Derby days from top to bottom

By Ryan Moran

  • Manchester City play Manchester United as first play third in the Manchester derby.
  • 20th plays 18th as Sunderland play Newcastle in the Tyne-wear derby.
  • Six teams return from European action, three returning from away fixtures.

Manchester United target a win against Manchester City to ignite a fire in the title race, while Sunderland’s match against Newcastle could open up a six point gap between the sides in the relegation zone, with Aston Villa caught in the crossfire.

Manchester United vs Manchester City

Two sides separated by only two points in a derby that has produced significant amounts of goals in recent times since City’s rise in both wealth and quality, two factors that go hand in hand. Manuel Pellegrini is in his third season in management at the Etihad with the Chilean’s record against Manchester United falling 4-2 in his favour with 23 goals scored over those six games.

Vincent Kompany is back in the running to feature in the derby after recovering from a calf injury while Sergio Aguero remains out of the frame because of a leg injury. The Belgian featured for a matter of minutes in midweek with Nicolas Otamendi and Eliaquim Mangala selected for the centre back positions. Kompany was also an unused substitute last weekend in the 5-1 win over Bournemouth.

Louis Van Gaal has won one of two derbies against Pellegrini winning 4-2 at Old Trafford, losing 1-0 away. Aguero scored both goals away from home and the only goal in the win at the Etihad last season. With respect to AFC Bournemouth, United provide a greater challenge than the one presented by the Cherries added to the fact the Sky Blues are away from home in this tie. Kevin De Bruyne scored the winner in Sevilla while Wilfried Bony’s deflected effort bought his side level. Bony scored two goals in last week’s Premier League match but a goal against the Red Devils will speak volumes turning the corner with his form having not set the world alight when first moving to the Etihad.

A win for Pellegrini’s side will allow for breathing space, opening up a five point gap between the sides while a win for Van Gaal’s side will see the Reds leapfrog their city rivals. If Arsenal also win, City would drop to third therefore a win would keep both sides at bay at stutter United’s chase for the top spot.

Sunderland vs Newcastle United

Sam Allardyce’s return to management ended in a 1-0 loss leaving the ex-Hammers boss five points from safety with work to do. A slightly controversial decision may have denied his side a point but the positive was only one goal conceded to add to the other 18 the Black Cats have conceded in their other eight games under Dick Advocaat.

Newcastle United achieved their first win in the Premier League with an emphatic 6-2 win over Norwich City. Key man Georginio Wijnaldum will be a key focus for Sunderland considering their defensive troubles having scored four goals in the Dutchman’s last game.

The Magpies haven’t beaten the Black Cats in their last seven attempts with their last win coming at the Stadium of Light, Ryan Taylor scoring the winner in that game. Both sides however have changed their manager more than once since that win and now look for stability and success under Allardyce and Steve Mclaren. A win in the Tyne-Wear derby is a way to win fans over early with the rivalry being fierce with a common outcome being many players being given either a yellow cards being commonplace in this fixture. Jermaine Defoe scored the only goal in the most recent derby won by Sunderland.

A win for Newcastle will open up a six point gap with Aston Villa in between the two sides while a win for Sunderland will take them level on points with the Magpies and potentially above their rivals dependent on the score due to goal difference which currently stands at -11 for Sunderland and -7 for Newcastle.

Arsenal vs Everton

Arsenal remain the closest to Manchester City but face Everton at The Emirates to keep up with the current leaders. Aaron Ramsey is unavailable because of a hamstring injury sustained in his side’s 2-0 win over Bayern Munich. One advantage for Roberto Martinez’s side is their resting period with no European action this season.

After a successful first season at the Toffees that included a 3-0 win over Arsenal at Goodison Park, a 2-2 draw and 2-0 loss at the Emirates followed in his second season. A win over Chelsea this season and their current position of ninth stands the Blues in good stead for this season.

Six points currently separate the two sides therefore a win for Everton would take them three points closer to the Gunners. After their midweek success, confidence will be high in the Arsenal team however, similar to the Gunners European form prior to Tuesday, Everton were on the end of  a bad result against Manchester United at home with Anthony Martial suppressing the threat that Seamus Coleman can provide.

Coleman is a key figure in creation of chances from wide positions, pushing high from his full back position. The other Everton player in the spotlight is Ross Barkley being tagged by many as the new Paul Gascoigne, a young player with bags of talent willing to show his creativity and attacking prowess. His defensive responsibility has also been questioned. Two areas Arsenal may look to exploit at the Emirates. Romelu Lukaku provides the pace and power that Arsene Wenger has in his two strikers, the Belgian’s partnership with Steven Naismith has beaten Chelsea already and challenges centre backs with Lukaku’s presence to hold up for Naismith.

Like Everton, Arsenal’s full backs push high up the field and help in attack, reminiscent with Hector Bellerin setting up Ramsey’s goal against Watford, hurdling challenges before playing his pass. Two sides with similar game plans are separated by the quality of Wenger’s attacking options such as Santi Cazorla, Mesut Ozil and the new found striker in Theo Walcott. A combination that has proved worthy of breaking teams down along with the option of Olivier Giroud, less pace than Walcott, requires more service into the box and into the striker rather than running in behind, a threat that Walcott possesses.

 

West Ham United vs Chelsea

In a game that sees fourth against 12th, Chelsea are the side at the lower end of that spectrum. The Blues face the best away side in the league, fortunately for Jose Mourinho the game is at Upton Park. One win in their last five games in all competitions shows the decline from last year’s champions.

Under Slaven Bilic the Hammers have become a more resolute side, a harder unit to break down who counter quickly. Déjà vu comes to mind with the way Crystal Palace play, a team Chelsea lost 2-1 to at Stamford Bridge. Defensively the Blues have looked vulnerable and struggled to know their best defensive pairing between Gary Cahill, John Terry and Kurt Zouma.

As for the home side, Manuel Lanzini has been key to their counter attacking play with his pace and trickery to trouble defenders as seen last week against Crystal Palace for two of the three goals. Such the attacking threat carried is shown in scoring 20 goals in nine games, six more than their opponents while conceding five goals less at 12. Winston Reid was rumoured to be a target for Arsenal in the summer but has been crucial to the cause especially against Manchester City. Reid showed the defender can match the quality in the big games against the big teams, the same is required on Saturday even if the away side are out of sorts.

A win for the visitors would narrow the gap between the sides to three points from six, while also taking the Stamford Bridge outfit closer to the Champions League places than the Championship places. As for the home side, a win would see them keep within four points of Manchester City, or take the Hammers within one point if City lose in the derby.

Leicester vs Crystal Palace

In a game which pits fifth place against sixth, a win for Crystal Palace would take the Eagles into a European place while a win for Leicester could see the Foxes move back into the Champions League places. The home side’s form favours a win with eight points from their last five games while the away side have six points from their last 15. Last season’s results between the two sides saw Crystal Palace take six points from six against Leicester.

Last week’s result allowed Claudio Ranieri’s side to leap frog Alan Pardew’s side to fifth place. Saturday’s fixture at the King Power Stadium gives Palace a chance to take their Europa League place back for another week. Jamie Vardy’s form not only rescued a point against Southampton but retained the striker’s place at the top of the golden boot chart.

Dwight Gayle’s departure from the field last week makes the striker ineligible to feature on Saturday, with Marouane Chamakh and Connor Wickham injured Patrick Bamford and Fraizer Campbell compete for a seldom starting place. Yohan Cabaye will also be hoping for a fourth consecutive penalty converted, having scored three penalties in three games.

 

Southampton vs Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp’s opening two games have provided two draws, safe to say not setting the world alight in terms of the commotion for the German’s arrival. Ronald Koeman also had to settle for a draw after leading 2-0 against Leicester City. The sides meet at St Mary’s with a win taking either side three points clear of the other with the Saint’s goal difference better by five at two more goals scored than conceded.

Daniel Sturridge has been given a target to be fit for Sunday’s game having missed the training at the start of the week. Unfortunately for Klopp, Christian Benteke and Roberto Firmino remain unavailable with Divock Origi likely to feature if Sturridge is unable to play. In recent times, Liverpool have dominated the encounters between the sides with the Reds winning the last three. With a growing injury list and not being at full strength, the chance arises for the home side to show Nathaniel Clyne what he left behind.

 

AFC Bournemouth vs Tottenham Hotspur

Eddie Howe’s side will rue missed chances in last week’s game which ended in the Cherries being torn apart by Manchester City’s attack. Mistakes by Adam Federici made the task easier for City and with the injury to Artur Boruc the Australian is likely to feature again against Tottenham. A 3-1 loss in the Europa League against Anderlecht where a missed chance at 1-0 up would have made a comeback harder disappointed manager Mauricio Pochettino and Sunday’s fixture gives Tottenham a chance to make up for the result.

Harry Arter finally returns for Howe’s side having been a crucial part of their promotion to the Premier League. The Vitality Stadium has seen the home side go three games unbeaten accumulating five points with only three goals conceded in their last four games at home. Glenn Murray maintained a steady start to his Bournemouth loan, notching up another goal in the loss.

Harry Kane looks likely to start for the away side having been an unused substitute in Europe. Spurs dampened spirits last weekend holding Klopp to a draw with Pochettino’s side looking the more threatening in the game. As Clinton N’Jie starts to settle into the top flight, the ex-Lyon player could be key with the attacking support he provides for Kane.

Depending on results elsewhere, AFC Bournemouth could slip into the relegation zone with a loss while a win could move Tottenham up to fifth maybe even fourth.

In the weekend’s other fixtures:

Aston Villa vs Swansea City

Norwich City vs West Bromwich Albion

Stoke City vs Watford

 

Midweek Champions League action is followed up by six Saturday fixtures including West Ham United vs Chelsea on 24th October.

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