Kieran Davies looks ahead to a weekend of six-pointers, pace-setting and hoodoo-breaking.
He’s overcome Hazard’s, avoided the Kane, but can Jurgen Klopp ensure there is no Silva-lining to this weekend’s Premier League action. Suffering defeat in Europe, this could be the wakeup call Liverpool needed prior to the visit of the champions. Anfield is cursed ground for Pep’s City in recent years, so this is a huge task the Spaniard faces. Sitting pretty at the top of the table, this is an ideal chance for his side to put a real marker down for the season. When these two teams meet, usually, you can forget a low-scoring game. The attacking threat both sides possess should make this a real clash of heavyweights. Games like this don’t decide titles this early in the season but games against your rivals are hugely important when the points are totted up at the end of the season. A proverbial ‘six-pointer’.
Jose Mourinho once promised to crush Manchester United as Chelsea manager. Ironically, he may well do that now as the Old Trafford outfit’s manager. Their disjointed side took another step backwards with defeat and it is hard to see how the Portuguese maverick is going to turn this one around. Nothing but victory is acceptable at home against Rafa’s Newcastle who are struggling to win games this season. With no love lost between these two managers, Benitez would no doubt take great joy in making Jose’s 2018 even worse. Injuries are hampering Spurs’ season currently and fans are ruing the lack of strengthening of the squad during the summer. With a winless Cardiff City travelling to Wembley, surely even a depleted Tottenham team should overcome Warnock’s Welsh outfit. This type of game of is a ‘free-hit’ for the unfancied team, but it is still a huge ask of them to turn over Pochettino’s side away from home.
With Brighton’s win over West Ham Friday night, the league is already showing that is hard to predict matches as the competitiveness is there for all to see. Chelsea will see the game at Anfield as a possible chance to gain ground on the sides above them. With a trip to St Mary’s to face Southampton, they could put pressure on the top two before they even kick a ball. Whether Hughes’ Saints will have enough to deal with the likes of Hazard and Willian is another thing however. As we have seen with Sarri’s side, you can get at them, but Southampton will have to be on top of their game to unpick the West Londoners. Both Watford and Bournemouth have raised some eyebrows with their respective starts to the season. The winner at Vicarage Road will put pressure on those Champions League places, imagine the scenes.
A team who have continued to impress me this season home and away are Wolves. Despite having spent quite a bit of money in recruitment, Santo has got his newly promoted side playing like Premier League veterans. Crystal Palace will be trying to put pay to their silky passing game at Selhurst Park, a tricky place to visit for any team, it would make a real statement for the men from the Midlands to take all three points. If results go their way, Nuno Santo could see his side in the heady heights of European qualification albeit at a very early stage of the campaign. Hodgson’s Eagles have been very hit and miss and rely on the trickery of Wilfred Zaha to make them tick. Without a goal at home this season, the home fans will no doubt become impatient the longer their wait goes on. Wolves could use this to their advantage.
Burnley have managed to find some form of late after a miserable start to the season. Goals were difficult to come by, but Dyche’s side kept at it and managed to break their hoodoo. With Huddersfield the visitors this weekend, The Clarets will be seeing this as a chance to extend their run of form. With Wagner’s side rooted to the foot of the table, they will have to show some composure to find the performances that saw them clinch Premier League survival last season. After finally getting their man this summer, Everton fans must have been expecting a lot better this season following the large investment in the squad during the summer. With a tricky trip to Leicester this weekend, they will start needing to show a ruthlessness in front of goal as their defence isn’t keeping clean sheets currently. After a difficult start to the season, their hosts Leicester have started to turn things around with new signings settling into Puel’s creative vision. Vardy is integral to their success this season.
Fulham have a tough derby with in-form Arsenal rolling into West London. Jokanovic’s team have found life hard in the top flight. The creativity that propelled them to promotion has eluded them in the main and they are leaking goals at the other end. Having brought in quite a few players in for the forthcoming season, they can be forgiven for needing time to bed in. Unfortunately, this is not a luxury that can be afforded in the Premier League. With eyes focused on the top of the table battle between Klopp and Guardiola, could this be a chance for the rest of the teams to gain ground on the pace-setters? Then there are the bigger questions like, will Jose Mourinho have work on Monday? Either way, expect another weekend of compelling action.