Premier League Preview: Intense battles at both ends of the table fuel Gameweek 14
2 min read
We are now (somehow) over a third of the way through the season and the intense run-in to Christmas has officially commenced. The Premier League table is as tight as it’s ever been at this stage of proceedings and everything remains hanging in the balance ahead of the 14th round of fixtures this weekend.
Just a solitary point separates leaders Arsenal and second-placed Manchester City, while third-placed Liverpool are only two points behind the Gunners following last Saturday’s 1-1 draw at the Etihad, and Aston Villa – who currently occupy fourth on goal difference alone – remain firmly in the mix after an impressive 2-1 win away at Tottenham on Sunday.
Spurs themselves have dropped from first to fifth in what feels like the blink of an eye and the cracks of an unfortunate injury crisis are appearing to show. That said, Ange Postecoglou’s side are – at this stage at least – still right in amongst things and politely placed only four points behind top-spot. A string of positive results would easily catapult them back towards the summit.
Such a run restarting this weekend looks challenging, however. Spurs travel north for one of the weekend’s standout fixtures to take on Manchester City on Sunday, knowing that a win at the Etihad would draw them level on points with the Cityzens heading into December.
While the challenge which lies in wait for the north Londoners is a sizable one, they will head to Manchester with a tinge of pragmatic optimism and fairly recent memories of success on that particular hunting ground following their scintillating performance and 3-2 win last February. A 90th minute Harry Kane goal saw the away stand erupt as Spurs clinched the spoils against a long-standing nemesis they are frequently pipped to the post by.
Now, though, not far shy of two years on and the landscape is much different. Match-winning poster boy Kane has moved onto pastures new in Germany and alternative methods have been implemented by Big Ange in the hope of galvanising a team to the point where they could seriously start mounting a challenge for silverware.
It all looked to be going so well, too, with new signing James Maddison instrumental in the club’s strong start and surge to the top of the table but in recent weeks. However, with Maddison forced off the pitch and into the treatment room, Tottenham have begun to falter and now find themselves reeling following three consecutive defeats.
Things don’t get much easier for them in Gameweek 14 but Sunday could prove to be the perfect opportunity to bounce back with a huge win against the team everybody is desperate to get one over on. Should they manage it, this mini-derailment could be put to bed before it causes too much damage.
Elsewhere, Manchester United head to Newcastle for another huge battle in the race for the top-four. Despite a string of lacklustre performances, Erik ten Hag’s side are actually joint-leaders in the Premier League form table alongside Aston Villa having taken 12 points from their previous five games, the latest of which a convincing 3-0 win away at Everton on Sunday – kicked into gear by what already looks nailed on as the goal of the season from Alejandro Garnacho.
Newcastle put on another show-stopping performance in their emphatic 4-1 win over Chelsea last weekend, and Eddie Howe’s men currently lie just a point behind United in seventh – five points outside of the top-four and seven behind leaders Arsenal. Whoever wins Saturday’s clash at St. James’ Park will find themselves ahead of the other which makes for another mouthwatering tie on Saturday evening.
Down at the bottom of the division, the stakes are just as high and on Saturday there is a gargantuan six-pointer on the menu as Burnley welcome Sheffield United to Turf Moor. The pair have endured underwhelming starts to their respective campaigns and already have an uphill task on their hands if they are to remain in the top-flight beyond this season.
Both sides have only mustered one win this season so far, with 18th-placed Sheffield United four points away from safety and rock-bottom Burnley five behind 17th-placed Luton Town. A win for the Clarets would see them leapfrog their South Yorkshire counterparts and inject some much-needed belief into their bid for survival. A defeat, however, will make an already tough challenge even harder. Plenty to get excited for.
Premier League GW14 – Fixtures in full:
SATURDAY 2ND DECEMBER
- Arsenal 15:00 Wolverhampton Wanderers
- Brentford 15:00 Luton Town
- Burnley 15:00 Sheffield United
- Nottingham Forest 17:30 Everton
- Newcastle United 20:00 Manchester United
SUNDAY 3RD DECEMBER
- AFC Bournemouth 14:00 Aston Villa
- Chelsea 14:00 Brighton
- Liverpool 14:00 Fulham
- West Ham United 14:00 Crystal Palace
- Manchester City 16:30 Tottenham Hotspur