By Ryan Moran
- Jurgen Klopp and Sam Allardyce to manage their first games for Liverpool and Sunderland respectively.
- Two new long term injury concerns for Liverpool could affect starting XI against Tottenham.
- Aguero picks up injury on international duty.
New managers at Liverpool and Sunderland take to their new dugouts while the international break threw up injury concerns at both Liverpool and Manchester City.
Tottenham Hotspur vs Liverpool
After his departure from Borussia Dortmund, Jurgen Klopp has a new club after the sacking of Brendan Rodgers following their 1-1 draw with Merseyside rivals Everton. The new manager brings excitement and ambition telling the press he wants to see his players enjoying their work. For their trip to White Hart Lane, the reds will be without Joe Gomez and Danny Ings after Gomez was ruled out for the season with a cruciate ligament injury and Ings ruled out for six months because of a knee injury. Their opponents have been on a great run of late with the international break 13 points from a possible 21 remaining unbeaten since their loss to Manchester United seven games ago. As for the visitors, one win in their last five over Aston Villa shows the room for improvement after their summer spending, and a chance for those not in the first team picture to make an impression as Klopp puts his stamp on Liverpool.
West Bromwich Albion vs Sunderland
Sam Allardyce returns to Premier League management with Sunderland only above bottom club Newcastle on goal difference. The Black Cats currently sit five points from safety with a trip to the team five points ahead of them, West Bromwich Albion. A win would narrow the gap down to two points and pull the Baggies into trouble also. The Tyneside reds have quality in their ranks in Jermaine Defoe up front, Allardyce will be keen to boost the ex-England international back into the goal scoring threat we have seen at Sunderland in rare moments this season. As for Tony Pulis, the return of Saido Berahino has produced goals and tight wins, three points against their visitors would not only pull themselves away from danger but put themselves seven points clear of the drop if Aston Villa also lose.
Manchester City vs AFC Bournemouth
After cruising past Newcastle to return to the summit of the Premier League, the injury to Sergio Aguero once again leaves the Sky Blues without a key player. The striker’s hamstring injury is likely to keep the Argentinian on the sidelines for a month while midfielder David Silva’s ankle injury will also keep the Spaniard out of Saturday’s clash with the Cherries. Wilfried Bony and Kelechi Iheanacho will compete for the strikers spot. City’s injury list doesn’t match the length of their visitor’s as Tommy Elphick joins the ever growing number of injuries for Eddie Howe’s side. None the less, Harry Arter nears ever closer to a return to first team action after featuring in an under 21s game recently. The positivity around the club increases as Howe signed a contract extension until 2020.
Even with their injuries, City are still favourites to win this game with the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and Yaya Toure available, with De Bruyne regularly featuring on the score sheet since his arrival. Glenn Murray scored a goal on his debut and missed a penalty, filling the boots of the injured Callum Wilson, the likeliness of few chances means Murray will have to be clinical in front of goal against the league leaders.
Watford vs Arsenal
After their impressive 3-0 victory over Manchester United, the Gunners travel to Vicarage Road. The unpredictable nature of the top flight this season shows any side can be beaten by anyone else and the Hornets will go in search of their first victory over one of the big teams in the league. After his goal for England in the European Qualifiers, Theo Walcott will be vying for a place in the starting XI, his pace being threatening to any defence. Odion Ighalo has proved a tough opponent for centre halves but unable to grab a goal against another big side in Manchester City. The Gunners only clean sheet in September came against Stoke in a 2-0 win with their latest coming in the win against Manchester United. Heurelho Gomes provided the heroics to clinch the draw against AFC Bournemouth, saving a penalty to earn his side a point, playing against an old rival from his Tottenham days, a clean sheet and win would be ever so sweet for the Brazilian.
Everton vs Manchester United
With City’s injury concerns, a win over Everton could well put the Red Devils top of the league come Saturday night if they better Arsenal’s result by three goals. A win however for their opponents would see them leap frog Louis Van Gaal’s side into a possible third, providing other results go their way. Romelu Lukaku’s goal was the last blow to send Brendan Rodgers on his way out of Liverpool, a winning goal could send the away side out of the top four. September’s player of the month Anthony Martial will look to follow up his accolade with a goal, those have not been hard to come by for the French striker. With the Champions League following in midweek, Van Gaal’s side may be selected with the game against CSKA Moscow in mind.
Chelsea vs Aston Villa
Crunch time for Jose Mourinho as the Portuguese manager received the backing of the board. For a side so formidable since the ex-Real Madrid man’s return, the turn in fortune was a surprise for all. Another manager under pressure is Tim Sherwood, with the ex-Blackburn player’s side the wrong side of the relegation line, four points from safety. Rudy Gestede has produced goals of late, being an aerial threat while the home side’s ability to hold onto a lead has gone unnoticed. Against PSG in last year’s Champions League knockout stage second leg and their last result against Southampton. Defensive pairings have proved elusive also with Gary Cahill, John Terry and Kurt Zouma all being chopped and changed, Cahill normally the mainstay in the Blues’ defensive line. These defensive frailties give any striker a chance to improve their goal tally. Can Aston Villa add to the misery piled onto what was once an unbreakable home record?
Crystal Palace vs West Ham United
This is no mid table clash, two sides who have upset top sides in the league on their own back yard. The Hammers have upset Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City on home soil in what is an incredible away record for a team making a shaky start on their own turf. As for the Eagles, a 2-1 win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge showed their rise from relegation definites under Ian Holloway to a team to be reckoned with under Alan Pardew, with great credit going to Pulis providing stability in the Premier League. With the East London side playing away, a win would seem likely, the problem is their opponent’s attacking options. The pace and direct attacking of players such as Wilfried Zaha and Bakary Sako to name two has broken the once formidable champions defence on two occasions. The counter attacking brand of football has also been seen by Slaven Bilic’s side with Manuel Lanzini’s close control and speed producing the goals alongside Diafra Sakho. The clash of the sides provides an interesting tie, with the style of football inherited.
In the weekend’s other fixtures:
Swansea City vs Stoke City
Newcastle United vs Norwich City
Southampton vs Leicester City
Tottenham host Liverpool for the lunchtime kick off after the international break on 17th October.
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