The first Premier League match week of 2019 got underway yesterday but there’s a whole host of action to look forward to over the next few days.
Chelsea will look to make it four wins in five Premier League games when they host Southampton, while Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be eager to keep up his 100 per cent record as Man Utd caretaker manager when they face Newcastle.
But the standout fixture of the round is undoubtedly the clash at the Etihad Stadium which sees third-placed Man City come up against league leaders Liverpool tomorrow night.
Chelsea v Southampton
Chelsea will look to strengthen their top-four claims with victory over Southampton this evening at Stamford Bridge.
The Blues picked up a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace on Sunday thanks to N’Golo Kante’s third goal of the season.
With Maurizio Sarri’s side still fighting on four fronts – Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup and Europa League – they have a hectic January and are set to play every three days, so he may well use this match as an opportunity to shuffle the pack once more.
The statistics don’t bode well for Southampton who are looking to avoid a third consecutive defeat under new boss Ralph Hasenhuttl, while they have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last 10 league games.
The Saints have improved under the Austrian, and although I fancy them to score tonight at Stamford Bridge, I feel Chelsea will still have too much for them and at 15/8 a bet on both teams to score and the Blues to win is appealing.
Newcastle United v Manchester United
On this day in 2014 Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was appointed manager of Cardiff City, and while he endured a tough time of it in Wales, he is still yet to taste defeat since becoming the Red Devils’ caretaker manager.
His arrival has coincided with an upturn in fortunes for the Old Trafford side, who are playing with plenty of attacking flair, having scored 12 goals in the Norwegian’s first three games in charge.
Jose Mourinho had never won at Newcastle, but it is hard to see the Magpies having enough to deal with a resurgent United here.
The visitors are likely to be fast out of the gates and in the half-time/full-time market it’s 11/8 for a Man United win, which looks like good value.
Manchester City v Liverpool
Champions Man City come up against current league leaders Liverpool in a massive game to start the new year for both sides.
It has the feeling of a ‘must-win’ game for Pep Guardiola’s side if they wish to keep their title hopes alive having fallen seven points behind the Reds heading into this encounter after defeats to Chelsea, Crystal Palace and Leicester City in recent weeks.
On the other hand, Liverpool’s run of results of late has been faultless having won all seven games in December to take advantage of City’s blip, and Jurgen Klopp will be keen for the Reds to start 2019 with a positive result in Manchester.
With the plethora of attacking talent on show it is hard to see either side keeping a clean sheet despite the Reds’ solid defensive record which has seen them concede just eight league goals so far this term.
The bet that stands out for me is for both teams to score and for City to secure a vital win at 5/2.