WINDHOEK, JAN 11 – Round 22 of the 2018/19 Premier League season is headlined by the clash between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at Wembley Stadium on the evening of Sunday, 13 January 2019.
The match is set to be the first major test in the tenure of United caretaker coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who has overseen five consecutive wins – four in the Premier League, plus one in the FA Cup this past weekend – since replacing Jose Mourinho last month.
The Norwegian’s five wins have brought with them 16 goals and a return to the free-flowing attacking style that was so glaringly absent under Mourinho, but critics are right to point out that the Red Devils have yet to face a strong or in-form team since they changed managers.
That will no longer be the case when they walk out of the Wembley tunnel on Sunday, with Tottenham certainly regarded as a current powerhouse of the Premier League – they are just six points off the pace of leaders Liverpool and very much a part of the title race.
Mauricio Pochettino’s team have also been in sensation scoring form in recent weeks, racking up 22 goals in their last five outings (their most recent result was a 7-0 away win over Tranmere Rovers in the FA Cup), and neutrals will be licking their lips at what could be a goal-fest between the Lilywhites and Red Devils.
The round opens with a potential London derby thriller between West Ham United and Arsenal. The Hammers have struggled for consistency in recent weeks but the return from injury of striker Marko Arnautovic gives them a potent weapon with which to battle Arsenal.
The Gunners are still stinging from the 5-1 defeat they suffered at the hands of Liverpool late last year and beginning worry for their place in the top five, especially as Man United have made up significant ground on them in recent times.
Nonetheless, Unai Emery’s team have the firepower to win at the London Stadium, and will look to the likes of Pierre Emerick Aubameyang and Alex Iwobi to continue their fine form in attack.
The final key game of the round comes from the Etihad Stadium on Monday night, where Manchester City will hope to avoid a potential banana skin against Wolverhampton Wanderers. The Citizens revived the title race when they defeated Liverpool 2-1 last Thursday night, but they cannot afford to let their hard work in that battle go to waste by throwing away points against Wolves.
Yet Nuno Espirito Santo’s team will head to Manchester with full belief that they can come away with a positive result: they held Pep Guardiola’s charges 1-1 when the teams met at Molineux earlier this season, while their 3-1 win at Tottenham last month provided ample proof that they can get the better of the big teams away from home.
City will hope that they come into the game with the chance of narrowing the gap between themselves and Liverpool to less than the current four points, as the Reds face a challenging trip to the South Coast on Saturday to take on a Brighton & Hove Albion team which has been very strong at home this season.
Other matches to keep an out for this weekend include two relegation six-pointers – Burnley v Fulham and Cardiff City v Huddersfield Town, Claude Puel faces his former team when Leicester City host Southampton, and Chelsea will look to get the better of Rafael Benitez’s Newcastle United at Stamford Bridge.
Key match stats
Manchester City v Wolverhampton Wanderers – Head-to-head, Premier League
Matches played 9
City wins 5
Wolves wins 2
West Ham united v Arsenal – Head-to-head, Premier League
Matches played 45
West Ham wins 7
Arsenal wins 29
Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United – Head-to-head, Premier League
Matches played 53
Spurs wins 9
United wins 33
Premier League fixtures, 12-14 January
All times CAT
Saturday 12 January
14:30: West Ham United v Arsenal
17:00: Burnley v Fulham
17:00: Crystal Palace v Watford
17:00: Cardiff City v Huddersfield Town
17:00: Brighton & Hove Albion v Liverpool
17:00: Leicester City v Southampton
19:30: Chelsea v Newcastle United
Sunday 13 January
16:15: Everton v Bournemouth
18:30: Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United
Monday 14 January
22:00: Manchester City v Wolverhampton Wanderers