Week 15 EPL Preview: Will the real Manchester United please stand up?

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Manchester United have won one of their last six league matches,  drawing four, leaving Mourinho frustrated by his side’s inability to kill off games. A defeat would leave Manchester United nine points behind Tottenham, and surely out of the title race. 

Manchester United in sixth place in the Premier League isn’t exactly alarming considering the fact that they have finished in the top four just once in the last three years. But after spending such vast sum of money in the summer, anything but a top four place would be a failure in Jose Mourinho’s first season at Old Trafford.

Aready nine points behind Manchester City in fourth and 13 adrift of leaders Chelsea, Mourinho’s men have endured a difficult start to the season and there’s no room for errors anymore. It’s December and they must make their move now or never. 

In four games against the current top four teams, Manchester United have only two points from a possible 12. Tottenham’s visit presents Jose Mourinho the chance to lead Manchester United to victory over a team from the top half of the Premier League and consequently lay down a marker for their season that they must not go below. 

Manchester United came close against Arsenal recently, denied only by a late equaliser. They need to go one step further against Tottenham.

Make no mistake, Chelsea are now number one favourites for the Premier League title. During their first six successive wins, football fans pointed to the double header games against Tottenham and Manchester City as the real test and Antonio Conte’s side passed in flying colours. The Italian is working and Chelsea are winning. They will take some shopping. 

The Baggies’ recent good form will be put to the sternest test possible as they face league leaders – and free – scoring –  Chelsea at Stamford Bridge this weekend. Jonny Evans and Gareth McAuley have marshalled the backline superbly in recent weeks and will need to do so again to repel their free-scoring opponents. But Chelsea will need Costa fit and ready to start in their quest for a ninth successive Premier League win. 

Liverpool and West Ham conceded a total of nine goals last week so expect a tighter games at Anfield. Liverpool’s defensive issues came to the fore last week and it’s safe to say they won’t win the title with such paper-thin defensive performances. But West Ham are in terrible form of their own and they could just come baring gifts for their Anfield hosts. 

Leicester’s second – string team were embarrassed in Europe on Wednesday and there’s a chance their first team could be equally given a spanking of their own in their game against Manchester City. Results have been dire for the defending Champions as they seem to be on a quest to make Chelsea’s title defence a decent one. Results have shown Manchester City are more comfortable away from their Etihad home and with Guardiola resting most of his key players during the week, they look set up for another away league win. 

While they traditionally struggle at the Potteries, Arsenal’s home record against Mark Hughes’ side is actually very good. This ought be a resounding Gunners win especially on their back of their goal scoring spree in the last five days. Stoke would do well with a lot of luck on their side. 

Bob Bradley really needs this win against Sunderland. It’s not a must not lose. It’s a must win. That and only that. And it will be difficult. Three wins in four have given Sunderland a lifeline. Further progress toward safety is possible if Jermain Defoe and Victor Anichebe maintain their fruitful partnership. It’s a relegation six-pointer and the pressure is on Swansea to win – especially as they play at home. 

The pressure has eased on Alan Pardew but he’s not exactly off the hotseat and a trip to Hull City who are in a rut of their own could be exactly what the Doctor ordered. Palace showed some defensive resilience in their home win against Southampton and with Benteke back among the goals, the home side could be in for a long evening. Hull City just look out of their depth in this league and it’s increasingly looking like an impossible job for Mike Phelan. 

Southampton have a difficult looking game against Middlesbrough on Sunday. Aitor Karanka’s side have travelled well this season with draws away to Arsenal and Manchester City already against their name. A fatigued Southampton side on the back of their Europa League exploit could help their cause.

Seven goals in the past nine games highlights Everton’s failure to supply a starved Romelu Lukaku. And Bolasie’s season – ending injury has heaped more pressure on Ronald Koeman to get Everton firing again. The Blues need three points and a much-improved attacking display against Watford who have lost three of their last four games and will be without Roberto Peyrera. 

Bournemouth will take huge confidence from their 4-3 victory over Liverpool last time out, but it wasn’t a flawless performance. Inconsistency has plagued Bournemouth all season and away to Burnley is exactly the sort of fixture you can see the Cherries failing to take three points from when they arguably should be. Keep in mind that 13 of Burnley’s 14-point total have come from their home ground so be rest assured that Bournemouth won’t have this one easy. 

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