A BIG thankyou to all participants for making the 2021 leg of the MicroNations League a proper competition throughout the league and showing enthusiasm going into 2022. Best of luck to all in the New Year (with the definite exception of Lundenwic Lions !!).
SATURDAY 1ST JANUARY (dates and times UK, GMT)
Arsenal 12:30 Manchester City
The Happy New Year starts at 12:30pm with a game between Arsenal and Manchester City. The Gunners had a rest in midweek so should be reinvigorated for this one. No Aubameyang for the next month due to AFCON. Tomiyasu out with Covid. Manchester City played and won in midweek, beating Brentford with a Phil Foden goal. KDB's form appears to have picked up but Bernie O'Silva has turned pants. Still to be seen whether Cancelo makes the trip to Emirates stadium after suffering facial injuries in a house burglary (it’s grim down South!)
Leicester City 15:00 Norwich City
Watford 15:00 Tottenham Hotspur
The only 3pm match features Watford versus Tottenham Hotspur. Watford are 17th and also losing matches for fun at the moment. Dennisin not going to AFCON. No Foster - Femenía and Rose doubts. Spurs were held by Southampton in midweek but Harry Kane managed a goal and may be finally finding form. Bergwijn missing.
Crystal Palace 17:30 West Ham United
A London derby at 5:30pm - Crystal Palace v West Ham United at Selhurst Park. The Eagles are comfortably perched in 11th. Zaha is back for this one after suspension, Gallagher may be missing though (for ‘undisclosed reasons’) as may Andersen. West Ham returned to winning ways against Watford on Tuesday, Benrahma scored but is soon to be AFCON-bound, leaving Antonia to get his act together up front. Cresswell may be back but Fornals will be missing.
SUNDAY 2ND JANUARY
Brentford 14:00 Aston Villa
Four games at 2pm this Sunday, the first of which is sees Brentford taking on Aston Villa. The Bees have only picked up 4 points from a possible 15 so will be hoping to get back to winning ways today. Janelt, Mbeumo and Rico Henry will be missing. Villa midweek match against Leeds was postponed so they should be nicely rested. Mings suspended.
Everton 14:00 Brighton & Hove Albion
Next up, Everton v Brighton & Hove Albion at Goodison. Everton lie in 15th place and have only won once in their last 5 games. Their match on Thursday was postponed as were their previous two. Rested or rusty? Richarlison and Townsend out. Brighton gained as last gasp draw against Chelsea on Wednesday, fit-again Danny Wellbeck off the bench with the goal. Doubts over Trossard and Dunk for this one.
Leeds United 14:00 Burnley
Thirdly, at Elland Road, Leeds United against Burnley. 16th place Leeds have lost three in a row and have had their last two postponed. Llorente and Harrison expected to return; no James, Rodrigo or Bamford though. Burnley are 18th and have become masters of the draw. They have only play one of their last four scheduled fixtures. Cornet may be back just before leaving for AFCON?
Southampton 14:00 Newcastle United
Chelsea 16:30 Liverpool
At 4:30pm, the weekend's big match features 2nd place Chelsea v Liverpool who lie in 3rd. Chelsea drew with Brighton in midweek. Christensen and Reece James both came off injured – James pulled a hamstring apparently so you might want to get that transfer trigger finger poised…. Thiago Silva also out, Werner may be back though. Liverpool suffered a rare defeat on Tuesday against Leicester. This is Salah's last game before AFCON. Robertson is suspended for this one.
MONDAY 3RD JANUARY
Manchester United 17:30 Wolverhampton Wanderers
And finally, the late Monday afternoon fixture is Manchester United v Wolverhampton Wanderers at 5:30pm. Man Utd played on Thursday evening against Burnley, Ronaldo with a goal and assist, Shaw and Wan Bissaka reinstated. Lindelof has Covid and Pogba is still out. Wolves are 8th, have collect 4 points from a possible 6 and haven't played since Sunday 19th December. Ait Nouri may be back, but Hwang is missing long term.
So there you go – review due on 4th January where I fully expect New Weddington Warriors to have claimed their rightful top spot, then there’s a breather until 7th Jan when the FA Cup kicks in… plenty of chances for points against lower league teams but top players tend to be rested… decisions, decisions...