Joel Sanderson-Murray·21 October 2023
Joel Sanderson-Murray·21 October 2023
That international break felt like it lasted an age.
Well rejoice because the Premier League is back today, but what big questions can we expect to have answered this weekend?
The weekend gets off and running in some fashion with the 243rd Merseyside Derby kicking us off at Anfield.
It’s not a fixture that Everton have a great record in it has to be said, they’ve won just once in their 19 short visits across Stanley Park since 1999 – a 2-0 win during the COVID-inflicted season of 2021.
Sean Dyche might have one hope of improving that less-than-perfect record though and that comes down to the kick-off time.
Jürgen Klopp has made his grievances known about being the early kick-off, particularly after an international break, and before the recent 3-1 win over Wolves, Liverpool had failed to win their previous six Saturday lunchtime kick-offs.
Even in the Wolves game, Klopp’s Reds side were there for the taking in the first half. If the Toffees can come out of the blocks firing then they could cause a huge surprise.
What a mouth-watering clash we have ahead of us at the Etihad on Saturday afternoon.
Two of the football purists go head-to-head in the dugout in Pep Guardiola and Roberto De Zerbi in what is building up to be a real acid test for the English champions.
They perhaps could’ve down with an easier fixture than Brighton to welcome them back to club football, a topsy-turvy side that was capable of running riot at the Emirates at the end of last season but also have a 6-1 defeat to Aston Villa in their locker.
The hosts will have to show their mettle, but thankfully for them they have the effervescent Rodri back. One thing is likely – there will be more goals, there have been 60 in the games between the two sides combined so far this season.
The big games are coming thick and fast this weekend and we have another heavyweight clash at Stamford Bridge to get our teeth into.
Both these teams went into the international break with huge smiles on their faces and this encounter possibly provides us with two questions.
There are signs the tide may be turning at Chelsea, with Mauricio Pochettino’s men picking up wins in their last two games and Raheem Sterling in particular looking frightening in the 4-1 win over Burnley.
While the Gunners got over their huge mental block by overcoming City before the two-week break, and there’s a hell of a test up next for them in this London derby.
The impact of overcoming that City barrier with a win over Chelsea could set Mikel Arteta’s side on their way to the title while in the Blue corner, we could be ready to start saying ‘Chelsea are back.’
It’s been 26 years since all three of the newly-promoted sides went straight back down but just like everything else from the 1990s, we could be about to see a comeback.
The former two have at least shown their capability to win a game but the picture looks bleak at this moment of time and this is where this weekend is quite important, particularly for Burnley and Luton.
Vincent Kompany’s side travel to Brentford while the Hatters make the trip to Nottingham Forest and if either team is going to show they can stick their head above the sand, then the proof will be in the getting points away from home at the teams that will be in and around you pudding.
Fergie time came back with a vengeance in Manchester United’s last outing – as Scott McTominay scored two goals past the 93rd minute to turn a defeat into a win against Brentford.
That moment has to be the turning point for Erik ten Hag’s side who had lost four of previous seven games before the intervention from the Scottish international.
The pressure has eased on the Dutchman but there won’t be a crash back down to earth anything like a defeat to the league’s bottom club – Sheffield United.
With Marcus Rashford back in form for England during the week and Bruno Fernandes impressing again for Portugal provides Ten Hag with the perfect cocktail ahead of the trip to Bramall Lane.
It’s time for the real Manchester United to stand up, will their season start now?