Another weekend of Premier League football promises plenty of excitement, as we approach the halfway point of the 2018/19 season. Here are five things to look out for in the 18th round of matches this campaign.
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Fresh start for Manchester United
Manchester United will begin life after José Mourinho with a match against Cardiff City on Saturday evening. The match will be a unique occasion for new interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, whose only previous experience managing in the Premier League was with the Bluebirds in 2014. With the Red Devils having fallen 11 points behind fourth-placed Chelsea in the race for Champions League qualification, winning three crucial points will be a good place for Solskjaer to begin his United tenure.
City to run riot?
When Manchester City were threatening to go the entirety of last season without defeat, it could be argued that it was Crystal Palace who first broke that cloak of invincibility. They missed a late penalty – which would have given them a 1-0 win – but they gave the eventual champions a run for their money. This, however, was a departure from the norm. The Citizens had beaten them 5-0 in each of their previous two encounters, and 3-0 in the one before that. With their respective form in great contrast once again this season, City could wreak havoc on their visitors this weekend.
Lovren to eat his words?
Talking of invincible teams, Dejan Lovren believes that Liverpool could attain that feat given their unbeaten record so far this season. Their emphatic 3-1 win over Manchester United last weekend enhanced their credentials for the title, as they remained the only team not to lose. That said, going a whole season unbeaten in the modern Premier League is an almost impossible task, as City discovered last year. In fact, the Reds have quite the banana skin fixture against Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux on Friday night.
Pellegrini’s Hammers to keep rolling on?
Manuel Pellegrini has been a revelation as West Ham United manager. He took over a heavily struggling side, but he has since won nine of his 20 matches in charge. Those include their current run of four straight wins, all in the league. To underline just how well the Hammers are currently doing, a home win over Watford will most likely elevate them above Manchester United to sixth in the standings.
Relegation six-pointer in Huddersfield
The relegation battle this season is shaping out to be one of the most intense in recent years. Any of the bottom three teams currently could rise out of the relegation zone with a single win, although it would take a huge margin of victory for Fulham to accomplish that. Nineteenth-placed Huddersfield have a golden opportunity to start climbing the table by securing a home win over Southampton, who sit two points and two places above them. That will be easier said than done though, with the Saints still buoyed by their 3-2 win over Arsenal last weekend.