I said one of them would slip up, but none of them did. The top 6 all recorded victories last weekend meaning no change at the top other than goal difference. City, once more, smashed 5 goals, Chelsea surprisingly ran out comfortable winners away at Stoke and the other 4 all made hard work of their respective fixtures. This week, it is guaranteed at least one will drop points as there is one standout, mouth-watering fixture.
Clash of the Titans
Normally I would run through this preview in the order the games are played, however, in view of mixing things up, I think there is only one place I can start and that is the huge game at Stamford Bridge on Saturday evening. It is hard to argue with the form of City at the moment, knocking in 16 Premier League goals without reply in the 3 games in September. However, this needs to be taken into context a little. The 5-0 victory over Liverpool is misleading as they played the majority of the game with 10 men and we know they struggle to keep clean sheets with 11, so with 10 they have no chance. But for half an hour they were well in the game, City looked shaky at the back and Liverpool could easily have got a result there had it remained even. The Watford game was a complete capitulation on their part and Palace are just plain awful at the moment. So although they have appeared unbeatable at first glance, I believe this will be their first real test. Chelsea are hitting top form also, hitting 4 at Stoke is not something that happens very often so tells you all you need to know. Defensively they are as solid as ever, so City’s attacking talent will be fully tested when they visit the capital. Defensively they will come up against a much superior force to what they have since Mane’s sending off 3 weeks ago, so let’s see just how far they have come in this department. Alvaro Morata looks to be in top form following his hat-trick last time out and another in the brilliant victory away at Athletico Madrid. I also can’t help but feel Antonio Conte has been eyeing this game for Eden Hazard’s Premier League return to the starting lineup. This will show just how good City are, if they win at Stamford Bridge then no one could argue with their favourites tag, I for one can not wait to find out what happens.
Easy wins for Spurs and United
Heading back to Saturday lunchtime, Spurs are once more on their travels when they visit Huddersfield. The Tykes’ opening 6 games have been brilliant for a club making their first appearance in the Premier League. Although they have slowed down slightly over the last couple of games, they remain hard to beat. Spurs, however, are brilliant on the road. Another 2 more away victories last week mean they are yet to drop points on the road and you feel that run will continue here. Christian Eriksen could be a doubt through illness but they should pack enough punch to see off Huddersfield and continue up the league, especially with the form of Harry Kane.
United are once more playing as one of many 3 o’clock kickoffs on Saturday. This time out, they play struggling Crystal Palace who are yet to score a Premier League goal and coming up against a side who have only conceded against one team so far. Cue a Palace goal at Old Trafford then!! Anyway, coming in off the back of a thrashing at City and no striker of any note, surely they are only arriving to make up the numbers. United’s form continued in midweek, seeing off CSKA with ease, in what looked a tough trip on paper. Mourinho was also able to rest a few players which means they will be fresh heading into this game and with the international break coming up after this, he has no real reason not to play a full-strength side to ensure this is not a monumental slip-up. This has another heavy defeat on the cards for Roy Hodgson’s men, I can almost see Romelu Lukaku licking his lips as I write this.
Final 2 on Sunday
The rest of United’s main rivals both play on Sunday. Arsenal should be fresh after Arsene Wenger rested pretty much his entire starting 11 from the victory over West Brom during their Europa League game on Thursday. Although they are not in top gear, they are gradually picking up important points to haul themselves back into the top 4 and potentially title contention. Alexis Sanchez has returned to the side and doesn’t seem to be letting his collapsed transfer out of the club impact his performances. This can only mean good things for Gunners fans, with a potentially lethal partnership forming with Alexandre Lacazette. They normally win these games with ease and although Brighton have picked up some decent results of late, I don’t see anything but a home win here.
Liverpool then travel north to play their old gaffer, Rafa Benitez, and his Newcastle side. Jurgen Klopp’s men were once more frustrating midweek, failing to convert numerous more chances which has been the story of their season so far. But surely it is only a matter of time until they give one of the bottom sides a good hammering. Newcastle seem a completely different animal at home to when they play away so I don’t think this will be straightforward for Liverpool. I could see a high scoring draw here.
United are more than likely going to win this weekend and they have the added bonus of knowing that their closest rivals currently are playing each other so will build some sort of gap over one of them. But, from here it gets a whole lot harder as they play Liverpool, Spurs and Chelsea in their next 4 games. By the end of November, we will know more about how much of a serious title push Jose’s men will mount this season.