by John WEAVER
LONDON – Liverpool will begin 2021 in a well-known place on the prime of the Premier League however with a rejuvenated Manchester United main a pack of challengers who’re all inside putting distance.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s aspect would be a part of the champions on 33 factors in the event that they beat Aston Villa on Friday, with Jurgen Klopp’s males not in motion till Monday.
But simply seven factors separate Liverpool from their subsequent opponents Southampton, all the best way down in ninth spot, giving golf equipment an opportunity to dream.
AFP Sport seems to be at a number of the primary speaking factors forward of the weekend motion within the English top-flight.
Liverpool v United battle?Jurgen Klopp mentioned he was not “overly frustrated” after seeing his aspect held to a goalless draw at Newcastle on Wednesday.
But the squandered factors denied Liverpool the consolation of a five-point lead over bitter rivals United heading into the New Year.
The leaders have now drawn three of their previous 5 Premier League video games, together with final weekend’s disappointing 1-1 draw in opposition to struggling West Brom.
Midfielder James Milner has observed Manchester United’s rise and has warned injury-hit Liverpool that they need to “kick on” or danger dropping their crown.
Liverpool and United are the 2 most profitable golf equipment in English soccer historical past however have hardly ever been at their finest on the similar time.
It would take a courageous punter to again in opposition to Liverpool, and Manchester City are tipped by the bookies as extra probably winners than their neighbours.
But regardless of lingering questions over United’s defence, there’s a sense of momentum at Old Trafford and a rising perception that they may mount a correct title problem for the primary time since Alex Ferguson retired in 2013.
Chelsea face Man City check The most eye-catching recreation of the weekend pits Frank Lampard’s Chelsea in opposition to Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City at Stamford Bridge on Sunday — coronavirus allowing.
New-look Chelsea appeared to have discovered a great stability after an early defeat to Liverpool, embarking on a protracted unbeaten run, however have misplaced their approach in current weeks, taking simply 4 factors from their previous 5 matches.
They now discover themselves degree on 26 factors with City, who even have two video games in hand after quietly placing collectively a powerful string of outcomes following a sluggish begin to the marketing campaign.
Despite the cluster of groups inside putting vary of the Premier League summit, neither supervisor will wish to danger falling additional behind Liverpool, who’ve the potential to go on a protracted unbeaten run.
The cause Guardiola’s crew have an additional recreation in hand is as a result of their match in opposition to Everton this week was postponed over a Covid-19 outbreak at City.
First-team coaching has resumed and the membership mentioned a contemporary spherical of testing had not revealed any new constructive instances.
Following the replace from City, the Premier League issued a press release confirming the sport at Chelsea on Sunday at the moment stays on.
Frustrated MourinhoJust some brief weeks in the past Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham had been prime of the Premier League and searching each inch credible challengers.
Now they’re seven factors off the tempo after two attracts and two defeats of their previous 4 matches — and needed to face the additional frustration this week of a coronavirus-enforced postponement.
Mourinho mentioned his aspect ought to be doing extra to kill video games after conceding late in a disappointing 1-1 draw at Wolves.
His temper was not helped by the postponement of Spurs’ house match in opposition to Fulham on Wednesday with three hours’ discover after a coronavirus outbreak within the guests’ camp.
Tottenham host free-scoring Leeds on Sunday in a mouthwatering conflict, with Marcelo Bielsa’s males simply three factors behind Spurs after bouncing again from their 6-2 Old Trafford humbling with two wins.