tie interesting. However, with all City’s big guns back, I am tip the title favourites to edge it.

West Ham 1 Liverpool 1

Will the real Christian Benteke please stand up? Liverpool are struggling to win because their big money summer arrival has failed to click. Although he scored the winner against Leicester, manager Jurgen Klopp has been hesitant to start him due to his low work-rate. Returning Dimitri Payet and Victor Moses will add oomph to West Ham.

Norwich 1 Southampton 1

Southampton are currently the Jerkyl and Hyde team of EPL. Their 4-0 victory over Arsenal belies a poor run of form that has seen them win just one of their last seven games. Graziano Pelle, Shane Long and Sadio Mane must start converting the chances.

Man Utd 2 Swansea 1

Louis van Gaal’s stubborn nature is holding him in good stead in these most trying times. As Manchester United fans were baying for his blood following the goalless draw at home to champions Chelsea, he found solace in the barn-storming opening 30 minutes in which his players laid siege to the champions’ goal. A repeat performance will deliver victory for the 20-time English Premier League champions.

Cry. Palace 1 Chelsea 1

It is a measure of how low reigning English Premier League champions Chelsea have fallen that their progress is measured by how long they take without losing. The draw at Manchester United was the third game they have consecutively avoided defeat, and I think they will be enamoured to prevent Palace, who are without top star Yannick Bolassie, from running away with this game.

Arsenal 2 Newcastle 0

Midfielder Mesut Ozil’s stellar performances have manager Arsene Wenger waxing lyrical about the mercurial German. Top of the league in number of assists, chances created and clear cut chances made, Ozil is also among the top 10 in terms of average distance covered per game. No wonder Wenger is comparing him to Dennis Bergkamp. This game was made for an Arsenal victory.

Leicester 2 Bournem’th 1

Leicester have impressed me with their durability. The Foxes stood toe to toe with Man City in a manner that suggests Claudio Ranieri’s side are coming to terms to the pressures of chasing a Champions League place. Bournemouth are currently on a four-game unbeaten run which means both sets of fans will be on tenterhooks.

Sunderland 1 Aston Villa 0

Villa need to start winning games if they are to avoid their first relegation in almost three decades. Their principal problem right now is over-reliance on Ghanaian starlet Jordan Ayew. Five goals in the last seven games is a good return if it is backed by goals from back up strikers like Gabriel Agbonlahor.

Everton 1 Tottenham 1

Bookmakers have rightly installed Spurs as third favourites to win the title behind Man City and Arsenal. Mauricio Pochettino’s squad is young, mobile and the league’s hardest runners. I was impressed by the way they made light work of Watford. But I do not expect them to get the better of Everton.

West Brom 1 Stoke City 2

Stoke are scary to face at the minute. Any side that has dispatched Chelsea and the two Manchester clubs has to be taken seriously. Central to their revival have been Champions League winners Xherdhan Shaqiri and Marco Arnautovic who are both finally living up to the promise they showed early.