The first day of 2018 is in the Premier League books, though admittedly it lacked a true big name battle with apologies to Everton and Manchester United.
With Manchester City still unbeaten and a pair of battlesat the top and bottom of the table, here’s a look at the six matches on five match days we’re most anticipating in the stretch run of the 2017-18 season.
6. *BONUS* Southampton vs. Manchester City — May 13
Enjoy both the asterisks, because there isn’t a big reason to circle Southampton’s home finale with the exception of it being the final match day of the season and — more importantly — the valid chance it may be Man City putting an unblemished season on the line about two weeks before the UEFA Champions League final. Will both dates bear heavily on Pep Guardiola‘s men?
T-4. Manchester United vs. Chelsea and Arsenal vs. Man City — Feb. 25
Quite a doubleheader here! The latter kicks off first, but is secondary to the Jose Mourinho and Nemanja Matic (and maybe Willian?) welcoming old pals Chelsea to town. As it stands, the two are duking it out for second place behind Man City, and Chelsea’s 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge saw the Blues very much in control. Can Mourinho flip that script?
The early morning match will see two teams capable of the stylish and sublime mixing it up at the Emirates Stadium, and could be even more exciting/controversial should Alexis Sanchez swap his London digs for the Etihad Stadium.
3. Tottenham Hotspur vs. Arsenal — Feb. 10
Oh, the North London Derby has been tight for some time, and there are Top Four fortunes again on the line between the rivals. Arsenal won 2-0 at the Emirates Stadium earlier this season, its only league win over Spurs since the start of the 2014-15 season. That’s not to say Spurs have been dominant, either. Including a League Cup win for the Gunners, both sides hold a 2W-4D-2L record in the derby over the past eight meetings. A win, and Arsenal will be the first NLD member to sweep a season series since they won three matches vs. Spurs in 2013-14.
2. Chelsea vs. Liverpool — May 5
Antonio Conte has yet to get the better of Jurgen Klopp in three meetings — two draws — between the pair in their current positions. These two tempestuous personalities should still be without shouting distance of one another with mere weeks left in the season, and the potential for Top Four or higher implications seems very real.
1. Manchester City vs. Manchester United — April 7
Look, we’re just not going to do better than this provided Paul Pogba doesn’t take another needless and probably accidental red card the week leading up to the Manchester Derby. Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho weren’t able to truly match wits in the first derby of the season. Pogba and Kevin De Bruyne are probably the most awe-capable and technical midfielders in the Premier League, and both managers have the wherewithal to harass the opposing star. Is it April yet?