Kieran Davies steps back from a week of crushed dreams, galvanising returns, and long-balls up to Fellaini.
Another international break comes and goes without much notice for the average football fan. As we try and find things to occupy the gap left in our lives by the lack of Premier League football, I myself fell into the trap of many up and down the country and openly admit that I too have my Christmas decorations up…………in the attic where they belong in November!!!! As England progress to a World Cup in Russia while the rest of the home nation teams fall short of the final hurdle, finally we can enjoy the Premier League returning to our Saturday afternoons. What a way to get back into the swing of things with a North London derby to kick us off. You must feel better going into this game as a Tottenham fan for a number of reasons…….form, wealth of talent, tactics and the fact that Mauricio Pochettino withdrew most of his key players from pointless friendlies which only help FIFA coefficient ratings. Add to that the form of Christian Eriksen, who single handedly crushed Irish dreams of qualification with a sublime hat-trick. Sitting third in the table, Pochettino’s side could put some real distance between themselves and their local rivals with a win on Arsenal turf this weekend.
Early pace-setters Man City have an eight-point gap on city rivals United and would expect at the very least for this to still be the case come Saturday evening. As Pep’s team travel to mid-table Leicester, it will take a lot from a side to stop the Spaniards free scoring team. They seem to score at will at the moment and have probably the two most potent strikers in the Premier League. Their wealth of talent is embarrassing at times when you look at the players on their bench and salivate at the thought of having such players in your teams first XI let alone sat on the bench, re-iterating ridiculous strength in depth. This weekend however Leicester may need both Kasper and Peter in goal to try and prevent the City machine rolling them over. With United kicking off in the evening game, this is a good opportunity for Pep to pressure on his rival Jose before they have even contemplated kicking a ball in anger. A home game against Newcastle should be a little easier for Mourinho than correctly completing a tax return as they face a side not considered one of the ‘big six’ so no need for his to employ his trusty three step method to these games……(i) park the bus, (ii) knock long balls up to Fellaini or (iii) moan about the referee. Should Chelsea get an expected win at The Hawthorns, Jose could even find his side below the side who sacked him come 5.30pm.
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool host their alleged ‘feeder team’ Southampton at Anfield this weekend. With Adam Lallana back in full training and Sadio Mane apparently recovered from another beasting in Senegal, the German could have some selection problems most managers would crave. Thursday morning Joe Gomez woke up, checked his pockets and found a ten-pound note, some chewing gum, a condom and Neymar. If he doesn’t get a chance at centre-back this weekend, many Liverpool fans will wonder what drugs have been prescribed to Klopp earlier in the week during his hospital visit. A side who look devastating on the attack and as fractured as a jigsaw puzzle at the back…….they crave a solid centre back partnership. To keep Neymar, Gabriel Jesus and Coutinho quiet…….reds fans hope they have found their saviour. Across Merseyside, while pie sales have rocketed, new Toffees manager Unsworth needs to come out on top in the proverbial ‘six-pointer’ as they travel to London to play Crystal Palace. Having won his first game in charge last time out, he will hope his side can use this as a catalyst to make it two wins on the spin. Hodgson already finds his side adrift of the teams around them and he needs a win in this game. With Benteke back fit, he may have the striker he oh so desperately needs.
Sean Dyche is finding his stock going up in value more and more by the game as he continues his impressive start to the season with his Burnley side. As they host struggling Swansea at home this weekend, a win and other results going their way could see his team occupying a Champions League spot by the end of the weekend. This is a huge game for the South Wales side also and particularly their manager Clement. Football owners tend not to be a forgiving breed anymore and the idea of relegation makes them very trigger happy. Having cashed in on their prized assets over the summer it seems evident that they have not replaced their goals. Neither of these teams are finding free-scoring form so a single goal could decide this one either way. Huddersfield would have taken the start to the season they have experienced any day but their away form has really faltered since an opening day win at Crystal Palace. They travel to Bournemouth this weekend against Eddie Howe who historically has an extremely good record against newly promoted sides. Goals are something any team in the Premier League seek and crave and Bournemouth are no different and will be hoping the experienced Jermaine Defoe will be available for this one.
David Moyes will make his return to the Premier League with his new employers West Ham as they travel to Watford in his first game in charge. After being well beaten by Liverpool in their last outing, Moyes will be hoping to firstly galvanise his team and get them working as a unit. Whether this will happen so quickly only time will tell but Silva’s Watford will prove a stern test despite losing their last three games on the bounce. Talk of their manager being lined up for jobs with other clubs will not help Watford concentrate on the matter at hand. The final game of the weekend will see Hughton’s Brighton take on Hughes’ Stoke City team. Their starts to the season can be seen as polar opposites as newcomers Brighton find themselves in the top half of the table while the Welshman is constantly in fear for his job. This is not something new to the seasoned Hughes and he will just try and get on with his job and try and replicate their 1-0 win at Watford last time they were on their travels. As with every weekend, there will be some of looking to avoid MOTD like the plague and the others who want to absorb another big three points for their side. It’s a gamble being a football fan and with most gambling, you don’t always win but unlike the advice we are given…………..when the fun stops, we don’t………..we keep coming back for more!