Welcome back Premier League.
The international break is over, thank God!! But what a way to welcome back the premier league with United’s main two rivals going head to head at the Etihad. Liverpool would not have wanted the international break following their 4-0 demolition of Arsenal but in all fairness City will no doubt put up a harder test this time out, but then that’s not. Jurgen Klopp will need to somehow integrate what seems like an unhappy Philippe Coutinho back into his squad but maybe more intriguingly find a space for him in his starting 11. The front 3 have all started well and it’s whether he wants to potentially upset the balance of his midfield. They continue to not be the best defensively so by adding one more attack minded player will not help that, especially up against one of the best attaching outfits in the league. As I keep mentioning, Pep is struggling to find the right balance to his side, only just scraping past Bournemouth 2 weeks ago. He left out Sergio Aguero to accommodate a 4 at the back and Leroy Sane still can’t get a start which shows just how much talent he has at his disposal. You rarely see Klopp change his tactics and Pep won’t at home so this could be any score line, with attacks on top throughout. United will keep a close eye on how things play out and once more be looking to take advantage by increasing their point advantage on at least one of these sides.
Saturday looks like Sunday.
For the first time this season, there are some tasty looking fixtures during the 3pm kick offs with Arsenal, Spurs, Everton and Chelsea all in action. The highlight has to be over at Goodison as Everton continue their ridiculous run of early fixtures, welcoming Spurs to Merseyside. Both have struggled to impress in the opening weeks but Spurs fans will be hoping that Harry Kane’s brace for his country last weekend will kick off his season in front of goal for them. However, away to Everton will be tough for anyone this season, so hardly the easy game Spurs would want to get back to winning ways. Everton were one of the busiest in the summer transfer window, but have yet to really click. From what I have seen of them so far this season, they look a little short in attack. Wayne Rooney has scored a couple of goals, but I struggle to see him keeping up a consistent run of scoring and past that I don’t see where their goals come from. Replacing Romelu Lukaku was without doubt Ronald Koeman’s hardest task over the summer, but I am not sure he has done it. I personally struggle to see Spurs losing this one, I just don’t envisage Everton possessing enough firepower to hurt them.
The other 2 notable games will be Arsenal at home to Bournemouth and Chelsea’s tough looking trip to Leicester. Arsenal seem to be in all sorts of trouble both on and off the pitch, with the Alexis Sanchez transfer dominating the end of the transfer window. The image of him looking dejected at Anfield last week showed what problems they have. They have since lost Alex Oxlade-chamberlain to Liverpool, putting in serious doubt whether they can continue the 3 at the back formation. But to be fair the performance alone at Anfield should have been enough for Arsene Wenger to take that tactic sheet, rip it up, set fire to it and never let it enter his head again. Bournemouth were both lucky and unlucky last week, in that they didn’t deserve a point against City based on chances created but getting as far as they did, it is harsh for any team to lose in that fashion. I think this could be an ideal game for the Gunners to get back to winning ways. Eddie Howe’s men like to attack so should play into Arsenal’s hands. I wouldn’t be surprised by a change of formation too.
I think the Chelsea trip to Leicester could be another entertaining game. Leicester showed glimpses in the United game of their attacking threat on the break. Chelsea have recovered well since their disastrous opening game defeat to Burnley, easily seeing off Everton last time out and the unexpected win at Spurs before that. Antonio Conte has seemingly got his squad back to into some sort of harmony, not including the AWOL Diego Costa. The transfer of Danny Drinkwater is a little head scratcher but I do worry about the depth of Chelsea’s squad in order to mount another tilt at the title, so adding Drinkwater is probably an upgrade on what they had previously. They will be boosted by the return of Eden Hazard from injury however, following a run out in the walk in the park victory for Belgium over Gibraltar and with him back I think their starting 11 is as good as anyone’s so expect them to do enough in this game. United will have a firm eye on this one, with Chelsea being a title rival and Everton being next up in the league.
United to round off Saturday again.
The Saturday fixtures are completed once again by United, although this week it could be a little tougher at Stoke. Notoriously a hard place to go, proven by Arsenal’s defeat there a few weeks ago. However, United looked in imperious form 2 weeks ago where I felt they put in their best display of the season seeing off Leicester. The first half especially was full of great attacking football and look like a team with threats all over the pitch. Paul Pogba is dominating games since Nemanja Matic’s arrival, the front 3 look dangerous and Mourinho has some devastating options off the bench. The biggest compliment for this United side is that our player of the year, Ander Herrera can not get a start. I think there is more to come too, with Anthony Martial showing signs of his true ability, Marcus Rashford growing each week and I don’t think Lukaku is playing at his absolute best. The only doubt going into this game is if the international break has broken the momentum we had leading into it. I think this will be the toughest test so far and a win will be a perfect preparation for the start of the Champions League campaign and then the Everton game next week, I fully expect them to pick up the 3 points.
Battle at the bottom.
The Sunday and Monday evening games may not affect the top of the table or on paper jump out and say watch me. But, they are crucial to 2 sides in particular. Crystal Palace who are currently one from bottom and the team stopping them from being rock bottom, West Ham. I feel Palace will not be heavily fancied going to Burnley either and with pressure mounting on Frank De Boer, you feel he has to produce something soon. They are lacking in a goal scorer but the deadline day deal for Mamadou Sakho should help sure up their defence. West Ham will be more fancied and expected to pick up their first points of the season when they welcome Huddersfield for their first home game of the season. Huddersfield have got off to a flyer where their hosts have done the complete opposite. A defeat at St James’ park last time out pretty much summed up their season so far and much like with De Boer, pressure is massively on Slaven Bilic’s shoulders to deliver some results. I think they will have enough on Monday to ease this a little, especially if they can keep Manuel Lanzini fit and supply Javier Hernandez with the chances.
Another week and another week where I expect United to win and gain some points on their rivals. The fixtures until the end of October look friendly on paper, but the added distraction of the Champions League may mean some changes to personnel which can affect form. There is no doubt the Stoke game poses the biggest challenge yet, but United possess some real talent this season and there is definitely a feel of the United of old coming back.