Mon 21 Dec by Mark Gleeson
As we head into a hectic holiday programme in the Premier League, could it be that the title race is going to turn into yet another Liverpool versus Manchester affair, even if the likes of Chelsea, Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur have made some of the early running? Champions Liverpool are obviously strongly tipped to retain their title, particularly on the evidence offered on Saturday as they put Crystal Palace to the sword -- away from home. But victories for both Manchester City and Manchester United suggested they are beginning to find their consistency and could yet mount serious challenges for the title. This Boxing Day, firstly, offers an immediate examination of Man Utd’s chances. They go to Leicester City, looking to win a third successive league encounter and consolidate their top three position after the hauling they handed Leeds United on Sunday. Leicester sit second after handing Spurs a 2-0 loss earlier the same weekend but they have a considerably weaker home record and so there is every reason to believe Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side could win this one. That is followed by visits to Old Trafford by Wolverhampton Wanderers and Aston Villa on 29 December and 1 January respectively. Manchester City are stealthily moving up after their mediocre start and will go into the Boxing Day home game against Newcastle United not only as favourites, but also looking to extend a five-match unbeaten run in the league. City then play Everton and Chelsea away in games in which they could yet make very strong statements. But then it is hard to see Liverpool’s four-point lead at the top of the table being threatened by their next two opponents – West Bromwich Albion home on 27 December and Newcastle away three days later. But on 4 January they travel down to take on Southampton, where many punters might fancy a flutter on the hosts.