It’s the second occasion for Friday Night Football and Liverpool can celebrate by avoiding defeat against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. The visitors were very impressive in beating Leicester City at home last weekend while Chelsea dropped two points at Swansea after taking the lead. The Premier League table already has a familiar look with the seven biggest teams in the league occupying the top seven places. It’s not a wild call to say that the champions will be a Manchester, Liverpool or London club. Hull are the best of the rest having been fancied for relegation.
The TV companies have poured billions of pounds into the English game so can call the shots when it comes to kick-off times. The first Friday night fixture involved Manchester United and Southampton at Old Trafford and now Liverpool fans must travel to London. It would make sense to schedule local match-ups for Friday night fixtures and there are plenty of potential derbies that would attract large audiences. Maybe viewing figures are better for north and south clashes but the travelling fans are well down the list of concerns of parties with vested.
Everton are unbeaten in four and Romelu Lukaku is in great form after scoring a hat-trick at Sunderland on Monday night. There is a scenario in which they could be league leaders after the weekend but must beat Middlesbrough at Goodison Park on Saturday if that is to happen. Everton look the home bankers of the weekend and will be third at worst if they pick up three points against Boro. Lukaku scores his goals in batches and can find the net to set up a home win. If Chelsea draw with Liverpool Everton can overhaul them and move into second place. The loss of John Stones for a huge fee has been turned into a positive with some clever signings.
It’s still early days but Jurgen Klopp is imposing his thoughts on the Liverpool squad he inherited from Brendon Rogers in February. The current Celtic manager said the turning point in his side’s 7-0 loss at Barcelona in the Champions League was a missed penalty when the score was only one. He is suggesting that Barca could have crumbled if they were pegged back but in fact all it means is that they would have won 7-1. Klopp has his flights of fantasy but is a more realistic manager who knows Liverpool are not the finished article but they can draw against Chelsea.
Everything went pear shaped at the end of the Jose Mourinho second coming at Chelsea but they lost just three of 22 league games after he left. In Antonio Conte they have a new permanent boss who won three Serie A titles with Juventus and enhanced his reputation with Italy at this summer’s European Championship. Klopp needed three seasons to turn Borussia Dortmund from also-rans to Bundesliga Champions. He will need more time to do the trick with Liverpool but they are playing well enough to pick up at least one point in London on Friday night.
Watford entertain Manchester United on Sunday in a fixture that brings together winners away from home and losers at their own ground from last week. In a bizarre match Watford came from two down to beat West Ham at the Olympic Stadium where home fans fought amongst themselves over the issue of standing during a match. Meanwhile, United were humbled at Old Trafford by Manchester City who won 2-1 and set a marker for the rest of the season. It’s too soon to talk about a crisis for Mourinho but United need something from the trip to Watford and defeat is unthinkable.
Stoke are becalmed at the bottom of the league with one point from four matches and need something good to happen when they visit Crystal Palace on Sunday. The Potters are perennial mid-table fodder and Mark Hughes would take that now. Bet365 are major investors and backers of the club so if Stoke win many coupons will be busted and bet365 will have two reasons to celebrate. It would be an even better weekend if results meant Everton were at the top of the table on Monday morning.
Have a fantastic weekend!