Man City, Arsenal, Man United, others in weekend EPL’s fixtures
Arsenal vs Manchester City
The biggest game of the weekend features two teams who have put together equally as disappointing seasons, albeit in vastly different ways. Arsenal appears a sinking ship, a club with diminishing hope of even returning to the Champions League let alone contending for the title as they did throughout the 1990s and 2000s.
Manchester City, on the other hand, has surrendered their Premier League dominance to Liverpool, falling behind the Reds and a third-consecutive title by a mammoth 14 points through just 16 games. This game doesn’t hold the same weight as it may have even in the recent past, but it still will be an enthralling game between two sides who appear inept at the back but both with a plethora of attacking weapons. You fear for the Gunners’ calamitous backline in particular though against England’s most lethal offence. Manchester City has won the last four games, with Arsenal’s last win over the Sky Blues coming in 2015.
Liverpool vs Watford
Liverpool’s astonishing stranglehold on the Premier League continued last week as they thrashed Bournemouth 3-0 to make it seven-straight wins and maintain their undefeated start to the season. They appear uncatchable in the race for the Premier League title despite the season being only 16 games old.
From their last 75 points available they’ve captured 73, 24 wins and one draw from their last 25, a truly unfathomable figure and a run that is beginning to feel something like Arsenal’s Invincibles. You fear for Watford, the Premier League’s worst side, who travel to Anfield on matchday 17 as by far the worst attacking side in England and four games without a win. The Hornets have beaten Liverpool just once in the Premier League, with the Reds winning six of the last seven meetings.
Manchester United vs Everton
Manchester United extended their unbeaten streak to five games with a monumental victory over arch-rivals Manchester City in the derby last weekend, a stunning result away to the two-time champions. They are playing arguably their best football since Ole Gunnar Solksjaer took over, a run that has come at the ideal time as the legend was starting to feel the pressure over his future at the club. Marcus Rashford, in particular, has struck form and they will need him at his best again this weekend as the Red Devils host Everton who produced a virtuoso performance at home to Chelsea last week, beating the Blues 3-1 as fan favourite Duncan Ferguson took the reins following the sacking of Marco Silva. Ferguson will again lead the Toffees into Old Trafford, and his exuberance could help them maintain the optimism that filled the club after last week’s win. This fixture usually throws up wild results. Manchester United won this game 2-1 last year, while Everton beat United 4-0 at Goodison Park.
Wolves vs Tottenham
Tottenham thrashed Burnley 5-0 at home last weekend in easily their most impressive performance under Jose Mourinho so far. That result and Chelsea’s loss put them within six points of the top four, and the midweek annihilation by Bayern Munich won’t put much of a dampener on their mentality has given it was very much a reserve side that was thrashed in Germany. They make the difficult trip to Wolverhampton to play Wolves who haven’t been beaten in 10 games and are applying the blow torch to the teams in the European positions above them. Their 4-0 win in the Europa League on Thursday will only embolden them to perform another giant-killing on Sunday. The away side won both games last season.
Chelsea vs Bournemouth
Chelsea was stunned by a ruthless Everton at Goodison Park last weekend, a team that looked the polar opposite to the one last seen under former manager Marco Silva. Frank Lampard’s side could not handle the intensity and pressure of the Toffees and their home crowd and was made to look very much a second-class side. They will be intent on returning to form against Bournemouth as the chasing pack for the final Champions League position heats up. Bournemouth was flattened 3-0 at home by Liverpool last weekend and they could be in for another long day at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea won this game 2-0 last season.
Leicester City vs Norwich City
Leicester City maintained their stunning start to the season last weekend with an eighth-straight win coming in the form of a 4-1 annihilation of Aston Villa. They continue to be the only threat to Liverpool’s already seemingly guaranteed title, but few believe even their lethal attack and league-best defence can really push the Reds. That being said this team is every bit as good if not legitimately better than the title-winning side of 2016 and they will be playing Champions League football next year, and perhaps could have been champions again in a world where Liverpool does not exist. They host Norwich City who you don’t envy having to head to the KingPower Stadium to face one of Europe’s hottest sides. They sit 19th, four points shy of safety, and there’s little hope of them climbing out given recent form. They’ve met just twice in the Premier League, during the 2015/16 season, where Leicester won both games.
Sheffield United vs Aston Villa
Sheffield United snapped their four-game winless streak with a 2-1 win over lowly Norwich last weekend to consolidate their place in the top half of the Premier League on their return to England’s top flight. They remain in the midst of a packed chasing group for the final European places and have shown enough through 16 games that they can at the least maintain a top 10 finish. They host an out-of-form Aston Villa side, winless in their last three and sitting just one place outside of the relegation zone. They will need to find a form quickly or face a season-long battle for survival. They met in the Championship last season where Sheffield won this game 4-1.
Crystal Palace vs Brighton
Crystal Palace was unable to find a winner against last-place Watford last weekend, finishing 0-0 in a frustrating match for both sides and their supporters. They sit 10th, level on points with four other sides and teetering in the area between challenging for Europe and dropping into the bottom half. They host rivals Brighton at what will be an extremely hostile Selhurst Park on Monday night, featuring two contrasting styles. The Seagulls have shown a much more expansive, attacking style of play this year while Palace again has looked to keep things tight. Let’s hope sparks fly. Brighton won this game 2-1 last season.
strong>Burnley vs Newcastle
Burnley was thrashed 5-0 in north London by Tottenham last weekend, a result that saw them drop to 13th and the goal differential take a huge hit. It was their third-straight loss and a failure to turn around this form will see them join the relegation scrap. They host Newcastle who is winners of two-straight and appear a significantly improved team under Steve Bruce. A win for the Toon could see them jump into the top half. Newcastle won both games last season.
Southampton vs West Ham
Southampton’s two-game win streak and attempts to climb out of the relegation zone were thwarted by Newcastle on the weekend as the 2-1 defeat condemned them to another week in the drop zone. With just three points between themselves and 13th place Burnley, any wins are crucial at this stage and they will hope to do so against another relegation-threatened side West Ham, who were blown apart by Arsenal in a nine-minute period last week that saw the Gunners turn a 0-1 deficit into a 3-1 lead. Both sides are in the same situation; any point will prove valuable in their bid for survival. West Ham won both games last year by an aggregate of 5-1.
• Culled from Goal.com