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Manchester City may be off over the horizon at the top of the Premier League already this season. Nonetheless, their showdown with Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday will be a fascinating contest.
Pep Guardiola’s side have a 15-point buffer to second-place Manchester United and remain unbeaten 22 league games into 2017-18, having won 20 of those matches. Liverpool, unbeaten in their past 17 matches in all competitions, are in brilliant form too and will fancy their chances of getting the better of the league leaders.
Elsewhere, United face struggling Stoke City on Monday, while Chelsea host Leicester City on Saturday afternoon. Arsenal will be out to bounce back from their FA Cup exit at Bournemouth, and Tottenham Hotspur welcome Everton to Wembley Stadium in an eye-catching clash on Saturday evening.
Here are the Premier League matches for Week 23, including viewing details for the 10 top-flight fixtures and a prediction for each.
Saturday, January 13
3 p.m. Chelsea vs. Leicester City (2-1)
3 p.m. Crystal Palace vs. Burnley (2-1)
3 p.m. Huddersfield Town vs. West Ham United (1-1)
3 p.m. Newcastle United vs. Swansea City (1-1)
3 p.m. Watford vs. Southampton (3-1)
3 p.m. West Bromwich Albion vs. Brighton & Hove Albion (1-1)
5:30 p.m. Tottenham Hotspur vs. Everton (2-0)**
Sunday, January 14
1:30 p.m. Bournemouth vs. Arsenal (1-3)*
4 p.m. Liverpool vs. Manchester City (2-2)*
Monday, January 15
8 p.m. Manchester United vs. Stoke City (3-0)*
All games are on NBC Sports and the NBC Sports App (U.S.)
*Games will be shown on Sky Sports and Sky Go (UK)
**Games will be shown on BT Sport and BT Sport Website (UK)
Liverpool vs. Manchester City
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It would be difficult to argue against the assessment that the two best teams in the Premier League at the moment will go head-to-head on Sunday.
Liverpool are down in fourth place in the table still, but they have strung together an excellent run of results, including a morale-boosting cup win in the Merseyside derby on January 5.
The encouraging thing from a Reds perspective has been the manner of their wins, as noted by football writer Joel Rabinowitz:
Joel Rabinowitz @joel_archie
The Salah brace to come back and beat Leicester. Followed by Klavan’s stoppage time winner vs Burnley and now Van Dijk scoring the winner in the Derby on his debut. What a week.
We have seen Liverpool swat aside teams under Jurgen Klopp before falling to a timid defeat a week later. However, in the three aforementioned games, the Reds have been able to grind out victories.
They will have to improve against City if they are to get a result. Guardiola’s men have battled to a few wins themselves lately, although when the situation has called for them to raise their game, they have been able to do so.
Traditionally, the Sky Blues have struggled at Anfield too, as Philip Blundell of The Anfield Wrap noted:
Philip Blundell @PhilBlundell
Manchester City’s record at Anfield is nearly as bad as Everton’s. 15 without a win. Don’t really see how this kind of stuff is possible when you look at some of the absolute rubbish that have managed it in recent years.
A win here would be another serious statement from a City team that keeps on raising the benchmark, and it would only serve to bring a title that is surely theirs already three points closer. However, Liverpool will do enough to earn a share of the points in an entertaining game.
Prediction: Liverpool 2-2 Manchester City
Manchester United vs. Stoke City
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All Manchester United can do at this point is the season is keep heaping the pressure on their local rivals by winning, and they should continue to do so on Monday against a managerless Stoke side.
In recent weeks, the Red Devils have been far from their best. But in Jesse Lingard, they have discovered a new talisman. As Goal UK demonstrated, he’s consistently making important contributions in the final third:
Goal UK @GoalUK
Lingard’s last 10 games…
778 minutes played ⏱
8 goals ⚽⚽⚽⚽⚽⚽⚽⚽
2 assists 🅰🅰
@JesseLingard – you’re on fire! 🔥🔥🔥 https://t.co/yC2LbthRsD
Jose Mourinho will want to see a little more swagger from his side against the Potters, as the team did fall into something of a rut over the festive period. In wins over Everton and Derby County since the turn of the year, though, there have been small signs of that edge coming back.
Stoke appear to be the ideal team to face, as they have plunged into the relegation zone. Their awful recent form culminated in an FA Cup third-round exit at the hands of fourth-tier Coventry City last time out and cost former manager Mark Hughes his job.
Even with the change of manager, World Soccer Talk’s Kartik Krishnaiyer believes the Potters are in deep trouble:
Kartik Krishnaiyer @kkfla737
Stoke have sacked Sparky. Might appear a good or even inevitable move. I’m not sure. They’re going to get relegated if they get this appointment wrong. Sad for a club that in nine previous Prem season never really was relegation threatened.
It’s tough to see that changing on Monday at Old Trafford, especially as a well-rested United side will take to the field ready to capitalise on the deep-rooted deficiencies in this Stoke team. If the Potters are to pull themselves out of trouble, it’s not a process that will start here.
Prediction: Manchester United 3-0 Stoke City