The International break is over and most eyes are now turned back to club football. It was an interesting past two weeks as we saw many teams book their place for the upcoming world cup in Qatar. Portugal defeated North Macedonia by two goals to nil with Poland beating Sweden by the same scoreline. In Africa, the five (5) nations that will be representing Africa at the world cup are now known.
Senagal ensured that they would take part at Qatar 2022 by defeating Egypt on penalties after both nations won 1-0 and could not be separated in the two matches. Morocco won 4-1 against D.R. Congo. Tunisia went past Mali to seal their place while Ghana drew 1-1 against Nigeria in the second game to make it to the World cup. Cameroon miraculously qualified after scoring at the last minute of extra time against Algeria to shock the footballing world and book a seat at the prestigious event.
As mentioned earlier, the Premier League resumes this weekend and there are some interesting fixtures to look forward to.
Burnley vs Manchester City
This is an interesting fixture though there seems to be no match between the two opponents. Manchester City are first in the Premier league right now while Burnley sit 19th on the table. Man City have always been the favourites in the past as far as this fixture is concerned but in football anything could happen. Who would have expected Crystal Palace to be unbeaten in the Premier League against Man City?
Secondly, Burnley have nothing to lose given that they are fighting to spend another season in the top division. To do that, they will need to start winning matches. They are wounded right now and could cause an upset. Man City on the other hand have no choice but to win. They lead the league by just 1 point hence a draw for them will open the door for Liverpool to go top if they win against Watford. It’s a must win for the Cityzens if they are to consolidate their lead in the league.
Leeds United vs Southampton
This is not a top of the table clash but it’s bound to be a fierce one. Southampton are presently in 11th place on the table with 35 points while Leeds sit in 16th place with 29 points. Leeds United have been going through a rough patch this season, but they will not take this match lightly. The Peacocks will be encouraged by their unexpected comeback against Wolves last time out. Leeds United were 2-0 down at half time but mustered up an impressive comeback in the second half to beat Wolverhampton Wanderers 3-2.
Southampton have had an up and down season so far. The Saints, though in 11th place on the table have been very inconsistent this season. However, on their day they can give any team a good match, even the likes of Man City and Liverpool. Their captain James Ward- Prowse is a wonderful player and they can count on him to pull out a magic hat when needed. Any of the two teams can win this one.
Manchester United vs Leicester City
This is arguably the greatest game of the weekend. There are a lot of implications involved in this game especially for Manchester United. Ralf Rangnick’s side has been grossly inconsistent this season. They now sit 4 points behind Arsenal in sixth place, with the Gunners having a game in hand. Man United are hoping to qualify for the Champions League, but if they are to do so, they will need to win matches on a consistent basis.
The Red devils have a host of great players but these players have hardly played at the level expected of them. Cristiano Ronaldo, who was recently voted United’s player of the month leads the goal charts at the club with 18 goals in all competitions. Bruno Fernandes has not been at his best, and his midfield partners, Pogba, Fred and Mactominay have not been consistent. If they are to win this one and keep their top four hopes alive, then their best players will have to show up against Leicester City.
There is hope for fans of the Red devils as Fernandes scored two goals against North Macedonia during the international break. These fans will expect him to replicate this form at Man United as the season draws to a close. There are also reports of a bumper 5 year deal to be signed by the Portuguese to keep him at the club until 2027.
This game against Leicester City promises to be a season defining game for Man United and Leicester City will also want to win it to keep their Europa League hopes alive. The foxes, who won the reverse fixture earlier in the season at the King Power stadium, will make things difficult for United. James Maddison bas been in good form lately for Leicester and will be expected to cause the home side problems in this game. The Red devils have hopes for Champions league, but the foxes will want to put a dent in these hopes.