Wayne Rooney has a day in court next Monday and what better way to prepare is a match for his current team against the club for whom he has scored more goals than any other player. The fixture between Manchester United and Everton is always feisty but Saturday’s live TV fixture has several subplots. However, it could end up predictably with three points for United and Romelu Lukaku scoring at least one goal.
Everton have invested a large amount of money and the objective is to break into the elite group of teams that qualify for the Champions league. The club are developing a new stadium close to the docks and nearer the city centre. There was a great deal of optimism at the start of the season but the home defeat to Tottenham last weekend was dispiriting. A trip to a vibrant old Trafford could end in tears.
In addition to being traditional Merseyside and Manchester rivals there has been added spice to the fixtures over recent years. David Moyes was a huge let down for United fans and his main signing from his old club Everton, Marouane Fellaini looked out of his depth. With an injury to Paul Pogba Fellaini will probably start against Everton alongside Lukaku who is also an ex-Blue.
Rooney has been forgiven for moving from Everton to United where he was loyal and never let anyone down. Once he broke Booby Charlton’s club scoring record a move was inevitable and a return to the club he always supported was on the cards. The man had just about everything but brains in his feet is apt. We don’t know how close Koeman and Colleen were to giving him the boot but you sense he is drinking from the last chance saloon at home and work. Losing to United won’t help.
Crystal Palace have made the worst start in the history of the Premier league. You have to go back to the 1920’s to find a side with a worse record in the top division after four games. Ronald de Boer was given the boot and the players now require a manager with tactical acumen who can instil some belief and inspire them. Step forward Roy Hodgson, the civil servant who couldn’t cope with England and got found out when he briefly managed Liverpool.
Hodgson’s first match in charge is the first TV match of the weekend, at home to Southampton. Its too early to talk about must win matches but on current form both sides could be battling all season at the wrong end of the table. The fresh face and new manager syndrome could kick in and Palace can win this fixture despite and not because of Hodgson who amazingly lives to fight another day.
Tottenham put the Wembley bogey to bed with an impressive Champions League win against Borussia Dortmund in the national stadium. Swansea are the next visitors but they are another club that could get embroiled in relegation. You can’t see anything but a Tottenham win and goals from Harry Kane who has scored six goals in his last three matches for club and country because it’s not August.
There is no love lost between Chelsea and Arsenal but it’s not as bad as when Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger were the respective managers. They truly were like chalk and cheese but there was a strange respect and dynamic beneath the hatred. Childishly they’ve refused to shake hands in the past and that’s totally out of character for Mourinho. The Special One has gone north and the top dog in London last season was Antonio Conte at Chelsea.
His side demolished a poor Qarabag outfit in the Champions League this week but Arsenal are another kettle of fish. Wenger has yet again bought some more time with a league win but faced FC Koln in the Europa League on Thursday less than 72 hours before this London derby. The cost of missing out on the Champions league is less recovery time between fixtures in Europe and in the Premier League. Chelsea have the edge in that respect which they can apply to beat Arsenal.