Five things: Premier League weekend preview

Table topper Liverpool and second-placed Man City will lock horns while wooden spoon contenders Norwich City and Watford clash in the Premier League this weekend.

From Liverpool vs City to Norwich vs Watford, here are the biggest talking points ahead of Premier League action this weekend.

Liverpool takes on title rival Manchester City in a clash of the table toppers this weekend. Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham seek a change in fortunes while Chelsea looks to fortify Stamford Bridge with a win against Crystal Palace.

Here are some of the talking points ahead of the weekend’s matches:

Fight for the top spot

The thought of meeting a team that's lost just one of its last 28 games at home might be intimidating even to someone like Pep Guardiola. Unbeaten in the league so far, Liverpool will seek to continue its dominance in the Premier League standings and increase the lead over Manchester City to nine points with a win at Anfield on Sunday.

Having lost the title last season to City by a solitary point, Liverpool has started well this season. Guardiola's men have won 13 of their last 15 away games but has last lost two of its last seven league games.

Reds defender Joel Matip will miss the marquee clash, having not recovered ful from a knee injury. Shaqiri's calf issue persists, as do David Silva's muscular issues and they will watch proceedings from the sidelines too. Meanwhile, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has confirmed Van Dijk's and Jordan Henderson's availability for the game after a personal commitment and ill health respectively cast doubt over their participation this weekend. For City, goalkeeper Ederson will not be a part of proceedings at Anfield, a muscle injury ruling him out of the tie.



Emery under fire

Six points separate Arsenal and Leicester City on the points table and while there is a long time to go before the league heads into do-or-die encounters, the Gunners will want to look past the shoddy finishes to make inroads into the top half of the table.

This clash is also one of contrasting scenarios in the coaching department. Emery is under pressure to perform with team morale at an obvious low, while Brendan Rogers is carrying the team forward - boosted by a string of good performances.

Arsenal has been in the news this past week but for reasons it would not be pleased about. Granit Xhaka has been stripped of the captaincy with the armband now with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Mesut Ozil has managed starts for the Gunners and has been a clinical playmaker in the last few matches for the side. Considering Dani Ceballos will sit out this game thanks to a hamstring strain, Xhaka or Ozil could be among the players Emery turns to for some innovation in the box and to convert good starts and add to the scoreline.

Arsenal's last three big ticket English fixtures have not yielded wins for the side and the Gunners will look to change that this weekend.



Mid-table miseries seek solution

Andres Gomes was the only name in focus in Tottenham's 1-1 draw against Everton last week. The Spurs are 11th on the table with just 13 points, while an upbeat Sheffield United, which it will face this weekend, comfortably sitting in sixth position with 16 points. A win for Tottenham will do it good not just in terms of travelling through places on the table but also for the team's  and coach Pochettino's confidence.

The good news is that Heung-Min Son is available after his red card at Everton was rescinded. That he scored a brace against Crvena zvezda this week bodes well for the team coming into this game.

Southampton hosts Everton, which will play without Gomes and Fabian Delph. After that 9-0 humiliation at the hands of Vardy's Foxes, Southampton will want a win. Its home record has also taken a hit, having lost its last three home fixtures.

Meanwhile, Manchester United, also with 13 points, stands 10th on the table. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's boys have never lost in in their 11 previous meetings with Brighton at Old Trafford and will look to keep that record intact this weekend. Brighton has had a better campaign than the Red Devils so far and will come in to cause an upset in unfamiliar territory.

No blues for Lampard and Co

After an uneasy start to the season and his managerial career at Stamford Bridge, Frank Lampard and Chelsea seem to have found their rhythm in the Premier League. Coming off an edge-of-the-seat 4-4 draw with Ajax, the prospects from its tie against Crystal Palace are bright.

Palace hasn't had a bad season either. It's 11 away-win streak comes third to City and Liverpool's 18 and Chelsea's 14. Not a bad club to be a part of, right? 

Chelsea though needs to strengthen Stamford Bridge's record this season. Having won only three of its nine home games in all contests here, the Blues will seek a change of of fortune at home.

Suspended Jorginho misses this encounter, as is Loftus-Cheek who sits out with an Achilles injury, but Lampard will rely on the brilliance of Tammy Abraham to come through towards Palace. 

Woodenspooner woes

Having won four of its last five meetings against Watford, this battle of the woodenspooners looks tipped in Norwich City's favour. After effecting a thrilling upset with a 3-2 win against defending champion Manchester City earlier in the tournament, Norwich has not managed to bring the same fervour to the field since.

Watford, meanwhile, has problems of its own, having failed to win each of its 11 games so far. With a paltry five points, the Hornets desperately need to get their campaign going if they wish to avoid relegation anxieties going forward. 

Norwich will see Mario Vrancic back in action after three months out of action while Troy Deen returns to Watford after a knee operation.

Fixtures:

Saturday: Norwich vs Watford; Chelsea vs Crystal Palace; Burnley FC vs West Ham; Newcastle vs Bournemouth; Southampton vs Everton; Tottenham vs Sheffield United; Leicester City vs Arsenal

Sunday: Wolves vs Aston Villa; Manchester United vs Brighton; Liverpool vs Manchester City

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