Now that the international break for the year 2016 is out of the way, we can get back to the thrilling drama of the Premier League. Given the number of games lined up on Saturday, one can expect a lot of change in the league standings through the course of this weekend.
Saturday’s early kick-off takes a special significance given the Manchester United-Arsenal rivalry, and the renewal of hostilities between Mourinho and Wenger.
The host of games after that sees Liverpool in action against Southampton at St. Marys and it will be interesting to see if they can extend their stay at the top of the table. Chelsea will rub their hands in glee if Liverpool do indeed slip up. The Blues visit Middlesbrough on Sunday (the only fixture for the day).
Monday night football will see this round of games wrapped up at the Hawthorns where West Bromwich Albion will welcome Sean Dyche’s Burnley.
Here is a look at some of the things to watch out for the fixtures in the Premier League this weekend.
#1 Manchester United – Arsenal: Can Pogba keep Ozil and co. quiet
Arguably, the game of the week and there are a host of issues to watch out for. However, the key battle will be in the midfield as Pogba will look to make a statement. The warring relationship of the opposing managers is another of those subplots which make the match more interesting.
In recent weeks Mourinho’s Manchester side have been better to watch and the 3-1 victory was a deserved result. Whether Pogba can put a spanner in the works of a steady Gunners side and prevent the likes of Ozil will be the key to the game.
However, Pogba’s performance was on the back of a solid Carrick display, which enabled the team to take up more attacking positions. The onus may be on the Frenchman to grasp the grab the game by the scruff of its neck, but Carrick’s flawless passing is the master key.
Match Prediction: Manchester United 1-1 Arsenal
#2 Crystal Palace – Manchester City: Guardiola needs to convert draws into victories
Both teams were victims of late goals in their respective fixtures before the international break and will be looking for redemption. Pardew’s team has been sliding down the table in recent weeks and after the Burnley defeat, the manager spoke about the need for a result.
Individuality has often been encouraged by managers and both opposing managers at Selhurst Park have managed some of the best talents in the world. Pardew managed the eccentric Ben Arfa during his Newcastle days and now has talents such as Zaha, Benteke and Townsend at Palace.
As for Guardiola, his track record has been well documented. However, his ability to harness an individual’s talent to the entire team’s benefit and vice versa has been the most laudable quality. His time at City has been interesting, to say the least. With young talents such as Sterling and De Bruyne gelling with the experienced heads Silva and Fernando, they have been easy on the eye.
However, the win ratio has dropped and the Spaniard will be keen to address the stuttering form of City. Having dominated the match completely against Middlesbrough, they were denied all three points via an excellent equaliser in their last fixture.
Match Prediction: Crystal Palace 1-3 Manchester City