Group D leaders Ghana have another attempt to solidify their position on top of the group and qualify for the knockouts.
The Black Stars got off to a perfect start with a hard fought 1-0 win over Uganda. Andre Ayew was on point to send home a penalty after Asamoah Gyan was brought down in the box after a cynical foul from Uganda. Ghana had to endure persistent attacks and maintain a solid backline to ensure they collected maximum points.
It could be said that Uganda, having played Ghana in the qualifiers, had a proper game plan and knew how to bring down Ghana. The Black Stars were however, up to task and knew exactly how to win this one. The Ayew brothers, Christian Atsu, and Harrison Afful were in sublime forming. Atsu had several attempts at goal, only for his efforts to be kept out by a solid and certain Ugandan keeper Denis Onyango.
Ghana is a regular in this tournament, and their main worries are not really in qualification, but rather in winning the title. This will be third meeting between these two sides, and predictably so, Ghana has won majority of those.
Mali looks somewhat depleted and a pale shadow of its former self. Although a few players in the squad have shown some potential, they just do not have sufficient firepower to fire past the Black Stars.
Egypt vs Uganda: Pharaohs to Skin Noisy Cranes.
Egypt’s quest for a record eighth AFCON title got off to an underwhelming tone as they drew 0-0 with Mali.
The Pharaohs missed a host of chances and will be desperate to win this one. Uganda showed great determination to stun their opponents Ghana, but couldn't find a way past a solid Ghana backline. They gave a good account of themselves,and lost ‘honourably.’ However, the Uganda Cranes are fast approaching a sharp bend, where only 3 points count. Anything less than a victory here, will complicate their chances of staying in Gabon.
Egypt is on high confidence coming into this one, and it makes Uganda’s chances really slim. History, recent meetings and team results set Egypt a mile away from Uganda.
Egypt’s defence has kept a clean sheet in 10 of the last 16 internationals. The Pharaohs have further gone on to win 13 of the 17 meetings with Uganda while losing just once. Since 1965, Uganda is yet to beat Egypt! Certainly a huge record that will demand something special from Uganda, should they be interested in winning this one.
This is an extremely tough one for Micho and his men. There is certainly no space for them to collect anything from this encounter.
Liverpool vs Swansea: Bye Bye Swans?
It’s been a tough season for Swansea. Already, they have pointed a third manager in under a year and they are staring at relegation in the eye. Former Real Madrid assistant coach Paul Clement has brought some oomph in the side, but it certainly is a little too late.
It will take an unlikely miracle for the Welsh side to claw back and remain afloat this season. After a 4-0 soaking at home to Arsenal, they make a trip to Anfield, and you can expect Paul Clement and his men to get another spanking.
The dismissal of Monk and the awful Bob Bradley have failed to transform Swansea’s fortunes, and to beat the drop this season, Clement must orchestrate something extremely special. That is unlikely considering the trip to Anfield will see them short of three key men: Taylor, Barrow, Montero.
Swansea will take inspiration from Liverpool’s recent dip in form, that has seen the Kops score fewer goals and drop slightly on the table. Further inspiration for Swansea lies in the fact that three of Liverpool’s key men Ings, Mane and matip are unavailable. That however, does not outweigh Liverpool’s potential threats that make Swansea’s chances in this one very slim.
Swansea has conceded a whooping 16 goals in 5 trips to Anfield. Liverpool has won all its last 5 matches against Swansea at home. In 17 home matches, the Kops are yet to taste defeat. Swansea has no chance at all in this one!
Swansea is out of depth and is low on confidence. Liverpool’s fluid side should have an easy sail to victory.
Stoke City vs Manchester United: Defensive Stoke to Frustrate United
After going through a rough patch of 4 consecutive away defeats in the league, Stoke City found some form and registered a second straight league victory with a sure 3-1 win over Sunderland.
The Potters now welcome Manchester United in what is poised to be an action packed match. Against Sunderland, the Potters showed what they are made of, effectively dismantling Sunderland 3-1 with Marko Arnautovic in his true element. In four games, Mark Hughes men are yet to suffer a loss on home soil.
Stoke however, welcomes a very formidable opposition in Manchester United. The momentum is with the Red Devils who have gone 16 matches unbeaten. In the last 5 away games, they have dropped just a point. Talismanic Zlatan Ibrahimovic seems unstoppable as the Swede forward is scoring at will.
The two sides settled for a draw in the opening fixture at Old Trafford and this is likely to be a cagey affair with both sides coming on the scoresheet. Stoke knowing that Wilfried Bony,Jonathan Walters and Mame Diouf are out, Mark Hughes could opt for the traditional granite defensive set up to try and minimize any potential destruction.
Stoke knows how to frustrate teams, and force a result. This is certainly of those matches where they will force a boring draw.
Manchester City vs Tottenham: Reality Check For Pep.
A man thought to be near perfect on the touchline is facing a moment of his coaching life. While many thought that Pep would lead Manchester City to the league podium in Cinderella fashion, the reality checked in fast. Leicester, Chelsea and Everton have offered the former Barca man some bitter losses, the latest being a 4-0 drubbing at the Goodison Park.
It was a defeat that left City’s backline in sixes and sevens, with Pep watching painfully from the dugout. Exposed.Nothing could save face for the Citizens. Everton ran riot, and it turned from ‘Let’s try score some goals’ to ‘Who wants a goal against Claudio Bravo?’
The test just got tougher for Pep, as he welcomes a well oiled Tottenham side to the Etihad. City’s home is no longer a fortress, and should Spurs come to the party, City is in for another shocker. History does not favour City at all, and it will take something special for them to avoid further slip, as has been in recent weeks where they have slid to 5th on the log, just 2 points above town rivals United.
High-flying Tottenham come to the Etihad beaming with confidence after registering a 6-match winning streak. Spurs has scored at least 2 goals in the last 6 games and kept clean sheets in the last 3 games in all competitions. Mauricio Pochettino and his men will be desperate for victory to slice the gap between themselves and Chelsea.
Spurs has gone to win 3 of the last games against City and scored at least two goals in those. Most ties between these two sides have delivered lots of goals and that should happen in this one as well.
A cautious approach from both managers is what we expect, with lots of goals and a draw eventually sealing the tie,