United host Liverpool African Cup of Nations

This weekend is a blockbuster in the Premier League as Manchester United hosts Liverpool.  The two most winning clubs in English history meet in Manchester.  This is a big game as both teams have aspirations of being in the top 4 this season, and a win this weekend will go a long way towards this.  Liverpool enter the weekend in 2nd place.  They have struggled lately but should have Coutinho back for this game.  United have won 9 straight in the league but are stuck in 6th place.  Mourinho seems to have found his best team and they are playing some great football right now.  A win this weekend could pull them up out of 6th place.  A win for Liverpool could keep them in the title race if Chelsea slip up in the next couple weeks.  Elsewhere, Chelsea travel to the defending champions Leicester City.  Tottenham hosts West Bromwich Albion in the first game of the weekend.  Swansea City hosts Arsenal this weekend and Manchester City travels to Everton.  Will Chelsea slip up and open the title race, or will Manchester United get into the title race with a massive win over their rivals Liverpool?  I know many people feel that the Manchester Derby has become bigger than the United vs. Liverpool game, but for those of us who appreciate history this is the game of the season in the Premier League.

The big game in Spain also takes place on Sunday as 2nd place Sevilla host 1st place Real Madrid.  Real Madrid have just set the record for longest unbeaten run following their great comeback against Sevilla in the Copa del Rey.  Now they will look to make a statement in the league.  They are 5 points clear of Barcelona and 4 ahead of Sevilla with a game in hand.  Elsewhere, Barcelona will look to get back to winning ways as they host Las Palmas.  Atletico Madrid hosts Real Betis in a winnable game as they look to remain in the Champions League places. 

In France, the Ligue 1 returns this weekend.  The title race is very much on in France and it will be interesting to see how it unfolds.  Nice is on top of the table with only 1 loss this season.  Monaco sits 2 points behind Nice in second place.  PSG are in third place, 5 points behind Nice.  Will we see a new champion this season?  PSG are the first to play this weekend as they travel to Stade Rennais.  Rennes sit in 7th place right now.  On Sunday, Nice plays first as they host 19th place Metz.  In the final game of the weekend, Monaco travel to Marseille in what might be the most interesting game this weekend.  The bottom of the table is quite tight as the bottom 6 teams are separated by 4 points.  This weekend could have some separation at the bottom.

In Serie A this weekend, the leaders Juventus travel to Fiorentina.  They will look to build on their lead at the top.  They have a 4 point lead on Roma and a 8 point lead Napoli.  Roma travel to Udinese this weekend hoping to cut into the lead as they play before Juventus on Sunday.  On the bottom end of the table, Palermo travels to Sassuolo.  If Palermo is able to win then they will gain a vital 3 points that could go a long way towards their survival. 

This weekend also marks the start of the African Cup of Nations.  This should be a very interesting tournament and provide us with an opportunity to watch some players play together that we do not normally see.  Here is a quick look at the groups in the African Cup of Nations.  Over half of the teams in the field have won the tournament in the past. 

Group A – Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, Burkina Faso, and Cameroon

Gabon might be the lowest ranked team in the tournament but they are the hosts and have arguably the most exciting player in the field in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.  Cameroon are the favorites in this group but after that they might struggle.  Bertrand Traore is a player to watch from Burkina.

Group B – Algeria, Zimbabwe, Tunisia, Senegal

Algeria has a talented team and could be a team that wins the tournament if the results fall their way.  Sadio Mane will hope to bring the first ever title for Senegal this winter.  Tunisia should finish second in the group if they can get a result against Algeria.  Zimbabwe are massive underdogs.

Group C – Ivory Coast, Togo, DR Congo, Morocco

Ivory Coast are the defending Champions from 2015 but they do not have the Toure borthers, Didier Zokora or Didier Drogba.  They should still win this group however.  DR Congo always surprises people so keep an eye on them, especially Bakambu.  Monaco will expect to get out to the group.  Emanuel Adebayor is playing for Togo and they are hoping he is the difference.

Group D – Ghana, Uganda, Mali, Egypt

Ghana will hope that they can finally lift the trophy again as it has been 35 years since they last won the trophy.  Uganda will struggle to advance from the group.  Egypt will be favorites in the group and should get to the quarterfinals.  Mali will be hopeful that they can get enough results to advance from the group.

This should be a fun tournament with some very exciting football.

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