By Jake Davies
- Another instalment of the heavily-fought Manchester Derby continues this Sunday
- The race for survival heats up as 17th faces 19th place in the Tyne-Wear Derby
- Arsene Wenger aims to pick Arsenal up for an unlikely late title challenge
Manchester City vs Manchester United
In previous years, these two Manchester-based teams would be scrapping for a Premier League Title, but this season these two heavyweights go toe-to-toe in a fight for a Top 4 finish in the Manchester Derby. Over the years this match up has offered a little bit of everything for football fans, with unlikely derby winners like Michael Owen’s injury time winner back in 2009 and Benjani’s winning goal in the start of 2008.
Both teams have experienced a peculiar season by their standards, but both Manuel Pellegrini and Louis Van Gaal will know that anything less than Champions League Football next season won’t be acceptable. Van Gaal’s job is on the line with drab, inconsistent performances that have led to the Reds being eliminated at the group stage of the Champions League, an abject display vs Liverpool in Europa League, which emphasizes the importance of a great league finish. Meanwhile Manuel Pellegrini has already expressed he’s leaving in the summer, so the pressure of his managerial performance isn’t under as much scrutiny, although he’d want to end his Manchester City tenure on a considerable high.
Vincent Kompany has been ruled out of the Manchester Derby with a calf injury, while Nicolas Otamendi is also a doubt having been taken off through injury in the Champions League match on Tuesday. These will be two tremendously big losses for Manchester City. Last season at Valencia, Otamendi produced performances that reflected displays of a true leader. While any positively acclaimed performance by Manchester City in recent memory has normally stemmed through a reliable, consistent and elite defender in Vincent Kompany.
Manchester United have the luxury of players returning from injury ahead of the Derby. Ashley Young, Guillermo Varela and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson have all returned to training ahead of the busy schedule in the coming weeks.
This match will be won in whether the game-changers will enter center stage in the biggest of Derby’s. Manchester City have proven game-changers like Sergio Aguero, David Silva and Yaya Toure, who tend to show their best football in the big moments like very good players do.
Prediction: Manchester City 2-1 Manchester United
Newcastle United vs Sunderland
In one of the biggest and most significant Tyne-Wear Derby’s in recent memory, Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle United take on Sunderland in a match that will have heavy implications on the race for survival. This match is one of the matches, where the capabilities of Rafa Benitez will be brought into full fruition. Benitez has built a mangerial career on not necessarily playing attractive football, but successfully driving results at the highest level of the game.
Sunderland have won their last six Tyne-Wear Derby league games against Newcastle. This is the highest consecutive amount of wins Sunderland have had over their rivals in the club’s history. The Black Cats also come into this game in greater form than their bitter rivals by narrowly missing out on victory over Southampton. A late goal in injury time cancelled out Jermain Defoe’s earlier strike, but there were several positives Sunderland could take from that game.
Fabricio Coloccini’s facing a late fitness test heading into Sunday’s game, but both teams are in considerably full strength otherwise.
It’ll be a highly-contested game of football, but Sunderland have the benefit of a top level, proven Premier League goalscorer in Jermain Defoe, which could decide this match. Benitez will be hoping that star man Georginio Wijnaldum can rise for the big occasion in the match that matters most to players and fans alike.
Prediction: Newcastle United 2-2 Sunderland
Everton vs Arsenal
Arsenal enter an important game, where anything less than a victory will all but end the challenge for the title. In the space of two weeks, Arsenal could be looking at a trophyless season having being knocked out of the Champions League to Barcelona, the FA Cup to Watford and a stuttering, suspect limp of results in the Premier League.
This season Everton have underachieved in the league where they are sitting in the bottom half of the table. It can be argued that luckily the on-form Romelu Lukaku has aided their season tremendously with a total of 18 goals this season and six assists.
Some star names are missing for Arsenal including Petr Cech with a calf injury and one of Arsenal’s biggest misses in Santi Cazorla with a long-term achilles injury. Everton will be without the suspended duo of Gareth Barry and Kevin Mirallas.
Prediction: Everton 2-1 Arsenal
12.45: Everton vs Arsenal
15.00: Crystal Palace vs Leicester City
15.00: Chelsea vs West Ham United
15.00: West Brom vs Norwich City
15.00: Watford vs Stoke City
17.30: Swansea City vs Aston Villa
13.30: Newcastle United vs Sunderland
13.30: Southampton vs Liverpool
16.00: Manchester City vs Manchester United
16.00: Tottenham Hotspur vs Bournemouth
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