With the international break now out of the way, the Premiership resumes with 4 games on TV across the weekend with at least a game a day from Saturday, through to Monday. The weekend kicks off with a top of the table derby, and concludes with a manager taking on his old club.
Manchester United vs Manchester City 11:30am on Sky Sports 1 (KO 12:30pm)
Much has already been discussed, on this website, about the upcoming Manchester derby. The game has been enhanced by the presence of arguably the 2 best managers in world football. Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola, both go into their first derby, with 100% records for the season. Such is the rivalry between the 2 managers, neither will want to lose to the other. Thus far the two have kept mind games to a minimum. This has not extended to their players, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic welcoming new City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, to Manchester, by sending some training gear to the goalkeeper, with the message “you’ll need this”
For United there are no major injuries to report. Luke Shaw withdrew from the England squad, citing fatigue, but it is expected that the left back will be available to play on Saturday. Henrikh Mkhitaryan has recovered from a knock picked up midweek. His scintillating appearance during United’s 1-0 victory over Hull City, would have made him an obvious choice for Mourinho.
In brighter United related international news, Marcus Rashford scored a hat-trick on his England Under-21 debut on Tuesday. Rashford, who has now scored on his United, England full, and Under-21 debuts, scored the only goal across both fixtures last season. Rashford, another player that shone during the Hull victory, must be considered a strong candidate to start for United on Saturday. The only question for Mourinho will it be in place of Juan Mata, or Anthony Martial.
The big team news for City, is the lack of Sergio Aguero. Aguero, who has scored 6 goals this season, is banned for 3 games for elbowing Winston Reid in Man City’s 3-1 win over West Ham. A calf muscle injury would’ve ruled out Aguero anyway, but it’s a blow for Guardiola who would’ve been counting on the Argentine to add to the 8 goals he has from previous Derby’s. It would appear that either Nolito will move in from the left wing, or Guardiola’s most obvious option is to make a like-for-like change and bring in young Nigeria striker Kelechi Iheanacho. The 19-year-old has only started one game this season, in Aguero’s role as a lone striker in the 1-0 second leg victory over Steaua Bucharest in a much-changed City team, but he has made an impression late on from the bench.
Indeed, he pressured Sunderland’s Vito Mannone into fumbling a cross that led to Paddy McNair’s late own goal in the opening day 2-1 victory and then made decisive contributions in Nolito’s two late goals in the 4-1 win at Stoke City.
“He is always ready. We will need him. Sergio can’t play all season and Kelechi is going to play,” Guardiola said after the win at the Bet365 Stadium.
This will no doubt be a tight game, with neither manager wanting to concede a loss early on to his rival. A draw would not be the most surprising result on the day.
Liverpool vs Leicester City 5pm on BT Sport (KO 5:30pm)
Liverpool play their very first home game of the season, following redesign work on Anfield, against last season’s Premiership champions Leicester City. Both sides will go into this game with matching records, both having won 1, drawn 1, and lost 1. Liverpool were one of only 2 sides to inflict a defeat on Leicester as they marched towards the title last season. Leicester’s winless record at Anfield stretches back even further, as they haven’t won since 2000.
In his pre-match press conference Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri stated: “Liverpool is one of my favourites to win the league. They are ready to fight for the title.” However their defensive issues remain and they have yet to keep a clean sheet this season. Despite being the better side against Tottenham, they were still undone by a Danny Rose goal in the final 20 minutes. To add to his defensive issues Jurgen Klopp, in his pre-match press conference, confirmed that Ragnar Klavan will be absent. Also absent will be Emre Can.
Although better news for Klopp is the availability of Sadio Mane, who has been Liverpool’s stand out player thus far this season. Mane, who was named Liverpool player of the month, has scored once and has 2 assists so far this season. He’ll be looking to get the better of Danny Simpson, in what should be an enticing battle.
For the defending champions they are boosted by the fact that goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel has recovered form a hernia injury, and will be fit to start the game. Ranieri said Schmeichel was ready to face the Reds, although midfielder Papy Mendy and versatile left-winger Jeff Schlupp will again be missing. Mendy injured an ankle on his debut against Arsenal while Schlupp picked up a thigh injury in training.
“Mendy is training on the bike, sometimes outside, and when he comes back with the first team he needs a week.
“Jeff has started with us, the normal warm-up, and then he does something different. He is close to coming back. I don’t want to risk Mendy or Schlupp.”
Ranieri also confirmed that record signing Islam Slimani could make his debut against Liverpool. Most likely Slimani will debut from the bench:
“A lot of my players go around the world without playing but it is good. They recover a little more. Slimani arrives this evening or tomorrow. I didn’t see him yet, but he is available for Saturday,”
“He could play. We bought him because we believe in his ability. It is important he understands the Premier League.”
Leicester will also be looking to use the game as a launch pad, as they head into the Champions League for their first ever game in the competition.
Swansea City vs Chelsea 3:30pm on Sky Sports 1 (4pm KO)
Sunday’s only game of the day, sees the only other side in the Premiership with a 100% record Chelsea, travel to the Liberty Stadium to face Swansea. Chelsea will be looking to avenge a 1-0 loss in the same fixture last season. Swansea lost their last two games before the international break, at home to Hull and at Leicester, after winning on the opening day of the season at Burnley.
Sunday marks the start of a tough-looking run of Premier League fixtures for Swansea with Chelsea, Southampton, Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal their next five opponents.
The good news for Swansea manger Francesco Guidolin is he only has one injury to deal with ahead of the game. Record Swansea signing Borja Baston has been troubled by a thigh injury which has prevented him from taking any part in the season thus far. But the £15.5million striker signed from Atletico Madrid last season could make the bench against Chelsea.
“He’s not injured but he has to go slow for two or three days,” said Guidolin. “He worked with us last week, but he needs some days of slow training. He is almost ready to play. I hope to have him on the bench for Sunday, but I’m not sure at the moment.”
This is not the first time the two managers have crossed paths, as they met several times in Serie A when Antonio Conte was the manager of Juventus, and Guidolin in charge of Udinese. Guidolin has only managed 1 win in 9 against Conte, and will be hoping to improve on that record on Sunday.
For Conte, all eyes on his team selection will be related to David Luiz. Luiz who returned to his former club on transfer deadline day, is in line to make his re-debut at the Liberty Stadium. Previous Chelsea managers had at times played Luiz in the centre of midfield. Something Conte stressed he wasn’t interested in doing.
“I know that sometimes he played like a central midfielder,” Conte told Chelsea TV. “But I prefer, and in my mind, the idea is to utilise him in the right position. For me, he is a centre back.”
The question for Conte, is does he drop John Terry or Gary Cahill for the game. Or does this become an opportunity for Conte to employ 3 at the back as he has done previously at Juventus and Italy? This is something will Conte will want to decide on quickly, as while Chelsea go to Swansea on Sunday seeking to make it four wins from four, the acid test for Conte will come with subsequent games against Liverpool and Arsenal.
Sunderland vs Everton 7pm on Sky Sports 1 (8pm KO)
Monday night football presents David Moyes with the opportunity to face one of his former clubs, as he takes on the club he earnt his reputation with, Everton. Moyes admitted after only the second game of the season that Sunderland would be involved in a “Relegation fight” thus far Moyes has yet to win a league game this season.
Sunderland had a busy transfer deadline day breaking there transfer record to sign Gabon international midfielder Didier Ndong from Lorient for £13.6m. They have since added free agent Victor Anichebe and Boavista goalkeeper Mika, the signing of Mika was especially crucial as number 1 Vito Mannone, 28, was ruled out for up to three months with an elbow injury. All 3 of these signings will be in line to make their debuts on Monday. Despite these additions to the squad, Moyes is still without 7 players. Including long-term injuries to Sebastian Larsson, Fabio Borini, and Lee Cattermole.
Moyes will also be counting on Jermaine Defoe to add to the 2 goals he’s scored this season. The weight of Sunderland’s attacking force. Bafflingly Moyes failed to add a striker during his transfer window, and an injury to Defoe between now and January will be a big issue for Moyes.
Moyes compared his time at Everton to sell Sunderland fans on what could be achieved:
“This reminds me a little bit of Everton when I took over. Everton had been in the bottom six, I think, four out of the five years before I came in. In my last eight years, I never finished outside the top eight. Hopefully we can do a bit of an Everton.”
For Moyes there must be a tinge of envy at seeing what Ronald Koeman has to work with, compared to when Moyes first took over. Koeman has made a solid start to life at Goodison Park, undefeated in all competitions and having won the last 3 games in a row. Everton only made one addition on deadline day, with West Ham’s Enner Valencia joining the toffees on loan for the rest of the season.
Last time Everton played at the Stadium of Light they were turned over 3-0, and Roberto Martinez was relieved of his duties. Koeman’s side should avoid a similar fate, but he’ll be hoping that Romelu Lukaku will be able to find the net for the first time this season. Koeman should also have Tom Cleverly back from injury for the game.
Moyes will be looking for his first win against his former side, losing both games when in charge of Manchester United. But you’d imagine Ronald Koeman is entertaining nothing less than a significant win against Moyes side.
By Rich Lee @RichLee2202
Next Bet Wins TV Accumulator
If you fancy a 4 fold accumulator across this weekends televised games, the boys at Nexbetwins.co.uk have come up with a little something. Remember these prices come from Bet365
Both teams to score during the Manchester Derby 4/5
Over 2.5 goals in the Liverpool vs Leicester game 8/11
Chelsea to win against Swansea and both teams to score 12/5
Romelu Lukaku to score anytime for Everton against Sunderland 13/10
All adding up to a whopping 23/1. Definitely worth a flutter.