Premier League Matchday 9: Reds target derby delight in Manchester
Manchester United's clash with Liverpool is the headline fixture in the Premier League this weekend, with the two bitter rivals facing off at Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon.
Elsewhere on Matchday 9, leaders Chelsea host winless Norwich, Manchester City travel to high-flying Brighton and there is a London derby between West Ham and Tottenham to savour.
Arsenal vs Aston Villa (Friday, 8pm, Sky Sports Main Event)
Arsenal will be looking for their first win in three games as Aston Villa visit on Friday night.
Alexandre Lacazette’s stoppage-time equaliser salvaged a point against Crystal Palace last time out but the pressure is increasing on Mikel Arteta once again.
Villa are also looking to stop the rot after throwing away a 2-0 lead to lose 3-2 at home to Wolves, making it back-to-back defeats.
The Villans do have an excellent recent record against the Gunners having won the last three meetings between the sides without conceding a goal.
That run included a memorable 3-0 victory in North London last season.
Chelsea vs Norwich (Saturday, 12.30pm, BT Sport 1)
It is top against bottom in the Saturday lunchtime kick-off as Chelsea host struggling Norwich.
And to make matters worse for the Canaries, they have not won at Stamford Bridge since October 1993.
Chelsea have shown their title credentials with six wins from their opening eight games — a record built on the league’s joint-best defence, which has only conceded three goals.
At the other end of the scale, the visitors have picked up just two points since returning to the top flight.
They will need to keep Blues defender Ben Chilwell quiet — his two goals in his last two games are as many as the Canaries have managed all season.
Everton vs Watford (Saturday, 3pm)
Everton and Watford need to bounce back from disappointing home defeats in Matchday 8 as they meet at Goodison Park.
But it is Watford who have much more work to do after the Hornets put in an insipid performance in the 5-0 defeat to Liverpool in Claudio Ranieri’s first game in charge.
They have taken just four points from their last 12 Premier League away games either side of their season back in the Championship, losing 10 of them.
And with Everton winning their previous four home league matches prior to the West Ham defeat, they will be confident of heaping more misery on the visitors.
Only two teams have a better expected goals against record from open play than the Toffees this term (5.2), while Watford have the fourth-lowest open play expected goals in the division (5.5).
Leeds vs Wolves (Saturday, 3pm)
Second-season syndrome appears to be affecting Leeds as they look for a second win of the campaign when Wolves come to town.
Marcelo Bielsa’s side's only victory came against Watford in their last game at Elland Road.
Wolves, on the other hand, are getting into their groove under new boss Bruno Lage with the dramatic victory at Villa making it three wins on the bounce.
It is a battle of two busy keepers in Yorkshire, with no goalkeeper facing more shots on target than Leeds’ Illan Meslier so far (44) and Jose Sa's 80% save percentage only bettered by Chelsea’s Edouard Mendy and Brighton’s Robert Sanchez.
Crystal Palace vs Newcastle (Saturday, 3pm)
Managerless Newcastle head to Crystal Palace in search for their first victory of the season.
The Magpies parted company with Steve Bruce in the week and Graeme Jones' first job will be tightening up the league's worst defence, with 19 goals already conceded.
And they will face a confident Palace side, who only failed to win at the Emirates after Arsenal equalised with virtually the last kick of the game.
Though Palace are still in transition under Patrick Vieira, they have only lost one of their last five matches — 3-0 away to Liverpool.
Yet they have only picked up three points once in that run, when Tottenham were beaten 3-0 at Selhurst Park.
Southampton vs Burnley (Saturday, 3pm)
Southampton have a big opportunity to make it back-to-back wins as Burnley make the long trip to St Mary's.
The Saints left the Premier League's winless club last time out by beating Leeds but the Clarets continue to search for their first three points of 2021-22.
And set-pieces could prove decisive. Burnley have scored three of their five goals from them, creating a league-high 4.3 xG from dead-ball situations, while only five teams have conceded more xG in such circumstances than Southampton (three).
The Saints won both meetings between the sides last season — although they had failed to get the better of the Clarets in their seven previous encounters.
Brighton vs Manchester City (Saturday, 5.30pm, Sky Sports Main Event)
Brighton are only two points behind champions Manchester City as they meet at the Amex.
The Seagulls' strong start to the campaign has been built on solid defensive foundations, with only City and Chelsea conceding fewer goals than their five.
But Pep Guardiola's side are averaging two goals per 90 minutes and put five past Club Brugge in the Champions League on Tuesday.
In terms of expected goals against from open play, these sides boast the best defences in the division — they have conceded 4.8 and 3.7 xG respectively.
The last time these two met, a stunning comeback saw Brighton beat City 3-2 to end a seven-game losing run against them.
West Ham vs Tottenham (Sunday, 2pm, Sky Sports Main Event)
West Ham know beating rivals Tottenham will see them move above their London counterparts in the Premier League.
Only two points separate the clubs and the Hammers have won five of the last six in all competitions following a 3-0 victory over Genk on Thursday night.
But both of their league defeats have come at home, against Manchester United and Brentford.
After a promising start Spurs have slipped under Nuno Espirito Santo and failed to keep a clean sheet in their past five league games.
That will be music to the ears of Michail Antonio, who has scored more goals against Spurs (five) than any other Premier League side.
Brentford vs Leicester (Sunday, 2pm)
Brentford will be keen to continue their bright start when Leicester make their first trip to the Brentford Community Stadium.
Despite taking well to the Premier League, the Bees have not won at home since their famous 2-0 victory over Arsenal on the opening night of the campaign.
The Foxes have made an inconsistent start but were impressive in beating Manchester United 4-2 at home last weekend.
Only five teams have scored more goals than them, although just four sides have let in more than Brendan Rodgers’ outfit.
These clubs have not faced each other in the league since January 1993 — with their last top-flight meeting coming way back in April 1939.
Manchester United vs Liverpool (Sunday, 4.30pm, Sky Sports Main Event)
Liverpool finish the weekend off at Manchester United as two of the biggest rivals in world football face off for the first time this season.
United's recent form means this is unlikely to be billed as a big clash in the title race but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a habit of picking up big results when the pressure is on.
And a first league win over Liverpool since March 2018 would certainly take some of the heat off the Norwegian.
Jurgen Klopp’s Reds are the only remaining unbeaten team in the Premier League and have the division’s joint-top scorer in Mohamed Salah at their disposal.
The Egyptian has bagged 12 goals in 11 games across all competitions this term, finding the net in each of his last nine appearances.