Harry’s Picks: Week 197 min read
Reds’ squad showing strength
Despite resting a number of regular starters, Liverpool were still able to turn on the style to dispatch rivals Everton 5-2 at Anfield on Wednesday evening and that bodes very well for the league leaders with a challenging set of fixtures ahead of them.
They remain eight points clear at the summit and face a trip to the South Coast on Saturday to play faltering Bournemouth. The Cherries find themselves just two points above the relegation zone after a terrible run which has seen them lose four games on the bounce and the visitors will fancy their chances of inflicting further pain.
Manager Jurgen Klopp must be delighted with the squad strength at his disposal and whichever team he does send out at Dean Court, it’s hard to see how a low-on-confidence host outfit can stop them adding three more precious points to their title-chasing account.
Midweek setback won’t worry Spurs
Jose Mourinho suffered his first setback in charge of Tottenham when they were defeated 2-1 at former club Manchester United during the week.
Spurs may be nine points adrift of London rivals Chelsea, who currently occupy fourth, but north London fans have been impressed with the change around following the Special One’s arrival and a home game with Burnley should allow them to get back to winning ways.
The Lancashire side have slipped into the bottom half following successive defeats and despite plenty of firepower provided from Ashley Branes and Chris Woods, the team are conceding too many goals, preventing them challenging for perhaps a top-six berth.
Dele Alli has suddenly sprung into life and is showing his England class, especially with a wonder strike at Old Trafford. He will hope to catch the eye of Gareth Southgate and make the National team Euro 2020 squad and he is pivotal to the chances Tottenham have of securing silverware this season. I fully expect them to notch victory on their way to better things in 2020.
Palace can push on at lowly Watford
Crystal Palace have suddenly thrust themselves up to seventh position and the Eagles are flying at present.
Despite playing with only ten men for over seventy minutes they still beat Bournemouth 1-0 in midweek and that followed up an excellent 2-0 win at Burnley.
A short trip to Watford, backed by a large expectant following, should see more away-day success with the hosts now managerless and three points adrift at the foot of the table. The Hornets still only have the solitary win and with only nine goals netted they will need to improve dramatically to preserve top-flight football.
Wilfried Zaha has been the stand out performer for Palace and they will do well to keep the bigger clubs from capturing him this January. For now, he can inspire the team to more success and keep them in the hunt for a top-six spot at the very least.
Five in a row for Fulham?
Fulham are third and five points behind Leeds but any team at this level with Aleksandar Mitrovic leading their attack is bound to be in the mix and the Serbian bagged a brace in a 2-1 win at Swansea on the Cottagers last outing.
They face highflying Bristol City next at Craven Cottage in arguably the match of the day in this section.
The Robins have bagged 31 but conceded 27 so this will surely not be goalless! They have only lost three times in the league but two of those were against WBA and Leeds so teams above the west county side are where they are vulnerable.
Providing Fulham are organised defensively, I fully expect them to score and with such a leaky rearguard, the visitors won’t be able to avert the Londoners staying in the hunt for automatic promotion.
Oxford unbeaten in ten
League One has plenty of fashionable clubs this season and whoever finishes top will have certainly had to earn that title crown. Sunderland and Portsmouth were expected to be battling for that honour at the summit but both find themselves hovering around mid-table, albeit Pompey are in good form after a sluggish start.
There are therefore a couple of surprise packages in the top six and Oxford United fall into this category. The ‘U’s have exceeded expectations with manager Karl Robinson introducing a fast and free-flowing style of football that has yielded 37 goals in the league so far.
James Henry and Tariqe Fosu Henry have played influential roles and been regulars on the scoresheet, and with crowds improving there is no reason the club won’t continue in the promotion mix.
They have enjoyed success in the League Cup and have been rewarded with a home tie against Premier League champions Manchester City, which will have the Kassam rocking to a full house.
They are still in the FA Cup too so these are exciting times for the club. This weekend’s opponents are Shrewsbury Town who are mid-table and will be happy that they have put daylight between themselves and the relegation zone. Except for a recent 4-3 home defeat against Bristol Rovers, many of their games are fairly low scoring and with them struggling for consistency, United will be confident of keeping up the pressure at the top.
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