North London derby, Rafa vs. Mourinho, Hodgson takes on Everton – Premier League Preview

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The Premier League is back after the international break, and the action kicks off in intriguing fashion in north London.

It has been a long fortnight waiting for the internationals to be over, but we now have wall-to-wall domestic football to enjoy until March.

Liverpool thrashed West Ham 4-1 at the London Stadium in their last outing, and three points are to be expected at home to Southampton on Saturday.

Elsewhere two weeks ago, Man United were beaten by Chelsea and Man City dispatched of Arsenal, as Pep Guardiola’s side went eight points clear at the top of the table.

At the other end, Crystal Palace are still propping everyone else up, despite a spirited showing at Tottenham, and Swansea City and West Ham are also in the relegation zone following defeats.

There is some great action to look forward to this weekend – here are the best games to look out for away from the Reds’ visit of Saints.

 

North London derby promises much

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, March 5, 2017: Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane celebrates scoring the first goal against Everton during the FA Premier League match at White Hart Lane. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

There is a mouthwatering contest at the Emirates on Saturday lunchtime as Arsenal and Tottenham do battle in one of the fiercest fixtures in English football.

It is going to be very interesting to see who prevails, with Spurs undoubtedly the better team these days, but just one win coming at Arsenal since 1993.

For Liverpool fans, it’s one of those lovely win-win fixtures.

Arsenal often seem to turn up at home to their bitter rivals, much like Liverpool do against Everton, but many will be surprised if they win this weekend.

Spurs have more quality and balance everywhere you look, from Hugo Lloris and Toby Alderweireld right through to attacking stars such as Dele Alli and Harry Kane.

A defeat for the Gunners would crank up the pressure on Arsene Wenger, who continues to divide a fanbase like no other manager.

Both Wenger and Mauricio Pochettino would just about take a point apiece.

 

Can Rafa frustrate old foe Mourinho?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, April 23, 2016: Newcastle United's manager Rafael Benitez before the Premier League match against Liverpool at Anfield. (Pic by Bradley Ormesher/Propaganda)

After a strong start to the season, albeit an overrated one, things have started to go wrong for Jose Mourinho at Man United.

The defeat away to Chelsea was yet another negative showing from United against a top-six side – Mourinho’s teams have scored just once in their last 10 ‘big’ away games – and supporters have started voicing their frustration.

On Saturday evening, Mourinho takes on old adversary Rafa Benitez at Old Trafford, in a rivalry that goes back to Liverpool and Chelsea‘s legendary duels during the mid-2000s.

Benitez’s Newcastle are ticking along without impressing greatly – the 1-0 loss at home to Bournemouth last time around was a really poor result – and they will be strong underdogs for the trip to United.

The hope is that Liverpool’s former manager produces a tactical masterclass and thwarts United – a repeat of the Reds’ 4-1 win at Old Trafford in 2009 would be even better.

It is hard not to see a home win, though.

 

Liverpool cheering on Hodgson for once

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Thursday, July 1, 2010: Liverpool Football Club's new manager Roy Hodgson during a press conference at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It isn’t often that we root for a Roy Hodgson side to win, but that will be the case this weekend.

His Crystal Palace side welcome Everton to Selhurst Park, in a tussle that could already be important in the relegation battle.

Palace have started showing signs of improvement, in fairness, and the home crowd will ensure that this is a long afternoon for Liverpool’s local rivals.

Everton‘s 3-2 victory against Watford has taken some of the heat off both David Unsworth and the players, but defeat on Saturday would be a spirit-dampening result.

On Paper, Palace arguably look the stronger team at the moment, and you wouldn’t want to bet against them winning.

 

Testing away days for Man City and Chelsea

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 9, 2017: Manchester City's Gabriel Jesus celebrates scoring the second goal during the FA Premier League match between Manchester City and Liverpool at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by Don Jackson-Wyatt/Propaganda)

At some point soon, a team needs to stop Man City.

Guardiola’s heavily odds-on title favourites look a frightening proposition on current form – they have dropped just two points in 2017/18 – with opponents swatted aside in dismissive fashion.

Saturday’s trip to Leicester City should be one of their harder games of the season to date, with the Foxes capable of troubling anyone at home on their day.

The attacking depth the league leaders possess means they should pick up three more points, but you have a certain amount of faith in Leicester delivering.

Chelsea, meanwhile, take on West Brom at the Hawthorns, with the west Londoners buoyed by their deserved 1-0 win against United.

The Blues are inconsistent at the moment, however, and you would not be shocked if they came unstuck against a Tony Pulis side in need of points.

The Baggies are 16th in the table, having won just twice in the league, and Pulis is now under real pressure from the fans. Let’s hope they up their game.

 

Fixtures, UK TV Info & Predictions

NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE, ENGLAND - Sunday, October 1, 2017: Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez shouts instructions to his team during the FA Premier League match between Newcastle United and Liverpool at St. James' Park. (Pic by Paul Greenwood/Propaganda)

Saturday

Arsenal vs. Tottenham – 12:30pm, Sky Sports Main Event
Prediction: 1-1

Bournemouth vs. Huddersfield – 3pm
Prediction: 2-1

Burnley vs. Swansea – 3pm
Prediction: 1-0

Crystal Palace vs. Everton – 3pm
Prediction: 2-1

Leicester vs. Man City – 3pm
Prediction: 2-2

Liverpool vs. Southampton – 3pm
Prediction: 2-1

West Brom vs. Chelsea – 3pm
Prediction: 0-0

Man United vs. Newcastle – 5:30pm, BT Sport 1
Prediction: 2-0

WATFORD, ENGLAND - Saturday, August 12, 2017: Watford's manager Marco Silva during the FA Premier League match between Watford and Liverpool at Vicarage Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Sunday

Watford vs. West Ham – 4pm, Sky Sports Main Event
Prediction: 1-1

Monday

Brighton vs. Stoke – 8pm, Sky Sports Main Event
Prediction: 2-1

To mark the end of the 30-year wait for a league title, the ‘Liverpool Mishmash’ poster is available to order exclusively on This Is Anfield — the history of the Reds in one image!

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