The first weekend of 2019 offers some exhilarating matches in England with the third round of the FA Cup and Atletico Madrid's top half clash with Sevilla in Spain as La Liga resumes after its winter break.
A hectic festive season ensued in England as midweek encounters saw Manchester United continue their winning form against Newcastle United, while Arsenal recovered from their loss at Anfield with a 4-1 win over Fulham at home. Tottenham Hotspur were victorious against Cardiff City but fellow Londoners Chelsea played out a disappointing draw with Southampton. The attention now has quickly moved over to FA Cup fixtures over the weekend with Liverpool's clash with Wolverhampton Wanderers being the pick of the games. The resurgence of the Red Devils will also be on display with a game against Reading at home next.
Meanwhile, the action resumes in Spain after the winter break as Barcelona travel to Getafe, hoping to start the second half of their season with a win, whereas arch rivals Real Madrid host Real Sociedad at home on Sunday. The spotlight, however, will be at Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan in Seville where a win by Atletico Madrid over Sevilla will see them open up a lead over their opponents in second spot in La Liga.
Match of the week
Diego Simeone providing guidelines in the match against Espanyol
A cracker of a fixture between Atletico and Sevilla is in the pipeline on Sunday as both teams aim to inch closer to the top spot in La Liga. Sevilla has found new attacking intent under their manager Pablo Machin and have been a complete surprise package so far in the domestic league. That being said, with Atletico riding on the fine form of Saul and Antoine Griezmann lately, the Los Rojiblancos will surely look to dominate proceedings and get a win away from home.
Player to watch
Alexis Sanchez in a Champions League match against Juventus
Alexis Sanchez returned from injury on Wednesday night against Newcastle with an incredible sprint to set up Marcus Rashford’s goal. Interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was impressed by the Chilean forward and will use him much more as the season develops with signs of improvement evident for all to see. The Norwegian's appointment has seen many players rediscover their form and Sanchez couldn’t have made a comeback at a better time. With United’s attacking prowess coming back into the picture, the Chilean international will surely be a key man for his coach in the next few months.
Manager to watch
Mauricio Pochettino managing in quarter final against Arsenal
The FA Cup is another good opportunity for Spurs and Mauricio Pochettino to get the monkey of 'winning a trophy' off their back. The north-Londoners have been one of the most consistent performers in England over the past few years, however, silverware has been something that's eluded them and their Argentine manager. The FA Cup is a perfect chance to buck that trend and further strengthens Pochettino's claim for the United job.
Team to watch
Eden Hazard celebrating Chelsea’s second goal with teammates
Chelsea’s recent form has raised a lot of questions regarding their manager’s style of play. Sarri ball has come under scrutiny lately due to a slump in the performance of the team. The Blues' goal scoring form has also dropped significantly as compared to the earlier part of the season. After a loss to Leicester City and a draw with Southampton at home, they are 10 points adrift from top spot in the Premier League. They face Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup and Maurizio Sarri will use this game as an opportunity to experiment and maybe even silence his critics momentarily.
Words: Ritvik Mawkin