Busy festive season to separate title contenders in EPL

Manchester City will play Brazil’s Fluminense in the Club World Cup final tomorrow morning (2am), aiming to be the fourth English club to win after Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea.

The tournament comes as a respite from its poor form in the English Premier League, which has seen it win only once in its last five matches.

While City is away, Arsenal, Aston Villa and Liverpool can use the opportunity to move clear in the EPL.

The match of the round is the top-of-the-table clash between Arsenal and Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday morning (1.30am).

The Gunners lead with 39 points from 17 matches, one ahead of Liverpool and Aston Villa. City, despite its poor four, remains five points behind Arsenal.

Tottenham has regained its mojo after a slump and is now fifth, on 33 points. Newcastle (29), Manchester United (28), Brighton  (27), West Ham (27),  and big-spending Chelsea (22), make up the top 10.

Arsenal may be playing away from home this weekend, but it will surely fancy its chances of upsetting a stuttering Liverpool, who, despite picking up three wins and two draws from its last five matches, has not been convincing.

Declan Rice is slowly living up to his prize tag following his £105 million move from West Ham in the summer.

Mikael Arteta’s team has been proficient at the top of the pitch this season because of Rice’s uncanny ability to win the ball back.

The English midfielder has won nearly 65 per cent of his duels, scored thrice and has an assist – not bad for a defensive midfielder.

Many scoffed when Arsenal pay a king’s ransom for him, but if the London team were to win the title, it would be money well spent.

Meanwhile, Premier League players from Manchester United and Liverpool are spearheading the latest instalment of the EPL’s ‘Boot Out Piracy’ campaign to raise awareness with Malaysian fans of the risks and detrimental effects of streaming illegal content.

Launched on Wednesday for the fourth season in Malaysia, this year’s campaign features Casemiro (Manchester United), Diogo Jota (Liverpool), Julio Enciso (Brighton & Hove Albion), Abdoulaye Doucouré (Everton) and Taiwo Awoniyi (Nottingham Forest).

They will appear in a series of videos across digital channels to highlight how those who access Premier League content through unofficial websites or streaming devices leave themselves vulnerable to the threat of cyber-attacks, including harmful malware and ransomware that poses the danger of scams, data theft, and fraudulent activities, and also means they are likely to watch matches on unreliable and poor-quality streams.

A report released by the Digital Citizens Alliance in June 2023, titled ‘Giving Piracy Operators Credit’, found 44 per cent of users who accessed pirate content online had experienced identity theft. The same report also found 46 per cent of users engaging in piracy had experienced malware, compared to only nine per cent who did not engage in piracy.

FIXTURES (Malaysian time)
SATURDAY

Aston Villa vs Sheffield United (4am)
West Ham vs Manchester United (8.30pm)
Tottenham vs Everton (11pm)
Nottingham Forest vs Bournemouth (11pm)
Fulham vs Burnley (11pm)
Luton vs Newcastle (11pm)

SUNDAY

Liverpool vs Arsenal (1.30am)
Wolves vs Chelsea (9pm)

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