City and Watford aiming for EPL top spot

Manchester City is behind PL leader Manchester United on goal difference alone, but with United not playing until Sunday, City has the opportunity to move into top spot with victory against Watford on Saturday.

City spent more than £200 million on new players during the recent transfer window, with the club desperate to make an impact on the Champions League in particular after bowing out in the last 16 last term.   -  AFP

Big-spending Manchester City has a chance to go top of the Premier League on Saturday and that is no surprise, but the possibility that its opponent Watford will climb to the summit of English football if it wins at Vicarage Road certainly is.

Table-toppers Manchester United and Manchester City, currently second on goal difference, both have 10 points from their opening four Premier League games.

But with United not playing until Sunday, City has a chance to leapfrog its local rival.

City spent more than £200 million on new players during the recent transfer window, with the club desperate to make an impact on the Champions League in particular after bowing out in the last 16 last term.

Nevertheless it was an established City player in England centre-back John Stones who scored twice for Pep Guardiola's expensively-assembled side as it won 4-0 away to Dutch champion Feyenoord in an impressive start to its Champions League campaign on Wednesday.

Spanish manager Guardiola was delighted by his side's positive approach, saying: "We did not play back. We were aggressive."

It was an ominous result for Watford yet Marco Silva's men are unlikely to feel over-awed knowing that a home win on Saturday would take them to 11 points.

That would mean Watford was at the summit of English football ladder for the first time since topping the old First Division in 1982. Watford is still unbeaten under Silva and the Portuguese manager said: "It's important at the moment that everyone, starting with myself, keeps their feet on the ground."

Liverpool will look to put the frustration it felt at failing to beat Sevilla in a 2-2 midweek draw in the Champions League when it faces northwest rival Burnley at Anfield on Saturday.

Poor defending again proved a problem for Liverpool, who failed in an attempt to sign Virgil van Dijk from Southampton during the transfer window.

READ: Klopp: Liverpool profligacy not an illness

- 'Learn to be dominant' -

However, Reds boss Jurgen Klopp, speaking after the Sevilla match, said: "I know a lot of people are looking around and they are always talking about the defence. That we didn't sign this or that."

The German boss added: "It's not about this. It is about being dominant and losing, a bit, the grip on the game. We need to learn to be dominant and not give easy goals away."

Meanwhile, basement club Crystal Palace will play its first game under former England manager and boyhood Eagles fan Roy Hodgson when it faces Southampton at Selhurst Park on Saturday.

Hodgson has replaced the sacked Frank de Boer after the Dutchman's four games in charge all ended in defeat, with no goals scored during his brief time in charge of the south London club.

"You are looking for character really, you're looking for desire, you're looking for people with enthusiasm," Hodgson said when asked what he wanted to see from his players.

Reigning champion Chelsea, fresh from a 6-0 thrashing of Qarabeg in the Champions League, faces Arsenal, midweek Europa League winner against Cologne at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

The day's other Premier League match is set to see former Manchester United favourite Wayne Rooney make his first return to Old Trafford since rejoining boyhood club Everton in pre-season.

This fixture takes place just a day before Rooney is due to appear in court on a drink-driving charge.

The latest round of Premier League matches starts with an all-south coast clash between Bournemouth and Brighton on Friday.

 

Fixtures (1400 GMT unless stated):

Friday: Bournemouth v Brighton (1900 GMT)

Saturday: Crystal Palace v Southampton (1130 GMT), Huddersfield v Leicester, Liverpool v Burnley, Newcastle v Stoke, Tottenham v Swansea (1630 GMT), Watford v Manchester City, West Brom v West Ham

Sunday: Chelsea v Arsenal (1230 GMT), Manchester United v Everton (1500 GMT)