This period of the year always offers challenges for the European football schedule because of the massive fixture pile-up that begins in late October and stretches all the way to the end of December.
Because of the congestion in the Premier League the English teams generally suffer the most, because they don’t take a break over Christmas. Unfortunately for title-aspirants Manchester United and Chelsea, they’ve both now got players returning to England with new injuries that will give both Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte some headaches.
Marouane Fellaini sustained a knee injury for Belgium in their World Cup qualifier against Bosnia, and will be unavailable for Manchester United for a couple of weeks; while N’Golo Kante left France’s WC qualifier match against Bulgaria clutching his hamstring and will be out for an unknown period.
United play Liverpool when the Premier League resumes after the current international break, so missing one of their most in form players is a blow that comes at an inconvenient time. Kante has been a star since he arrived in the Premier League, we’ll have to see how the Blues adapt to his absence. This compounds issues that Chelsea manager Antonio Conte is already navigating with Alvaro Morata’s unavailability, also due to a problematic hamstring.
Could Marouane Fellaini’s absence affect United’s ability to get three points against Liverpool? Well, the big Belgian has scored four goals in his last five games from midfield, so we could possibly slash the odds on a Manchester United victory if he isn’t there to terrorise their defence at set pieces.
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