9.5 C
New York
Sunday, December 3, 2023

10 things to look out for this weekend

Haaland and Salah take weekend top billing

Is Erling Haaland fit? He thinks so. Which of these gladiatorial contenders will adopt a higher line? Might there be touchline antics from Pep Guardiola and Jürgen Klopp? And which of the Premier League leaders and the second-placed side will emerge on top? For subplots, sideshows and headline narratives, Manchester City’s hosting of Liverpool on Saturday lunchtime is this weekend’s only game in town, such an enticing prospect that whatever occurs cannot – surely – be anything other than riveting. Haaland v Salah will be a duel of two supreme attacking forces so, if there is to be a victor, who defends best may be the defining factor in what is only match No 13 of each protagonist’s title challenge. Jamie Jackson

Clarets’ blues as they find gap tough to bridge

West Ham’s post-international injury problems pale in comparison with the predicament facing Burnley as they struggle to bridge the chasm between the Championship and Premier League. The Clarets have failed to collect a single point at Turf Moor this season, conceding on average three goals per home game, and have lost their last six matches in all competitions. Vincent Kompany, however, insists he will not compromise on the standards that underpinned Burnley’s immediate return to the top flight and denies that pressure is building internally. “The gap is huge but we have to look at it as an opportunity,” the manager said this week. “At this moment in time, our team shows fight, our team shows resilience and we haven’t waited to build it, we’ve built it across last season. It’s within the staff, it’s within the place and it’s a calm place, so we think we have the right conditions to overcome that gap.” Andy Hunter

Dara O’Shea rues missing a chance.Dara O’Shea rues missing a chance.

Dara O’Shea will be hoping for better luck against the Hammers at Turf Moor on Saturday. Photograph: Richard Sellers/PA

Chong can bring home comfort for Hatters

In their 12 league games so far, Luton have only scored twice on two occasions, helping them pick up four of their six points. They have scored 10 goals in total but conceded 22, so to give themselves a chance of staying up they will need to start pinpointing games they can win. Home form will be incredibly important; the Hatters are yet to taste Premier League victory at Kenilworth Road and matches against the likes of Crystal Palace could be crucial. Rob Edwards’ side have found out how difficult the top flight is but need to lose a touch of fear in order to progress. One player who can provide more quality in the final third is Tahith Chong, who has started the previous three matches on the bench but did come on to score in the encouraging 1-1 draw with Liverpool. A start for the Dutchman could add an edge to Luton’s play when Palace visit and potentially help secure a much-needed home win. Will Unwin

Jackson yellows spell trouble for Blues

Chelsea have scored four in their past two matches, both against teams in the top four, an indication that things are starting to click going forward under Mauricio Pochettino. They failed to score in three straight Premier League matches in September but have since found a formula that works for them in the final third. The manager has settled on a front three of Cole Palmer, Raheem Sterling and Nicolas Jackson. They are starting to understand how each other operates and that is making for slicker attacking football. However if they want to keep growing their relationship it is imperative that Jackson stops picking up needless bookings. He has played 11 Premier League matches for Chelsea and been cautioned on a league-high seven occasions, already picking up a one-match ban for his many indiscretions. Another three yellow cards would earn him a two-match ban, something Pochettino cannot afford without an obvious replacement available, so the young striker needs to mature quickly. WU

Nicolas Jackson celebrates scoring against Manchester City.Nicolas Jackson celebrates scoring against Manchester City.

Nicolas Jackson’s goals have been key to Chelsea’s upturn in form. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

No Awoniyi, no goals for Forest?

Taiwo Awoniyi being on the pitch is imperative to Nottingham Forest’s success. The striker has scored 10 in his past 14 league appearances and without him Steve Cooper’s side struggle, failing to win in the last eight league games when the Nigerian was unavailable. That makes the news he requires surgery on a groin injury that could keep him out for up to four months all the more troubling. Awoniyi’s absence often makes Forest change style, with Chris Wood the most likely replacement, but he is a completely different style of player. Without Awoniyi leading the side, Forest are a different team because they rely on his pace and physicality to help move them up the field quickly on the counter. He creates goals as well as scoring them, earning two assists this season. Divock Origi has made no impact whatsoever since his loan move from Milan but this could be the right time for his first start, as he can at least bring some continuity with his style. WU

Blades look for further boost against Bournemouth

After securing one point in their opening 10 matches, things looked bleak for Sheffield United but a win and draw in their past two games have boosted confidence. With another potential relegation rival in Bournemouth coming to Bramall Lane on Saturday, it is a golden chance to extend that run. The international break came, as cliche dictates, at an inappropriate moment for the Blades who would have been desperate to keep the momentum going. It will, however, have allowed Paul Heckingbottom a chance to reflect. The majority of his players were not on international duty, offering them plenty of time to prepare for Andoni Iraola’s Bournemouth who are starting to show signs that they can play in the dynamic style their head coach demands. If the Blades win it could help them out of the relegation zone for the first time since the third round of fixtures which would be a huge lift to the squad and fans alike. WU

Arteta has dilemma over influential duo

International breaks are often a nervous time for a manager as they wonder who will come back injured, but for Mikel Arteta the past 10 days have been an aid. Gabriel Jesus played 90 minutes for Brazil in their 1-0 loss to Argentina, having missed the previous month of action because of a hamstring injury, although the return from South America after such a high-octane fixture might have a negative impact on the striker. Meanwhile, Martin Ødegaard missed Norway’s games during the break to allow him to focus on returning to fitness. He last featured in the League Cup loss to West Ham on 1 November but will be available for the trip to Brentford having overcome a hip problem. The Arsenal captain still has to go through concussion protocol, however, after being hit in the face with a ball during training. It is up to Arteta to decide whether he wants to start his returning duo and get them up to speed before a hectic period. WU

Two very late goals unraveled Tottenham in their most recent outing against Wolves. After 12 unbeaten games to start the season, Ange Postecoglou has entered his first phase of turbulence as a Premier League manager. Despite having 59% possession at Molineux, Spurs could only muster two shots on target as they surrendered their lead. James Maddison was absent and looks set to be out until January, meaning Postecoglou needs to find a Plan B to make the team more creative without their playmaker. Giovani Lo Celso came off the bench against Wolves for his third substitute appearance of the season. The Argentinian’s career has never got going in north London since joining from Real Betis for £27m, spending 18 months of his Spurs career out on loan, but he has the skillset to make an impact in the Premier League and Maddison’s absence is his chance to prove his worth. WU

Seething Goodison ready to make point

There is nothing quite like an angry Goodison Park and it is difficult to imagine many occasions in the stadium’s 131-year history when it has seethed as much as is likely on Sunday. Everton fans have planned numerous protests in response to the club being hit with the biggest sporting sanction in Premier League history – a 10-point deduction for a £19.5m overspend – with the entire crowd invited to show a red card to the organisation during its anthem and in the 10th minute of the game against Manchester United. Good luck to Sky Sports in their attempts to lower the volume on any obscenities. Sean Dyche and his in-form team share the sense of indignation, yet must channel what Everton’s director of football Kevin Thelwell described as “additional fuel” into a clear-minded strategy to defeat Erik ten Hag’s visitors. Easier said than done but that is the challenge that confronts Everton for the rest of the season as they attempt to defy the Premier League to remain a member of it. AH

Blunt Fulham need to find cutting edge

Fulham’s last home match ended with them handing victory to Manchester United. After missing several chances during the second half, Marco Silva’s team were at least closing in on a point before a disastrous attempt to clear their lines ended with Bruno Fernandes’s winner. While United celebrated, Fulham bemoaned their frailties in both boxes. This season has been a struggle. Fulham have made costly defensive errors and have been blunt since selling Aleksandar Mitrovic. Raúl Jiménez and Carlos Vinícius have a goal apiece in the league, Rodrigo Muniz is all potential at the moment and the slack has not been picked up by the attacking midfielders. Willian, Andreas Pereira, Tom Cairney, Alex Iwobi, Harry Wilson, Tom Cairney and Bobby Decordova-Reid have managed four goals between them. Not good enough. Fulham, seven points above the bottom three, have to find solutions and fast. Jacob Steinberg







Man City






Tottenham Hotspur


Aston Villa


Man Utd






West Ham








Crystal Palace


Nottm Forest




AFC Bournemouth




Sheff Utd





Source link

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Stay Connected

- Advertisement -spot_img

Latest Articles