Five key fixtures that could define 2015/16 Premier League season
Lee Gormley | January 1, 2016
Five fixtures which could prove decisive
This Premier League season has undoubtedly been the most unpredictable and enthralling to date, with a new plot twist taking place each week but, as the New Year begins, there are plenty of 2016 fixtures which could define who claims the title, European positions and finishes in those daunting relegation places.
With so much at stake, and every passing match-up holding such high stakes, here are five top-flight fixtures which could be decisive towards different outcomes next year.
Newcastle United v Sunderland – Saturday, March 19th 2016
With the New Year arriving, Sunderland and Newcastle United will both be hoping to enjoy a lease of life, and the two fierce Northeast rivals will collide in March for what could ultimately be a relegation decider.
This crucial clash between Sam Allardyce and Steve McClaren’s struggling sides will be huge, with top tier status potentially at stake, and the Black Cats are 3/1 with Coral to stay up this season.
Man City v Leicester City – Saturday, February 6th 2016
No matter what happens in 2016, Leicester City have been the Premier League success story of this year so far, with Jamie Vardy playing the starring role in such an incredible run under their summer-appointed boss Claudio Ranieri.
The Foxes amazingly sat at the summit of England’s most prestigious division at Christmas, and recently conquered faltering defending champions Chelsea, but a February dust-up with title favourites Manchester City will ultimately prove their credentials.
Manuel Pellegrini’s Sky Blues have looked unstoppable at times, with summer acquisitions Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne hitting the ground running in new surroundings, and their welcoming of Leicester at the Etihad could see them move closer to another league crown or a surprise switch of dominance.
Liverpool v Chelsea – Saturday, March 12th 2016
Leicester have seemingly swapped places with Chelsea from last term, as they mix it with the big boys at the table’s summit while Chelsea suffer misery much further down, with Guus Hiddink having replaced Jose Mourinho temporarily in a bid to revive fortunes.
Though, surely the reigning champions of England can’t face relegation? Such an embarrassing scenario could become a disastrous reality swiftly if fortunes don’t change in the New Year, and a trip to Anfield could be the catalyst for a desperately-needed revival or further domestic despair.
Jurgen Klopp’s Reds will be chasing a Champions League spot next year, after enjoying an initial rejuvenation under the German coach, and beating a Blues side, who will potentially be climbing back towards European spots themselves, would boost momentum and confidence.
Tottenham v Man Utd – Saturday, April 9th 2016
A lot depends on whether top-flight teams will decide to strengthen in the January transfer window or not, and that will include Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United, as they sit in an encouraging position presently, but performances definitely need improving.
If the Dutchman does delve into the winter market for desired attacking and defensive reinforcements, then the Red Devils may well continue to push for title success, which they are 9/1 to achieve. But, if Van Gaal sticks with his current injury-plagued crop of stars, they may well face a tough battle for a Champions League place instead, alongside Tottenham.
Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs have been superb this term, as they quietly move gradually up the standings and, after a narrow 1-0 opening day loss at Old Trafford, a London encounter with United could help decide the eventual European position holders.
Man City v Arsenal – Saturday, May 7th 2016
This tasty Etihad battle between the two sides looking most likely of challenging for the league crown, Man City and Arsene Wenger’s Gunners, will take place on the season’s penultimate weekend, and it could well be a title decider.
On the blue half of Manchester, if results have gone in either City or Arsenal’s favour since the turning of the New Year, this fixture could ultimately cap-off this campaign and decide the fate of that coveted Premier League trophy, which Pellegrini’s men are 5/4 to capture once again.
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