By Niall Clarke
- Five questions on our minds ahead of match-week nine of the Premier League season
- Predictions for all 10 of the weekend’s games.
How Jose Mourinho will fare on his return to Chelsea is just one of our five burning questions for match-week nine of the Premier League season.
Can Manchester City bounce back?
It is now four games without a win for Pep Guardiola. Since the draw at Celtic Park in the Champions League, City have gone on to lose 2-0 to Spurs, draw 1-1 with Everton and get battered 4-0 by Barcelona – a far cry from the team that was perfect until that night in Glasgow.
Defensive frailties are still there, and even more problematic is that they have failed to take their chances when they present themselves. Things will have to improve when they welcome Southampton to the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.
The Saints have picked up some form recently with Charlie Austin’s form being the stand-out. The English striker is knocking on the door for an England call up, and he will be a threat to the struggling City defence.
It is a game that City will likely win though, but confidence will be low and there will be extra pressure as it is likely they will be off the top of the table by the time this game rolls around.
How will Jose Mourinho fare on his return to Chelsea?
Mourinho is a name that will long live in the hearts of Chelsea fans. After all he was the manager who brought them their first title in 50 years and followed that up with two more league triumphs and numerous cup victories too. The Portuguese will be managing the enemy this time however, and it will be interesting to see how the Stamford Bridge crowd reacts to that.
On the opposite side we have Antonio Conte who is looking to become a Chelsea hero himself. The Blues have steadied the rocky patch and are coming off a dominating win at home to Leicester. Conte’s three at the back formation seemed to work, so will he use it again?
Will Wayne Rooney once again be benched for Manchester United? The captain has not featured in the starting eleven for the past two games. There are plenty of questions surrounding this fixture as always, but what we will likely see is a tactical game between two of the best defensive managers in the world. Expect a close match that could have a huge say come the end of the season.
Can Arsenal continue to ride the wave of momentum?
Can the Gunners make it a magnificent seven wins in a row in the League? With their form it would be foolish to bet against them. Since the slow start to the campaign, Arsenal have been the best team in the League. They are currently in ominous form as shown by their 6-0 win against Ludogarets in the Champions League.
Arsene Wenger’s side host struggling Middlesbrough on Saturday. It should be an easy win for the Gunners but you can never be certain. Arsenal can sometimes have performances where they fail to break teams down and Middlesbrough had a pretty tight defence last season.
Can Sunderland get their first Premier League win of the season?
Sunderland are the only side in the Premier League that has not won a game this season, and as a result David Moyes’ side sit at the foot of the table with only two points on the board.
The fans will be hoping for a change in fortunes soon or else The Black Cats could find themselves heading the same way as Newcastle – down to the Championship. Sunderland face West Ham at the London Stadium on Saturday and, given the Hammers have struggled at their new home so far, this could be an opportunity to gain points.
A loss would no doubt set them back further and raise questions about the manager’s future at the club.
What else is happening?
The weekend kicks off with Tottenham’s away trip to Bournemouth with Spurs looking to go to the top of the table even for a few hours. Bournemouth are in good form after their 6-1 win last week and will present problems.
Burnley host Everton in one of six 3pm kick offs on Saturday. Hull vs Stoke, Leicester vs Crystal Palace and Swansea vs Watford will also feature in the traditional slot.
Saturday’s action will conclude with Liverpool hosting West Brom. This will be an interesting style clash as the attacking Reds will face the more defensive Baggies. Jurgen Klopp will be hoping to keep Liverpool’s title charge going with a win.
Bournemouth 1-2 Tottenham
Arsenal 2-0 Middlesbrough
Burnley 1-1 Everton
Hull 0-0 Stoke
Leicester 3-1 Crystal Palace
Swansea 1-1 Watford
West Ham 2-0 Sunderland
Liverpool 2-1 West Brom
Man City 3-1 Southampton
Chelsea 0-0 Man United
The Premier League continues on the weekend of the 22nd-23rd October.
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