The fixture between Manchester United and Tottenham at Old Trafford on Saturday is already looking like a battle for second place because Manchester City are home and hosed as champions of the Premier league even at this early stage of the season. It could be a match in which the balance of power moves from United to Tottenham because the visitors can return to London with all three points.
Jose Mourinho knows how to win winnable football matches and avoid defeat in the key clashes. However, you have to question the approach of striving not to lose to Liverpool against such a vulnerable defence. United parked a fleet of buses at Anfield and won a point. With such attacking talent they should be trying to win matches rather than looking to escape without a defeat. Those dropped points could be crucial in the final analysis because City can keep winning.
Mourinho has a tremendous record of winning league titles at the end of his second season at a club. United now look like his team but something special will be required to overhaul City at the top of the league. Paul Pogba’s absence has affected the shape of the team and for United fans he can’t return soon enough. He won’t be fit for Saturday when Tottenham can show their potential as genuine contenders. This is a blockbuster match that City and Arsenal would love to see end in a draw.
The defeat to West Ham in the League Cup at Wembley is not a major trauma for Tottenham. Mauricio Pochettino sent out a mainly second string because Spurs play United and Real Madrid in the next four days. The outcome meant much more to West Ham and Slaven Bilic who saved his job by inspiring West Ham to win the match having been two down. Pochettino did not seem too upset when the match ended but happy that he had helped Bilic keep his job.
All the big guns will be back at Old Trafford and that means Harry Kane starting upfront. Only Lionel Messi has scored more goals in the calendar year and at the moment Kane can’t miss unless he is playing for England. The clash with United could be pivotal in both club’s season and Spurs are tipped to win the match with Kane scoring at any time. It’s time to make a statement and there’s no better place than the Theatre of Dreams but the match could be a nightmare for United.
The Leicester City and Everton fixture at the King Power Stadium on Sunday throws up a rarity. Both clubs have just sacked their managers so new and caretaker bosses will be in charge. Leicester are four places and one point ahead of their opponents in this match. The table does not lie but Leicester are in better shape and can move up by beating Everton at home this weekend in Claude Puel’s first match. David Unsworth is looking after the Everton side but he is unlikely to be given the job especially if they lose this match.
The Monday night match brings together Burnley and Newcastle and both teams are in the top half. A win for either could take them into the qualifying positions for the Europa League. Burnley are one of the smallest clubs in the league based on infrastructure and wage bill but can get into the periphery of Champions League qualification by beating Newcastle at the start of next week.
There are now three teams from the south coast in the Premier League. Bournemouth play Chelsea at home on Saturday while Brighton host Southampton the following day. Tony Bloom is the Brighton chairman who is on a roll. His race horses have won major contests over the last two weekends and Brighton won for the first time on the road at West Ham last Friday night. Brighton and their chairman can’t go wrong and that can continue with a home win against Southampton. Manchester United will struggle to emulate Brighton against Tottenham.