Friday night football returns with Palace travelling to Goodison Park to play Everton. The London team are bang in form with three consecutive wins in the league and they will smell blood after Everton lost for the first time last weekend at Bournemouth.
Ronald Koeman faces a test in ensuring his team’s first defeat is an exception. But a Palace side high on confidence with nine goals scored in last three league outings will be a March for them. This one looks very even.
They might be in fourth spot at the moment, but there’s an argument that Liverpool are the best team in the division at the moment. The football has been exhilarating, with goals aplenty and that Burnley defeat is beginning to look like an embarrasing exception.
More importantly is the fact that individuals are playing better than they ever thought. Players like Lallana, Firmino, Coutinho, Henderson, Lovren, Milner have show massive improvement this season and that’s down to coaching. If only Swansea players had such luxury, maybe they would be performing better. Their coach seems to be out of ideas and the writing couldn’t be anymore clearer on the wall. If Francesco Guidolin loses this game, he’s done! And with Liverpool’s form, it’s difficult to see any other outcome for the Italian.
Antonio Conte surely has his work cut out at Cobhams. His Chelsea side look amateurish in defence, disjointed in midfield and have only Costa playing in attack. The issues are clear and time is needed on the training ground to sort them out.
Having played Champions Leicester, Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and now up against Chelsea in their first seven games of the season, Hull City must be cursing the fixture schedules. But they would have to blame themselves in part for the last two defeats as the sending-offs didn’t help their course. You’ve got to give yourself a chance to win and that’s by keeping 11 players on the field.
Sunderland rarely win in August or September so David Moyes must be looking forward to what October has in stock for his team. They need a win but West Brom won’t be obliging opponents this weekend as Tony Pulis men are in decent form.
Watford beat West Ham and Manchester United one to offer a sorry performance in defeat to Burnley. That doesn’t make sense and Mazzari has got to get the team back on track quickly. Talking about getting back on track, Bournemouth looked really good in their win over Everton. They may now get some other couple of wins under their belt. That’s their style – they win in bursts.
Slaven Bilic is in trouble! Its officially a crisis and the rut has got to be stopped now or else, something will give and it won’t be the players. West Ham have shipped goals aplenty and that’s a bad sign for any team.
Who knows maybe last season was an over-achievement for Bilic and West Ham? Maybe after the highs of last season, there was only one way this season and it’s down? Who knows if what we are actually seeing from the Hammers is their level of play? Cresswell’s long term absence has surely not helped. A penny for my thought!
Middlesbrough have been brought back down to earth after their bright start to the season. Now is the time to dig in and a trip to a beleaguered West Ham side could be just what the Doctor ordered!
Manchester United seem to be back on track. They have got ground to make up and with the top two going head to head on Sunday, they need to win at home to Stoke City to eat into the deficit. Stoke City are low on confidence at the moment and Mourinho would probably have his team seize on top that.
Two games in the Champions League, two wins, no goal conceded. Are Leicester saving their best for Europe? I really don’t know but subconsciously the players probably think about it. Three defeats already this season. Two of them prior to a date in Europe gives credence to the opinion that they probably save their best for the Champions League. They know they can’t repeat their Championship winning feat and wherever they end up in May will be par for the course (unless it’s in one of the last three places).
I hands up and admit I’ve been one of Claude Puel’s critics but he has turned things around. Four wins in all competitions and no goal conceded – that’s impressive. They would have their hands full against Leicester but they have the markings of teams that could frustrate the Champions.
Manchester City failed to win for the first time under Pep Guardiola in their draw in Scotland on Wednesday. It was interesting to see how City responded to going behind (for the first time this season), also eye-opening was how much they struggled when pressed high up the pitch (a taste of their own medicine you might say) and the result showed what a high-risk football Guardiola plays. The defence struggled and you could make a case that it was surely not Guardiola’s first choice defensive picks. There will be changes on Sunday.
Tottenham are unbeaten but they have not been spectacular. The win in Russia on Tuesday was impressive and it remains to be seen how much they are affected by the long trip. Pochettino would have seen a lot in City’s midweek match and spotted how to ruffle their flow. But Guardiola won’t be lying low. The Spaniard passed his first test in the league winning the Manchester Derby, the task is to show that wasn’t a fluke and beat Tottenham on their own patch too.
Alongside Liverpool, Arsenal are definitely another team playing with confidence and looking strong at the moment. That opening day home defeat to Liverpool looks like a long time now. The Gunners are unbeaten since then in all competitions and their next six games look really favourable. But Burnley are a potential banana skin for any team – ask Liverpool!