Big Weekend of Premier League Football
Written By: Natasha Turkington
Natasha Turkington was born and bred in Manchester and is considered one of the most prolific and knowledgeable fans of soccer. Follow her on Twitter at @natashaturk.
January; we have put away the Christmas chocolates, we are irritating the regular gym goes by turning up in droves with short-lived great intentions and we are moaning about the weather. All standard stuff here in the UK. However, what is outstanding is the 2024 English Premier League, and this weekend is about to deliver soccer fans another raft of tantalizing fixtures.
Let’s take a look at two of the best and decide who our money is on.
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Newcastle United v Manchester City
Newcastle United host champions Manchester City with manager Eddie Howe’s side looking to turnaround a concerning slump of form after a sobering end to 2023, most recently losing 4-2 to a rampant Liverpool on New Year’s Day.
Earlier in the season, both teams were neck-and-neck for the Premier League top spot but, ominously, Manchester City have yet to go up another gear and currently sit in 3rd position and five points behind league leaders Liverpool FC.
Pep Guardiola’s team have a vital game in hand over their title rivals after claiming a first Club World Cup title in Saudi Arabia last month, as they aim to become the first team in English football history to win four titles in a row. As a devoted Manchester United fan, this is nausea inducing.
Saturday 13th January’s clash is already the third meeting between the two sides, as City won 1-0 back in August, while the Magpies were victorious by the same score in a League Cup third round tie a month later.
Manchester City will be looking forward to the full-time return of Kevin De Bruyne after the Belgian maestro came off the bench in a 5-0 win against Huddersfield Town.
Newcastle will be relishing the prospect City could be without star top scorer Erling Haaland in their bid to close the gap to just two points on the top spot.
The world class, 19-goal striker is side-lined for just over a month due to a foot injury. Haaland is back in light training but City boss Guardiola admits there is only an ‘outside’ chance he will make the trip to St James’ Park. Possible Pep mind games, maybe?
Despite Newcastle United having the third best home record in the Premier League by only losing twice all season to Liverpool (and recently, Nottingham Forest) the current form does not look good for The Magpies. Eddie Howe’s men have suffered seven defeats out of ten matches in all competitions, which has left his side currently sitting 9th in the league.
I (painfully) predict a comfortable win for the blue half of Manchester.
Newcastle United: +440
Manchester City: -180
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Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur
You would need to be living in an underground bunker with no electricity to not be starkly aware of the woes that bestow Manchester United as a football club. Between poor off-the-field player behavior and poor player performances on it, combined with the controversy around the ownership model it has been doom and gloom at United for far too long.
Sunday January 13th sees Manchester United and Tottenham collide in one of the most interesting games in the Premier League this weekend. United currently sitting eighth in the table with 31 points, eight behind fifth-placed Tottenham.
News out of the United training camp this week was music to the fans’ ears, as Erik ten Hag is expecting to have several absentees back for Tottenham Hotspur’s visit to Old Trafford.
MUFC were without a dozen first-teamers for Monday’s 2-0 victory over Wigan Athletic in the Emirates FA Cup. Amad and Christian Eriksen added their names to the list of absentees due to illness, while Antony was injured.
The Reds have suffered from injury issues throughout the season, with a list including Casemiro, Lisandro Martinez and Mason Mount all in the final stages of recovery from long-term problems.
Ten Hag is hoping his worries might ease, with Eriksen, Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw all bidding to be involved as they look to close the gap on Ange Postecoglou’s Spurs to six points.
Tottenham have been significantly more consistent than United so far this season, and will be pushing for a vital win at Old Trafford to try to steal Arsenal’s fourth position.
Spurs got down to transfer business earlier this week and signed Germany striker Timo Werner on loan from RB Leipzig until the end of the season. The 27-year-old’s move bolsters Tottenham’s forward options with captain Son Heung-min away with South Korea for the Asian Cup and James Maddison side-lined with injury.
Werner’s move is subject to international clearance but he could be available to face Manchester United on Sunday.
Manager Postecoglou has also strengthened his defensive offering by beating off competition from Bayern Munich to make the central defender Radu Dragusin their second January signing in a €30m ($32.8m) deal.
I expect an end-to-end game between United and Spurs and being a diehard Red, I am duty bound to predict a prolific Manchester United win, which I will be watching from behind my sofa.
Manchester United: +120
Tottenham Hotspur: +195
*All odds subject to change