English football returns after the international break with two potentially explosive local derbies over the weekend
Last Updated: 08.02 AM, Oct 01, 2022
Arsenal v Tottenham (5 pm IST)
Tottenham’s trips to the Emirates have always produced plenty of goals and excitement. A Spurs win could mean that table-topping Arsenal could drop to third. The first significant challenge Arsenal faced this season was at Old Trafford and they came back empty-handed after losing to a resurgent Manchester United. Mikel Arteta’s men must deliver this weekend if they are to be considered serious title contenders.
Spurs boss Antonio Conte has an enviable dilemma on his hands. Son Heung-min’s second-half hattrick from off the bench against Leicester City could force Conte to bench Richarilson in favour of the last season’s Golden Boot winner. Whereas England captain Harry Kane will look to continue his incredible scoring record against the Gunners in the early Saturday kick-off.
The other top six contenders will also have a vested interest in the outcome of the match.
Bournemouth v Brentford (7:30 pm IST)
After the horror show at Anfield last month which ended in a 9-0 thumping at the hands of Liverpool, managerless Bournemouth have gone three games unbeaten. Interim boss Gary O’Neill will hope that his side can continue this purple patch and boost their chances of survival this season, and also help his chances of replacing Scott Parker on a permanent basis.
Brentford on the other hand have had mixed fortunes since they humbled Manchester United 4-0 at home. Manager Thomas Frank would hope that leading marksman Ivan Toney can help the Bees get a win over the Cherries this weekend to solidify their status as a genuine threat to those eying a top-half finish at the end of the season.
Crystal Palace v Chelsea (7:30 pm IST)
Patrick Vieira's Crystal Palace have quietly established themselves as a mid-table regular. They are tough to break down and at Selhurst Park, they can cause problems to just about any team in the Premier League. And if their talisman Wilfred Zaha is in the mood, Chelsea would have to be at their best to come away with the three points from the London derby.
Chelsea are in a tricky sport at the moment. Graham Potter’s first match in charge, after replacing Thomas Tuchel as manager, ended in a 1-1 draw against RB Salzburg in the Champions League. With just two wins in their last seven games, anything other than a win at Selhurst Park could create problems for the new boss. Potter is a master tactician but it remains to be seen if Chelsea’s new American owner Todd Boehly has the patience to let Potter implement his methods, or if he’s just as trigger-happy as Russian predecessor Roman Abramovich.
Fulham v Newcastle (7:30 pm IST)
Newly promoted Fulham have been a surprise package this season. Sitting at sixth in the table Marco Silva’s side has proven that they are more than capable of mixing it up with the big guns. And their star striker Aleksandar Mitrović appears to have finally shown that he is capable of replicating his goal-scoring form in the Championship to the Premier League. It remains to be seen if The Cottagers and their No.9 can maintain this form for the rest of the season.
Newcastle United were in stunning form after Eddie Howe took over last season. However, despite sitting at 10th and playing good football they have just one win in seven games. They were expected to break the bank this summer after the Saudi takeover, but surprisingly the world’s richest football club owners opted for a restrained approach this transfer window. That being said, there is no dearth of talent in the squad, but questions remain about whether Bruno Guimarães is fit enough to be part of the Matchday squad.
Liverpool v Brighton (7:30 pm IST)
Liverpool were expected to mount yet another title challenge this season, but they have started the season poorly. Manager Jürgen Klopp admitted after getting thrashed 4-1 at Napoli in the Champions League that they need to ‘reinvent themselves if they were to regain their form this season. The Reds hope that star defender Virgil van Dijk can regain his form as well with Brighton visiting Anfield this weekend. With just two wins in six in the league so far anything other than a win could derail Liverpool’s title challenge.
Brighton fans must be feeling hard done with the manner in which the season might unfold for them. They were comfortably in the top six, tactically fluid, and playing wonderful football until Chelsea poached their manager Graham Potter. It remains to be seen how new boss Roberto De Zerbi will set up his side for his first game in charge. And it will be a tough test for the Seagulls at Anfield with Liverpool desperate to revive their season.
Southampton v Everton (7:30 pm IST)
Ralph Hasenhüttl’s Southampton continues to be an enigma, one game they are solid and tactically sound and the next match they would leak goals like Old Trafford’s leaky roofs on a rainy day. But the German has managed to regroup his players after each heavy defeat to go on to have a period of good results. However, with three defeats in a row, the Saints are desperate for three points or risk being sucked into a relegation battle early on in the season.
Everton is ripe for the picking this weekend at the St.Mary's as Frank Lampard could be without up to several players due to injury. Defender Nathan Patterson joins a long list of players out injured for the Toffees. Lampard to his credit has shown resolve in getting much-needed points in recent games and they are unbeaten in six. This means it could turn out to be rather a dull affair at Southampton this weekend with both teams expected to be pragmatic in their gameplans.
West Ham v Wolves (10 pm IST)
David Moyes appears to have finally revived his career after his torrid eight months in charge at Manchester United nine years ago replacing Sir Alex Ferguson. He has guided West Ham to European qualification and has proven to be genuine contenders for the top six in recent years. But they have started this season horribly, with just one win in seven so far and sitting in the bottom three of the table. Moyes is well aware that he has the squad to go on a rich vein of form before the World Cup in December and hopes that captain Declan Rice can galvanise the team as Wolves visit the London Stadium this weekend.
Wolves on the other hand are at 17th in the table just above West Ham. Despite playing some decent football, results have not gone their way. Manager Bruno Large has signed free agent Diego Costa to boost his attacking options and hopes that the former Chelsea striker can help get their season back on track.
Man City v Man Utd (6:30 pm)
Manchester United’s last trip to the Etihad ended in a 4-1 defeat with Pep Guardiola's men comfortably dismantling Ralf Ragnick’s Red Devils. However, United hope that under new boss Erik ten Hag they can make the short trip across the city a memorable one.
The Manchester Derby has become hugely significant over the last decade. City have had a complete monopoly over league titles since 2013 and have finished above their more successful neighbours in every season since.
City’s new 22-year-old Norwegian striker Erling Haaland is scoring goals for fun, and if he continues at this rate for the rest of the season, he is well on course to beat all sorts of scoring records. But City does appear to have a chink in their defensive armour this season which Teg Hag will try to exploit.
Despite losing back-to-back games at the start of the season, United have won four games on the bounce with big wins against historic rivals Liverpool and Arsenal. These wins have come as the result of a solid back-five with new signing Lisandro Martinez replacing club captain Harry Maguire at the heart of the defence and fellow new signing Tyler Malacia replacing Luke Shaw at left-back.
Guardiola is expected to be without central defenders Aymeric Laporte and John Stones whereas ten Hag could be without long-term absentee Anthony Martial and an in-form Marcus Rashford. Cristiano Ronaldo is expected to lead the line for Manchester United, but there is a chance that Ten Hag could bench the 37-year-old in favour of a more youthful lineup that could match City’s intensity.
Leeds v Aston Villa (9 pm IST)
Leeds United boss Jesse Marsch was labelled Ted Lasso by sections of the British media because he is American. But just like his fictional counterpart, he appears to have won over his critics. Leeds welcome Aston Villa to Elland Road this weekend and are expected to be upbeat after their impressive 5-2 win over Brentford in their previous match.
Steven Gerrard was under immense pressure last month after a poor start to the season. But a draw against Manchester City and a win over Southampton appear to have eased his worries. A draw at Elland Road wouldn't be a bad result for the Villains but Gerrard is unlikely to set his team up for a draw. The showdown between two former heavyweights of English football could be entertaining.
Leicester v Nottingham Forest (12:30 am Tuesday IST)
Leicester City are in a rut and are in massive trouble, and manager Brendan Rodgers is very fortunate the owners are willing to afford him the time to fix the problems. They are rooted at the bottom of the table, and for a team expected to be challenging for a top-six finish, the season has turned into a nightmare. The one positive that has going for them at the moment is midfielder James Maddison’s incredible form. Rodgers would have been relieved that England manager Gareth Southgate overlooked Maddison for the recent Internationals — a decision that continues to baffle many. The Foxes have more than enough firepower to find goals but it is their defensive frailties this season that has left them with just a single point so far.
Nottingham Forest are the ideal opponents for Leicester at the moment. The newly promoted side despite spending a whopping £145 million this summer window are 19th in the table and are the bookies' favourites for the drop this season unless something drastically changes in the next few months. It is worth noting that promoted sides in the other European leagues won’t even be able to afford a fraction of that. So it shouldn’t be surprising that Forest boss Steve Cooper is also under tremendous pressure. The match has all the signs pointing to the losing manager facing the sack.
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