The Premier League returns this weekend with clubs looking to find form after a disrupted start to the season. Only seven games have taken place since September 4th. As a result, over the next few months some teams’ schedules will be busier than usual. We preview this week’s prominent fixtures and predict who will come out on top.
Premier League Returns: Manchester Derby Headlines League Return
Manchester City vs Manchester United
Pep Guardiola and Erik Ten Haag Square off for the first time in a Manchester derby as the Premier League returns. Both teams come into the game in good form. Guardiola’s side is undefeated this season, while Ten Hag’s United have won their last four league games.
One of the reasons for Manchester United’s upturn in form is their newfound defensive solidity.
Ten Hag’s men have only conceded three goals since their embarrassing 4-0 loss to Brentford. A match-up against City’s Erling Haaland will be the new center-back partnership Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez’s toughest test yet.
At the other end of the pitch, Manchester City has only conceded six goals in the league all season but did show their vulnerability in ties against Newcastle United and Crystal Palace.
Manchester United may have less of the ball against City, which may play in their favor. United’s attack works best in a counter-attacking situations, as demonstrated in wins over Liverpool and Arsenal.
A win for either team would spring them into title contention, with Manchester United just six points away from leaders Arsenal with a game in hand and Manchester City just one point behind The Gunners.
Predicted result: Manchester City 2-1 Manchester United
Arsenal vs Tottenham Hotspur
Arsenal host Tottenham Hotspur. The game is one of the highly anticipated North London Derbies in many years. Mikel Arteta’s men have only lost once this season, but critics will argue that defeat came in their only real test against Manchester United. Antonio Conte’s Tottenham has got results despite not playing at their best and remain unbeaten in the league.
Both clubs invested heavily this summer to end Manchester City and Liverpool’s dominance at the top of the Premier League. Tottenham’s improved depth has meant players will have to fight for their position on Conte’s side. Even Heung-Min Son had to warm the bench for the game against Leicester City. Despite that, last season’s Golden Boot winner still came on to score a hat-trick.
In contrast to Tottenham, Arsenal strengthened their starting line-up this summer. Gabriel Jesus has been a superb addition as Oleksandr Zinchenko and Arsenal currently sit at the top of the Premier League table. Arsenal bounced back from a disappointing loss to Manchester United with a 3-0 victory over Brentford.
A win for Spurs would take them above Arsenal and possibly to the top of the Premier League if other results go their way. A win for Arsenal would solidify their claim that they can compete for the title this season.
Predicted result: Arsenal 0-1 Tottenham Hotspur
Liverpool vs Brighton & Hove Albion
Liverpool’s last league game was almost a month ago. The Reds currently lie a disappointing 8th in the Premier League table. Brighton & Hove Albion are 4th in the table but have just lost their most prized asset. Manager Graham Potter’s departure to Chelsea broke the hearts of The Seagulls fans. New manager Roberto De Zerbi takes charge of his first game this weekend at Anfield.
Brighton has also not played since early September. A 5-2 win against Leicester City was their last outing. The break has allowed them to appoint a new manager, De Zerbi. He will hope to continue the form Potter left behind before his departure to Chelsea. The Seagulls are looking to qualify for Europe this season, and they will need results against teams like Liverpool to achieve their aim.
Injuries across Liverpool’s midfield and defense, is a possible reason for their slow start to the season. With the international break affording The Reds a chance to recuperate, there will be no excuses if they fail to pick up before the World Cup. Thiago Alcantara is now fully fit, and the new signing Arthur Melo has been playing with Liverpool’s youth team to gain fitness. Even Ibrahima Konate is close to his first appearance of the season this weekend.
A win for Liverpool would put them back on track in the pursuit of the title, but a defeat would increase questions on the direction this team is heading. A win for Brighton would be a statement that they can compete with the best with or without Potter.
Predicted result: Liverpool 2-1 Brighton