By Simon EvansMANCHESTER, England (Reuters) – Premier League leaders Liverpool and champions Manchester City are heading into an intense month of fixtures with neither looking close to their best.Liverpool laboured to a 1-1 draw with Napoli in the Champions League on Wednesday, lacking the intensity and attacking potency that has been at the heart of their success under manager Juergen Klopp.City stumbled to a 1-1 draw with Shakhtar Donetsk in the same competition, with no sign of the zip and verve that has characterised Pep Guardiola’s team over the past two title-winning seasons. Both looked like sides who could do with a rest, a nice week in a warm-weather resort recharging their batteries, but the price of competing at the highest level — at home and abroad — is a gruelling December that offers no respite and plenty of potential bumps in the road.City need no reminders of the dangers that lie in wait for them in Newcastle on Saturday — one of their four defeats last season came in a 2-1 reverse at St James’ Park in January. With their all-time top scorer Sergio Aguero sidelined by injury, Guardiola is banking on his only other striker, Gabriel Jesus, delivering goals and keeping fit through the coming month.He also needs his team to rediscover the slick passing game and dominance of midfield that has been their hallmark but has been sorely missing in recent weeks.Injuries are part of the process at this time of year especially and Liverpool suffered a blow with their key holding midfielder Fabinho picking up an ankle injury against Napoli. It is unclear how long the Brazilian will be sidelined for but they will probably be without him at home to Brighton on Saturday.Against Napoli, only Roberto Firmino looked in top form and that will be a concern for Klopp as he heads into a month in which his team also have to contend with two games in Qatar in the Club World Cup. To add to the workload, both teams have derby matches on the horizon with Liverpool hosting Everton on Wednesday and City taking on Manchester United on Dec. 7.It looks the ideal moment for second-placed Leicester City to take advantage and push themselves into the race.Brendan Rodgers’ side are a point ahead of City and eight behind Liverpool and on Sunday they face an Everton team whose manager Marco Silva will be worrying he might not even survive to Wednesday’s Merseyside derby. Another manager under intense pressure is West Ham’s Manuel Pellegrini who won’t be looking forward to Saturday’s visit to in-form fourth-placed Chelsea.Manchester United host Aston Villa at Old Trafford on Sunday with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side in need of a convincing performance after struggling for large parts of their 3-3 draw at Sheffield United.Jose Mourinho will look to make it three wins out of three since taking over at Tottenham Hotspur when Bournemouth visit North London on Saturday.
Coming off big wins last weekend, the University of Wisconsin Women’s Hockey team (24-1-1, 18-1-1 WHCA) is going into their matchup against No. 15 St. Cloud State (12-10-2, 8-10-2 WCHA) this weekend looking to maintain a high standard of play.The last time the two programs faced each other, Wisconsin walked away with two shutout wins.Focusing on the bigger pictureThe Badgers not only won twice against North Dakota this weekend, but also secured home ice for the first rounds of the WCHA playoffs. But the Badgers need to keep their winning streak up for the next few weeks if they want to clinch a top playoff seed.Minnesota isn’t far behind Wisconsin in the WCHA standings though. The Badgers are now facing the pressure of the Gophers bearing down on them for the top seed. Only one loss could see Wisconsin fall to the number two seed.Wisconsin keys to victory:Defense is a mustWith playoff season looming around the corner, the Badgers’ defense must be sharp to keep points off the board. This means that UW goalie Ann-Renée Desbiens will need to keep playing with the same accuracy that she has been playing with all season. But in order to do that, her defenders are going to need to support her and help prevent another team from scoring.Thankfully, Wisconsin has the top defense in the WCHA, a unit that allows only .6 points per game — the lowest season average in UW history.With defensemen such as Mellissa Channell, Jenny Ryan, Courtney Burke and Kim Drake all having over 25 blocks on the season, they just need to keep up their performances and they should find success.The main three: Nurse, Pankowski and ClarkWisconsin’s offense is going to be key in the next few matchups, but especially important against St. Cloud State. The Badgers’ leading scorers, forwards Sarah Nurse, Annie Pankowski and Emily Clark need to be given plenty of shooting opportunities.During Wisconsin’s last matchup, Nurse managed two of UW’s seven points in the series while Pankowski tallied one. Considering that each member of the trio has over 15 goals this season, allowing the three to capitalize on scoring opportunities will put Wisconsin in place to succeed.Containing Molly IllikainenIllikainen leads the Huskies with 26 points (14 goals, 12 assists). Her dangerous .233 shooting percentage has made her a staple scorer for St. Cloud State this season. She will be a challenge to the UW defense and Desbiens. Keeping her at bay will be paramount for a Wisconsin victory.
Sportito gets green light to expand into Mexico January 9, 2020 Submit Share Sportito makes LatAm debut in Brazil October 30, 2019 Related Articles StumbleUpon Share UKGC suspends two licences over failure to integrate GAMSTOP April 3, 2020 Sportito has built on its recent deal with Fulham FC by becoming the ‘Official Fantasy Sports Partner’ for Premier League side Burnley FC.Sportito, the first DFS company to sign with the ‘Clarets’, offers players the chance to win real cash prizes every day by choosing which players they would have in their fantasy team, without having to worry about a salary cap restriction.The ‘dynamic’ partnership will also enable fans to participate in competitions to win Burnley signed merchandised, match day tickets and other fan experiences with the club and its players.Anthony Fairclough, Director of Commercial Affairs for Burnley Football Club, commented: “This is the very first Fantasy Sports partner the club have had and I’m sure it will be a hit with our fans. As part of the launch, Sportito are offering a free £5 bet, which fans can take advantage of. I am sure this will be a great partnership for the club, Sportito and more importantly our fan base.”Riccardo Mittiga, CEO of Sportito, said: “We are proud to have Burnley as the first Premier League Football Club on board. Burnley have come a long way from being one of the founding members of English Football League and are now soaring in the Premier League, beating some of the top teams in the division.”He added: “One of the reasons we chose Burnley FC was the passion the fans have for their club. With this partnership, we want to connect with these fans to bring a true Fantasy Football experience with Sportito.”A DFS platform operating in the UK with a gambling license from the UKGC, Sportito offers numerous competitions featuring players across leagues such as the Premier League, Championship, Bundesliga and La Liga. Click here to access the dedicated webpage for Burnley FC fans.