Draw against Crystal Palace ends City’s winning streak but they remain well clear in the title race. Pep Guardiola maintains that Manchester City will not finish the season unbeaten. Crystal Palace certainly did their best to validate this remark with an impressive display against the league leaders. Roy Hodgson’s side are playing with a renewed vigour that defies their lowly position in the table and they came close to inflicting City’s first defeat of the season on the final day of the year.
Palace defended well, but they also took every opportunity to attack, and their strategy nearly paid off in the second minute of extra time when Wilfred Zaha was bought down in the box by Raheem Sterling. Disappointingly though, Milivojevic’s penalty was well saved by Ederson. None the less City go into the new year 14 points clear at the top and despite this minor hiccup look set to continue their form into 2018.
Jose Mourinho claims that he requires more funds to be able to compete with Manchester City. This despite the fact, that Mourinho has spent only £4 million less than his counterpart this season.
United have always traditionally been a big spending club, yet during the Ferguson era this was always tempered with one of the most highly productive youth systems in Europe. The Portugese manager, feels that the reason his team has lost so much ground to City in recent weeks is due to his lack of spending power. United legend Paul Scholes, sees things differently though. Scholes, is of the opinion, that United have simply not bought wisely.
The Christmas period has not been good to Mark Hughes. Stoke could only manage a point against Huddersfield on Boxing day. They followed this up with a 5-0 defeat to second placed Chelsea in their last game of the year and began 2018 with another loss to Newcastle. Stoke are now just two points off the drop zone. The question is who could replace Hughes? Are there enough top-quality managers around right now who could do a better job than the former United legend?
A 94th winner by Ragnar Klavan saw Liverpool begin 2018 with a victory that didn’t seem likely. Liverpool are now thirteen games unbeaten and the Christmas period saw impressive wins over Swansea (5-0) and Leicester (2-1), but Sean Dyche’s Burnley are no pushovers.
It may not have been the prettiest football Liverpool have played but Klopp was full of praise for his team as they fought hard and eventually ground out a win against a difficult to beat Burnley side.
Liverpool were without key players Coutinho and Salah for this game and the manager intimated that they also may not be available for Friday’s FA cup 3rd round tie against Everton. With Liverpool now occupying fourth spot they will be hoping that both these players will be fit and available throughout January. Coutinho especially, will be key to Liverpool’s Champions League aspirations.