As we approach the final round of fixtures before another international break, the Premier League table is slowly beginning to take shape.
Yes, there are a few notable exceptions that will likely rise or fall in the standings, but for the vast majority, it’s an early, albeit rough, indicator for how their season will go.
For some, it’s one of optimism and blue-sky thinking, while for others, it’s the prospect of a long and arduous fight to save their top-flight status.
Premier League Game of the Weekend: Manchester City vs Liverpool
Despite the nine-place and five-point gap between the two sides heading into this weekend’s game at the Etihad, be under no illusions that this fixture pits the two leading contenders for the title against one another.
For all of Manchester City’s success in the Champions League this season, of which they’ve won all three of their group games so far, the same cannot for their league form, with them yet to record back-to-back wins in what has been a frustrating start to the domestic season for Pep Guardiola’s side.
They’ve conceded just once in the three games they’ve played together, although this Sunday will be the greatest test of their fledgeling relationship, that is if Diogo Jota starts.
The Portuguese international has been in blistering form for Liverpool since his move from Wolves in the off-season, with his latest runout seeing him net a hat-trick in the 5-0 win over Atalanta, taking his tally to seven goals in 10 games.
It’s led to calls by many for Jurgen Klopp to drop an out of sorts Roberto Firmino and start Jota in his place, although the German was quick to quell any notion of a selection headache following the game, claiming: “Good performances never give me a headache.”
With the way City operate, looking to dominate the ball in central areas, it will be interesting to see whether Klopp opts to play all four of his attacking stars – Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Firmino and Jota – as he did against Sheffield United, or if one of the latter two has to settle for a place on the bench.
Either way, the game at the Etihad will already have plenty of stars on the pitch to make it a spectacle.
Rest of the Weekend
There are two more Friday games ahead of the weekend, with Brighton & Hove Albion facing Burnley and Southampton hosting Newcastle United.
Saturday begins from Goodison Park as Everton face Manchester United amid reports that Mauricio Pochettoino is being lined up behind the scenes to replace an under-fire Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Crystal Palace then host Leeds United, Sheffield United travel to the capital to face Chelsea, before the day is rounded off with a London derby between West Ham United and Fulham.
West Bromwich Albion against Tottenham Hotspur begins events on Sunday, before there’s the exciting prospect of Leicester City against Wolves.
Following the aforementioned game in Manchester, the day’s action then concludes with Aston Villa’s trip to Arsenal.
Premier League Player to Watch: Kurt Zouma – Chelsea – £0.59
One thing you couldn’t label Chelsea as being last season, or the beginning of this season, under Frank Lampard was them being defensively solid. That is, until recent performances however.
Kurt Zouma looks to have formed a great partnership with Thiago Silva in the centre of defence, and Edouard Mendy behind them, with the Blues keeping a clean sheet in their last five games in all competitions, games the aforementioned trio all played in.
Zouma is also the Premier League’s top-scoring defender so far with three goals, and may fancy his chances against a Sheffield United side yet to keep a clean sheet this campaign, as well as the delivery from wide areas from the likes of Hakim Ziyech.