Crucial Sunday

There are three crucial Premier League matches left before the International break commences.

The triple header kicks off at the Riverside Stadium as Middlesbrough begin life after Aitor Karanka. Action then head to White Hart Lane as Tottenham host Southampton before a marquee end to the weekend.

In the teatime match, Manchester City welcome Liverpool to the Etihad as the top four battle intensifies.


Middlesbrough vs Manchester United


Both teams come into this match needing the points for very different reasons.

After Karanka’s departure, Steve Agnew will be missing three defenders for this tie.

Daniel Ayala, Calum Chambers and George Friend are all out but Bernardo Espinosa is fit again.

Rudy Gestede is available up front after recovering from injury. Midfielder, Adlene Guedioura is eligible for selection after being cup tied for last weekend’s FA Cup clash.

Manchester United’s Paul Pogba is ruled out with a hamstring injury. Daley Blind too could miss out after a blow to the head against FC Rostov on Thursday night.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Andre Herrera are suspended for this trip. Anthony Martial, Wayne Rooney and Luke Shaw are however available after missing United’s last two games through injury.

After the events of recent days, Boro players will be determined to give fans reason to be optimistic.

With United clearly tired after their recent run of fixtures, there will be no excuses for a poor performance here in front of home crowd.

Jose Mourinho has suggested that his side will lose here but can see them getting a point out of this.

Prediction: Middlesbrough 1-1 Manchester United

Result: Middlesbrough 1-3 Manchester United


Tottenham Hotspur vs Southampton

After Chelsea stretched their lead to 13 points after victory at Stoke on Saturday, anything less than a win will surely ensure that the title race is over.

Mauricio Pochettino has to make do without star striker, Harry Kane after he picked up an ankle injury in the FA Cup against Millwall.

Mousa Dembele is fit for selection but Kyle Walker and Victor Wanyama are potential absentees.

Southampton have no fresh injuries to report after a fortnight’s rest.

Charlie Austin is nearly ready to make a return for the Saints but Virgil van Dijk is still out.

This match should be a thriller given that Spurs have often struggled to get the ground running without Kane this season.

Their home record is however impeccable and will make them favourites.

Southampton however had last weekend off so expect them to sit back and soak up the pressure before delivering on the counter attack.

January signing , Manolo Gabbadini will surely be looking to keep his scoring run rolling here and can see him getting a goal.

A draw looks to be the most likely scenario here given the contrast in players available up front.

Prediction: Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Southampton

Result: Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Southampton


Manchester City vs Liverpool

Pep Guardiola faces a test here as he discovers just how resilient his Manchester City side are, after a midweek exit from the Champions League.

There are no new injury concerns to report for City. Long term absentees, Gabriel Jesus and Ilkay Gundogan are still ruled out till further notice.

Jurgen Klopp will assess Roberto Firmino after he missed the 2-1 win over Burnley last Sunday.

Dejan Lovren is fit to make his return after over a month out with a knee injury.

Divock Origi is unlikely to be in the squad after picking up a knock on top of illness.

He could join Jordan Henderson and Daniel Sturridge, who are definitely not involved on the sidelines.

Victory here is vital if the Citizens are to prove that Wednesday’s defeat in Monaco was a fluke result. Liverpool however have delivered the goods against their fellow big guns this season.

March has been hectic for Guardiola with a mix of cup and league matches. He will need to manage the squad here ahead of a tough start to April, when they visit Arsenal and Chelsea just days apart.

Having players away on international duty will also be a concern. Any injuries between now and 2nd April could see their Champions League place could come under scrutiny.

Klopp’s Reds have been poor since the turn of 2017 but have picked up back to back wins lately. They will need to deliver another excellent performance, if want a return to Europe’s biggest competition.

The match should be scrappy and could come down to fitness and Liverpool certainly have more in the locker. The recent run of Wednesday, Saturday, Wednesday … games are surely going to catch up and cost City here.

No club have done a top flight double over Pep Guardiola and it could be the end of that stat here.

Prediction: Manchester City 1-2 Liverpool

Result: Manchester City 1-1 Liverpool



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