Sports News of Saturday, 6 February 2021
Liverpool host Manchester City, facing the unwanted prospect of falling 10 points behind the visitors who have a game in hand.
Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane ought to feature for a Reds side searching a big result against Riyad Mahrez’s in-form City side.
That is arguably the game of the weekend across Europe’s top five leagues, and three of the continent’s top players could play a part at Anfield.
Partey, Pepe & Aubameyang
Arsenal were bitterly unlucky to lose at Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-1 after dominating the opening half before David Luiz’s sending off before half-time changed the course of the game.
Thomas Partey and Nicolas Pepe were arguably the Gunners’ best performers in the first 45, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was a second-half substitute.
It remains to be seen how Mikel Arteta approaches Saturday’s visit to Bertrand Traore’s Aston Villa side still reeling from West Ham’s 3-1 win at Villa Part on Wednesday.
Indeed, the Spaniard will have to decide whether dropping Pepe, who’s thrived on the left flank, for the returning Auba will benefit the side.
Partey’s place is not under threat, however, as Gooners will look forward to another midfield masterclass by the Ghana star against Dean Smith’s side.
Mane & Salah vs Mahrez
Sadio Mane has missed Liverpool’s last two games vs West Ham United and Brighton & Hove Albion but Jurgen Klopp may call on the Senegal star in the Reds’ important encounter with Manchester City on Sunday.
While Mohamed Salah was imperious in the second-half at the London Stadium, he and the entire side were beyond underwhelming on Wednesday night as the defending champions lost back-to-back games at Anfield for the first time since 2012, failing to score at home in three successive games for the first time since 1984.
Visiting on Sunday looking to extend that unwanted run are the Cityzens, the in-form side searching for a 14th straight win on the bounce in all competitions.
Despite not featuring prominently since that goalless Manchester Derby in mid-December, Riyad Mahrez will hope to play in some capacity as Pep Guardiola’s troops aim to move 10 points clear of the inconsistent Reds, having played a game fewer.
Despite missing out on Manchester United’s 9-0 rout of Southampton on Tuesday, Bailly may be recalled to the XI for the visit of Everton this weekend.
The Toffees bounced back from a disappointing showing against Newcastle United last weekend to beat Leeds United 2-1 during the week and Carlo Ancelotti’s team are after consecutive Premier League victories for the first time since December.
However, Man United will be buoyed by that thrashing of Saints in midweek and will want to pick up where they left off vs the Merseyside outfit.
The wing-back was one of the Inter Milan stars rested in their 2-1 Coppa Italia semi-final first-leg defeat by Juventus on Tuesday but ought to return in Friday’s Serie A clash at Fiorentina.
Hakimi’s Inter have won only twice in their last five league games, thus failing to supplant table-topping AC Milan whose form has been sketchy since the turn of the year.
Success over the Viola will take the Nerazzurri top of the table for about 48 hours before Milan host cellar-dwelling Crotone at San Siro.
This weekend’s Le Classique between Olympique Marseille and Paris-Saint Germain takes place with the hosts in disarray following the fan violence last week and Andre Villas-Boas’ apparent suspension after criticising the club’s purchase of Olivier Ntcham.
For Gana and his PSG teammates, the goal is to defeat Les Olympiens as they look to hold on to third spot at least or end the weekend top of Ligue 1 if Lille and Olympique Lyon lose and draw respectively.
The Senegal midfielder played well in the Parisians’ dominant 3-0 win over Nimes in midweek and should retain his place in the XI for Sunday’s big clash at the Stade Velodrome.