Harry’s Picks: Week 129 min read
The domestic action makes a welcome return from the International break and I know punters will be as excited as me, anticipating another intriguing weekend.
Arch rivals won’t halt Reds’ run
Liverpool find themselves in a strong position, currently eight points clear of champions Manchester City, and their short trip to rivals United is arguably the pick of the matches. There is little love lost between these giants of the game but it shows how far the hosts have slipped when the Merseyside men arrive as odds-on favourites to take three points away from Old Trafford.
The Red Devils were beaten 1-0 at Newcastle on their last outing and have picked up just the solitary point from three games with a win at home to Leicester the last time the faithful could celebrate maximum points, over a month ago .
A lack of creativity has been the main reason they find themselves down in twelfth position and Paul Pogba will now join goalkeeper David De Gea in missing out on this weekend’s huge match through injury. They do have the boost of Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan-Bissaka being available again, but the squad still looks light.
Liverpool will arrive confident but cautious that this always represents a tough challenge. With a clean bill of health, they know success on Super Sunday will keep them in the driving seat and put considerable pressure on the chasing pack.
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Lampard’s Blues loving life
Chelsea were enjoying a rich vein of form before the break with three Premier League wins from four and their only loss was against the table toppers. Their attacking football and introduction of exciting young players has pleased the Stamford Bridge followers and they will expect three more points when Newcastle visit the capital.
United have dug deep to record narrow wins against Tottenham and Manchester United but lack the consistency to build momentum. Despite having players still in the treatment room, Chelsea have shown they now have a deep squad and with confidence ever so high, there is no reason to desert them.
Spurs to steady the ship
Tottenham fans will be slightly worried at their side’s slide in form and will hope the break has seen them regroup ready to mount a top-four bid again. There is no covering up a disappointing 3-0 loss at Brighton but home form has been stronger with just one defeat.
Visitors Watford arrive as the bottom club and still yet to register a victory in the top flight this season. The Hornets have only netted four times so it’s easy to see where their problems lie, with the loss of captain and talisman Troy Deeney being crucial, Watford have desperately missed his goal output. The club may well be targeting softer home fixtures to start turning the corner as it’s hard to envisage a trip to the Tottenham Stadium reaping any dividends.
Unfazed Foxes continue to push on
Leicester have enjoyed a really positive opening, and occupying fourth place and into the last sixteen of the League Cup has fans genuinely excited. The Foxes were perhaps unfortunate not to end Liverpool’s one hundred percent record when only a late penalty denied them a draw at Anfield, but the performance there certainly bodes well as they seek to maintain a top-four challenge.
Unbeaten at home, City now face Burnley who themselves have exceeded expectations with some eye-catching results pushing them into seventh place. However, success has come against the weaker clubs and it’s hard to imagine the Lancashire men having the quality to take out the flying hosts.
Wolves to pounce on unsettled Saints
Wolves caused perhaps the shock of the season when winning 2-0 at champions Manchester City. To keep the Citizens potent attack scoreless was a fantastic achievement and one Wanderers fans will celebrate for many months. It also meant back-to-back PL victories and has helped move the club into a mid-table position.
Its no secret the team have played far more matches this term due to an early start in the Europa League and many were questioning whether this was having a detrimental effect on their domestic form. They host Southampton at Molineux with another excellent chance of continuing their improved run of results.
Saints are just outside the drop zone having lost three matches on the bounce in the PL. They were left chasing shadows against Chelsea when losing 4-1 and despite the goal efforts from Danny Ings, have been unable to resolve defensive concerns.
Key backroom staff have also recently left St Mary’s and this may well have an unsettling impact on the playing field. With a tough-looking fixture list ahead, this will take considerable resolve to remain outside the bottom three but I don’t expect a positive result in the Midlands.
Bielsa’s boys should have the beating of the Blues
Leeds looked to be the team to beat in the Championship and early results had them at the summit and threatening to run away with the title. However, three defeats from their last six games has seen them fall to fifth, although this section is ever so tight as always.
Even with ten men for most of the game at Millwall, they were threatening and had chances to win so with a full complement against Birmingham back at Elland Road, they should return to winning ways.
Exciting on loan forward Eddie Nketiah has started mainly from the bench but after a hat trick for England U21 against Austria on Tuesday, fans are clambering for him to start against the Blues.
The United side is packed with energy and looks ready to dish out a hiding to someone and Birmingham may well feel the force of a backlash. In fairness, five wins is a promising start for City but away from home they have conceded far too many and look vulnerable against teams like Leeds who are not afraid to spray the ball about and will create countless chances.
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