With Week 10 of the Premier League fast approaching, there are plenty of storylines swirling.
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Here’s a look at the big ones as local rivalries take center stage.
Manchester derby takes center stage
The Manchester derby is always a huge game. But this season, it seems bigger. With Manchester City sitting top of the PL, United are in third place and a win at home against their fierce rivals will see them jump ahead of them on points. There is a lot at stake and with City having Sergio Aguero and David Silva missing through injury, plus Vincent Kompany missing for a month leading into this game, United could have found a good time to play the Citizens. Then again, United have just flown back from a midweek trip to Moscow where they ground out a 1-1 draw against CSKA in freezing temperatures. Both teams will be challenging for the Premier League title this season and on Sunday (Watch live, 10:05 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra), they will square off for the pride of Manchester.
Huge Tyne-Wear derby
This is a massive derby. With both teams languishing in the relegation zone, these three points are huge up in the North East. For new Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce, it is absolutely essential he wins this game. In his first home game in charge of the Black Cats, he has all the pressure placed on his shoulders as he lost 1-0 away at West Brom in his first game in charge and Sunderland have yet to win a PL game this season as we enter the end of October. Adding to the pressure for Big Sam is the fact that Sunderland have won five-straight derbies and two of the last three managers at the Stadium of Light have lost their opening game in charge but then beat Newcastle in a derby in their second game in charge. Will it be a case of third time lucky for Big Sam as that strange coincidence crops up again? As for the Magpies, Steve McClaren’s side smashed Norwich City 6-2 last time out but their manager is still worried with their defending despite Georginio Wijnaldum‘s magic. If it is tension and unadulterated passion you are after, tune in to NBCSN at 8 a.m. ET on Sunday.
Klopp’s PL debut at Anfield
On Sunday Jurgen Klopp will walk out at Anfield for the first time as Liverpool’s manager in the Premier League. True, Klopp’s Anfield debut will come against Rubin Kazan in the Europa League on Thursday, but it is Sunday’s game against Southampton which presents a big chance to make an impression in front of the Kop. Facing Saints will not be easy, as Ronald Koeman‘s side are set up well to soak up pressure and counter with pack away from home. That was evident in their win at Chelsea. If Klopp can get some of his key attacking players back fit and ready — Christian Benteke, Roberto Firmino and Daniel Sturridge could all return — then you have to give the Reds the edge on what will be a special day at Anfield for the passionate German coach.
Can Arsenal sustain push?
With the Gunners playing before United and City in Week 10, they have the chance to go top of the Premier League on Saturday. After a good spell which has seen them record 3-0 wins against Manchester United and Watford in the PL, then beat Bayern Munich 2-0 in the UEFA Champions League, Arsene Wenger must now be hoping his side mount a serious title charge. They will come up against an Everton side who are inconsistent and blow hot and cold. Last weekend they were hammered at home, 3-0, by Manchester United. They’ve beaten Chelsea and Southampton easily this season and it all depends on what side shows up for the Toffees. With all of these games in Europe and the PL mounting up, so are injuries for Wenger as Aaron Ramsey will be missing for a month, and joins Jack Wilshere, Danny Welbeck and Tomas Rosicky on the treatment table. If the Gunners can stay healthy, it seems like the in-form Theo Walcott, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez can sustain this push towards the top.
A London derby is also on the slate as Chelsea travel to West Ham United in a role reversal of sorts. At this point of the season, nobody would have expected Jose Mourinho’s side to be languishing in 12th spot in the table and be 10 points off the top. Similarly, nobody would have expected West Ham to be in fourth after beating Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City away from home already. This is a crazy world we live in. With Chelsea’s captain John Terry backing Jose Mourinho before this game (calling him “the best manager in the world”) the togetherness is clearly there with the reigning PL champs. They will need that in abundance on Saturday at a fired up Upton Park as Slaven Bilic’s side will sit in and look to spring counters to secure yet another impressive early-season scalp. Can Chelsea keep a third-straight clean sheet and turn the corner?