It’s been an exciting week of great football with the last league fixture on Monday, UEFA champions league football on Tuesday and Wednesday, Europa League on Thursday and the first Premier League game on Friday night when Brighton travel to play West Ham in London.
The “big 6” did okay in Europe with resounding victories for Liverpool, Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United. The Spurs managed to leave the Santiago Bernabeu with a well-merited point they were so impressive that they could have left Spain with all three points. Chelsea played out a somewhat disappointing draw at Stamford Bridge against Roma. But enough of the small talk, let us get into the preview for Matchday 9 in the English Premier League.
Tottenham Hotspur vs Liverpool
The Spurs take on Liverpool at the Wembley stadium on Sunday by 4pm. Pochettino’s men have struggled at home this season and it has been alleged that they are finding it uncomfortable to play in the football paradise that is the Wembley Stadium. They have managed to pick only 5 points from four games played so far at Wembley, this does not sound so bad until you are reminded that they only dropped two points at the White Hart Lane last season.
Liverpool hosted Manchester United last weekend and were frustrated as they were shut out by the compact and calculated defending of the Manchester United team. Klopp’s men would be hoping to take advantage of Spurs’ Wembley woes and would be counting on the attacking pace of this frontmen as they hope to expose the opposition on the break.
Spurs already lost to Chelsea at home this season and Liverpool would be their next big test after that derby and Victor Wanyama and Moussa Dembele are expected to miss the game due to injury. Spurs lie third on the table in a quest to maintain the elite status that they have achieved as consistent title challengers. Liverpool on the other hand have already played Arsenal, Manchester City and Manchester United in the eight games played so far. They lie 8th on the table and are 4 points behind Spurs on the log.
The game should be an exciting one with fast flowing attacking football that should bring a lot of goals. However, if there was any time for Harry Kane to turn his Wembley fortunes around, it would be now. Liverpool are known to be poor defensively and Spurs would need their talisman to take advantage of this.
Everton vs Arsenal
After finishing 7th = last season and being very active in the summer transfer window, 8 points after 8 games and lying in 16th position is an absolute nightmare for Everton fans. To be fair to them, the team has had some tough fixtures that they could not keep up with. They have played Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester United and Manchester City; four of the six teams that finished above them last season. They only picked up a point from these games, scored one goal and conceded ten goals.
Arsenal has had a slow start to the season and they seemed to have gathered some wind in their sails before they were dealt a cruel blow by Watford last time out. Arsene Wenger has admitted that star men; Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil may be allowed to leave in January so that they will not be free agents at the end of the season. This personnel problems seem to be telling on the results on the pitch and they travel to Goodison Park on Sunday to face an Everton side that is desperate for a result.
The game could honestly go either way because the Gunners should have enough firepower to blow the Toffees out of their own park but I see Everton leaving with a result they can be proud of. The Arsenal players sometimes play with a lack of conviction and Ronald Koeman has some quality players that can turn a game on its head on their own days. These players would need to deliver their best individual performances and hope that Wayne Rooney continues his goal scoring trend against the Arsenal.
Manchester City vs Burnley
Manchester City are already being called “Champions-elect” because of their dominance in the last few games and their position at the top of the table. Pep’s army scored 7 goals at home against Stoke last time out and they play Burnley, who are a weaker opposition with all due respect, again at home this weekend with the return of Aguero. The prolific Argentinian striker is one goal away from being the club’s record goal scorer.
It would be an absolute shock if Burnley escape the Etihad with a point. It doesn’t seem like a matter of if they’d lose but by how much they’d lose. The match is expected to be a thrashing and I hope that the Burnley manager would come up with some of the shrewd tactics that he was been praised for in the previous season and that his players would come into the game highly motivated and ambitious so that they may have a chance.
Huddersfield vs Manchester United
Huddersfield are the newcomers on the block and they have had decent start to the season for team that played in the championship last season. They have been solid in their performances and lie 12th on the table although they are only six points from the top four, if they maintain these results, they may end up in the middle of the table at the end of the season.
Manchester United are second in the league and they have played well this season keeping seven clean sheets in 8 league games and scored twenty-one times. They have been hit with a series of injuries and they have suffered in their performances; a draw at Anfield was not bad and a 1-0 win at Benfica does not sound bad on paper but the biting edge that they used to blow away opposition at the immediate start seem to be missing. This is worrisome for the fans.
United should be able to see of Huddersfield especially as they rarely concede and Huddersfield rarely score. Pogba and Fellaini are expected to miss out so Herrera is expected to start in the middle of the park. Mourinho may give a rare chance to Scott McTominay who signed a new contract during the week and featured in the game against Benfica.
Chelsea vs Watford
Chelsea got a shock from Crystal Palace last time out as they lost 2-1 to the team that lie bottom of the table. Since then, Alvaro Morata has returned to the fold to add to the attacking force of the champions and he is expected to feature with Eden Hazard on Saturday but Ngolo Kante will miss the game. They have already lost three games this season and two of these had been in front of their home fans, they need to get a result to remain close to the teams at the top especially as crucial points may be dropped by these teams but they would face a tough test from Watford.
Marco Silva has done a great job in setting up the Watford team, they play without fear nor prejudice and they have gotten results from games against Liverpool and Arsenal although they were humbled by Manchester City. The Hornets lie 4th on the table and they are only two points behind Spurs who are third. If results go their way, Watford could be 3rd after 9 games and Marco Silva would have that in mind when they take on Chelsea at the Stamford Bridge.
In other games, Crystal Palace would be hoping to continue their fight for survival as they travel to Newcastle who would be hoping to climb higher than 9th position where they currently lie. Swansea and the in-form Tammy Abraham would host 2016 league champions Leicester at the Liberty stadium. Stoke play Bournemouth who are one place from bottom and Southampton play West Brom.
The Carabao cup fixtures would be played next week and these managers would have those games in mind when they name their line-up for the weekend games. However, it is rumoured that most managers do not take the competition too seriously as they see it as a distraction. Also, because of the heavy European responsibilities, there may be a lot of shuffling in the teams that may give the underdogs a fighting chance.
No matter what happens at the end of the matchday 9, we would be treated to delightful displays of football, this is the English Premier League and we love this game.