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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Four talking points ahead of the Premier League weekend

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Each week we preview the Premier League action and discuss some of the division’s major talking points.

Arsenal need to prove themselves against Man City

There is no getting around it; Arsenal absolutely have to beat Manchester City this weekend if they are to prove they can really hang with the big dogs.

Following their capitulation last season after leading the Premier League table for so long, the Gunners need to earn credibility and beating Pep Guardiola’s side is the only way they can do that.

Victory would mean more than just three points, it would represent a huge psychological leap for Mikel Arteta’s side, who haven’t beaten City in the league since 2015.

Indeed, City boast a 12-game winning streak against the north Londoners. One more win and they equal the record for most consecutive wins against a single opponent in Premier League history.

During that run, Arsenal have found the net just five times against City and conceded 33 goals. The Manchester outfit have an even greater hold over them than Chelsea did during the Jose Mourinho era.

City top the table, but haven’t looked quite as unbeatable as the latter end of last season. They’re coming off the back of a surprise defeat to Wolves, but here’s the rub: they haven’t lost consecutive games in the top flight since December 2018. To put that into context, the next longest run belongs to Brighton and stretches back to October 2022.

Arteta said in his pre-match press conference that this game won’t define Arsenal’s season, but he’s only fooling himself if he truly believes that.

West Ham pair out to halt Newcastle momentum

It’s been a hell of a fortnight for Newcastle United. They trounced Sheffield United 8-0, knocked Man City out of the EFL Cup, and blitzed PSG at St James’ Park.

Now they face a tricky trip to the London Stadium where they will face West Ham, who have enjoyed a strong start to the campaign. Their only two defeats in all competitions have come against Man City and Liverpool, while they sit one point ahead of the Magpies in the Premier League table.

With 13 points on the board, it’s the Hammers’ best start to a season in eight years, and a great deal of that is down to Jarrod Bowen and James Ward-Prowse.

Bowen has been in flying form this season, registering five goals and an assist in seven games, while Ward-Prowse has provided two goals and three assists.

The former Southampton midfielder created six chances in West Ham’s last league game, against Sheffield United, which was his joint-highest tally in a Premier League match.

Man Utd season in danger of collapsing already

It’s been a disastrous opening few months of the season for Manchester United, who have endured their worst ever start to a Premier League campaign having taken just nine points from seven games. On top of that, they have lost both of their first two group games in the Champions League.

The Red Devils have lost six out of ten games in all competitions, while conceding 18 goals – the most they have shipped at this stage of a season since 1966-67 (20), according to Opta.

Injuries have not helped Erik ten Hag’s cause in the slightest, while off-field issues have also had a major impact. But the performances so far have been so far below what should be expected from the Red Devils this term.

Defeat to Brentford would put Ten Hag under immense pressure. The Bees have not played well of late, and are on a run of seven games without a win. But you wouldn’t be surprised if they changed that at Old Trafford this Saturday.

Brighton and Liverpool meet in battle of European hangovers

Liverpool got over last weekend’s VAR controversy to beat Union Saint-Gilloise 2-0 at home in the Europa League, while Brighton recovered from their thrashing at the hands of Aston Villa to come from behind and draw 2-2 with Marseille.

The Seagulls got the better of the Reds in the same fixture last season, winning 3-0 at the Amex Stadium. That came after a 3-3 draw at Anfield earlier in the campaign and before a 2-1 home win in the FA Cup.

Roberto de Zerbi’s side have Liverpool’s number, but there are signs that the addition of European football could be taking a toll on the squad. Pervis Estupinan has joined James Milner, Julio Enciso and Adam Lallana on the treatment table, while the manager handed a debut to 18-year-old Jack Hinshelwood against Villa last Saturday.

Liverpool are coping with absences of their own, as Diogo Jota and Curtis Jones will serve suspensions following their red cards against Tottenham, while Cody Gakpo is set to miss out after picking up an injury in the same. But their superior depth should give them the edge in this encounter.

It’s a hugely important game for two sides looking to compete at the top end of the Premier League table, one that we will all be glued to come 2pm on Sunday.

Read – Arteta hopes Arsenal will learn from Lens defeat

See Also – Ranking all 20 of the Premier League’s third kits

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