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FESIG League Preview – (London Supremacy Battle)

The supremacy battle in London takes center stage at the Emirates between Arsenal and Chelsea as they race for a place in the top-four gets more interesting with Manchester United back in the picture. The German Bundesliga and the Italia Serie A returns after the winter break with mouthwatering fixtures at the Red Bull Arena and Stadio San Paolo. In Ligue 1, there is Derby Rhone-Alpes in Ligue 1 between third place Saint Etienne and fourth placed Olympique Lyonnais.

Here is our preview of matches across top five European Leagues.

We begin in England;

MANCHESTER UNITED v BRIGHTON AND HOVE ALBION – SAT. 19 JAN 2019, 16.00HRS
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Manchester United are looking for their sixth straight Premier League victory as they entertain Brighton at Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon. The Seagulls handed United their first defeat of the season in week 2 so in-form Red Devils will be aiming to avenge that loss in August. Caretaker manager – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is seeking to become the first Manchester United manager to win his first six league matches in charge while the Seagulls are looking for their first Premier League away point against one of last season’s top-six sides. Brighton succumbed to a one nil defeat at home last time out against Liverpool and a trip up north to Old Trafford isn’t the ideal place to look for a response considering the home team’s current form.

VERDICT – Solskjaer could start the same XI that started in Wembley against Spurs as he looks for his sixth consecutive league win. Brighton have failed to win 22 of their last 24 away matches and failed to score on their last two trips to Old Trafford. Manchester United can close to gap on fourth place Chelsea before the Blues play Arsenal late Saturday evening. Brighton’s away form in the Premier League is well documented, they have just two wins away from the Amex this season. It is unlikely they would get their third in Manchester on Saturday.  

ARSENAL v CHELSEA – SAT. 19 JAN 2019, 18.30HRS
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All isn’t well in the Arsenal camp currently with different stories flying around regarding backroom staff leaving and Unai Emery’s inability to compete favorably in the transfer market. That said, Chelsea will be aiming to tighten their hold on place in the top four as they visit fifth-placed Arsenal, who lie six points behind them. Maurizio Sarri’s Blues are targeting a fourth victory in five Premier League matches, while Unai Emery’s Gunners are looking to bounce back from a defeat at West Ham United. The Gunners were poor against the Hammers and will need a better performance against Chelsea at the Emirates. Chelsea have not been spectacular either but they seem to be in better shape than their host winning four of their last six league matches.

VERDICT – Arsenal have won 13 of their last 16 Premier League home matches while Chelsea have won their last three away from home. The Gunners injury list is gradually easing out; Unai Emery has several players returning which gives him a variety of option. The Blues are not missing any major player ahead of this trip to North London. However, both teams are not in their best moment therefore we are unlikely to see a repeat of the classic game witnessed at Stamford Bridge in week 2. A draw might be the best outcome for both teams on day.

To France;

PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN v GUINGAMP – SAT. 19 JAN 2019, 17.00HRS
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Paris Saint-Germain have the opportunity to avenge their Coupe de la Ligue quarter final defeat to Guingamp less than a fortnight  after Jocelyn Gourvennec’s team dumped them out of the competition. The French champions returned to winning ways in the league, maintaining their 13 points advantage at the top in spite of playing two games less. Basement club Guingamp are showing signs of life in them afterall, they have won two of their last three league matches and will believe they can still drag themselves out of the relegation zone.  

VERDICT – PSG have 16 of their last 18 Ligue 1 matches and have kept five clean sheets in their seven home league matches. There has been over 2.5goals in PSG last seven matches against Guingamp while Guingamp have managed to score two goals on their last three visits to Parc des Princes in all competitons. The Breston side are bottom of the table but they are showing a rare battling spirit which got them a midweek victory over Rennes. Can they surprise the league leaders yet again in Paris just like it happened 10 days ago?

SAINT ETIENNE v OLYMPIQUE LYON – SUN. 20 JAN 2019, 21.00HRS
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50km is the distance that separates Saint Etienne and Lyon in location but the difference on the log is just two points. Saint Etienne head into the Rhone-Alpes derby in good form winning their last three Ligue 1 matches including their comeback victory against Marseille where Wahbi Khaziri shone like a million stars. On the other side, Lyon’s current form isn’t at par with their local rivals, they have drawn their last three league matches but pulled off a spirited 2-2 draw against Toulouse coming from two goals down. The battle for Champions League spots in France is attention-grabbing; three points is all that separates second place Lille and Lyon that sit fourth on the log.

VERDICT – Les Verts will be looking to extend their winning run in Ligue 1 to four games on Sunday night in front of their fans at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard. Saint-Etienne have won their last five home matches while Lyon have drawn their last three away matches. Lyon have the better head-to-head record in one of France’s fiercest rivalries but current form suggests the home team might have the edge slightly. In addition, Les Verts will be out for revenge taking in account the heavy defeat (0-5) suffered in the hands of Les Gones last year.

To Germany;

TSG HOFFENHEIM v BAYERN MUNICH – FRI. 18 JAN 2019, 20.30HRS
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Hoffenheim welcome Bayern Munich to Wirsol Rhein-Neckar-Arena on a 10-game unbeaten run in league, with draws in the last six. After a slump between October and November, Bayern are up and running in the league again. Die Roten won have won their last five league matches on the spin and have closed the gap on league leaders Dortmund to six points. League leaders Barcelona welcome Eibar to the Camp Nou for the final game in the first half of the season. The Bavarians are looking strong again though the duo of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery are unavailable for this game but Canadian youngster Alphonso Davies is in line for his debut having impressed in warm up matches during the winter break.

VERDICT – Bayern have won 16 of their last 19 Bundesliga away matches and have kept a clean sheet in their last four league matches to end 2018 on a high. The Bavarians have a solid record against Die Kraichgauer – undefeated in 20 of the last 22 in all competitions. Hoffenheim finished the first half of the season outside European places while Bayern finished second behind Dortmund. Both teams will want to kickstart the second half on a positive note; expect a competitive game with goals.  

RB LEIPZIG v BORUSSIA DORTMUND – SAT. 19 JAN 2019, 18.30HRS
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Ambitious RB Leipzig host league leaders Borussia Dortmund at the Red Bull Arena in the final game of Saturday. This is a game between two clubs with different penalty box predators. Timo Werner is the gazelle for the home team who doesn’t need a second invitation to strike while Paco Alcacer has mastered the act of preying on weak defense. Werner has 11 Bundesliga goals while Alcacer has 12. Leipzig are on a four-match winning run at home and would be confident of putting spanner in the works for the leaders who need to keep winning with Bayern Munich breathing down their neck.

VERDICT – Leipzig are unbeaten at home in the Bundesliga so far, they have the league’s best defence and have the tools to trouble the league leaders in attack. Lucien Favre has serious defensive challenges to contend with while hoping they can maintain their six points advantage at the top. There is so much at stake for both teams; an intense game with several chances at both ends of the pitch is anticipated.

To Italy;

AS ROMA v TORINO – SAT. 19 JAN 2019, 15.00HRS
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AS Roma league campaign has been characterized by many sudden or extreme changes in a short time this season but Eusebio Di Francesco and team will be eyeing a third straight Serie A victory when Torino visit Stadio Olimpico for this week 20 fixture. The Giallorossi have moved closer Champions League spots and could be in by the end of the weekend if results in other games go their way. Torino seem to have lost their way lately, they have been having ups and downs in terms of results and have dropped to ninth as they prepare for their trip to Rome.

VERDICT – Roma have the better head-to-head record against Torino, they have won four of their last five meetings in all competitions. The Granatas travel to the eternal city in fragile mood following their elimination from Coppa Italia last weekend. Interestingly, Toro are undefeated away from home this season; they have eight draws and two wins in ten matches on the road in Serie A. However, Walter Mazzarri’s team lost to Roma on the opening weekend of the season to an Edin Dzeko’s goal. The Bosnia international is back in the team for selection following a lengthy injury spell.  

NAPOLI v LAZIO – SUN. 20 JAN 2019, 20.30HRS
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All eyes will be on San Paolo stadium Sunday evening as Napoli attempt to keep their faint Serie A title hopes alive. Carlo Ancelotti’s team can close the gap to six points for 24 hours before Juventus play Chievo on Monday evening. Both teams won their Coppa Italia games last weekend and should be confident of securing a good result in Naples. The Biancocelesti seem to have found form again, winning three of their last four matches in all competitions. Simone Inzaghi has no new injury concerns, he has a full roster ahead of their trip down south while Carlo Ancelotti has to reshuffle his pack with Kalidou Koulibaly, Lorenzo Insigne and Allan all suspended for the game. Inspirational skipper Marek Hamsik is equally unavailable due to injury.

VERDICT – Napoli ended the year on a winning note with a 3-2 victory over Bologna following their Boxing Day defeat to Inter Milan. Lazio finished the year with a draw against Torino but are in a Champions League spot which is in line with their objective for the season. The Partenopei have not lost to Lazio since May 2015 but will be severely tested with several key players out. Ancelotti’s team find themselves nine points of the top and out of the Champions League in January means the pressure will build on should they fail to win at home. The former Milan and Real Madrid manager has the experience to see his side through difficult moment and they are likely to find a solution for this game.

To Spain;

REAL MADRID v SEVILLA – SAT. 19 JAN 2019, 16.15HRS
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Real Madrid host Sevilla at the Santiago Bernabeu for their second home league match in 2019. The Whites suffered a shock home loss to Real Sociedad a fortnight ago and will be looking to make amends in front of their fans. Los Blancos are level on points with the Andalusian club who are above them thanks to their home victory over Real Madrid in September. Sevilla are currently struggling in the league with one victory in their last six league matches but should travel to the capital with belief they can cause Real Madrid more heartache and secure a league double of the European champions who are very light weight in attack and are relying heavily on Brazilian teenager Vinicius Jr.

VERDICT – The last 12 matches between Real Madrid and Sevilla has seen over 2.5goals in it. Los Blancos have won their last four matches against Los Nervionenses at home. Real Madrid have won just two of their last five games with Solari yet to find a consistent winning path though he has been plagued with injuries. Sevilla have won just one of their last five games, even losing to struggling Athletic Bilbao. Neither team are in particularly good form heading into this match but goals have always been a part of this fixture.

BARCELONA v LEGANES – SUN. 20 JAN 2019, 20.45HRS
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The small club from Madrid suburbs handed Barcelona their first LaLiga defeat of the campaign on a windy evening in Butarque last September so this is all about revenge for Ernesto Valverde’s team. The Catalan giants are on a run at the moment, winning their last six league matches with Luis Suarez and Leo Messi combining effectively in attack for Los Cules. Mauricio Pellegrino’s team have lost one of their last six league matches and will be happy with their Copa performance against Real Madrid midweek. Los Pepineros are tough to beat at home but their performances on the road is a different kettle of fish.

 VERDICT – Leganes have not won 24 of their last 25 away league matches and have failed to score in six of their last eight away games. In order to succeed at the Camp Nou, you have to score, something Pellegrino’s men haven’t managed to do often. Leganes have suffered just two defeats in last 13 matches in all competitions but the quality possessed by Barcelona in attack means we are likely to see a repeat of last season’s outcome (3-1).

This wraps up our preview for the week. Predict and win big by visiting our Sports shop Babaijebu.ng for mouthwatering offers in all the top five European leagues this weekend. 

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