Week 10 of the Premier League season will save the best for last, as Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur go head-to-head on Monday.
Liverpool play host to Cardiff City on Saturday and most of the division’s big-hitters will be in action on Sunday. Chelsea visits Burnley, Arsenal go to Crystal Palace, and Manchester United play host to Everton.
Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne celebrated his return to the pitch against Burnley on Saturday, making a remarkably quick recovery from his knee injury.
The Belgium international played just over half an hour as a substitute against the Clarets and is likely to start on Monday.
City barely skipped a beat without the former Chelsea and Wolfsburg man, but there’s little doubt they are a far superior outfit when he’s pulling the strings.
After months on the sidelines, it will be interesting to see whether there’s any rust in his first contest against an elite side.
With compatriot Jan Vertonghen sidelined due to an injury, Toby Alderweireld’s form for Spurs will be crucial going forward.
The Belgian is expected to partner Davinson Sanchez for the foreseeable future, and as the most senior option along the back line, he’s in charge of organising the defence.
His contract situation remains a topic of discussion, although Alderweireld maintains it’s not a distraction:
He will have to be as focused as possible against City’s versatile attack, as the threat could come from anywhere. With 26 goals in just nine Premier League outings, Blues are in fine form, so any mistakes could be deadly.
Pep Guardiola’s men are level on points with Liverpool but could slip behind Spurs if they are beaten at Wembley Stadium on Monday evening.
Liverpool appear to have a far simpler task at hand, although upcoming opponents Cardiff City do look a more dangerous prospect after beating Fulham 4-2 on Saturday to claim their first league win of the season.
Manchester United are 10th but could climb into the top six with a win over Everton on Sunday, while Chelsea and Arsenal—tied for third—travel to Burnley and Crystal Palace, respectively, on the same day.
After City ran away with last season’s Premier League title, it’s been encouraging to see other teams move closer to their level in 2018-19, one of whom is Spurs.
Despite making no signings in the summer—the first Premier League club to do so since the transfer window was introduced—Tottenham have kept up the pace and are two points off the top heading into Week 10.
Sports analyst Duncan Alexander attested to this being a rare season in terms of quality among the Premier League elite, highlighting one other advantage City hold over Spurs:
Mauricio Pochettino’s men have the home advantage at Wembley and appear to have their defence in order now, having conceded just one in their past four games after leaking six in their first five.
The game at Anfield shouldn’t be as hard to call, though, and it almost appears a matter of how many Liverpool will score against Cardiff, who notched their first Premier League win since April 2014 on Saturday.
Nonetheless, one can bank on the Reds having a far steelier back line than Fulham. And though Liverpool’s attack hasn’t impressed quite as much as last season, reporter Keith Costigan found cause for comfort for Reds fans:
Cardiff’s only clean sheets this season have come in the form of stalemate draws against Newcastle United and Huddersfield Town, the bottom two teams who have scored a combined 10 goals this season.
Needless to say, the Bluebirds defence will be under pressure at Anfield, with Liverpool hoping to boost their goal difference in the title chase.
Did You Know?
1. Arsenal has won 10 consecutive matches in all competitions for the first time since October 2007 (a run of 12).
2. Arsenal has scored more Premier League goals via substitutes this season than any other team (6).
3. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been directly involved in 21 goals in his 22 Premier League games for Arsenal (16 goals, 5 assists).
4. Mesut Ozil is now the highest scoring German player in premier league history (30 goals).
5. Mesut Ozil has scored three goals in his last four Premier League appearances, as many as he bagged in his previous 22 in the competition. Skipper.
6. In all competitions, Leicester are winless in their last 25 visits to Arsenal (P25 W0 D6 L19), since winning 2-0 in the top-flight in September 1973.
7. Everton have had two different substitutes score for them in a Premier League game for the first time since March 2014 (Naismith and Mirallas v Fulham).
8. Everton are looking to record three consecutive Premier League victories for the first time since January 2017 – with the third win in that run coming against Crystal Palace. Progress.
9. This is just the third time in English top-flight history as many as three teams are unbeaten after nine league games – Liverpool have been one of them each time (1978-79 and 1990-91).
10. Mohamed Salah has scored his 50th goal for English clubs, reaching this tally in just 83 games in all competitions.
11. Newcastle are only the fourth team in English top-flight history to lose their opening five home league games of the season (Man Utd 1930-31, Portsmouth 2009-10 and Bolton 2011-12).
12. Man City is unbeaten in their last 34 Premier League games kicking off at 3pm on a Saturday – the longest ever such run in the competition.
13. Cardiff has scored 4+ goals in a top-flight game for the first time since September 1961 vs Chelsea (5-2).