Inter Miami adds Tokyo stop to Messi tour next February

Inter Miami adds Tokyo stop to Messi tour next February
Inter Miami adds Tokyo stop to Messi tour next February

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - LONDON: Manchester United travel to the home of bitter rivals Liverpool this weekend desperate to avoid another humiliation but with all the signs pointing to a tough afternoon at Anfield.

Tottenham kick off the action at struggling Nottingham Forest on Friday, while in-form Aston Villa, fresh from impressive wins against Manchester City and Arsenal, travel to Brentford.

Here are the three talking points ahead of the action.

Struggling Manchester United, who left Anfield last season with their tails between their legs after a 7-0 drubbing, are facing a Liverpool team top of the Premier League and brimful of confidence.

Erik ten Hag’s team, dumped out of Europe this week by Bayern Munich, have lost 12 of their 24 games in all competitions this season.

Toothless up front, porous at the back and with a lengthening injury list, it is difficult to find any positives for the visitors ahead of Sunday’s game.

Thanks in part to the inconsistency of the teams around them, United still find themselves sixth in the Premier League, just three points behind Tottenham and six behind fourth-placed Manchester City.

But they will travel to Anfield full of trepidation. With the exception of last season’s 2-1 win at Old Trafford, United’s recent record against Liverpool is dire — they have lost four of the past five meetings, conceding 21 goals in the process.

Liverpool are everything that United are not — sharp in front of goal, full of self-belief and with a never-say-die attitude that has helped them win 18 points from losing positions this season.

Ten Hag has urged his side to focus on finishing in the top four to qualify for the Champions League next season but if results do not go their way this weekend, they could be nine points off fourth spot and slipping out of the picture.

The soap opera at Manchester United has taken the focus off the situation at Chelsea, where Mauricio Pochettino is struggling to get a tune out of his injury-hit squad.

The Blues, who host bottom side Sheffield United on Saturday, are 12th in the table after three defeats in their past four matches, far closer in terms of points to the relegation zone than the top of the table.

Pochettino, in his first season at the club, believes Chelsea need to dip into the transfer window again in January even though they have spent more than £1 billion ($1.25 billion) over the past three transfer windows.

The Argentine has been dogged by absences, with captain Reece James back on the treatment table with a hamstring injury, alongside a list of other senior players including Ben Chilwell, Wesley Fofana and Christopher Nkunku.

On paper, the visit of Sheffield United appears to be a golden chance for Chelsea to return to winning ways but the Blades, under newly returned Chris Wilder, beat Brentford last week for just their second win of the season.

And Chelsea’s home form gives little room for hope — they have won just two of their eight league matches at Stamford Bridge.

Last month Everton were docked 10 points by the Premier League for breaching financial rules, leaving them 19th in the table, level with Burnley, who were then bottom.

But three straight wins have lifted the Goodison Park club four points above the relegation zone and they are looking up rather than down.

Everton have won nine games out of their past 13 in all competitions and would be in mid-table were it not for their heavy punishment, against which they have appealed.

The Goodison Park fans have been vocal in their opposition to the severity of the points deduction and the team have given them plenty to cheer.

Manager Sean Dyche admits he has been pleased with his side’s form but says there is still “a lot of work to be done” as he prepares to return to Burnley, who he managed for 10 years between 2012 and 2022.

Fixtures (times GMT)

Friday

Nottingham Forest vs. Tottenham (2000)

Saturday (1500 unless stated)

Bournemouth vs. Luton, Chelsea vs. Sheffield United, Manchester City vs. Crystal Palace, Newcastle vs. Fulham, Burnley vs. Everton (1730)

Sunday (1400 unless stated)

Arsenal vs. Brighton, Brentford vs. Aston Villa, West Ham vs. Wolves, Liverpool vs. Manchester United (1630)

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