Man City vs Liverpool kicks off the return of Premier League action after yet another international break. Thankfully, it’s the last such break of the (calendar) year, so we are left with back-to-back Premier League action as we look ahead to the festive period.
Man City v Liverpool
Pep Guardiola’s Citizens welcome a resurgent Liverpool side to the Etihad. Pep will hope his side can avoid the defensive lapses that cost them in the 4-4 draw against Chelsea just before the break.
Liverpool departed for the break on a high, winning three-nil over a Brentford team that had been on a run of three straight wins. We will be treated to an end-to-end encounter of the highest level early Saturday.
Burnley v West Ham
Burnley fell to a fifth consecutive defeat when outclassed by Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal before the break. With just one win and a draw, Vincent Kompany’s side is currently last in the table and needing serious points to avoid one-and-done demotion to the lower league.
West Ham snapped a run of three consecutive defeats by grinding out a 3-2 victory against a stubborn Nottingham Forest. The Hammers have struggled with juggling Europa League and Premier League.
Luton Town v Crystal Palace
Luton’s loss to Man United made it five consecutive games without a win for the newly promoted side, which currently sits in 18th. The Hatters have conceded fewer goals than every other side in the bottom four, but their struggles in front of goal have seen them drop points when they should be doing better.
Crystal Palace suffered a surprising home defeat to fellow mid-table team Everton. The defeat was the perfect example of the Eagles inconsistent start to the season. On a positive note, the match saw Olise feature for the first time this season after a long-term injury.
Newcastle v Chelsea
Eddie Howe will hope to have most of his squad available for this cracker after missing as many as eleven players in the two-nil defeat to Bournemouth before the break. Mauricio Pochettino’s Chelsea showed a lot of spirit and character in the pulsating 4-4 draw with Man City. The manager will hope his side will be able to kick on from that energetic display when they travel to St James’ Park.
Nott’m Forest v Brighton
A late defeat to West Ham saw Nottingham Forest fall to 15th after an encouraging start to the season. Forest have only won one of their last five games and need to quickly sort out issues in their defensive set-up if they are to have a good season. A red card for Mahmoud Dahoud and a draw at home to Sheffield have increased the pressure on Roberto Di Zerbi to start raking in the results. The Seagulls have recently struggled in the league, failing to win any of their last five games.
Sheffield United v Bournemouth
Sheffield welcomes Bournemouth to Bramall Lane in a relegation six-pointer on Saturday. Sheffield picked up just its fifth point of the season by coming back from a goal down to secure a one-all draw against Brighton. The Blades have picked up a win and a draw in their last two games, their best run this season. Bournemouth climbed out of the relegation zone with an impressive two-nil victory over an injury-ravaged Newcastle (and because of Everton’s shock 10-point deduction). It was just the Cherries’ second win of the season after twelve games.
Brentford v Arsenal
Brentford saw their three-game winning run brought to a halt by rampaging Liverpool side at Anfield. Neal Maupay has looked like a different player for the Bees in recent weeks. He also has a particularly frosty relationship with Arsenal fans. The Gunners went into the break on a high note, winning 3-1 against Vincent Kompany’s Burnley. With the only two sides above the Gunners facing each other this weekend, Mikel Arteta knows a win will take his side into the top two.
Spurs suffered back-to-back losses for the first time this season after a late collapse against Wolves before the break. Tottenham has been hampered by injuries to key players James Maddison and Micky van de Ven and is unlikely to have either of them back for this fixture. Aston Villa, on the other hand, continued an impressive start to the season by winning a third match in four before the break. The Villans sit just one point and one place behind Spurs.
Everton v Man United
Everton has been rocked by a massive 10-point deduction for breaching Premier League profitability and sustainability rules. The Toffees are appealing the judgement but currently sit 19th with just four points. The Toffees have lost only once in their last five games.
Man United has gone from strength to strength, winning four of the last five games to rise to sixth. The Red Devils looks to have mastered the art of keeping tight at the back while scoring a goal or two to snatch three points at a go. This is expected to be another cagey low scoring affair that could swing either way.
Fulham v Wolves
Marco Silva knows his men will have their hands full when they take on Wolves at Craven Cottage. Absent Mitrovic, who has moved to Saudi Arabia, the Cottagers have struggled for goals this season. The manager and Fulham fans hope Raul Jiminez’s first goal in 31 games in the clash against Aston Villa will give him the confidence to recover his best form.
Wolves went into the break on a high, claiming a late come-from-behind victory against Totteringham. The manner of the comeback and timing should give Wolves full confidence coming into this fixture.