Five Games to Watch

Five games to watch: Liverpool to inflict more damage on vulnerable United

Jurgen Klopp's men face the only side to have taken points off them so far this season.

 
9:00am on Friday 17th January 2020
By
Martin Macdonald

Liverpool v MANCHESTER UNITED" href="https://www.footballcritic.com/premier-league-Liverpool-fc-manchester-united-fc/preview/1643825">

Liverpool v MANCHESTER UNITED

Liverpool have had the best first half of a season in the history of the Premier League, winning 20 out of 21 matches so far. The only occasion in which they failed to pick up all three points was against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's Man Utd team in a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford in October.

Jurgen Klopp's men had double the amount of possession and more than double completed passes, but had to rely on an equaliser five minutes from time from Adam Lallana to earn the draw. They were missing Mohamed Salah for that one, though, so the Egyptian could be key to breaking Man United down on Sunday. Even though Liverpool are going to win the Premier League, it would give United some satisfaction to know they were the only side to take points from their arch-rivals. Anything but a win for the hosts at Anfield seems unlikely, with the champions-elect flying.

PLAYER TO WATCH

27 yrs - W (R) - Liverpool
91
Defending
Creative
Passing
Attacking
Shooting
Decisive
Aerials
Physical
JavaScript chart by amChartsLDefendingCreativePassingAttackingShootingDecisiveAerialsPhysical10-10-5051015100%
1535
Played matches
18
10
5
Shots P90
3.87
Shots On target P90
1.82
Successful passing %
76%
Final third passes P90
18.70

The Absence of Salah in the reverse fixture at Old Trafford was a factor in Liverpool not being at their best. This time, with the famous front three likely to start, it could be a long afternoon for United.

Sporting CP v BENFICA" href="https://www.footballcritic.com/primeira-liga-sporting-clube-de-portugal-sport-lisboa-e-benfica/preview/1711922">

Sporting CP v BENFICA

The Lisbon derby takes place this weekend as Sporting host city rivals Benfica at the Jose Alvalade. Benfica lead the Primeira Liga by four points from rivals Porto, and are on a 13 game winning run. Even though the derby is always passionately contested, Sporting are the clear underdogs this time as they are 16 points adrift of Benfica in the table. The league leaders have only lost once this season, against Porto, but face one of their tougher games of the campaign against their neighbours from across the city.

PLAYER TO WATCH

30 yrs - M (RC) - SL Benfica
94
Defending
Creative
Passing
Attacking
Shooting
Decisive
Aerials
Physical
JavaScript chart by amChartsLDefendingCreativePassingAttackingShootingDecisiveAerialsPhysical10-10-5051015100%
1305
Played matches
16
12
8
Shots P90
2.62
Shots On target P90
1.45
Successful passing %
79%
Final third passes P90
25.38

Pizzi has not only been Benfica's best player this season, but probably the best player in the league, and will be looking to add to his 12 goals scored this campaign.

Real Madrid v SEVILLA" href="https://www.footballcritic.com/primera-division-real-madrid-cf-sevilla-fc/preview/1696571">

Real Madrid v SEVILLA

In La Liga, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico have been largely inconsistent while Sevilla have been quietly going about their business to remain just five points off top spot.

Should they win at the Santiago Bernabeu this weekend they will move to within two points of Zinedine Zidane's Madridistas, but their form has taken a downturn of late. They take on a Madrid side who will be in good spirits after winning the Spanish Supercopa on Sunday, but will they be suffering jet lag after a long trip from Saudi Arabia?

The last match between the pair took place in September and was decided by a solitary Karim Benzema goal at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, despite a period of dominance from the hosts.

PLAYER TO WATCH

32 yrs - S (C) - Real Madrid
99
Defending
Creative
Passing
Attacking
Shooting
Decisive
Aerials
Physical
JavaScript chart by amChartsLDefendingCreativePassingAttackingShootingDecisiveAerialsPhysical10-10-5051015100%
1565
Played matches
18
12
5
Shots P90
4.26
Shots On target P90
2.01
Successful passing %
85%
Final third passes P90
17.94

Benzema represents Real Madrid's best goalscoring threat at the moment, and with him proving to be the difference between the two sides in the reverse fixture, he'll need to be handled by the visiting back line.

Norwich v Bournemouth" href="https://www.footballcritic.com/premier-league-Norwich-city-fc-afc-Bournemouth/preview/1643828">

Norwich v Bournemouth

A relegation six-pointer, as the two lowest-ranked clubs in the Premier League face off at Carrow Road. The Canaries have been in and around the relegation zone for much of the season, but it is Bournemouth's horrendous recent form has seen them win just once in 11 league games, and they were humbled 3-0 at home by Watford last weekend. Despite the fantastic job Eddie Howe has done with the club there is speculation his position is now under threat. A losing result could put him in ever deeper trouble.

PLAYER TO WATCH

23 yrs - AM (R) - Norwich
83
Defending
Creative
Passing
Attacking
Shooting
Decisive
Aerials
Physical
JavaScript chart by amChartsLDefendingCreativePassingAttackingShootingDecisiveAerialsPhysical10-10-5051015100%
1685
Played matches
22
0
7
Shots P90
1.28
Shots On target P90
0.37
Successful passing %
81%
Final third passes P90
21.95

Emiliano Buendia has more than double the amount of assists than any other Norwich player this campaign and they will need his creativity if they are to gain a positive result.

Bayern" href="https://www.footballcritic.com/bundesliga-hertha-bsc-fc-Bayern-munchen/preview/1669641">

HERTHA v Bayern

After nearly a month off the German Bundesliga returns with Bayern looking to begin 2020 with a bang. With RB Leipzig first and Borussia Monchengladbach in second, and with Dortmund having recruited the promising Erling Haaland, Bayern will know that an upgrade on their performance during the first half of the campaign is vital. They travel to the German capital to take on a Hertha side who have improved since the appointment of Jurgen Klinsmann, and have talented players of their own.

PLAYER TO WATCH

31 yrs - S (C) - Bayern
99
Defending
Creative
Passing
Attacking
Shooting
Decisive
Aerials
Physical
JavaScript chart by amChartsLDefendingCreativePassingAttackingShootingDecisiveAerialsPhysical10-10-5051015100%
1501
Played matches
17
19
2
Shots P90
4.68
Shots On target P90
2.22
Successful passing %
73%
Final third passes P90
14.63

After scoring more goals than anyone else in European football in 2019 (54 in 58 games), Robert Lewandowski will be eager to start 2020 the way he ended 2019.

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