Friday, September 2, 2022

Match Week 6 Preview: Gunners And Red Devils In Top Five Tilt; Merseyside and London Derbies

League leading Arsenal takes a step up in competition when the Gunners travel to Old Trafford to face streaking Manchester United. Only one of Arsenal’s first five victories was against a club currently in the top half of the table, that victory being over newly promoted Fulham. Manchester United have overcome a poor start to the season to grind out three consecutive victories. Newly acquired forward Antony could possibly debut for the Red Devils in Sunday’s match. Arsenal, meanwhile, have several injury concerns with both Goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale and midfielder Martin Odegaard suffering knocks in their last outing. Oleksandr Zinchenko remains doubtful, and Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny are definitively out. Arsenal was unsuccessful in attempts to add midfield depth in the final days of the transfer window.

Sixth place Liverpool will try to continue its climb back into the top four wen the Reds take the short trip to Goodison Park to face hometown rival Everton in the Merseyside derby. Liverpool edged Newcastle with a late stoppage time goal on Wednesday to post back-to-back wins after its slow start to the season. Liverpool moved this week to improve its midfield depth with the loan acquisition of Juventus player Arthur Melo on deadline day.

Darwin Nunez returns for the derby, having completed his suspension.

Everton should see striker Neal Maupay, acquired from Brighton, make his debut for a club that has been starved for goals. The Toffees successfully resisted overtures for their midfielder Antony Gordon, a rising star, in the late stages of the transfer window. The matchup between the two bitter Merseyside rivals has been lopsided at best as Everton has won only one of the last 23 meetings between the clubs.

Third place Tottenham Hotspur puts its unbeaten run on the line in a London derby with promoted Fulham. Both clubs have won two of their last three matches. Spurs have not flashed the attack prowess expected to date but Antonio Conte’s side continues to grind out results and are unbeaten in 11 league matches dating to last season. Fulham is eighth in the table after a surprisingly strong start in their return to the Premier League. The Cottagers raised eyebrows, however, on deadline day with the signing of Willian. The 34-year-old former Chelsea star joins Fulham after recent flops at Arsenal and Corinthians. Winger Dan James was also acquired on loan from Leeds among other transfer deadline deals for the Cottagers.

Chelsea are home to West Ham in the other London derby this weekend. Lucas Paqueta could make his first Premier League start for the Hammers and will instantly elevate the club’s midfield quality. Chelsea is unsettled right now which offers opportunity for West Ham Manager David Moyes to potentially win his first match at Stamford Bridge in his 18th attempt.

Manchester City will expect to encounter little resistance at struggling Aston Villa this weekend as striker Erling Haaland continues to enjoy his tour of the Premier League.

Brighton, smarting from its first loss of the season suffered at Fulham, should quickly recover when it hosts winless Leicester on Sunday.

An entertaining and balanced matchup should be on display when Leeds visits Brentford. Leeds scored a 90th minute goal  in each of its fixtures against the Bees last season, the first in securing a draw and the second delivering victory in the final fixture of the season as Leeds avoided relegation.

Nottingham Forest established a new Premier League record with 21 transfer signings in the now closed window. Manager Steve Cooper can now start putting the pieces together as his club host Bournemouth Saturday. Both clubs sit on four points for the season, a point removed from the relegation zone.

Allan Saint-Maximin and Bruno Guimaraes remain injury doubts, and Callum Wilson remains sidelined for Newcastle’s match with Crystal Palace. The Magpies still have more assets to call upon than a thin Crystal Palace squad which remains overly reliant on club talisman Wilfried Zaha. Fortunately, the Eagles were once again successful in retaining Zaha through the just closed window despite the reported perennial interest from rival clubs.  Palace are one point behind twelfth place Newcastle in the table.

Wolverhampton looked to help its anemic attack on deadline day with the acquisition of 6 ft. 7 in. Austrian striker Sasa Kalajdzic. At this point, Wolves are willing to try anything to put the ball in the net. Southampton, meanwhile, will be hurt by the injury absence of Romeo Lavia. The young midfielder was withdrawn with a hamstring injury after scoring in the Saints victory over Chelsea during the week. 

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