THE English Premier League is firmly in focus again, with the spotlight on it for all the right reasons.
Five clubs got into tomorrow’s draw for the next stage of the Champions League.
And today there is a fantastic double-header to look forward to when Liverpool take on Everton and United host City in the Manchester derby.
Throw in Celtic visiting Hibs and football doesn’t come much better than that, whether you are fortunate enough to be inside Anfield, Old Trafford or Easter Road, or watching at home from your armchair.
I saw Liverpool destroy Spartak Moscow 7-0 on Wednesday night, and they were a delight to watch.
I have never been in any doubt that the club is moving in the right direction under Jurgen Klopp, and that performance only reaffirmed my view.
He is, without doubt, the right man to be in charge of the football club. That is 100%.
He has the players playing some wonderful football, and is also great at making tactical alterations, usually very discreetly, to leave the opposition facing the unexpected.
He moved to a 4-4-2 the other night. I wonder if he’ll have another one up his sleeve for today’s derby?
What we do know is that Philipe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, Mo Salah and Sadio Mane are combining superbly well.
They were relentless in midweek, and I just hope they have kept something back for today.
I think any team would struggle to cope with them at the moment. Coutinho is in exhilarating form, with nine goals and six assists in 14 games.
But Everton will make it extremely difficult. They’ve just appointed Sam Allardyce and had back-to-back wins over West Ham and Huddersfield.
They face a different prospect today, however, and Big Sam will be well aware of that.
I’m not get getting carried away, though. I’m not saying that Liverpool has it all going on and that they are unstoppable .
But I think Liverpool will win today.
I also hope that Sammy Lee is given a warm reception from the home crowd today. He was a wonderful servant to Liverpool in different capacities and is also a nice fella.
He is now at Everton and back working in the game at a high level. I’m pleased about that.
Later in the afternoon, it’s the Manchester derby.
City will start as favourites because they have played some fantastic football this season. They have set an extremely high standard, and the fact they are unbeaten in domestic competition says it all.
Pep Guardiola has them playing the style of football he wants, and they also look tighter at the back.
But they go into this game on the back of travelling back from Ukraine for their midweek Champions League match. It shouldn’t upset their rhythm too much, but it’s not the ideal preparation.
Jose Mourinho will want to take advantage of being the home team and having the home support. A victory for United will open up the title race, albeit City will retain a nice lead.
I would think United would need to score first. That would give them something to hold on to and that is where Mourinho is at his very best.
He is a very capable manager, but he also has an outstanding manager in the opposite technical area.
It makes for a fascinating contest, and I fancy a share of the points in this one.
I’m sure City would be the happier about that.
But it is not in the DNA of Guardiola to play a cagey game and look for a single point.
I expect him to still have an attack-minded line-up, and with the likes of Sergio Aguero, Gabriel Jesus, Kevin de Bruyne, David Silva, Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane, they have a genuine abundance of attacking options.
Of course they have to find a way past David De Gea.
He is a super goalkeeper and some of the saves he made last week against Arsenal were right out of the top drawer.
He has been brilliant for the past three or four seasons.
But United also possess a real goal threat. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is back and this is the kind of contest he thrives on.
Romelu Lukaku is scoing again and there is the threat of Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial.
Again, it all makes for a brilliant 90 minutes of football.
When you look at the two games on show this afternoon in England, and you add in Celtic away to Hibs as they try to extend their unbeaten run to 68 games, what’s not to like about today if you are fan of football?
Enjoy. I’m sure I will.
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