Happy New Year! I hope your head is OK today, as you may have celebrated a little bit too much last night! Some people definitely would have. Your resolution at the moment may be to never drink again because of how you’re feeling, but don’t fool yourself! It’s never going to happen! Well, for a lot of people it won’t, but if you’re really determined to make it happen, go for it and don’t let me bring you down. I’m only talking about the people that say it because they’ve a hangover and don’t really mean it.
I hope your year begins well and continues well. We all hope that a new year will bring great things. I’m no different, and I hope for really good things in 2019. We all have to be hopeful and have something to dream about! One thing we’ll all be hopeful of is our football teams doing well. And that brings us back to what this blog is all about: football. There are three games for us to look at today.
Everton vs Leicester (12:30pm)
It’s eighth vs 10th in the early kick-off today. Leicester are eighth, and will be hoping for at least a point, which will move them ahead of Wolves and into seventh. Everton would also move into seventh with a win. The little battle between a few teams in mid-table is very interesting. There are a number of them that will be aiming to finish in seventh, and it’s definitely a realistic aim to have. It will bring a likely Europa League qualification place, so there is something at the end of it other than just finishing higher up the table.
Everton had been doing well, but have now dropped off a bit again. A loss to Brighton on Saturday was disappointing for them, and they’ll be looking to get back to winning ways today. Leicester are never an easy team to play against, and the Toffees will have to be at the very top of their game if they’re going to get anything from this game. They’ll hope to control possession and fashion some chances today. Everton will have to take those chances, though, because Leicester will likely have some chances of their own and could hurt them.
Leicester were flying after beating Chelsea and Manchester City, but then went and lost to Cardiff at the King Power on Saturday. That was an extremely disappointing result for them, especially after the two huge wins. But if you had offered them six points from those three games, it wouldn’t even be a question whether they would have taken it. A win today would set them up nicely for upcoming fixtures against Southampton and Wolves, before they play Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham.
Arsenal vs Fulham
After a very positive start to the season, Arsenal have dropped off considerably in the last few weeks. They’ve only won one of their last five games, and have been embarrassingly defeated by Tottenham in the Carabao Cup (2-0) and Liverpool in the league (5-1). A loss against Southampton and a draw against Brighton have also come in the last few weeks, with a 3-1 win against Burnley being their only win in the last five. But a home game against Fulham is the ideal fixture for them to get back to winning ways. Fulham have improved lately, but Arsenal should be able to blow them away. If Unai Emery’s side don’t win this one, boos will undoubtedly ring around the Emirates.
Fulham got their first win under Claudio Raneiri on Saturday as they beat Huddersfield 1-0. They have really started to improve since he came in, with their defence being much more solid. They’ve only conceded one goal in their last three games. They’re also unbeaten in their last three, with a win and two draws. Even with their form improving, they’re still in the relegation zone, but are now just one point from safety. If their defence can stay this solid for the rest of the season, they shouldn’t have any problems staying up.
Even with Arsenal in the middle of a shocking run, and Fulham doing quite well, the Gunners should be able to blow the Cottagers away. They should have far too much for Raneiri’s side, and should be aiming to win this game comfortably. Fulham will likely try to keep it tight, but they really should try to get at Arsenal today. The Gunners’ defence is woeful, and Fulham could cause problems if they try to get at them. Regardless, Arsenal should pick up the three points today.
Cardiff vs Tottenham
Cardiff continue to surprise people with how good they are. They would have been most people’s first choice for relegation to the Championship. I would have said the very same thing about them. But Neil Warnock’s side have battled hard, and are currently outside the relegation zone. They’re 16th: three points clear of the drop. An away win at Leicester on Saturday was extremely positive. They’ll still be a candidate for relegation; there’s no doubt about that, but they can’t be written off just yet. Not many teams enjoy playing them, and they’ll take points off many more teams before the season’s finished. If they can add a couple in January, they could really help their chances.
Tottenham moved into second after a very good run of form, but then slipped up and lost against Wolves at Wembley. Winning the title was never going to be their aim this season, though, and people shouldn’t believe that was ever the case. Finishing in the top four, while trying to win a trophy, has to be their aim. Spurs are now in a good position to nail down a top four spot, as they’re seven points clear of fifth-placed Arsenal. There’s still a lot of football to play, though, and they can’t get carried away and think the job is done. It would certainly be a surprise if they didn’t manage to finish up there.
Today’s game will be an interesting one. Cardiff will look to keep it tight and turn it into a physical battle. Tottenham will obviously be far superior in terms of skill, and if they turn up, they should win it comfortably. But Neil Warnock’s men can’t be written off, as they’ve shown they have the heart and the talent to pick up unexpected results. This could be a good game, but if Tottenham score early and Cardiff are forced to come out, the north Londoners could win it comfortably.
Well, that’s that for today’s blog. Today’s my last day off before returning to work after almost two weeks off. I’m not going to complain, because I’m very lucky to have had so much time off. It’s going to be difficult, though! I hope you spend your day well. Most people will look for it to be a relaxing day in front of the TV, and I hope to do the same myself. Enjoy the football if you’re watching it, and I’ll see you here for more tomorrow morning.