Manchester City v Liverpool, Etihad Stadium, Sat 21, 17:30
Title chasing City will be hoping to extend their good form against Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool though of course the big subplot before the match will be that it is their first clash since Raheem Sterling crossed over the North West.
It’s safe to say that the consensus during Sterling’s departure was overwhelming negative and bitter and those sentiments haven’t changed it would appear. Although in the midst of all that, Sterling has performed rather well on the pitch, cementing a place in the City starting eleven on a regular basis. Much like whilst at his peak at Anfield, Sterling seems to perform better when surrounded by better players (Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and Steven Gerrard and now David Silva, Kevin de Bruyne, Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero for example) however with Aguero and Silva unlikely to be fit enough to feature, it could be down to the young Englishman to step up and be counted for his team. It’s alright to be in the shadows at the moment but if he ever wants to earn top class status, he needs to emerge from the shadow and be a player truly vital to City’s plans, rather than just being an excellent spare part.
Liverpool’s loyal faithful will now realise their task of revitalising their Champions League ambitions will require lots of time and attention. Jurgen Klopp may be wonderful in his man management however the squad is still uneven, lacking in quality and in raw pace. Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund team was composed almost entirely of fast and tenacious footballers that aided his philosophy. He doesn’t have that luxury on Merseyside so he’ll have to adapt his ways a tad. Following a solid start and a fine 3-1 victory over Chelsea, their defeat at home to Crystal Palace brought perspectives back down to Earth.
It would seem the hosts could be without a number of their key players still with some only just returning from injuries, as aforementioned. Yaya Toure should therefore push up into either an advanced midfield or number ten position, which has proved to be fruitful in the past for his team. Liverpool will give them a game with their workmanlike setup and should be able to breach their opponents fragilities at the back, yet Manuel Pellegrini’s men should outscore the Reds and run out winners.
Watford v Manchester United, Vicarage Rd, Sat 21, 12:45
This should be a tight game and a proverbial ‘David v Goliath’ concept for the respective sizes of the two clubs. However, Watford have proven they are more than up for the challenge of the top flight with a shrewd defence and a dangerous forward threat in Odion Ighalo. United have stumbled over the line at times and with Anthony Martial injured, they’ll lose that vital pace. Watford may nick this.
Chelsea v Norwich, Stamford Bridge, Sat 21, 15:00
It’s incredible to see how the mighty have fallen. Chelsea have been languishing near the bottom of the table for the whole season and have yet to really leave behind their abysmal form. They defeated Aston Villa 2-0 but then contrived to lose three straight league matches. Norwich have acquitted themselves well to the Premier League but should fall narrowly short to this sleeping giant.
Everton v Aston Villa, Goodison Park, Sat 21, 15:00
It’s the most frequent fixture in English football history and they generally deliver some entertaining spectacles when they’re played out. However, I get the feeling there will be few goals in this tie with new Villa manager Remi Garde likely to adopt a backs-to-the-wall job to try and nick an important away point. They’ll fight but Everton should bridge their defences and take a home victory.
Newcastle v Leicester, St James’ Park, Sat 21, 15:00
The man of the moment Jamie Vardy is set to overcome the injury that ruled him out of England’s friendlies in order to keep his goal-scoring-record bid on track. If he does start, he, Riyad Mahrez and company should be too much for Newcastle to keep at bay and this should be a comprehensive away win. The Magpies will no doubt score, as Leicester struggle for clean sheets, but will lose.
Stoke may have beaten Chelsea two weeks ago but they certainly had lady luck on their side. Chelsea spurned chance after chance and Jack Butland was, once again, superb. In fact, Butland has been at the heart of almost everything good his team have mustered this season but can he keep out Southampton? Unlikely! Grazianno Pelle and Sadio Mane are two potential difference makers.
Swansea v Bournemouth, Liberty Stadium, Sat 21, 15:00
The Swans have been in poor form for some time now and Gary Monk will be looking to wave away rumours of rumblings from the board with a win here. Bournemouth are in a dire state and really needed to beat Newcastle before the international break. You could see them really giving Swansea a tough time of it but the hosts have the quality to punish the Cherries for their lack of it.
West Brom v Arsenal, The Hawthorns, Sat 21, 15:00
Arsenal limped to a draw against Tottenham in the North London derby and were largely unimpressive. They may not have Alexis Sanchez available to them which would be a blow considering the energy and top quality he gives to an Arsenal team that at times does lack that spark. The Baggies are a tight-knit-unit and could be on for a surprise point on their home turf.
Tottenham v West Ham, White Hart Lane, Sun 22, 16:00
Spurs are playing really well at the moment; they’re unbeaten in the league since the opening day. Though a common rule is that whenever they look imperious, they generally flatter to deceive. It’s the rule of being a Tottenham supporter! Without the magnificent Dimitri Payet, West Ham may look particularly sparse going forward but I see them taking a point from this one.
Crystal Palace v Sunderland, Selhurst Park, Mon 23, 20:00
Alan Pardew’s Palace are set-up to perform well on the road so when it comes to playing at Selhurst Park, it can be a more difficult venture for them. Sam Alladrdyce’s men will come to park the bus and play direct up to Steven Fletcher but eventually, the Eagles’ should wear down Sunderland’s resilient stance. They should get the odd goal to see off the relegation threatened club on Wearside.
Eleven to watch this weekend
GK: Jack Butland (Stoke)
RB: Carl Jenkinson (West Ham)
CB: Sylvain Distin (Bournemouth)
CB: Ashley Williams (Swansea)
LB: Micah Richards (Aston Villa)
RM: Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)
CDM: Eric Dier (Tottenham)
CAM: Jesse Lingard (Manchester United
LM: Eden Hazard (Chelsea)
ST: Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool)
ST: Jamie Vardy (Leicester)
Manager: Jose Mourinho (Chelsea)