Premier League, Haaland | Going into decisive weeks: – The biggest ever


The Premier League season is over halfway, but Ødegaard and Haaland still haven’t met, as the match that was originally supposed to take place on 19 October was moved due to the Queen’s death.

During the next three weeks, the teams will meet twice, in games that could turn out to be decisive for the teams’ season.

First up is the match in the “insignificant” FA Cup, but there is little reason to believe that the teams will take the task lightly or spare players. Viaplay’s expert commentator Petter Veland expects two top elevens, both because the clubs are in an easy match schedule, but also because of the psychological advantage a victory can provide.

– It is a psychological game here, between Arsenal and Manchester City. In a way, chess pieces are being moved, and the teams want to gain an advantage before the next, even more important game, says Veland to Nettavisen.

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– The biggest ever

Pep Guardiola said at his press conference that Friday’s FA Cup match will be different from the Premier League match, but Roar Stokke shares Veland’s perception that Friday’s cup match will be taken seriously by both teams’ managers.

– The pressure to become a club that regularly wins trophies is on Arsenal. Until now, Martin Ødegaard and Co. won soccer hearts and a lot of respect, but it will only be in four months that we will have the answer to whether they were able to stand the whole distance, Stokke tells Nettavisen, and adds:

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– And that’s why the prestige is so great at Etihad. It is much more than “just” the FA Cup. It’s prestige from here to the moon.

Even if the FA Cup is not de-prioritized, there is no doubt that the Premier League match on 15 February will be even more important. The way the Premier League table looks now, it will take one more wonder if either Arsenal or Manchester City will remain as winners, and with that we will get the first Norwegian Premier League winner since 2007.

– I sat and thought about it a few days ago: The Premier League match that comes up between these two teams must almost be, at least in modern times, the biggest matchup between two Norwegian players ever, Veland says.

He justifies this by the fact that we have two Norwegians who are both top scorers for the teams in first and second place in the Premier League, in addition to the fact that Ødegaard is captain of Arsenal. Both players are also drawn by many experts as the most important contributors for their respective teams.

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Fighting for the “Player of the Year” title

At the time of writing, there are two Norwegians who are the leading candidates to be named player of the year in the Premier League. All major English bookmakers have the lowest odds on Haaland winning, followed by Ødegaard close behind.

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When the experts are asked who they think will run away with the title of the year’s best player in the Premier League, they refuse to make a prediction. Stokke reasons that it is impossible to compare two players with such different playing styles, while Veland compares it to choosing between his own children.

– It is most often the case that if you play for the league champion, you have a small “edge”, unless the competitor’s performance is absolutely extreme – and that is exactly what Haaland is, says Veland, and adds:

– If it is City that wins the series in the end, I think it will be difficult to get away from Haaland. If Arsenal take it then it might be possible to keep Ødegaard up front, knowing that he is captain and might end up with the most goals for them.

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Keeping Arsenal as favourite

Both pundits agree that Arsenal are now favorites to walk away with the Premier League trophy for the first time since the 2003/04 season.

– Who can write off Arsenal now? Not me. But they have two challenges: They have to defend the top of the table for a long time, which is a mental burden, and with the exception of Jesus, they have remained injury-free. There will be a further test if they get more injuries, says Stokke.

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Veland refers to the odds market, which he characterizes as the closest you can get to an objective and neutral assessment, to emphasize that Arsenal are now favorites to win.

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– Arsenal have such a significant lead that they have everything in their own hands, despite the fact that they have not yet met City. If they keep City at arm’s length until they meet, a lot will have to go wrong for Arsenal not to take it, notes Veland.

Manchester City take on Arsenal at the Emirates 21:00 on Friday night. The match can be seen on VSport1 and Viaplay.

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