Tottenham v Manchester City, White Hart Lane, Sat 26, 12:45
The obvious ‘big-match’ of the weekend with a clash of the top six between top of the table Manchester City and a Tottenham side unbeaten since the opening day defeat to Manchester United.
It came as a surprise to a number that Spurs overturned everybody’s dark horse to excel this season in Palace last week. But people forget that this is a member of the ‘big six’ as it has been dubbed in recent years and while they didn’t spend their usual fortune in the summer, they have assembled a decent unit to have a right good go in the league this season. The signing of Heung Min Son in particular was excellent business and his versatility across the forward positions was important whilst he was at Leverkusen. Equally, his ability to score all kinds of goals varying from tap ins to long range pile drivers showed his
Meanwhile, the visitors will be looking to rectify their imperious form following their shock 2-1 loss at home to West Ham. Certainly they looked on the ball in midweek as Kevin De Bruyne, Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling all on target in the Capital One Cup demolition of Sunderland. De Bruyne in my eyes is a terrific signing regardless of the money spent on him and if the Belgian can replicate anywhere near his 10 goals and 20 Bundesliga assists for City this season then he will be a hit with the Citizen faithful.
A draw looks a likely outcome here. Tottenham haven’t lost at home and even if their defence is at times breached, they have arguably the league’s best shot stopper in Hugo Lloris behind them to mop up. Quite frankly regardless of their expenditure, City never look quite at ease without Vincent Kompany at the back and as he is likely to miss this match, Son, Harry Kane, Alli and Christian Eriksen could cause havoc.
Round-up of the rest
Leicester v Arsenal, King Power Stadium, Sat 26, 15:00
What an exciting affair this could be. Leicester have been brilliant all season and Arsenal have laboured through their matches. The fact is however the Foxes cannot simply keep this run going forever and they will slip to that first defeat sooner or later. Personally, Arsenal will have a point to prove and I feel Leicester’s fine season will take a slight bump. Away victory one would assume.
Liverpool v Aston Villa, Anfield, Sat 26, 15:00This is a massive game for Brendan Rodgers. Without a victory in five, the Reds have struggled going forward with play often slow and laboured. Aston Villa contrast a tad in that they have been able to find goals in a number of games this season but can’t keep the back door shut. Both teams really would like the points here but at home, Liverpool should shade this – with both teams to score.
Manchester United v Sunderland, Sat 26, 15:00, Old Trafford
The Premier League is full of shocks and surprises yet surely this outcome is a given. Sunderland are flapping at the bottom of the table with a defence that’s leakier than a very, very leaky drainpipe. United and the man-of-the-moment Anthony Martial should be smelling the blood and Louis Van Gaal will foresee a straightforward three points here.
Southampton v Swansea, Sat 26, 15:00, St Mary’s
Southampton aren’t in the greatest of form but they’re a far cry from any relegation fears. They’d appreciate a home win this weekend but in Swansea, they tackle a wily little opponent that have big ambitions this year. The Saints aren’t fully clicking at the moment and the visitors will want a return to winning ways in order to push on. Exciting match with a first Swans win on the road perhaps?
Stoke v Bournemouth, Sat 26, 15:00, Britannia Stadium
It’s truly bizarre to see Mark Hughes’ team languishing at the wrong end of the table like they are. It just emphasises how big an influence Steven N’Zonzi had on the Potters before he left the club as well as the necessity for Ryan Shawcross to be in the back-four. Bournemouth play some good football but once again, they can’t win every game and Stoke should finally break their duck.
West Ham v Norwich, Sat 26, 15:00, Boleyn Ground
Fresh off the back of that Manchester City victory, West Ham will be flooding with confidence. It seems however that they fair better against the big boyd where they can adopt the counter-attack tactic more effectively. At home, they’ll be expected to attack a solid Norwich team yet with Djimitri Payet and Victor Moses the Hammers have creativity in abundance and they should win this.
Newcastle v Chelsea, Sat 26, 17:30, St James Park
While this may look like a dead certainty the hosts really shouldn’t be ruled out. St James’ Park is a fantastic arena and the atmosphere is fantastic while Steve McClaren should have his players heavily drilled for this tie. I still feel Chelsea will shade this one but they remain far from their free flowing best; their victory against Arsenal was against nine men let’s not forget.
Watford v Crystal Palace, Sun 27, Vicorage Rd
It’s hard to predict too many goals in this one. Watford are stern defensively and Palace have a strong rearguard also. While you could argue that Bacary Sako, Wilfried Zaha and company could find the net for Palace, this Hornets back-line and Heurelho Gomes have been the definition of solid so far this season. Watford still struggle a tad with scoring so I wouldn’t rule out a stalemate.
West Brom v Everton, Mon, 28, The Hawthornes
It was looking bleak in the Midlands for Tony Pulis and company yet seven points from nine in the past three games have dispelled any fears of a desperate struggle – for now at least. Everton drew to Swansea last week but brushed aside Chelsea in their last home fixture as they look to bounce back from a disappointing campaign last time out. A third draw in three for the Toffees here looks on.
Team to watch this week
GK: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham): Excellent display against Palace last week and his team will need him on the ball again this week with a powerful City team coming to town. If he is on form, there is no reason Tottenham can’t take a share or even all of the points against Manuel Pellegrini’s men who look short in defence.
RB: Daryl Janmaat (Newcastle): It’s incredible when some have stated he is Newcastle’s best threat going forward. What happened to the goals of Papiss Cisse and the potential of Aleksandar Mitrovic? Either way, Janmaat’s threat down the flank with his whipped crosses into the box could cause problems, with question marks still placed on the solidity of Chesea’s defence.
CB: Micah Richards (Aston Villa): Arguably Villa’s most consistent player this season, Richards has settled really well with his new club. Villa are struggling a tad at the moment though and they need their skipper to deliver a rousing performance for them once again if they are to shut out a stuttering Liverpool team.
CB: Younes Kaboul (Sunderland): The dictionary definition of liability will be changing to this man’s name if he continues how he has been playing. It’s bizarre because the Frenchman is strong, fast and powerful yet his positioning is horrendous and his distribution equally so, making his positive characteristics all null and void.
LB: Matt Targett (Southampton): The youngster has had an extended run in the side because of Ryan Bertrand’s unfortunate absence. Yet he really hasn’t pulled up too many trees with his performances leaving a little to be desired. Tough test against the lightning pace Swansea has in their team.
CDM: Jack Cork (Swansea): The unsung hero in that Swansea midfield every week. Cork is a workmanlike professional who does all the small things right and would be an asset to almost all the Premier League clubs outside of the elites. If they are to beat Southampton, he’ll have to ‘muck-in’ in the middle and let Jonjo Shelvey dictate the movement of the attack with his pinged passes.
CDM: Cesc Fabgreas (Chelsea): Against Maccabi Tel Aviv and Arsenal we saw the Cesc Fabregas of old in which the Spaniard would dictate the game with his fabulous array of passing. Newcastle aren’t exactly the toughest of opponents Chelsea could be facing but if the Blues are to win, his control of the tempo and the flow of the team will surely be integral.
RM: Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal): No goals and a rather underwhelming start to the season for the Chilean. Leicester are a tough team to tackle in their current form and Sanchez is one of many who really needs to step up and prove his worth. He still gives 110% effort wise and is still making inviting runs and dribbles yet that final product has been eluding him.
CAM: Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City): The £54 million Belgian has two-in-two starts for City in all competitions so Tottenham should worry. He works hard for the team, is relatively quick and has rather quick feet yet it’s technically where he excels in his passing and shooting around the edge of the box. In the current climate of bizarre transfer fees, he will be worth his closer to his than most.
LM: Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool): No win in five for Liverpool until they stumbled over the line against League 2 opponents Carlisle in the Capital One Cup. They really do look slow and pedantic when trying to score and they may require a piece of genius from Coutinho in order to breach a resilient Aston Villa defence.
ST: Anthony Martial (Manchester United): What a start to his career at Old Trafford for the 19 year old. If you told him he’d score three times in his first two Premier League matches he’d say you were having a laugh. But Martial has looked very potent inside that box and his inclusion allows Wayne Rooney to drop into his preferred deeper role. Sunderland watch out!
Manager: Steve McClaren (Newcastle): The fans are restless and while they may be fantastic followers, the Tyneside faithful can be quite a demanding and unfriendly bunch if things aren’t going to plan. Just ask Alan Pardew, who was actually excelling in the job. McClaren has the fans polarised with many willing to give him time and many not convinced in his abilities. The heat is on!