EPL GameWeek 8 Preview: Cruyff disciples lock horns while Liverpool host Manchester United on Monday 

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A little more than 20 years ago, Johan Cruyff was in his final season at Barcelona. Manchester City and Everton, meanwhile, were struggling towards the bottom end of the Premier League.

Fast forward two decades and the great Dutchman’s wide-ranging influence on the game will clearly be on display at the Etihad Stadium, where first-placed City and the fifth-placed Toffees go head to head.

In each corner sits a man whose managerial mantras were defined by Cruyff – Pep Guardiola and Ronald Koeman; intricate, technical, imaginative football men who have already had huge impacts on their respective clubs since joining in the summer.

For Koeman, it is the biggest test of his short Goodison Park reign to date. For Guardiola, the match presents a chance to make amends for his first loss at the helm, at Tottenham a fortnight ago.

Tottenham are the only side without a defeat in their lose column for a reason. They have the tightest defence in the league and Wanyama has been immense in midfield. Son has stepped in seamlessly for the injured Kane and overall, they have just gone about their job in a sleek manner. 

After beating Manchester City, they have really got to get a win here to strengthen their case for the title. West Brom have had a creditable start to the league and they won’t be pushovers. 

Bournemouth seem to be in some form. Four points for a possible six is a good going and they have got to consolidate on that form by beating Hull City at home. 

Middlesbrough host Watford and this one will probably depend on which Watford turns up – the one that beat Manchester United or the one that was poor against Burnley. 

For Middlesbrough, it’s a chance to kick on after their creditable draw away at West Ham two weeks ago. 

Bob Bradley would have wished for an easier start to his reign as Swansea manager. Even though Swansea have a good record at the Emirates, I don’t see them getting anything there this time. 
Arsenal are in a rich vein of form with five consecutive wins. What has impressed me is their fighting spirit in games at home to Southampton and away at Burnley. In other years, they might have dropped points. 

Sunderland have made a habit of starting seasons slowly and this year has been no different. 

Last term, the Black Cats didn’t win a league match until October 25, the year before it was October 4, in 2013-14 it was October 27. Currently they sit bottom of the Premier League with two points from their seven games.

On Saturday they go to Stoke, who have had a shocker under Mark Hughes so far. The match presents both sides’ best opportunity to seal a first victory of the season. This one smells like the odd, boring 0-0 draw.  

N’Golo Kante’s defection from Leicester to Chelsea over the summer left a void which Claudio Ranieri is still struggling to fill.

The Foxes boss can be forgiven for finding it impossible to pinpoint a player with the same Tasmanian Devil intensity and relentless energy as Kante and he’s going to get a stark reminder of the Frenchman’s qualities at Stamford Bridge on Saturday lunchtime.

Having worked so closely with him during Leicester’s romp to the title last term, perhaps Ranieri has an idea or two about how best to limit Kante’s influence. 

It will be intriguing to see just how the champions set up as they bid to avoid making the worst eight-game start by a side defending their crown during the Premier League era. Not like we expected them to defend the title anyway. 

Chelsea need a win to get back in contention for a top four place – not the title. I’ve not seen much of them this season to suggest they can compete for the title. 

Six consecutive cleansheets in all competitions is nothing to be sniffed at. Southampton are a good team and many people are probably underestimating them. They should beat a Burnley team that struggles most times on their travels. 

It’s a concerning time for West Ham at the moment. They have played Watford, Bournemouth, Southampton and Boro at the London Stadium and only have one win. All the big boys are still to come.

Palace are unbeaten in their last five Premier League games – winning three and drawing two – and they need to find a way to keep the momentum going. With Benteke in form, West Ham defence will do well to keep him from scoring. 

Two of the biggest personalities in the Premier League go head-to-head on Monday when Liverpool welcome Manchester United to Anfield in a blockbuster clash.

Jurgen Klopp’s high-flying Reds go into the match trailing leaders Manchester City by two points, while Jose Mourinho’s Red Devils have endured a stop-start opening to the new campaign.

Manchester United can’t afford another defeat here. They are playing catch up already and the gap could grow bigger if the likes of Arsenal, Manchester City and Tottenham get victories.

Liverpool’s high pressing and fast attacking style could work for them here. But questions over the fitness of a couple of key players could derail them. 

By Osesax 

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