EPL fixtures at a glance

FANS of the English Premier League (EPL) will be looking forward to this weekend’s fixtures, not least because of some titanic battles but also due to increasing pressure on some high-profile managers.

The sack race is in full swing as some teams underperform despite huge expenditures in recent transfer windows. FocusM  looks at some of the talking points from the upcoming games.

Fulham v Manchester United (Sat, 8.30pm)

Erik Ten Haag is under severe pressure as Manchester United (MU) have succumbed to consecutive 3-0 defeats at home. The first was the MU derby, where Pep Guardiola’s reigning champions made short work of the Red Devils. They followed that up with another insipid performance against Newcastle in the League Cup.

To say that Erik desperately needs a response from his team would be an understatement. The fact that MU look muddled and bereft of ideas is deeply concerning to their supporters, given the amount of money that has been spent on players. Odds are shortening on Erik keeping his job, especially if Fulham pull off a win.

Brentford v West Ham United (Sat, 11pm)

Since being promoted to the top flight, Brentford have won all four meetings against The Hammers. West Ham secured a morale-boosting victory against high-flying Arsenal in the League Cup in midweek but found their league form stuttering. David Moyes’ side has collected just four points from their last six games and will need to start picking up more wins if they hope to qualify for Europe via their league position.

Given that their fans have become quite used to European jaunts in recent seasons, West Ham will not want to leave qualification to the lottery of a cup win.

Burnley v Crystal Palace (Sat, 11pm)

Burnley have lost all five of their home games thus far with Turf Moor no longer looking like that difficult away fixture of yore. Despite the poor points tally, manager Vincent Kompany still retains the backing of the Burnley board but the wins must come sooner rather than later.

Crystal Palace are facing a lengthy injury list and can look staid at times with Roy Hodgson prioritising defensive solidity over attacking nous. Both sides desperately need a good result but this has stalemate written all over it.

Everton v Brighton & Hove Albion (Sat, 10pm)

Last season, Everton surprisingly routed the Seagulls 5-1. A repeat is highly unlikely but the Seagulls badly need a turnaround as they are winless in four games. Roberto De Zerbi’s high-pressing game means Brighton are hugely entertaining to watch but are also susceptible to counterattacks.

The misfiring forward line will be of concern to him and the loss of Alexis Mac Allister and Moises Caicedo during the summer transfer window is also beginning to show. Sean Dyche will be hoping to gain some momentum after putting together some decent performances.

Manchester City v Bournemouth (Sat, 11pm)

Andoni Iraola recorded his first victory as Bournemouth manager last weekend, but hopes of making it back-to-back wins are slim as they visit the reigning champions. Manchester City were imperious in the manner in which they dismantled and ultimately humbled their neighbours, MU, in the derby last week.

The second-half performance was possibly their best thus far this season and that is bad news for a Bournemouth side hovering dangerously above the drop zone. A thrashing could very well be on the cards if the Cherries are unable to keep City’s goal machine, Erling Haaland, quiet.

Sheffield United v Wolverhampton Wanderers (Sat, 11pm)

Paul Heckingbottom (Photo credit: Isaac Parkin)

Sheffield United prop up the table by virtue of having lost nine of their last 10 Premier League fixtures. Unsurprisingly, manager Paul Heckingbottom is the favourite for the chop after a 5-0 drubbing at the hands of the Gunners last weekend. Another reverse will surely seal his fate, which is a shame as he rescued The Blades from the depths of the third tier and brought them back up to the top flight.

Former Sheffield manager Chris Wilder is being touted as a replacement, but with the squad lacking the necessary quality, it is hard to see anybody being able to save them from the drop.

Newcastle United v Arsenal (Sun, 1.30am)

Fresh from humbling MU on their own patch in midweek in the League Cup, the Geordies will be full of confidence. Despite a lengthy injury list, Eddie Howe has managed to keep Newcastle alive on four fronts.

The visit of Arsenal will prove to be a tough test of their top four credentials as Mikael Arteta looks to put together a string of wins to pile pressure on bitter North London rivals, Tottenham Hotspurs, who top the table. Viewers tuning in can expect an open and entertaining game with the promise of lots of goals.

Nottingham Forest v Aston Villa (Sun, 9pm)

Forest sits 16th in the table after drawing four and losing twice in their last six games. Manager Steve Cooper retains the backing of the board and the Forest faithful absolutely adore him for taking a side mired in relegation in the Championship to the top flight. However, the threat of the drop makes people do strange things, and Cooper would not be immune to the sack if Forest did not improve on their form.

On the polar opposite side is Unai Emery who has rejuvenated Aston Villa and made them genuine contenders for a Champions League spot. Some bookmakers have him among the early favourites for the Old Trafford hot seat if Erik is given the boot.

Luton Town v Liverpool (Mon, 12.30am)

Luis Diaz has returned to training this week despite having to deal with the on-going trauma of his parents’ kidnapping in Colombia. While his mother has been found, his father remains captive. Given the difficult circumstances, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has said that it is entirely up to Diaz if he wishes to make himself available for selection.

Klopp can still count on Diogo Jota, Cody Gapko, Darwin Nunez and Mo Salah to fill the forward line. Nunez will be raring for a start after a fine display and a world-class goal helped sink Bournemouth in the League Cup midweek. Luton, meanwhile, are still looking to register their first home win of the season.

Tottenham Hotspurs v Chelsea (Tues, 4am)

While Mauricio Pochettino is widely respected and admired for his time at Spurs, there will be little time for sentiment as the North London side looks to cement their place at the top of the table. The Lilywhites are in blistering form despite losing talisman Harry Kane to Bayern Munich in the summer.

New manager Ange Postecoglou has instilled belief in the side as fans saviour a return to the swashbuckling football that Spurs used to be associated with. Chelsea are facing mounting issues, as the recent home loss to Brentford highlighted and Pochettino will be pleased if he can get away with a point against his old side. – Nov 4, 2023


Main photo credit: Vincent Kompany’s Facebook

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