The clock is ticking down and this weekend sees the return of Premier League football following the international break. Chelsea have seven games before there`s yet another of the tedious international footballing interruptions.
Those fixtures break down to four Premier League games. At home to Watford and Manchester United and away at Crystal Palace and Bournemouth. In the Champions League there`s the Italian double header, that sees Roma head to Stamford Bridge next week before the reverse fixture in Rome two weeks later. The remaining game is in the Carabao Cup at home to Everton.
With just seven games gone in the league this season, the traditional top six teams have more or less slotted into place. Burnley spoil the party by creeping in ahead of Liverpool in sixth, albeit on goal difference.
Those top six teams are all back in action this Saturday. The first game of the weekend is an interesting fixture and one that will give an indication of where Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United are in terms of title winning credentials. They travel to Liverpool for the early 12:30 kick-off Saturday. They face a team, who despite their, renowned attacking prowess, and don’t we know it, are struggling. With Sadio Mane missing through injury, Jurgen Klopp’s Red’s may struggle to outgun their opponents as was seen when he competed for Senegal in the African Cup of Nations earlier in the year. Current form, points to an away win. However, these games are notoriously difficult to predict, a draw would suit Chelsea.
Shortly after that game finishes, Chelsea kick-off at Palace. With or without Morata and Kante, Antonio Conte`s team ought to be able to overcome Roy Hodgson’s out of form Palace. Wilfried Zaha is back in contention for a start following injury, but Hodgson is unlikely to start him in a game they are not expected to win.
Palace’s ‘big’ games are not against the ‘big’ boy’s, their crucial games are against those around them. However, if they don`t start getting results, those around them may have all but gone. Having sent Ruben Loftus-Cheek out on loan to the south London team at the start of the season, the young England international has been one of Palace’s best players in a season of woe. Obviously, he won’t be available Saturday but he`s also carrying an injury that would have kept him sidelined anyway.
Predicted Chelsea Line-Up
Manchester City, like Chelsea kick-off at 3pm Saturday, they face Stoke City at the Etihad stadium. Pep Guardiola`s team should stroll to victory in this one. Stoke have have had an up and down season, so far, although good results against Arsenal and United preceded a heavy 4-0 defeat at home to Chelsea. With Chelsea special agent Kurt Zouma in defence, maybe Mark Hughes side can ruffle a few City feathers. Up the Potters.
Like Chelsea, Tottenham face an out of form side, when Bournemouth travel to Wembley for one of Spurs mini Cup Finals. With Harry Kane firing on all cylinders though, it’s difficult to not see the ‘home’ side comfortably winning this one.
Arsenal’s form has picked up following their 0-0 victory over Chelsea, and they feature in the late kick-off Saturday when they travel the short distance to Watford. This may be tricky one for the Gunners, the Hornets, under Marco Silva, have started the season fairly well, if you discount the pummelling they received at the hands of Manchester City. The game also gives one of Chelsea’s former special agents, Nathaniel Chalobah, the opportunity to inflict some pain on the North Londoners on behalf of his old team.
With another round of Champions League games coming up this week, there’ll no doubt be players rested in preparation for that competition, however, from a Chelsea point of view, let’s secure the victory over Palace before we start to think about Roma.