Alexa
  • Directory of Taiwan

Manchester United leads Premier League at Christmas, also aims to see in 2007 at the top

Manchester United leads Premier League at Christmas, also aims to see in 2007 at the top

There's little time to enjoy Christmas as an English Premier League player or manager when there's a full round of games on Tuesday to prepare for.
Manchester United, which hosts Wigan, leads the standings with 47 points _ knowing that every club with that tally after 19 games has gone on to win the title. The Red Devils beat Aston Villa 3-0 on Saturday to maintain a two-point lead over defending champion Chelsea at the halfway stage of the season.
"It was great to go into Christmas at the top of the table, certainly better than being second," Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar said.
Chelsea, which hosts Reading, has 45 points, followed by Liverpool with 34, and Arsenal and Bolton on 33.
Wigan won't be a walkover for United _ it took a last-minute winner from Arjen Robben for Chelsea to beat it 3-2 on Saturday.
United will also remember it topped the table at Christmas 2003 but went on to finish third behind Arsenal and Chelsea.
British bookmaker William Hill made Chelsea the 4-7 favorite on Sunday to win the league, with United second-favorite at 5-4, and Arsenal and Liverpool both 40-1.
Also Tuesday, it's: Tottenham vs. Aston Villa; Blackburn vs. Liverpool; Bolton vs. Newcastle; Everton vs. Middlesbrough; Sheffield United vs. Manchester City; West Ham vs. Portsmouth; and Watford vs. Arsenal. On Wednesday, Charlton hosts Fulham.
In a packed schedule while other European leagues are on a winter break, Premier League clubs also play on Dec. 30 and either Jan. 1 or 2.
Chelsea captain and central defender John Terry won't play Tuesday because of a back injury. Goalkeeper Petr Cech remains out after sustaining a depressed skull fracture in Chelsea's 1-0 win at Reading in October after a controversial challenge from midfielder Stephen Hunt.
Chelsea's Frank Lampard dismissed suggestions of revenge against Hunt, saying his team would concentrate on the match.
"It's more of an issue for the media but the players won't be thinking about certain individuals. It's about winning the game," Lampard said.
"We need to win it, so by no means can we go in relaxed. But then it's the same with any game because they are all so important."
Mourinho said Manchester United had the benefit of a relatively injury-free squad.
"Last season it was the opposite," Mourinho said. "Everything was fantastic for us and they had problems."
Liverpool has finally got the best out of striker Craig Bellamy and manager Rafa Benitez plans to play the Welshman against his former club Blackburn.
Bellamy scored his fourth goal in five games in Liverpool's 2-0 win over Watford on Saturday.
"We are now seeing the Craig Bellamy I wanted when we signed him," Benitez said. "He has quality and pace and can get behind defenders, and he is doing all that now. We aim to use him in this role, and to create chances for his teammates. He has started to play well and has more confidence."
Benitez was also pleased with Bellamy's growing strike partnership with Dirk Kuyt.
"The understanding between both is really good. If they can keep doing this, I will be happy," Benitez said.
Despite beating Blackburn 6-2 on Saturday, Arsenal had some shaky moments at the back and manager Arsene Wenger expects a challenging game against Watford.
"Watford will give us a different style to cope with, I expect them to be very direct," Wenger said. "What will be important there is to prepare mentally. We must also, however, not forget to dictate our own style."
Midfielder Mathieu Flamini, who scored Arsenal's sixth goal and his fourth of the season on Saturday, said the club had a new spirit of consistency.
"It is about becoming more solid and we know we have the quality to keep winning," he said.
In the Football League Championship on Tuesday, Birmingham hosts Queens Park Rangers, Preston is at West Bromwich Albion and Derby hosts Wolverhampton. Birmingham leads with 49 points, followed by Preston and Derby with 44.


Updated : 2021-04-22 05:26 GMT+08:00