Pelligrini clings on for dear life
If the rumours are to be believed than this game could well see the first managerial casualty of the weekend as Manuel Pellegrini clings to his job at West Ham United heading into Saturday’s London derby versus Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Currently winless in their last eight in all competitions, a miserable run that started with a 4-0 defeat to Oxford United in the Carabao Cup, Pellegrini has been unable to fix a porous defence that has shipped 20 goals in those games.
The trip to Stamford Bridge begins a stretch of huge games for the Hammers, who also face in-form Wolves before welcoming Arsenal and their under-fire coach Unai Emery to the London Stadium.
As for Frank Lampard’s youthful outfit, they come into this one fourth in the table on 26 points and seven clear of Wolves, but clearly some way behind Manchester City and Liverpool as the new boss looks to find his feet.
Chelsea fell short against the reigning two-time champions City last Saturday, despite taking the lead and being the first Premier League team to hold the majority of possession against a Pep Guardiola-coached City team.
They followed this disappointment with a spirited display in Spain against Valencia on Wednesday however, and the point ensures qualification is still in their own hands, but Saturday will see them turn their attentions back to domestic issues with a home game against a side who have not won since mid-September.
Liverpool look to make history at Anfield
Depending on the result of the early game at St James’ Park on Saturday, Liverpool could extend their lead with a win over Brighton at Anfield while also making a little bit of history in the process.
Their win over Crystal Palace last weekend equalled a club record of 30 league games without defeat set back in 1988 and if they avoid defeat here they will set a new benchmark as they chase their first title for 30 years.
Manager Jurgen Klopp has been keen to stress that he has no interest in records and statistics, preferring to take one game at a time, an approach that has seen his side open up an eight-point lead at the top.
His only real concern might be his side’s failure to breakdown a stubborn Napoli side in the Champions League on Wednesday, with Fabinho limping off after 20 minutes of the 1-1 draw, a game with saw Mohammed Salah made his return to the starting line-up for the first time in three weeks.
As for Brighton they will be hoping that a fatigued Liverpool side to turn out on Saturday if they are to have any chance of taking points south with the Seagulls having only scored once against the league leaders in their last four meetings, and have gone on to lose all those games.
Young Irish striker Aaron Connolly is a doubt for the game as he is still recovering from a groin strain he picked up in his sides 3-1 defeat away to Manchester United while Graham Potter could also be without Brazilian Bernardo who has been struggling with a knee injury in what looks like an extremely tough test for the visitors.
Will it be goals galore for Spurs again?
With Tottenham winning their first two games under new boss Jose Mourinho by an average score of 7-4, all eyes will once again be on the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium as Bournemouth provide the opposition for the Portuguese’s first Premier League game in charge.
Having seemingly been cruising at 3-0 against West Ham the Spurs defence appeared to go to sleep in the closing stages, allowing the home side to score two late goals and similar defensive lapses saw them two-down early at home to Olympiacos in midweek.
Even so, the bounce brought about by the arrival of the former Chelsea, Madrid and Manchester United boss is there for all to see and with Harry Kane firing on all cylinders and Delle Ali looking like he could be back to his best, it’s difficult to see the visitors causing similar problems on Saturday.
The Cherries lost this fixture 5-0 last season but won the reverse 1-0 and the Cherries have struggled with consistency this season too, not the kind of form you want to be going into a huge game like this with.
They have won only once in their last seven Premier League games and will be disappointed with having lost two games on the bounce as Eddie Howe’s side blow hot and cold with moments of brilliance often followed by disappointing displays.
To make matters worse for Eddie Howe, Simon Francis was sent off against Wolves so misses the game through suspension, as does Philip Billing while the Cherries are likely to be without Andrew Surman and Lloyd Kelly who are both struggling with knee injuries along with Front-man Joshua King, who is still recovering from a thigh injury.
*Odds subject to change
Leave a comment
Follow Matthewjcrist on Twitter