Huge game at Etihad, anger at Goodison as Premier League returns

Liverpool forward Mo Salah (left) tussles for the ball against Man City's Bernado Silva.[Courtesy,X]

Football returns with a bang to the Premier League on Saturday with the biggest game of the weekend, and arguably one of the biggest of the season, as league leaders Manchester City host Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium.

Pep Guardiola's side holds a one-point lead over their visitors, which means they can open a four-point gap over their rivals, or see Liverpool leapfrog them in the table.

Guardiola will be concerned about the ankle injury that kept Erling Haaland out over the international break. The Norwegian and defender Nathan Ake will be doubts until kickoff, while Mateo Kovacic, Kevin de Bruyne, and John Stones all miss the vital game.

Ibrahima Konate and Joe Gomez are both doubts for Liverpool, but perhaps the main concerns for Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp are the lack of preparation time for such a big game after the internationals.

Third-placed Arsenal have a London derby away to Brentford, and Aaron Ramsdale will return in goal, as David Raya is unable to play against his former club due to a contractual agreement.

Raya hasn't convinced since moving to north London, and the game offers Ramsdale the chance to restate his claim to be Arsenal's No. 1.

Martin Odegaard is a slight doubt for Arsenal after suffering a facial injury, while defender Ben White is likely to miss out.

It promises to be fascinating as Newcastle United take on Chelsea in a game that will once again prove to be a test of both sides' European hopes.

Newcastle's extensive injury list was clearly a factor in their surprise defeat to Bournemouth before the break, and players such as Harvey Barnes and Callum Wilson are certain to miss out, while Bruno Guimaraes is back from suspension and Alexander Isak, Fabian Schar, and Sean Longstaff have an outside chance of playing.

Chelsea have scored four goals in each of their last two games, with Nicolas Jackson and Raheem Sterling looking more convincing in attack than Mauricio Pochettino's side has looked in defense.

Saturday's other matches see Sheffield United at home to Bournemouth, which both teams will see as a chance to continue recent improvements in form, while a well-drilled Luton Town views Crystal Palace's visit as a chance for three points.

Nottingham Forest received a huge blow ahead of their game at home to Brighton with the news that Nigerian striker Taiwo Awoniyi has been ruled out for several months after suffering a groin injury.

Meanwhile, there will be plenty of claret on show when Burnley hosts West Ham, but Vincent Kompany will have little reason for cheer unless his side can tighten up in defense and get a result to climb off the bottom of the table.

Injuries and suspensions look like they are derailing Tottenham's season, with Yves Bissouma and Cristian Romero suspended, while James Maddison, Richarlison, and Micky van de Ven are among the injured for the visit of Aston Villa.

Unai Emery's side is the form team in the Premier League with three wins from their last four games, and a win would lift them into the top four above Sunday's rivals.

Expect a lot of anger when Everton hosts Manchester United in the wake of the Premier League decision to dock them 10 points for breaches of financial fair play rules.

The loss of 10 points has dropped Everton to second from bottom of the table, but probably means Sean Dyche's men will be extra motivated, and Goodison Park will be a cauldron when they face Manchester United in what will be a massive test of character for Erik ten Hag's men ahead of next week's vital Champions League trip to play Galatasaray.

Fulham entertain Wolves to round off the weekend on Monday night.

By AFP 20 hrs ago
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