Manchester City will look to maintain their march to the Premier League title when they visit relegation-threatened Swansea City on Wednesday. The leaders may welcome back star striker Sergio Aguero, who was left on the bench for Sunday’s 2-1 win over Manchester United in the derby.
Before then, Chelsea will hope to put pressure on second-placed United by winning at Huddersfield Town, a place where the Red Devils have already been beaten. Avoiding the same fate will require the Blues rebounding from their 1-0 loss to West Ham United on Saturday.
The Hammers will be chasing another notable victory over a top-six club when they host Arsenal on Wednesday, with the Gunners fresh off leaving it late to snatch a point in Sunday’s 1-1 draw at Southampton.
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Huddersfield Town vs. Chelsea
Chelsea struggled to get their key attackers involved at the London Stadium, with striker Alvaro Morata and winger Eden Hazard both out of sorts.
Manager Antonio Conte’s team also lacked width after the Italian selected a three-man midfield of N’Golo Kante, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Cesc Fabregas. This may be a game for Willian and Pedro to return to the starting XI and offer a more direct option.
Huddersfield won’t be easy to beat since they’ve made a habit of making life difficult for the big clubs at the John Smith’s Stadium. The Terriers have beaten United 2-1 and pushed leaders City all the way recently.
Even so, Chelsea have enough quality to take all three points, provided their key names are back on song.
Swansea City vs. Manchester City
City’s march to the title seems unstoppable after the way they out-passed and outclassed United in the derby. Midfielder David Silva was at the heart of everything good his team did at Old Trafford.
Silva opened the scoring for City to highlight an imperious performance. His combination with Kevin De Bruyne means City can control possession against any opposition.
Swansea should be prepared to soak up pressure and try to counter at pace. The latter is something strikers Wilfried Bony and Tammy Abraham can help with. They each boast enough pace and power to trouble City at the back.
Bony in particular will have a point to prove after enduring a disappointing spell at City before returning to the Swans in the summer.
Ultimately, the leaders’ midfield quality will ensure yet another win.
West Ham United vs. Arsenal
David Moyes will be plotting a second upset in succession for the Hammers after his team’s shock win over Chelsea. It was a result made possible by a rigid defensive block and smart use of pace and aerial power on the break.
Marko Arnautovic embodied those qualities after getting his long overdue maiden goal for the Hammers.
Arnautovic and Michail Antonio are physical enough to cause headaches for an Arsenal defence in generous mood lately. The Gunners gifted two goals to United in a 3-1 defeat and were a comedy of errors as Charlie Austin scored for Southampton.
Manager Arsene Wenger spoke about psychological struggles at the back, per James Whaling of the Daily Mirror: “I felt that the Manchester United game was still in the heads of our defenders. That’s why sometimes it’s not too good to talk about a problem because you create even a bigger one.”
Wenger may be content to downplay the issues, but there’s no doubt Arsenal’s suspect defending could cost them a place in the top four. Fortunately, there is still enough craft and skill in attacking areas for the Gunners to edge a close game and earn a much-needed win.
Full fixtures and predictions:
Tuesday, December 12
7:45 p.m Burnley vs. Stoke City (2-1)
8.00 p.m Crystal Palace vs. Watford (1-2)
8.00 p.m Huddersfield Town vs. Chelsea (0-2)
Wednesday, December 13
7.45 p.m Newcastle United vs. Everton (0-1)
7.45 p.m Southampton vs. Leicester City (1-1)
7.45 p.m Swansea City vs. Manchester City (1-3)
8.00 p.m Liverpool vs. West Bromwich Albion (2-0)
8.00 p.m Manchester United vs. Bournemouth (3-1)
8.00 p.m Tottenham Hotspur vs. Brighton & Hove Albion (3-0)
8.00 p.m West Ham United vs. Arsenal (1-2)
Culled from Bleacherreport.