Tottenham v Liverpool, White Hart Lane, Sat 17, 12:45
An already interesting clash of the big six has an added point of in interest in that it’s the bow of Jurgen Klopp.
Regardless of the way Brendan Rodgers was axed, it was undoubtedly an inevitable occurrence and now Liverpool fans can see it as an opportunity to start again and begin to progress. Klopp, notorious for his charisma, will add a new energy to the dressing room which perhaps Rodgers was not able to give and will have his troops fired up from the off when they travel to London. The injury to Danny Ings is a massive blow with the ex-Burnley man starting to find his feet in Merseyside however they will now hope that Daniel Sturridge’s persistent time on the sidelines is at an end and that he can return to being the 20 goal hit man he once was.
By contrast, affairs at Tottenham have been much more settled. Mauricio Pochettino has done – it appears – what many managers at the London club have failed to do and settled down in his role a tad. And this is almost testament of the club’s current situation which is very settled and decent. Unbeaten since the opening day defeat at Old Trafford, Spurs deserve to have a top four ambition. They may have only gained a point against Swansea two weeks ago but they were deeply unfortunate in that regard not to take all three.
This could be a very entertaining match. As aforementioned, Klopp’s men will press high and look to catch Tottenham out early on and they’ll be certainly set-up to score lots of goals. Tottenham’s defence is hardly the best out there and they will struggle against the nimble Phillipe Coutinho and the pace of Sturridge while at the other end, an already fragile defence could feasibly be even more so with the change in style that they are set to undergo. A high scoring draw here between two evenly matched teams looks on the cards.
Special Mention: Everton v Manchester United, Goodison Park, Sat 17, 15:00
How this one didn’t make the television cameras is anybody’s guess but it certainly presents a rare opportunity to see a big game at the traditional time for which football should be played. The hosts are keeping up their tag of being the team that nobody in the division wants to play. Barring a poor season last time out, Everton have always been a tough nut to crack, particularly at home and only United’s neighbours City have beaten them this season. United were annihilated at the Emirates in their last Premier League game and will look to bounce back at the first attempt. Yet that Arsenal defeat highlighted a defence that has deceived many into believing it was a very solid unit but a few injuries later it became shakier than a foreign footballer in the British climate. Everton will be aware of this and in the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley, they have offensive players that are able to cause great damage so in my eyes, you have to cast the home team as favourites here.
Round up of the rest
Chelsea v Aston Villa, Stamford Bridge, Sat 17, 15:00
I cannot see anything other than a home victory because Chelsea simply cannot continue their abysmal run. Aston Villa are arguably the best team Chelsea could face at this moment in time on their home turf. They look shaky at the back and weak in attack though Rudy Gestede could cause some problems with his physique. A scruffy and scrappy match awaits but Chelsea should edge it.
It’s a difficult one to call this as Palace are excelling in the league but play better on the road. West Ham by contrast were flat against Sunderland last week but stole a point and are unbeaten on their travels. Certainly under Slaven Bilic, West Ham are far more unpredictable and this certainly makes them exciting for the neutral but these two evenly match teams should share the spoils.
Manchester City v Bournemouth, Etihad Stadium, Sat 17, 15:00
City have had a strange twist of fortunes of late. Talismanic goal-getter Sergio Aguero, Spanish wizard David Silva and the heavily attacking left back Aleksandar Kolarov all out, yet captain Vincent Kompany returns and Pablo Zabaleta should be properly fit for this one having played against Newcastle in the last match. City should show more defensive solidity and find a couple of goals.
Southampton v Leicester, St Mary’s, Sat 17, 15:00
There are clear parallels between this match and the London derby at Selhurst Park in that these are two teams that are ambitious in their intentions. Southampton have Grazianno Pelle to find their goals while Leicester have Jamie Vardy and Sadio Mane and Riyad Mahrez for both teams respectively, provide a creative outlet. Saints to nick this tie due to home advantage but it’ll be close.
West Brom v Sunderland, The Hawthornes, Sat 17, 15:00
Sam Allardyce was largely overshadowed by Klopp as he moved to take over the reins at Sunderland last week but his book release has kept him in the headlines going into the start of this current week. He will have his team set up to be hard to beat, which is of course similar to his counterpart Tony Pulis’ way of thinking. This could be the bore draw of the day with a stalemate or low scoring result.
Newcastle v Norwich, St James’ Park, Sun 18, 16:00
This is a match where I foresee the Magpies finally breaking their winless duck. Norwich are a good, collective team but they were poor against Leicester before the international break – never really getting going. Newcastle will be seriously fired up after their 6-1 collapse at City and have to get a win here to boost their chances of staying in the division. I think they will do just that…just.
Swansea v Stoke, Liberty Stadium, Mon 19, 20:00
Two wins on the spin now for Mark Hughes’ Stoke and he’s loving life. It was a different story up until then as Stoke hadn’t won any of their first six matches. He knows though that his team are far from ship shape at the moment and that beating Swansea will be a struggle, especially in Wales. Swansea haven’t won since beating United but I think they’ll nudge away Stoke here.
Team of the week
GK: Rob Elliott (Newcastle): Big day for Elliott who is set to get an extended run in the side barring any emergency signings with the lengthy absence of Tim Krul underway. He’s used to being an understudy but Elliott will no doubt have ambitions of becoming the number one on Tyneside and performing consistently in games is the best way to do that.
CB: Vincent Kompany (Manchester City): The skipper is back and boy have his club missed his presence at the back. It’s no coincidence that in City’s first five League matches, they conceded no goals and then seven in their next three. It’s because Kompany was in the team for the first five.
CB: Phil Jones (Manchester United): Completed 90 minutes against Estonia in midweek and Louis Van Gaal will be wanting to thrust him back into his team with the injuries at United at the moment. If he does start, he’s certainly got one hell of a task on in a bid to stifle Lukaku in attack.
CB: Younes Kaboul (Sunderland): He seems to be in a number of these but this week, although he’s not against the scariest of forward lines, he will be making his debut under Sam Allardyce and the gaffer certainly won’t be standing for a continuation of his inept displays. The pressure’s on for the Frenchman to step it up.
RM: Marko Arnoutovic (Stoke): Scored the winner against Aston Villa last time out and will be looking to build on that. He’s been very much the definition of inconsistent during his time with the Potters; as likely to pull a stand-out performance from the bag as he is to go missing for the 90 minutes. Certainly has the potential to be a very good player for Stoke.
CM: Jack Grealish (Aston Villa): The youngster has a tough task at trying to reinvigorate his troops as they tackle champions Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. It will be interesting to see how he copes with the pressure of being one of Villa’s few bright sparks at the moment. At time this season he’s delivered but the team haven’t delivered with him.
CM: Ross Barkley (Everton): Impressive on international duty for England, can Barkley continue his rich vein of form for his club against United. He’s not been shy this season for the Toffees and has demonstrated his ability to score goals, create goals and push his team up the pitch.
LM: Sadio Mane (Southampton): Mane is a strange player because while he isn’t particularly gifted or outstanding at any one thing, he’s always in and around all things positive that Southampton do in the final third. He is very quick but isn’t the greatest technically yet is such an integral part of this Saints team nonetheless.
CAM: Christian Eriksen (Tottenham): Two free kick goals against Swansea in his last outing for Spurs, keeping up that trend of scoring from set-pieces. Eriksen is very much Tottenham’s version of Coutinho but going into the big clash on Saturday, it’s arguable that he’s much more consistent at what he offers his club than his Brazilian counterpart.
ST: Diego Costa (Chelsea): The Spanish bad-boy is back from his ban and no doubt ready to kick ass! He’s had an indifferent opening to this campaign but there is no doubt Chelsea look a better team when he’s leading the line. He just needs to start making headlines for the goals he’s scoring not the people he’s whacking!
ST: Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool): In Danny Ings’ absence, there is even greater emphasis on the England international to score the necessary goals and keep fit for an elongated amount of time. If he does live up to expectations, he’s probably one of the league’s top five strikers and Klopp will look to get the absolute maximum out of him.
Manager –Jurgen Klopp (Liverpool): This couldn’t be anyone else in truth could it? The German’s arrival to the Kop has been aired in the media for the past week and a half and although no one is expecting miracles from the off, it will be fascinating to see how he sets up against Tottenham tactically and how those tactics mirror the final result.