Big Weekend, Frank Lampard, Bukayo Saka, Harry Maguire, Christian Eriksen.

Arsenal v Man Utd and the Merseyside derby mark a huge Premier League weekend…


Arsenal’s unpredictable hosts Man Utd are unpredictable, while Everton face a fearsome derby at Anfield. It’s also a big problem for Tactics Tom and Christian Eriksen.

Game to watch – Arsenal v Man Utd
The weekend kicks off with one of the most pivotal games as the Premier League’s shiniest competition draws to a disastrous and exciting end.

What should we expect from United’s trip to Arsenal? Fuck knows.

The hosts were in pole position for the final Champions League spot and then lost three in the rotation to Palace, Southampton and Brighton. So obviously they then went to Chelsea, scored four and claimed all three points.

United? Well, we can be a bit more certain of what to expect from United. Nothing.

That’s what they offered Anfield on Tuesday night when a season of perpetual disappointment crashed to a horrible new low. The one that prompted United to rush into announcing Erik ten Hag as the latest sucker to sit in the hot seat from next season.

Could this news and the knowledge the new manager is monitoring spark any kind of spark from Ralf Rangnick’s players? He really should. As much as United fans might want to dump the entire squad with the odd exception, many of those players will still be around when Ten Hag throws the cones in pre-season. There must be some professional pride buried beneath all the apathy and self-interest to motivate some of these underachievers to make a rather positive impression on the new gaffer in the last five games.

And, one way or another, United are still in contention for the top four. These sh*tehawks can still qualify for the Champions League. A United victory at the Emirates would leave them, Arsenal and Spurs all level on 57 points, even if the Red Devils played one game more. But with Arsenal and Spurs yet to meet and there’s a better chance that one of them will go through the rest of the season without dropping points, the fourth is still up for grabs.

In that regard, Saturday seems more inescapable for United than Arsenal. But the Gunners are all about momentum, with the mood in the Emirates changing with the prevailing wind. Beating Chelsea and then losing to this United would be very Arsenal, which is exactly the image they need to shake up.

Player to Watch – Christian Eriksen
When Tottenham have digested the Emirates result on Saturday afternoon, their attention should turn to Brentford, who they visit on kick-off night.

Spurs have their own rebound to make this weekend after hugely impressive form was brought to a halt by Brighton. The result, and its belated nature, was bad enough, but the performance offered a depressing reality check for any optimistic Spurs fans that Antonio Conte had rid them of their Spursiness.

Brentford offer an intriguing challenge after the bees’ own resurgence in recent weeks. Just a few weeks ago Thomas Frank’s side looked in danger of being sucked into the relegation fight, but after five wins in six and wins this month against capital city rivals Chelsea and West Ham and London-ish Watford, Brentford find themselves one point behind the top half.

Eriksen has played a central role in this revival following his own personal resurrection, with the Danish star scoring once and providing a few assists in his last four games. Spurs are familiar with Eriksen, of course, as is Conte after the pair worked together at Inter Milan. Indeed, reports suggest that the manager is eager to reunite with the playmaker this summer. But more immediately, Spurs need to find a way to deprive Eriksen of the space to pull the strings at Brentford. Which could see one of Conte’s favorites and the recipient of a new five-year contract, Oliver Skipp, return to the XI for the first time in three months.

Team to watch – Everton
Normally, before a Premier League derby, we could create a chasm between long distance rivals with an old trope on form going out the window. But who in good faith can make a genuine case for Everton at Anfield on Sunday?

Manchester United fans traveled to Liverpool on Tuesday night with little real prospect of victory and then it was the Toffees’ turn through Stanley Park on what appears to be little more than a mad dash. Anything other than absolute sticking would probably be accepted by most Evertonians by now.

That might seem odd considering what’s at stake for the Premier League’s fourth team. But Frank Lampard would not happily accept any improvement in their status in the coming week until things get worse.

“We have to understand that the picture might continue to look a bit like it is for the next two weeks. And then we can watch the running devices from that. But, for the players, they just have to focus game by game because anything can happen in football. That’s why I don’t advise against us before Liverpool, because we have to go there with the conviction and the spirit to try to do something.

As Lampard will have learned from his three-month reign so far, the need for spirit or belief is never enough to generate either. Another stoppage-time goal against Leicester on Wednesday could help, although it should have been after Newcastle lost last month. Days later, Lampard questioned Everton’s ‘bullshit’ after being handed over to Palace in the cup.

But he’s right: for morale, Everton need to “try to do something” which would at least improve United’s effort at Anfield. If Burnley pull themselves together, they could plunge Lampard’s lads into the bottom three by the time they host Chelsea for a week on Sunday. This prospect following a derby humiliation should be terrifying for the Toffees.


Ranking every Everton signing over £10m after David Moyes


Coach to watch – Thomas Tuchel
Some managers have mastered their poker face; others find it impossible to keep it indoors. Tuchel is resolutely in the second camp, and we like him a little for that.

The Chelsea boss couldn’t hide his disgust at Chelsea for the way they were beaten against Arsenal on Wednesday. He tried some jokes on the pitch at Stamford Bridge but seemed to realize right away that it wasn’t the distraction he was hoping for.

It was a trying night for everyone at Chelsea. Tuchel’s frustrations were shared by fans, who mocked record signing Romelu Lukaku after he was hooked again, and argued with captain Cesar Azpilicueta, who seemed more ready for a back-and-forth. than the guy who triggered it.

Some frustration is understandable, especially in the limbo Chelsea exist in until the sale of the club is complete. And their home record is certainly concerning; losing to Arsenal made it three losses at Stamford Bridge on the rebound for the first time in 29 years. But the sense of crisis around Chelsea seems somewhat extreme considering they remain well in third place with an FA Cup final on the horizon.

Still, Tuchel has some work to do to ensure the home losing streak doesn’t stretch to four against a rather more buoyant West Ham on Sunday. Picking a stronger back three would be a start. Perhaps we shouldn’t have been surprised to see Chelsea give in in the absence of Thiago Silva and Antonio Rudiger, but Tuchel needs to find a way to cope without both, especially in the agency’s case. approaching German Free.

EFL game to watch – Huddersfield Town v Barnsley
This Friday night Yorkshire derby has a lot to offer for both sides. If the Terriers triumph, they are guaranteed a place in the play-off. If Barnsley lose, they will be relegated to League One.

Find out why it’s a huge weekend, not just for Town and the Tykes, but also for Mitro, Millwall and Nathan Jones in Benjamin Bloom preview of league games.

European game to watch – Bayern Munich v Borussia Dortmund
It’s a big weekend in Serie A, where it’s a Milan vs Roma double header. Roma travel to second-placed Inter on Saturday night ahead of AC Milan’s trip to the capital to take on Lazio. But with Jose Mourinho back at the San Siro in Germany, it’s Der Klassiker time.

The stakes are simple: if Bayern win, they seal an unprecedented 10th Bundesliga title at home against their closest rivals for the crown.

It bodes well for the Bavarians as they have had much better from Klassiker’s recent clashes. Bayern have won nine of the last 10 including the last six.

But Erling Haaland returned to scoring form just in time for Saturday and Bayern’s defense showed vulnerabilities. Saturday night’s meeting also promises to be the final showdown between Haaland and Robert Lewandowski, with both hitmen set to embark on new assignments this summer.

.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.