Posted on: Changed:
London (AFP) – Arsenal face a tough test of their Premier League title knowledge when they head to Chelsea on Sunday, while Liverpool desperately need to win at Tottenham to get back into the top four.
With just two league games left before the mid-season World Cup hiatus, Arsenal are the surprise leaders, two points ahead of reigning champions Manchester City.
City will expect to peak on Saturday when they host Fulham at the Etihad, aiming to increase the pressure on Arsenal for their next game at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea are 10 points behind after a three-game undefeated run in the league and cannot afford to lose any more points if they have hopes of fighting for the title.
Graham Potter suffered his first defeat as Chelsea boss on his return to Brighton last weekend with a 4-1 humility.
“We had an incredibly tough October,” the new coach said after beating Dinamo Zagreb 2-1 in Wednesday’s Champions League.
“We were in a situation where we needed results, we lost key players for Wesley Fofana and Reece James, and there is always some stability involved when that happens.
Finding the right solutions isn’t always easy, but in 11 games we lost one.”
It was a relief for Arsenal and England when it was revealed that Bukayo Saka’s ankle injury in last weekend’s 5-0 win over Nottingham Forest was revealed to have sparked fears for his World Cup chances.
Chelsea will, however, be missing left-back Ben Chilwell, who retired with an injury late Wednesday’s game that will almost certainly knock him out of the tournament in Qatar.
spurs from the Son
In keeping with their season so far, Tottenham needed a second-half challenge against Marseille to secure a place in the last 16 of the Champions League on Tuesday.
However, the 2-1 win came at a high cost for Antonio Conte’s men, with Son Heung-min suffering a fracture around his left eye – the club confirms he needs surgery and the South Korean’s World Cup hopes are in the balance.
Tottenham already lacks injured Dejan Kulusevski and Richarlison, which puts a heavy burden on Harry Kane to continue shooting from the front.
Nottingham Forest and Leeds’ losses in their last two league games have realistically ended Liverpool’s title ambitions, and Jurgen Klopp admits the Reds are already running out of time to get into the top four.
Liverpool are in ninth place, eight points behind Champions League places.
But after Klopp’s 2-0 midweek win over Napoli, there’s new hope as Darwin Nunez begins to deliver on the massive price tag and Mohamed Salah finds the scoring form.
“Being compact changes everything,” said the German coach, after his team finished the Italian side’s long streak of undefeatability.
“Suddenly we have challenges in the right places, suddenly it’s hard for us to play against.”
Emery stands in front of Manchester United
Unai Emery will head Aston Villa for the first time when Manchester United leaves for Birmingham on Sunday.
As United began to take shape under Erik ten Hag, the league closed with one point in the top four with a game in hand thanks to a five-game unbeaten streak.
The Dutch even received praise from Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola, who said last week that “United are finally back”.
Scoring has remained a challenge for Ten Hag’s men so far, and Emery, who has replaced the sacked Steven Gerrard, is famous for placing defensive discipline on their side.
The Spaniard led Villarreal to a Europa League victory over United in 2021, but the former Arsenal boss has taken over a side that is just one point above the relegation zone and has a big task ahead of him.
Fixtures (always GMT)
Leeds v Bournemouth, Manchester City v Fulham, Nottingham Forest v Brentford, Wolves v Brighton, (all 1500), Everton v Leicester (1730)
Chelsea – Arsenal (1200), Aston Villa – Manchester United, Southampton – Newcastle, West Ham – Crystal Palace (all 1400), Tottenham – Liverpool (1630)
© 2022 AFP