ARSENAL VS TOTTENHAM
The first North London derby of the season takes place this Saturday and the direction of the two teams has drastically changed in recent years.
Arsenal seems to be floundering in the glory of yesteryear, whereas the young and hungry Tottenham Hotspurs team seem to be driven to prove themselves as elite.
Arsene Wenger once regarded as one of the best managers in the league consistently reveals his stubbornness whereas Mauricio Pochettino has revealed such tactical flexibility that he is being mentioned in the upper echelon of managers.
Arsenal are currently sitting 6th position in the table, 4 points behind their North London rivals. It will be extremely interesting to see the team that Arsene Wenger elects to field for the game. In the two biggest games of the season, he has left big summer signing Alexandre Lacazette on the bench to accommodate Alexis Sanchez. Surely Lacazette was brought in to play these kind of games and ultimately make the difference when push comes to shove.
Tottenham will be pleased to be welcoming a fully fit Harry Kane back in to the team. Kane picked up a hamstring injury a few weeks ago but had recovered to be selected into the recent England team.
He smartly withdrew himself from the team to focus on further rehabilitation and to be fully fit for this game. A worry for Spurs is regarding the status of Hugo Lloris and Toby Alderweireld. The two missed Tottenham’s previous game and their absence was definitely felt.
SCORE PREDICTION: Arsenal 2-2 Tottenham – Sanchez to score first
LEICESTER CITY VS MANCHESTER CITY
Manchester City have been the runaway stand out team of the league this season. In only 11 games, they have scored an astonishing 38 goals while only conceding seven.
Pep Guardiola has found a system that allows him attacking talents to flourish while also accommodating his defence. The post Craig Shakespeare era has started off in good fashion with four points from the opening two games.
The question for Claude Puel will be how he stops the steam train that is Manchester City with their embarrassment of riches.
Manchester City might be without their record goalscorer Sergio Aguero. In Argentina’s 4-2 loss to Nigeria during the international break, Aguero was quickly rushed to the hospital after it was reported that he had fainted during the half-time interval.
Playing without Aguero in recent weeks hasn’t been a problem for the Citizens as their other players have stepped up valiantly. Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling have found their most clinical shooting boots and are in the form of their lives and Gabriel Jesus continues to impress.
Claude Puel is trying to find out what he has in his squad and so far they have shown him flashes of brilliance. One person who has welcomed the change is Demarai Gray. The winger has been reinvigorated and is playing extremely well, attacking his defender and playing with a much more direct approach.
Riyad Mahrez has found some semblance of confidence and him and Jamie Vardy are once again the focal point of the team. Whether they will be enough to overcome this City team remains to be seen.
SCORE PREDICTION: Leicester City 1-3 Manchester City
MANCHESTER UNITED VS NEWCASTLE UNITED
The two Manchester clubs have monopolised the top the table since pretty much the start of the season. However, the noisy neighbours have pulled away from United. City are 8 points clear at the top of the table so games from this point forward have astonishingly become must win games.
Newcastle have made a quietly steady start to their season. Naturally being promoted from the Championship, their end of season objective may have been to survive the first season and build from that. They are currently mid-table on 14 points and are quietly going about their business. Big summer signing Romelu Lukaku started the season in absolutely blistering fashion and lit the league on fire.
In recent weeks, he has been accused of not stepping up in the biggest games and it has to be said that the narrative has been upheld. At the most inopportune time, Lukaku’s goals have run dry.
Now not to put the whole burden on his shoulders, the others around him haven’t stepped up and provided him the right service. Newcastle have been quietly impressive this season. Looking at their defence, they have only conceded 10 goals on the season which is to be commended.
That is far less than Arsenal and Liverpool who are supposed to be elite teams and it is the same amount as Chelsea, where the narrative is that they have one of the best defensive groups in the league.
SCORE PREDICTION: Manchester United 3-0 Newcastle – Lukaku to score first