Xenia Sports – London
The relentless schedule of football continues this weekend with big matches at the top and the bottom of the Premier League.
Here the PA news agency takes a look at the key talking points heading into the weekend.
With Tottenham and Chelsea vying to prove themselves as Premier League contenders this season, Sunday’s London derby between Jose Mourinho and Frank Lampard’s teams will have an extra edge. Tottenham go into the weekend top of the table, but Chelsea sits only two points back in third place. If Spurs want to keep up with Liverpool – who play 24 hours earlier at Brighton – they will almost certainly need to end a miserable record at Stamford Bridge, having won on only one of their last 34 visits. Chelsea are unbeaten in seven Premier League games, a record second only to, well, Tottenham, currently unbeaten in eight. The match will see two of the league’s top-scoring sides go head-to-head: Chelsea top the charts with 22 goals while Tottenham are joint second alongside Liverpool on 21.
Manchester City were already enduring Pep Guardiola’s worst start to a league season before last weekend’s 2-0 defeat by Spurs, a result which left them with a negative goal difference after eight games. The usually free-scoring City have managed only 10 goals in the league this season, their lowest goal return in 14 years. Injuries to Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus have played a significant role, but the problems go deeper with City’s usually prolific midfielders struggling to find the net too. The visit of a Burnley side who have lost their last three league visits to the Etihad 5-0 each time, and who could be without England goalkeeper Nick Pope, might be the perfect tonic.
Arteta under pressure
If City have been goal-shy, Guardiola’s former assistant Mikel Arteta is facing even bigger problems at Arsenal, who have scored only once in their last five league games – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s penalty which gave them a 1-0 win at Manchester United earlier this month. The poor run has left them down in 12th place and with Arteta under increasing pressure. A visit to face a Wolves defence that has conceded only three goals in the last six suggests life is not about to get any easier.
After a poor start to the campaign, Manchester United appear to be finding some form and go into the weekend seeking a third straight win in the league and fourth overall. Southampton should offer a proper test of whether the revival is real. The south coast has not always been a happy hunting ground for United, and Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side are unbeaten since losing their opening two games of the season and sit fifth in the table going into the weekend.
Battle of the winless
Burnley’s win over Crystal Palace on Monday left only two teams left in the Premier League without a victory this season, and they meet on Saturday when Sheffield United make the trip to play West Brom. The Blades were the surprise package of last season, building early momentum and not letting up until the pandemic interrupted the campaign and their rhythm, but Chris Wilder’s side are yet to find any sort of spark this time around. They have scored only four goals in nine league games and, without on-loan Manchester United goalkeeper Dean Henderson, stopping them at the other end is proving more difficult too. Those are familiar problems for Baggies boss Slaven Bilic, though they are two points better off than their visitors heading into the match.