We are back with Premier League action after the International Break. Some mind-blowing fixtures are lined up for this weekend.
Here are the top 5 things you need to keep your eye on this weekend!!
Rafael Benítez v Jose Mourinho
Rafa Benitez and Mourinho are old war-dogs. They are experienced, decorated and enter the field as if it is a battlefield. Their ‘love’ for each other is not hidden, so much so that Mrs. Benitez got involved in the crossfire.
“We tidy up his messes,” she said in 2015, having seen her husband follow Mourinho at Inter Milan, Real Madrid and Chelsea.
It was meant as a joke. Mourinho, though, did not see the funny side.
“The lady is a bit confused,” he responded.
“The only club where her husband replaced me was at Inter Milan, where in six months he destroyed the best team in Europe at the time.”
Benitez succeeded Mourinho at the San Siro, and also came later at Real Madrid and Chelsea. When the Spaniard left Stamford Bridge in 2013, it was Mourinho who took over.
They may have been at many of the same clubs, but it is Mourinho, who leads the head-to-head record with seven wins from 16 games and also boasts the better CV. It is 10 years since Mourinho and Benitez were together in the Premier League.
Their last meeting was a 1-1 draw between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield in August 2007 – a month before Mourinho left Stamford Bridge.
So, when Manchester United welcome Newcastle United this week at Old Trafford, we surely expect some fireworks, both on and off the field!
Liverpool and Van Dijk
Southampton boss Mauricio Pellegrini has admitted he has no idea whether he will be able to hold onto Virgil van Dijk in the January transfer window.
Liverpool and Klopp are expected to come back in the January Transfer Window to re-ignite their interest in Van Dijk. Liverpool have come under the scanner far too many times already this season.
Klopp has handled it pretty well till now, but individual as well as collective concentration lapses have done him and the team no good.
Liverpool boasts of one of the most threatening attacks in the Premier League this season. Van Dijk’s performance against the likes of Mane, Salah and Firmino will be a litmus test as well as an audition for the 26-year-old Dutch centre-back.
David Moyes’ 1st match at West Ham United
David Moyes returns to Premier League action this weekend. This will also be his 500th game in-charge in the Premier League (M499 W196 D135 L168).
West Ham are currently languishing in the relegation zone at 18th with 9 points from 11 games. Watford have lost only one of their last six Premier League matches against West Ham United, winning three and drawing two.
West Ham have only one victory in their last 13 away matches in the Premier League (W1 D6 L6).
But Moyes is here to turn the page and blow new life in to this West Ham side. Moyes is expected to answer his critics by giving Carroll and Sakho a chance in place of Javier Hernandez and Andre Ayew.
With his shambolic season at Old Trafford, his Sunderland side finishing last and his critics all set to shred him apart if he fails, he has a lot on his plate. A win and he will have some respite. A loss, and all hell will be raised.
Vahrez v Manchester City
Manchester City are flying. The players are flying. City fans are already seeing their side as the Premier League Champions, even if they choose to remain quite as of now. They have such a young and talented squad that the likes of Gündoğan and Bernardo Silva have to warm the bench more often than not. Fancy them to lift the trophy?
Their next fixture is away to Leicester City who are 12th at after 11 rounds. Riyad Mahrez is showing glimpses of his title-winning season. He has been involved in 5 goals in the last 4 outings.
His counterpart in the Vahrez duo is Jamie Vardy. Count him out of any fixture at your own risk. Vardy never backs off. He never gives a moment. He is right up there with you. One blip and he is off. Vardy has scored 19 goals from 37 appearances against the big 6, with 2 of them from the spot.
Manchester City’s defence is their Achilles heel, if you have to necessarily point out one. They conceded 2 against Stoke City and 2 against West Brom, although they outscored and outclassed them easily. Against Arsenal, they were not as comfortable as people had expected them to be.
Can Vahrez run them down? Can they bring a twist to the Title race?
The North London Derby
The first North London derby of the season is upon us. It’s Arsenal vs Tottenham Hotspur.
Arsene Wenger sees this as an opportunity to show the world who the real boss of North London is. Wenger believes Tottenham cannot be considered the top dogs in North London until they win a trophy.
It was the first time Tottenham has finished above Wenger’s side in his 21-year reign and Spurs rock up on Saturday four points clear of Arsenal in the current Premier League standings.
Arsenal have not won the title since 2004 and there is a feeling power could be shifting in North London. For Tottenham, Dele Ali (hamstring), Harry Kane (knee), Hugo Lloris (groin) and Harry Winks (ankle) have returned to full training. That sounds like a handful.
The last three Premier League meetings between the two teams at the Emirates has ended in a 1-1 draw. The last derby saw Spurs run away with a 2-0 win at the White Hart Lane.
Wenger will be looking to unleash Lacazette after his scoring outing with the France National side but had not given him the start in the matches against Liverpool or City. With Lacazette scoring in the previous game and for the national side, we expect Wenger to hand him the responsibility.
Spurs are hungry to prove themselves. Arsenal would want to take the international break as welcome respite. It just might be the right time for both these clubs to play each other. We look forward to a feisty and charged derby.