by Joe Apu
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger will on Sunday seek to break Jose Mouriho’s jinx over his team since the latter joined the English Premiership.
The Arsenal boss has never beaten Mourinho in the Premier League but will be hoping to strike luck at the 13th attempt when the Portuguese takes his Manchester United side to the Emirates Stadium.
Both men have clashed verbally and physically since Mourinho’s arrival at Chelsea in 2004 and their touchline antics have long-been a sideshow to any meeting of their respective teams.
Sunday’s game is arguably bigger for Wenger, who has still yet to announce whether he will sign a new deal to remain at Arsenal beyond the end of the current season.
The 67-year-old has seen a minority of fans begin protests against a new contract being offered after a run of poor form left the Gunners out of the Premier League top four and humbled by a 10-2 Champions League aggregate defeat at the hands of Bayern Munich.
Wenger has guided Arsenal to a third FA Cup final in four years but that has done little to curtail calls for his exit, especially after last Sunday’s 2-0 north London derby defeat at Tottenham means Spurs will finish above their neighbours for the first time since 1995.
Heading into this game, Arsenal are sixth with their visitors just a place above them in fifth, with Wenger admitting other clubs have now caught up with the duo.
“It just shows that everybody has moved up,” he said. “The number of clubs that can fight at the top is bigger this season and the difference between the teams is smaller. As soon as you are not at your best you can lose.”
The Red Devils have made the top four only once in the three full seasons since the departure of Alex Ferguson, despite spending vast sums of money.
The other fixture for Sunday is the Liverpool, Southampton tie. Jurgen Klopp has not won any of his three previous Premier League games against Southampton (D2 L1). Liverpool had won their previous three v Saints prior to his arrival.
Southampton have won just one of their last five visits to Anfield in the Premier League (D1 L3), 1-0 in September 2013 with a goal from current Liverpool player Dejan Lovren.
Liverpool are yet to score against Southampton in three games this season – drawing 0-0 in the Premier League in November and losing both League Cup semi-final legs 1-0.
However, top clash of today is the game between Manchester City against Crystal Palace. Manchester City have won eight of their last nine Premier League games against Crystal Palace (L1), with their only defeat back in April 2015 (1-2 at Selhurst Park).
The Citizens are unbeaten in six home games against Palace in the Premier League (W4 D2), winning all four games at the Etihad; while they are unbeaten at home in 11 in all competitions, dating back to 1991.
Two of Manchester City’s last four Premier League games at the Etihad have finished 0-0; this after just one of their previous 119 at home had finished goalless in the competition. Manchester City have lost two of their last three home Premier League games in the early Saturday kick-off and Sergio Aguero who has scored in seven of his last eight appearances in all competitions for Manchester City will be expected to make a difference. There is no doubt that the home advantage will come to play.
Relegation candidate Swansea have a good recent record against Everton but are only fancied to gain a point on today evening which is unlikely to be enough in their battle against relegation.
With three matches left to play this season, the Swans are two points from safety and the bad news for them is that their main relegation rivals Hull City have the easiest possible fixture this weekend at home to Sunderland.
Paul Clement’s side will have to battle Everton to make a difference. Victory is therefore absolutely essential for the Welsh club, but it’s a big ask even though the seventh-placed Toffees have been much more effective at Goodison Park than on their travels this term.