Premier League sides competing in Europe have done so for the last time this year, as the group stages of both the Champions League and Europa League concluded.
Barring Manchester United, who finished third in their group and dropped into the Europa League, all other English representatives – Arsenal, Chelsea, Leicester City, Liverpool, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur – finished top of their group in their respective competition, with attention now shifting to a hectic schedule in the league.
Between now and the third round of the FA Cup, six rounds of Premier League games will take place in a three-week spell, in what is likely to be an extremely pivotal, and exciting, portion of the campaign.
Premier League Game of the Weekend: Manchester United vs Manchester City
After being dumped out of the Champions League in midweek at the hands of RB Leipzig, amid the backdrop of Mino Raiola talking up the prospect of his client Paul Pogba leaving the club for the umpteenth time, Manchester United must regroup quickly ahead of Saturday evening’s Manchester derby against a City side beginning to show glimpses of their best form.
Despite their away-day Lazarus performances in the league in recent weeks, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have found earning points at Old Trafford more difficult, with just four points earned in five home games so far – only Brighton & Hove Albion, Fulham (both three) and Sheffield United (one) have won few points at home in the league.
Pep Guardiola’s side meanwhile haven’t been their usual selves this season on their travels, with just eight points from their five away games, while it will be pointed out heavily that United did in fact do the double over their blue counterparts last season, including a 2-0 win in this exact fixture.
All eyes will likely be on the two attacking midfielders that could decide the result of the game singlehandedly in Bruno Fernandes and Kevin de Bruyne. Between them, the pair have 19 league goal involvements already this season (Fernandes – seven goals, four assists & De Bruyne – two goals, six assists) with either side earning the win heavily dependant on who out of that duo performs on the night.
Rest of the Weekend
Elland Road is the location for the opening Premier League game this round, as Leeds United host West Ham United.
Saturday begins with a Midlands derby between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Aston Villa, before Newcastle United welcome West Bromwich Albion to St. James’ Park.
Following the Manchester derby, the day concludes with Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton against Frank Lampard’s Chelsea.
There’s no fewer than five games on Sunday, the first coming from St. Mary’s as Southampton host Sheffield United, while there’s a London derby at Selhurt Park to follow between Crystal Palace and Tottenham.
Fulham then take on Liverpool, Arsenal host Burnley before the round concludes with Brighton’s trip to King Power Stadium to take on Leicester City.
Premier League Player to Watch: Mohamed Salah – Liverpool – £2.20
After going three games without a goal, Mohamed Salah has scored in each of his last two games and remains Liverpool’s biggest threat in front of goal.
His ninth Premier League goal of the season came against Wolves, as well as an assist, with the Egyptian looking threatening every time he received the ball in the final third. Against Fulham on Sunday, expect Salah to take his league tally into double figures.