The New Year is upon us and as we all know in the Premier League there is no rest for the wicked – in fact there is no rest for anyone.
Managers and players have barely had time to finish the last verse of Auld Lang Syne before the next game is upon them in the festive season fixture crunch that the Premier League is famous for.
With the January transfer window opening and European places to fight for, there is likely to be an unholy scramble as teams look to bolster their squads ahead of the title run in.
With that in mind, FOX Sports Asia takes a look at what the Premier League’s Top Six teams will (probably) be hoping for in the New Year.
1. Manchester City – More of the same
For Pep Guardiola’s side it would seem to be a case of just keep on keeping on, although the injury to Gabriel Jesus at Crystal Palace remarkably leaves them with just Sergio Aguero as their only front line striker. Raheem Sterling is more than capable of filling the gap left by the Brazilian, but don’t be surprised if they dive into the market for another forward.
That aside, they also seem set to bolster their central defensive ranks with Jonny Evans apparently a long-standing target as a stop-gap given Vincent Kompany’s continuing injury worries.
2. Chelsea – The Champions League
The recent form of Antonio Conte’s Chelsea side suggest the enigmatic Italian has finally rediscovered the winning formula that served him so well last season. With a defence of their Premier League title pretty much out of the question, Conte will be targeting success in at least one more competition, with the Champions League the preferred option for both him and owner Roman Abramovich. It’s a big ask, but with his winning mentality and man-management skills (if you conveniently ignore the cases of Diego Costa and David Luiz) Conte may just be able to pull it off – as long as N’Golo Kante stays fit!
3. Man United – Inject some excitement
It’s been a frustrating season so far for fans of the Red Devils. Things started so well but have tailed off dramatically in recent weeks with the League Cup exit at the hand of Bristol City and a loss of form in the Premier League.
Jose Mourinho’s side have been accused of ‘parking the bus’ against top teams and have proved unable to unlock the defences of some of the weaker teams and the natives are starting to get restless.
The Portuguese may complain, but he has a supremely talented squad at his disposal. He needs his team to rediscover their early season and start getting the best out of the likes of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba, otherwise things could get ugly at Old Trafford.
4. Liverpool – Tighten up at the back and prepare for life without Phil
Jurgen Klopp’s team have enjoyed a Jekyll and Hyde first half to the season. Delicious going forward, their attacking play, and especially that of Mohamed Salah, has been the stuff of dreams, but defensively Kloppites and Koppites alike have been left with a bitter taste in their mouths.
Life without Phillipe?
The imminent arrival of big-money signing Virgil Van Dijk may help to solve their defensive woes, but with the departure of midfield magician Philippe Coutinho seemingly close, how they manage without the talented Brazilian could define their season. A front line of Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane, Salah and the returning Adam Lallana should be good enough to cope.
5. Arsenal – Keep the squad together post Sanchez
The New Year arrives with Arsenal in turmoil. Alexis Sanchez seems to be on his way out, but that could be a good thing if rumours of division within the squad turn out to be correct. Even if Sanchez does leave, Arsenal have a ready-made replacement in Alexandre Lacazette. The Frenchman will have to step up to fill the space left by the temperamental Chilean, and start to score more goals, but he is more than capable.
The other issue is Mesut Ozil. It would be a big loss were Arsenal’s most creative midfielder to leave and he would be hard to replace. Wenger should pull out all the stops to retain the services of the German, but he probably should also start looking for a replacement just in case.
6. Tottenham – A trophy would be nice
Let’s not beat around the bush, Mauricio Pochettino has done an outstanding job at Tottenham. He has fashioned a team that has consistently challenged for honours over the last two seasons on a shoestring budget – compared to the rest of the big six – while bringing through a whole host of talented youngsters. The only thing that has been lacking is a trophy itself.
With big money signings out of the question, Pochettino will have to find a solution to this season’s drop in form, while also satiating the desire of fans and club top brass for some end product. Despite the groundbreaking win over Real Madrid in the group stages, the Champions League is probably a bridge too far and with the Premier League already gone, a domestic cup is the only option.