Week 11 is here folks, as a Halloween special is coming your way from the Premier League.
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Here’s a look at some intriguing topics heading into this weekend.
Mourinho, Klopp do battle
What a game we have in store on Saturday at Stamford Bridge as Jurgen Klopp takes his Liverpool side to face a beleaguered Chelsea and Jose Mourinho. The Blues lost for the eighth time in 16 games this season midweek, as Mourinho’s men suffered a penalty shootout defeat to Stoke City in the League Cup. They also lost Diego Costa with a rib injury in that loss at Stoke and combined with their awful league form of five defeats in 10 games, all of the turmoil surrounding Mourinho’s future, his FA charges and the under-performing stars, this could be the perfect time for Liverpool to play Chelsea. That said, Klopp’s side have hardly looked like world beaters with three draws and a narrow League Cup win against Bournemouth to their name so far and if they lose to Chelsea these two times will be level on points. The Reds are improving but with Daniel Sturridge likely out and Christian Benteke being nursed back from injury, you wonder where their goals will come from. Expect plenty of shocks on Saturday (Watch live, 8:45 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra) as these giants meet for a tasty Halloween clash. Mourinho insisted he “sleeps well every night” despite Chelsea’s struggles. Will that be the case on Saturday if he endures another nightmare defeat?
“The New Forest derby” arrives in the PL
Now, here’s a rivalry you may have never heard about or thought about: Southampton vs. Bournemouth. Both clubs, at least in the past, have coexisted harmoniously down on the South Coast but over the past few years their rise up through the league’s has seen a rivalry develop and on Sunday (Watch live, 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra) the “New Forest derby” will grace the top-flight for the first-time. Southampton have always been the big dogs and have often loaned out players and helped Bournemouth survive in the past. Now, the Cherries would love to get one over their rivals. Expect, Saints fans don’t really see the PL new boys as rivals. All they care about is beating Portsmouth in that historic rivalry, while Bournemouth is an afterthought. With Saints unbeaten in six and Bournemouth suffering successive 5-1 defeats in the PL, the home side are the clear favorites. On Sunday at St Mary’s expect a heated rivalry, but no New Forest ponies, to be present.
Can Arsenal cope with injuries?
Arsene Wenger delivered the news on Thursday that Arsenal would be without Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain through the next international break, as the duo were both injured in the opening 20 minutes of Arsenal’s shock League Cup defeat at second-tier Sheffield Wednesday. Arsenal have won three on the spin in the PL and sit just one place and two points behind leaders Manchester City. This weekend they travel to Swansea City (Watch live, 11 a.m. ET on USA and online via Live Extra) to face a team they lost home and away to last season. Wenger will have to rely on Olivier Giroud to fire up front, while he wrap Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil in cotton wool. After losing Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey, plus Walcott and the Ox now going down, Arsenal’s strong start to the season could unravel quickly if they fail to deal with these injuries.
Time for Man City to kick on?
After winning five-straight games to start the season Manuel Pellegrini‘s team stumbled for a few games. With a dour Manchester Derby draw sandwiched in-between a 5-1 thumping defeat of Bournemouth in the PL, then beating Crystal Palace by the same scoreline in the League Cup, you get the sense City are figuring things out again with Sergio Aguero and David Silva out injured. Kevin De Bruyne looks the real deal. Wilfired Bony is chipping in. Kelechi Iheanacho looks a real talent. City’s squad is looking very strong as Vincent Kompany, Martin Demichelis, Nicolas Otamendi and Eliaquim Mangala all jostle for two center back spots. With struggling Norwich City heading to the Etihad on Saturday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET online via Live Extra) we should expect another five goals for the Citizens as they look to extend their lead at the top of the table.
Manager watch: Will Villa have a new guy in charge?
At the other end of the table, Aston Villa sit bottom of the table and managerless. Kevin MacDonald took caretaker charge for the League Cup defeat at Southampton in midweek but by the time they play Tottenham Hotspur on Monday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra), will Remi Garde be in charge? Reports have heavily linked the former Lyon manager with the vacant position after Tim Sherwood’s firing and it is true that with most of Villa’s summer recruits hailing from Ligue 1, Garde will know them well. However, is now the right time to gamble on an manager who has never coached in England? Villa’s American owner Randy Lerner is running out of ideas and options as the club he desperately wants to sell is in perhaps closer to being relegated this season than in any of the previous nine since he took over. During Villa’s latest defeat on Wednesday, fans held up banners reading “Lerner Out” as the turmoil at Villa Park continues.