The Premier League is back following the conclusion of the international break and we have some hugely important games at the top of the table to look forward to this weekend.
Defending champions Manchester City started the season in superb fashion after winning each of their opening six league matches. However, they hit a rough patch just before the break after losing 2-1 away to Wolverhampton Wanderers..
Pep Guardiola’s men then slumped to a disappointing 1-0 defeat to title rivals Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium. Gabriel Martinelli’s late strike was the difference between the two teams in north London but Guardiola won’t have been happy with his side’s performance as they failed to muster a shot on target in the second half.
It’s fair to say Man City aren’t the same formidable team without Kevin de Bruyne and Rodri dictating things in the middle of the park. De Bruyne is still facing weeks on the sidelines through injury but fortunately for City, Rodri returns from suspension this weekend which will be a major boost for Guardiola as the Spaniard was sorely missed against Arsenal two weeks ago.
Back-to-back defeats have seen Man City’s lead at the top evaporate and they head into the weekend action sitting third in the Premier League table. Joint leaders Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal are two points ahead while fourth-placed Liverpool are a further point behind so it’s already looking tight at the top with just eight games gone.
On Saturday afternoon, victory over Brighton & Hove Albion would see City return to the summit for at least a few hours. Tottenham don’t play Fulham until Monday night but Arsenal travel to Stamford Bridge to take on Chelsea at 5.30 pm on Saturday evening so they could leapfrog City and go top with a win.
It’s important the Cityzens get back to winning ways and prove they are once again the team to beat this season. It should be an exciting game at the Etihad Stadium and tickets for the match are almost sold out, so it has the potential to be a cracker in Manchester on Saturday afternoon. City are obviously favourites but Brighton are a dangerous side and will cause the hosts plenty of problems.
Roberto De Zebri has built one of the most entertaining sides in the division and Brighton fully deserved to finish sixth last season. They’ve proved already this campaign that they are a force to be reckoned with once again having beaten Newcastle United and Manchester United while they also picked up an impressive 2-2 draw with Liverpool before the international break.
The Seagulls are currently sixth in the table but can climb above Man City into the top four with a win at the Etihad this weekend. Guardiola will be determined not to let that happen but City shouldn’t underestimate the threat posed by a vibrant Brighton outfit. We expect an entertaining match but City should have too much quality on home soil so we’re going for Man City 2-1 Brighton.
Will Arsenal respond?
A win for Man City in the 3.00 pm kick-off would put the pressure on Arsenal to respond when they take on Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in Saturday’s teatime clash. The Gunners were excellent during the victory over City and restricted the champions to the fewest shots on goal  they’ve had in over five years. The victory will give Arsenal huge confidence that they can go all the way and win the title this year after narrowly missing out last season.
However, they have a tricky test to overcome this weekend against a resurgent Chelsea side. The Blues endured a poor start to the new campaign as new boss Mauricio Pochettino won just one of his first six league games in charge. But Chelsea found some form before the break and won their last three games in all competitions, including consecutive away wins against Fulham and Burnley in the league.
The Blues now sit 11th in the table but victory over Arsenal this weekend could see them climb as high as seventh if other results go their way. Pochettino will be keen to make a statement and show that his squad are heading in the right direction with a win over the Gunners.
However, as much as Chelsea are slowly improving, they are still well behind Arsenal and the Gunners should have too much for the hosts in this game – especially if Bukayo Saka is fit to start. Therefore, we expect Arsenal to claim all three points at the Bridge.
Tottenham to maintain good start
With both Man City and Arsenal tipped to win on Saturday, all eyes will be on Tottenham to see how they respond when they host Fulham on Monday night. Spurs have been one of the surprise packages so far this season as not many expected them to be sitting top of the table after eight games.
Ange Postecoglou has done a terrific job to turn things around at Tottenham and they haven’t missed Harry Kane [yet] following his move to Bayern Munich in the summer. Some people will say Spurs have ridden their luck at times but there is no denying they are a much better unit compared to previous seasons. If they can maintain their form and key players stay fit, Tottenham should be right in the mix for Champions League qualification and may even mount a shock title charge.
However, before we get ahead of ourselves, Spurs need to overcome Fulham to maintain their place at the top of the table. The Cottagers have been inconsistent so far this season as they’ve picked up three wins and got a very impressive 2-2 draw at Arsenal.
But they’ve also been hammered 5-1 by Man City, lost at home to Brentford 3-0 and were soundly beaten by Chelsea earlier this month. It’s difficult to know what Fulham will turn up on Monday but we still expect Tottenham to claim all three points.
Other notable games
Liverpool head into the weekend sitting fourth in the table and they will move level on points with leaders Tottenham and Arsenal if they beat Everton in Saturday’s early kick-off. Jurgen Klopp’s men have dominated the Merseyside derby in recent years and should have no trouble beating a poor Everton side at Anfield this weekend.
Manchester United have endured a tough start to the season and they sit 10th in the table after losing four of their opening eight matches. Erik ten Hag’s men needed two injury-time goals from Scott McTominay to beat Brentford before the break and they’ll be hoping to build some momentum with a win at Sheffield United on Saturday night.
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