Carlos Henrique Casimiro, better known as Casemiro, is to be a big miss when Manchester United test Arsenal’s title resolve in a marquee English Premier League fixture on Sunday afternoon. The five time Champions League winner’s know-how and experience has been critical in an upturn in fortunes for the Old Trafford club. United are unbeaten in ten competitive fixtures with the highly decorated Brazilian midfield lynchpin in the side but he will be unavailable for selection after picking up a booking in Wednesday’s one-all draw with Crystal Palace.
The Selhurst Park stalemate took the record English top flight titlists to 39 points at the halfway point of the season, which is striking distance of leaders Arsenal who have accumulated 47 points from a game less. The Gunners almost nonchalant dismissal of neighbours Tottenham Hotspur in the North London derby coincided with champions Manchester City’s controversial 1-2 loss to United and had bookmakers install Mikel Arteta’s charges as the new favourites to lift their first EPL title since 2004.
Arsenal’s quick adaptation to the loss of striker Gabriel Jesus and their resilience in the face of adversity has won over doubters. Crucially, the Gunners are blessed with a spine of six starters who are all in the form of their careers. Few can bet against Arsenal ending a 19-year trophy drought with Aaron Ramsdale, Gabriel Marghales, Granit Xhaka, Thomas Partey, Bukayo Saka , Martin Odegaard and Gabriel Martinelli all operating at full throttle.
Struggling giants Liverpool and Chelsea get weekend action underway in Saturday’s early kick off with both sides buoyed by respective 1-0 victories over Wolverhampton Wanderers (in the FA Cup) and Crystal Palace in their latest encounters. Chelsea have reacted to their most underwhelming campaign in a decade by splashing a world record £421m in six months whereas speculation is mounting that the Anfield club will be sold to a Qatar based consortium within weeks.
Beleaguered managers David Moyes and Frank Lampard meantime enter a last chance saloon when their sides collide in London. West Ham United have gone from qualifying for Europe in successive campaigns under Moyes’ tutelage to being sucked into a relegation dogfight with former side Everton, Southampton and Wolverhampton Wanderers. It’s conceivable that the losing manager will be without work by Monday morning.
Liverpool v Chelsea,
Bournemouth v Nottingham Forest,
Leicester City v Brighton Hove Albion,
Southampton v Aston Villa,
West Ham United v Everton,
Crystal Palace v Newcastle United
Leeds United v Brentford,
Manchester City v Wolves,
Arsenal v Manchester United
Fulham v Tottenham Hotspur