After an eventful week in Europe for the big English teams, it time to get back on the domestic scene as several big games that would shape the log would take place this weekend. Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham recorded wins in the Champions League and they remain the top of their respective groups. Arsenal and Everton were involved in the Europa league on Thursday with the North London team playing a goalless draw and Everton lost to continue their poor form. Liverpool play on Saturday, but the rest of the big teams play on “Super Sunday” with the two Manchester clubs playing the two most successful London clubs.
WEST HAM VS LIVERPOOL
The Hammers host Liverpool on Saturday evening at the Olympic Stadium in London. Bilic’s men failed to pick up all three points last weekend away to Palace after an impressive first half display and they lie 16th on the log and a loss may see them slide into the relegation zone.
Liverpool outclassed Huddersfield last weekend with a massive second half display from the reds. They are still missing Sadio Mane, but they have Coutinho, Firminho, Salah and Daniel Sturridge so they can be dangerous in attack. The problem they have had this season is the defence and the West Ham attackers would be hoping to pounce and get goals.
Liverpool should be able to get a victory against a West Ham side that have struggled this season, however, the extra game that they played because of European duties might just lessen their advantage a little.
TOTTENHAM VS CRYSTAL PALACE
Tottenham take on Crystal Palace on Sunday at the Wembley stadium. This fixture does not really stand out on paper like a big game, but London derbies are always special and both teams seem to have found a certain balance in their style of play. There will also be two highly experienced managers in the dugout as Roy Hodgson would take on Mauricio Pochettino for the first time this season.
Tottenham lost their last premier league game 1-0 to Manchester United at Old Trafford but that defeat comes in between two resounding victories at home to Liverpool and Real Madrid. The spurs would also welcome talisman Harry Kane back to the matchday squad. The English striker made an appearance against Madrid as he played for 80 minutes and assisted a goal. Dele Alli seems to have found his goal scoring form that had been absent so far, he scored against Liverpool, came closest against Manchester united and he scored a brace against Real Madrid. Moussa Dembele is also back from his injury and should be able to bring the strength in midfield should he be called upon.
Crystal Palace had the worst start to the season but seem to have found their rhythm under former England manager Roy Hodgson who was appointed as manager in a bid to turn things round. Palace got their first goals, points and victories of the season at home to the defending Champions. They also fought back against West Ham to secure a point with a 97th minute strike from in-form striker Wilfried Zaha.
Tottenham should have enough firepower, coordination and tactical edge to secure all three points on Sunday. With the return of Harry Kane and his scoring rate in London derbies, it would be an uphill battle for crystal palace to walk out of the Wembley stadium with any point.
MANCHESTER CITY VS ARSENAL
The “champions elect”; Manchester City host the Gunners on Sunday at the Etihad. In their quest to win the league, it is incumbent to defeat the teas that are strongest in the league as they are likely to be your direct rivals. City have defeated Liverpool and Chelsea already this season and Arsenal has not been a title contender for a while, but they remain one of the strongest teams in England especially with the quality of their forwards and the experience of manager; Arsene Wenger.
Manchester City have dropped only two points this season and they remain five points clear at the top of the table after ten games. They have been on a run of consecutive wins and they do not seem to be missing Benjamin Mendy who is the only player out injured. Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane and Gabriel Jesus have already impressed this season and the ever-reliable David Silva supporting Kevin De Bryune who is enjoying a new role in midfield. City also have a lethal goal threat in Sergio Aguero who became the club’s record goal scorer earlier this week.
Arsenal are fifth on the log currently, but they know that they can be third at the end of the matchday if other results go their way. This game comes at a decent time for them as their star players, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez seem to have hit the form that they are capable of and they have recorded two consecutive victories in the league. The gunners need to avoid defeat so that they do not slide down further on the table but also because the ret f the league wants to see Manchester City knocked down a peg so that they do not look so invincible.
Manchester City clearly has the upper hand in the game, but Arsenal cannot be written off. The gunners would need to play a game of counter attack so that can soak up the attacking pressure that Manchester city would apply, and they can break with the speed and dexterity of their forward players.
CHELSEA VS MANCHESTER UNITED
This game is the star match of the weekend. Second placed Manchester United travel to London to play fourth placed Chelsea at the Stamford bridge. It would be the third time that Chelsea’s most successful manager in their history ad current Manchester united manager; Jose Mourinho would be traveling to the bridge as United manager and a lot of mind games are already being played in the build up to the game.
Chelsea won narrowly away to Bournemouth last weekend with a goal from Eden Hazard although they have struggled significantly because of the absence of N’golo Kante but the Frenchman is rumoured to be back in the selection pool and may feature on Sunday. Alvaro Morata was rumoured to be on his way to Manchester United last summer, but they decided to opt for Chelsea target Romelu Lukaku, Morata would be hoping to put in a performance of such quality that would make his former manager (Jose Mourinho) regret that decision.
Like Chelsea struggled without their French midfielder, Manchester United have suffered with the absence of Paul Pogba but they have managed to grind out results. They have dropped five points in the absence of Pogba and two of those points were dropped in a goalless draw at Anfield. They have lacked that link that connects the defence to the attack and Romelu Lukaku has struggled to score because of the lack of creativity in midfield. However, Paul Pogba is back in training and he is likely to feature. This is good news for the fans of United as they can resume playing the sort of the great football that they played at the beginning of the season.
Both managers are likely to begin the game with a cautious approach especially as Jose Mourinho is known for being defensively compact when playing away from home to big teams. It is likely that he does this again on Sunday considering that this fixture last season ended in a 4-0 defeat for Manchester United. However, he needs to win to keep up with Manchester City, so he needs to be the tactical genius that can be solid in defence and devastating in counter attack. This is what Antonio Conte should have in mind and the game might come down to which manager is willing to take more risks and the individual performances of the players on the pitch.
…in other games
Leicester travel to Stoke on Saturday as the new foxes’ manager hopes to make it two wins from two, Huddersfield hope to bounce back from their trip to Anfield as they host a West Brom side who have secured ten points from ten games. Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle would be hoping to compound the problems of AFC Bournemouth who are 19th on the log. Seventh placed Burnley travel to ten placed Southampton and they would be hoping to continue the impressive run that has seen them occupying the top half of the table. Swansea host Brighton and Hove Albion at the Liberty Stadium. And the last game of the matchday will be at Goodison Park where Everton will be hoping to pick their form against Marco Silva’s Watford who would prove to be tough opposition and match favourites.
Matchday 11 Fixtures
Stoke v Leicester
Huddersfield v West Brom
Newcastle v Bournemouth
Southampton v Burnley
Swansea v Brighton
West Ham v Liverpool
Tottenham v Crystal Palace
Man City v Arsenal
Man United v Chelsea
Everton vs Watford