Advantage Liverpool: Jurgen Klopp has a firm grip on the league
It’s halfway point in the English Premier League and Jürgen Klopp will be ecstatic about the way Liverpool have taken advantage of the Christmas slip up of both Manchester City and Chelsea.
Five matchdays ago, the premier league was well poised for a three-team race for the title, now, Liverpool is seven points ahead of third-placed City and a further eleven ahead of Chelsea.
Both sides ran into an unexpected brick wall and for all of their good and intricate play, only Liverpool have been able to show the level of consistency required by eventual league winners.
Liverpool’s next two fixtures –Arsenal (H), Manchester City (A) – is another test of their wit and championship intent.
Liverpool have a confidence-boosting advantage over Arsenal who hasn’t won in their last five visits to Anfield, conceding 17 goals in the process.
Although Arsenal may have halted a run of defeats against the Kops, it is unlikely they this fixture will provide a third consecutive draw.
Keep an eye on this cracker which will pit two managers who are not scared to impose their ideas, but this is Anfield and Unai Emery may well consider a conservative approach if Arsenal should remain within touching distance of the top four.
Juventus host impressive Sampdoria
Sampdoria may be 21 points behind Juve despite being placed fourth on the league log, which is due to the sheer brilliance of this Juve side.
Sampdoria is unbeaten in each of their last six games, a run of five wins and a draw against fourth-placed Lazio despite suffering a numerical disadvantage. The run has seen the side from Genoa overtake AC Milan in fifth place.
However, Juve is not in the category of teams Sampdoria dispatched before now and having suffered a rare blip in the 2-2 draw to Atalanta on Boxing Day, it is only normal that they step up their game against a tougher opponent in front of their home fans.
AC Milan’s bizarre goal drought
The downside to watching a team battling goal drought is the sudden inability to entertain that they come with.
The Rossoneri have set a new unwanted record of four Serie A games without a goal, beating a 34-year old record for the worst goal drought in the history of the club.
What’s worse, Gonzalo Higuain is going through a dry spell of his own -804 minutes.
However, SPAL isn’t a team that will threaten AC Milan a lot in defence which gives the Rossoneri the confidence to pour out in numbers.
You get the feeling that once they overcome this nasty drought, they can get their season back on track.
Golden State Warriors v Portland Trail Blazers doubleheader
Warriors 23-12 have seen their season plighted by inconsistency in every facet of their game and the blowout defeat to LA Lakers on Christmas day is a testament.
For the first time under Steve Kerr, warriors look ordinary and beatable despite parading three of the league’s best shooters all around and the top two shooters beyond the arc.
On Christmas day, Steph Curry shot awfully wide a couple of times. Usually, ‘awful’ is never in the conversation that describes Curry’s shooting. Despite this, the Warriors lead the conference and must feel unbothered.
If the Warriors are going to win a fourth championship in five years, they need to show a bit more consistency in their game and a lacklustr Portland might be the perfect team to take on.
However, having fallen to The Jazz twice by a combined score of 51 points over the past five days, Portland will hate to be an embarrassment.
One last bit: Nigeria’s All-Farouq Aminu plays his basketball in Portland. Time to watch a lad from home, eh?
The final weekend of World Darts Championship
If you didn’t watch double world champion Michael van Gerwen dispatch Adrian Lewis 4-1 on Thursday night, now is the perfect time to believe the Scot is well and truly intent on winning a third world championship this year.
His victory sets up a potential final four clash against Gary Anderson. Anderson, on his part, required sudden death to see off world number 36 Chris Dobey; who was fighting from two sets and 3-2 down.
Oh, did I forget to mention Adrian Lewis is equally a two-time champion of the World Darts Championship? Yes, he is.
Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Redskins
Both backup Quarter Backs in this game are solid downgrades from the starters, but Philly’s offense is just much better in general, so it still holds the advantage there and the Eagles should really make this count
This game is crucial to both sides, both sharing identical statistics but the Eagles will be the odds-on favourite to take this and keep the pressure on Dallas Cowboys.