By Neil Leverett and Niall Clarke
- The Premier League resumes after the international break, as Chelsea host Manchester United in game of the week
- Unbeaten Liverpool travel to basement dwellers Huddersfield Town on Saturday evening
- Arsenal host Leicester City on Monday night, as the Gunners seek tenth straight win in all competitions
PREMIER LEAGUE, UK – The Premier League resumes this weekend, as Chelsea host Manchester United at Stamford Bridge with former boss Jose Mourinho seeking respite in west London.
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Game of the week: Chelsea vs. Manchester United (Saturday, 12:30)
Niall: Jose Mourinho faces his former employers Chelsea in our game of the week. The Blues have undergone quite the identity change since Mourinho was in charge of the club. Maurizio Sarri has made the Blues a much more attack minded side that is easier on the eye for the neutrals. The change in approach has also been effective as Chelsea sit joint top of the Premier League with Eden Hazard in the form of his life.
Manchester United are not flying as high. The Red Devils sit in eighth, seven points off their rivals on Saturday. A defeat will only heap more pressure on Mourinho who could be in the firing line if he fails to win. It has proved to be a far from easy task for the Portuguese as his record against Chelsea stands at four wins and four losses, two of which came with Inter Milan in their Champions League winning campaign.
This fixture has not been the most exciting in recent years, but Sarri-ball makes this a much more enticing fixture. Chelsea will come to attack a leaky Manchester United defence, but the Blues’ back-line are liable to mistakes themselves. Chelsea are flying higher of the two and that confidence under Sarri may see them defeat an already ailing Manchester United team, though.
Prediction: Chelsea 2-1 Manchester United
Neil: The Premier League rolls back into action with a bang here, with the Blues level on points with both Liverpool and Manchester City on 20 points. Mourinho remains firmly under the Old Trafford cosh and a trip to west London may not be the tonic for the under-fire United boss.
The hosts are capable of being both goals, but also keeping a tight ship when required and I have a feeling this will be a one of those occasions, if the visitors opt to drive the Red Devil bus down to Stamford Bridge.
As the first game on resumption, that adds another level of fascination to this one, and I always say beware predicting the first game after an international hiatus. Add to that even now Mourinho is capable of playing spoiler to proceedings and I am make just tip United to take a point back to Manchester – a result they will surely accept willingly, given their recent plights.
Prediction: Chelsea 1-1 Manchester United
Niall’s One to watch: Huddersfield Town vs. Liverpool (Saturday, 17:30)
My one to watch this week features two clubs at different ends of the table as struggling Huddersfield Town face third placed Liverpool at The John Smith’s Stadium. Usually, you would predict an easy win for the higher ranked team in this sort of match-up, but there is a degree of interest regarding this fixture. Not only does it pit David Wagner against his former boss Jurgen Klopp, it also has the potential to be an upset.
The Reds come into this match with form not on their side despite remaining unbeaten this season. The performances have not been there for Liverpool and they were lucky to come out of games against Chelsea and Manchester City without tasting defeat.
To make matters worse though is the injury list that has piled up over the International break. Mohamed Salah, Virgil van Dijk, Sadio Mane and Naby Keita all picked up injuries and may not feature on Saturday. All four are key players for Klopp’s side and will be big misses should they miss the game.
Huddersfield are not creatively the best side in the league, and that is being kind. With only four goals score in eight games, they are tied with Cardiff for the worst attack in the league. Liverpool are tied with Manchester City for the best defence, so one would think that the Terriers will struggle to get anything against them.
However Van Dijk’s possible absence looms. If the Dutch International misses the game then the chances of an upset improve drastically. He did return to full training along with Salah though which is a huge boost for Liverpool, and if they both feature then an upset will be unlikely.
Prediction: Huddersfield Town 1-2 Liverpool
Neil’s One to watch: Arsenal vs. Leicester City (Monday, 20:00)
Gameweek 9 wraps up with potentially the best game of the weekend in terms of the aesthetic. Here we have both sides that are not shy to go on the front, whilst having certain discrepancies in defence also.
Arsenal are looking to reach double figures in consecutive wins after a shaky start, and are arguably the form side in the top flight right now. There are a number of tough looking games on the horizon however and with a trip to Lisbon in the UEFA Europa League to come in midweek, picking up league points remains a must.
The Gunners’ strike-force in Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is really beginning to tick in recent outings, and I expect no difference here. But the Foxes also have their threats in front of goal and Jamie Vardy is the sort of man who loves to score against the hosts.
I am at the game on Monday and get the feeling James Maddison may cause all sorts of problems in defence for Unai Emery‘s men. This fixture has often brought goals with it and I can see no reason why this game will veer away from the norm. As it is, I think the Arsenal, er, arsenal will be too much for Leicester to contain.
Prediction: Arsenal 3-1 Leicester City
Premier League Gameweek 9 game of the week sees Chelsea host Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on Saturday evening.
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