It's another massive weekend of Premier League football ahead and Greg Lea of thesetpieces.com gives a few major things to look out for.
Game of the weekend
Super Sunday lives up to its name this weekend, with three Premier League derbies taking place back-to-back. The action begins with Chelsea vs Fulham and ends with Liverpool vs Everton, but it is the middle offering – Arsenal vs Tottenham, and the battle for bragging rights in north London – which most piques our interest.
The Gunners moved to within a point of the top four last time out, beating Bournemouth 2-1 at the Vitality Stadium. Unai Emery shifted to a three-man backline following consecutive draws with Crystal Palace, Liverpool and Wolves, and his side certainly looked more secure defensively in their new system. It will be interesting to see how the Spaniard configures his attack her, with Alexandre Lacazette set to return from injury and Mesut Ozil having seemingly been left out of the Bournemouth match because his manager was unsure whether he could cope with the physical demands of the game.
Tottenham delivered their standout performance of the 2018/19 campaign last weekend, comfortable dispatching of Chelsea 3-1 at Wembley. Mauricio Pochettino’s men were fantastic from start to finish, with Dele Alli successfully neutralising Jorginho and Tottenham repeatedly exploiting the space behind Chelsea’s midfield. The hosts were more powerful and aggressive than their opponents, whose defence was run ragged by Harry Kane, Alli and Son Heung-min, and they did a fine job of managing the situation in the second half. A similar display on Sunday would give Spurs an excellent chance of securing their first win at the Emirates since 2010.
All eyes on
Claudio Ranieri returns to Stamford Bridge on Sunday looking for his second win in as many games as Fulham boss. It will be a tough ask: the Cottagers may have beaten Southampton in the Italian’s maiden match in the dugout, but they still conceded twice to opponents who have struggled for goals all season.
Chelsea’s humbling defeat by Tottenham will have led to much pondering by Maurizio Sarri and his coaching staff on the training ground this week, particularly with regards to the makeup of the midfield: Jorginho has now been nullified in the Blues’ last two outings and the use of N’Golo Kante in a more advanced role remains unconvincing. However, Jorginho is Sarri’s man and he will not move him from his deep-lying role, particularly as Chelsea will dominate possession against Fulham on Sunday.
Man in form
Everton have not won an away game against Liverpool since 1999 and their supporters have been let down at Anfield many times in the past, so few will be optimistic heading into Sunday’s clash despite the fact that Marco Silva’s side have won five of their last seven Premier League assignments.
Andre Gomes has been key to their fine recent form, and the Portugal international will need to be at the top of his game if the visitors are to spring a surprise on Sunday. The midfielder may have struggled at Barcelona but he has shown his quality in recent weeks, with his man-of-the-match performance against Cardiff City the highlight of his Everton career so far.
One to watch
Leroy Sane has had a testing few months, having first been left out of Germany’s squad for the World Cup and then finding his position as a regular starter at Manchester City under threat. The reigning PFA Young Player of the Year has begun just six of his side’s 13 Premier League games so far this term, with Sane left on the bench for crunch games against Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham and Manchester United.
The former Schalke man’s brace in last weekend’s 4-0 thumping of West Ham has given Pep Guardiola something to think about, however. That was only the fifth time this season that Sane has completed 90 minutes in the league, and he will probably be afforded another chance to impress in Saturday’s meeting with Bournemouth.
Manager under pressure
Mark Hughes rescued Southampton from the drop last season but his job is hanging by a thread heading into Saturday’s game against Manchester United. A 3-2 loss to Fulham last weekend means Saints have still won just one of their 13 Premier League encounters in 2018/19, and they now find themselves in the bottom three. Another defeat would surely spell the end for Hughes at St Mary’s.
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