Premier League midweek news: Matchday 17
Latest news, injury report and the fixtures for the upcoming matchday.
Rebecca Welch to be first female Premier League referee
History will be made during Matchday 18 as Rebecca Welch has been appointed as the first female Premier League referee in history.
Welch has been breaking boundaries for some time now, becoming the first woman to work as a fourth official during the Manchester United vs Fulham game last month as well as the first woman to take charge of an EFL and men’s FA Cup match.
She has worked hard to be given his opportunity, having previously refereed in the National League while also regularly officiating in the WSL.
Welch will be overseeing the Cottagers again as she has been appointed the Fulham vs Burnley fixture on Saturday 23rd December.
Also, while not making new history but still important to note, Sam Allison will be the first Black top-flight referee since Uriah Rennie in 2008 when he takes charge of Sheffield United vs Luton on Boxing Day.
Premier League could lose extra Champions League spot
Following the finale of the Champions League group stage, Manchester United and Newcastle’s exits not just from the competition but from European football as a whole have put the Premier League’s fifth Champions League spot in contention.
UEFA uses a system called ‘club coefficients’ and it essentially ranks teams by how well they do in Europe but also helps to decide which leagues deserve the most spots in European competitions.
The Premier League has almost always had good representation and therefore has had five spots technically up for grabs each year, but with United and Newcastle’s exits, that fifth spot may now disappear as England call fall to third overall in the nation coefficients rankings.
For context, the top two nations’ leagues will receive an extra Champions League spot, and currently, they are third in the table as Germany and Italy have overtaken them due to having more teams left in European competitions.
The fact that the Champions League format will also be changing next year has also slightly changed the process, but either way, the failure of Manchester United and the misfortune of Newcastle may take a toll on the rest of the Premier League.
Graham Potter in line for Man United job
Speaking of Man United failures, Erik Ten Hag’s tenure could come to an end once Sir Jim Ratcliffe and INEOS are running football operations.
Ratcliffe is reportedly put together a shortlist of managerial candidates for when the takeover is complete and former Chelsea boss Graham Potter is said to be high on the list.
However, as things stand with the current hierarchy in the club, there are no plans to move on from Ten Hag as of now and no approach has been made to Potter.
It should be said that these reports do also mention that should United’s results improve Ten Hag may save his job. Although with the Red Devils now out of Europe altogether and being a big outside chance to win the league, his chances are looking fairly slim.
A lot of eyes will be watching at Anfield this weekend as Man United head to face Liverpool. They lost in this fixture 7-0 last season and are on a slide right now that saw them lose 3-0 to Bournemouth last weekend and 1-0 to Bayern Munich on Tuesday night.
While injuries may play a big part in United’s recent form, much of the blame does seem to still be falling on the Dutchman’s coaching.
As we mentioned, United have several injury problems, but they’re certainly not the only ones. Here’s a quick report on some of the more major injury news heading into the weekend.
After missing out in City’s close 2-1 win over Luton as well as their Champions League fixture on Wednesday, Erling Haaland is still a doubt to start this weekend as City host Crystal Palace.
Speaking before their game against Red Star Belgrade, manager Pep Guardiola said Haaland will be back in training on Thursday and will see how he feels about playing come gameday on Saturday.
Alexis Mac Allister
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has confirmed Alexis Mac Allister will be unavailable once again for their fixture against Man United on Sunday.
The World Cup winner picked up an injury during Liverpool’s win at Sheffield Wednesday last Wednesday and did not travel with the squad to Belgium for their Europa League tie against Union SG.
Man United as a whole can go here as they are currently suffering from many significant injuries, including two fresh worries to Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw, who sustained injuries during the first half of their Champions League match against Bayern on Tuesday.
Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial also missed out due to illness, while Lisandro Martinez and Casemiro are only taking positive steps towards their return but remain some ways short of being fit for selection.
Matchday 17 Fixtures
Friday 15th December
Nottingham Forest vs Tottenham, 8pm, Sky Sports
Saturday 16th December
Bournemouth vs Luton, 3pm
Chelsea vs Sheffield United, 3pm
Manchester City vs Crystal Palace, 3pm
Newcastle vs Fulham, 3pm
Burnley vs Everton, 5:30pm, Sky Sports
Sunday 17th December
Arsenal vs Brighton, 2pm
Brentford vs Aston Villa, 2pm
West Ham vs Wolves, 2pm, Sky Sports
Liverpool vs Manchester United, 4:30pm, Sky Sports