There are a number of defining matches in the Premier League that stand out from the rest of the fixtures. Liverpool’s home match against Manchester City is one of the key meetings of the schedule that involves 380 matches over the course of the season. Liverpool and City dominate the betting for the title and the winner of this fixture would take a huge step towards being the champions of England. Liverpool would put a significant marker down by beating Manchester City on Sunday.
After seven sets of fixtures three teams remain unbeaten. City and Liverpool have dropped just two points while Chelsea have won five matches and drawn the other two. City have the best goal difference, have scored most goals and have the joint meanest defence with Liverpool. It looks like a three horse race for the Premier League and at the current odds Chelsea are the value option. However, the two sides above them have more quality and settled management.
Liverpool and City are playing for the manager and have bought into the plan. Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola have a connection with their players who are playing as a team. Meanwhile, there seems to be something badly wrong at Manchester United where Jose Mourinho’s days could be numbered. Everybody is singing from the same hymn sheet by saying his job is not under threat but defeat to Newcastle at home live on television on Saturday would be a huge blow.
In the context of the winners of the Premier League the fixture is not important because Liverpool and City are on a different planet to United. It’s galling for fans that their two closest rivals are being successful playing attractive football. Something has been lost at Old Trafford since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson. If Mourinho is fired its time to give one of Fergie’s protégées a chance. There is only one job that would tempt Ryan Giggs to quit as the manager of Wales and he could be the right man to be the next manager of Manchester United.
Newcastle are good opponents when you are desperate for three points. They have lost four of their last five Premier League matches and look destined for the drop. The owner refuses to put his hand in his pocket and the manager, Rafa Benitez, will soon get totally fed up and could be gone. United lacked confidence and created very little in the goalless home draw against Valencia in the Champions League. It won’t be pretty but United can secure a narrow win over Newcastle.
If Liverpool and City fight out a draw Chelsea could leapfrog them and sit at the top of the table after the weekend. However, to reach the summit a home win by eight goals or more against Southampton on the road is required. Southampton are two places above the relegation zone after just one win in seven matches. They have not won a home fixture from three this season and beating Chelsea looks beyond them. The visitors have the quality to win this match by at least one goal but not eight.
Brighton host West Ham in the Friday night match but will struggle to secure a home win. Brighton’s home form kept them in the Premier League last season and so far they have won, drawn and lost a fixture at the Amex. West Ham have picked up seven points in three Premier League matches and scored eight against Macclesfield in the League Cup. The Hammers are a team in form so can beat Brighton in this match.
Arsenal are the only team with a perfect record over the last five matches. The season started with two defeats but the opponents were Manchester City and Chelsea. Fulham have won just one of their first seven matches in the Premier League so beating the form team at home on Saturday may be beyond them. However, the far more significant match is at Anfield where Liverpool can beat Manchester City.