After the midweek Carabao Cup action featuring spectacular goals at Anfield and Old Trafford, the focus returns back to the Premier League for Week 7. Here’s a look at some of the key fixtures this weekend including a top of the table battle between Chelsea and Liverpool.
In losing their first four Premier League games of the season, uncertainty and doubt surrounded West Ham and their new manager Manuel Pellegrini. However since the international break, the Hammers have defeated Everton 3-1 at Goodison Park, held a Chelsea team at the Olympic Stadium to end their perfect record, and put eight goals past the Football League’s bottom side Macclesfield Town after making eight changes.
Key Player: Marko Arnautović missed out last week due to a knee injury, but is set to return to the Hammers’ starting lineup. He has three goals in five games so far and will be licking his lips at the prospect of facing United’s generous defence.
The cloud of negativity that followed José Mourinho and Manchester United looked to have subsided once the Red Devils put a run of three wins together. But after an uninspiring draw at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers and a cup exit to Championship outfit Derby, the spotlight has returned even brighter. Especially after Mourinho’s latest post-match interview where he confirmed that the vice-captain has been taken away from star player Paul Pogba.
Key Player: When Romelu Lukaku delivers, United usually win. Like West Ham, Mourinho’s men are heavily reliant on their centre forward who appears to blow hot and cold. He had six goals in four games (including Internationals), but has failed to register in three consecutive games since.
It’s now six wins on the bounce for Arsenal and the criticism towards Unai Emery is yesterday’s news. Despite a slow start, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (4), Danny Welbeck (4) and Alexandre Lacazette (3) have now scored 11 goals. Just one point behind their opponents Watford (4th), the Gunners – joint 5th with rivals Spurs – have a chance to move into the top four for the first time this season.
Key Player: Aubameyang’s speed and finishing ability are world class. The Gabon captain is now finding his form this season and could be more than a handful for Watford’s defence.
Having banked 15 points in their first five games, Watford have stumbled in the last fortnight, losing twice and drawing away to Fulham. But those two defeats came against Man United and Tottenham. And had it not been for David de Gea, they would’ve drawn against United, whilst their loss to Spurs came via penalties in the Carabao Cup.
Key Player: Andre Gray has scored twice in his last two games to make it three goals in five appearances. Having only scored five goals in 31 league games last season, Gray is already on track to beat his Premier League best tally of nine goals from the 2016/17 season.
Chelsea stuttered last week against a resilient West Ham side at home. But they wasted no time to get back on track by ending Liverpool’s perfect start to the season (seven-straight wins in all competitions), courtesy of their talisman Eden Hazard. There are no words to conjure to summarise the Belgian’s goal which was simply out of this world.
Key Player: Eden Hazard continued his scintillating start to the season with a contender for goal of the season at Anfield in midweek. The Reds will be fully aware of who the danger man is on Saturday afternoon.
Liverpool take their perfect league record to Stamford Bridge having been dumped out of the Carabao Cup by Chelsea at home in midweek. The Reds believe they have their best chance of winning the league in over 28 years, and so their midweek defeat could prove to be a blessing if they can turn the tables and pick up three points on the road here.
Key Player: Thrown on as an emergency with three minutes to go, after Hazard’s late goal on Wednesday, Mohamed Salah has been eclipsed by the Belgian so far this season. The Egyptian King will be chomping at the bit to make the difference in the biggest match of the weekend.