The Premier League returns from international break with a bunch of dramatic match-ups ready to influence title fortunes.
Yes, even in October.
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The weekend kicks off with the reigning champions facing one of the key pieces from their title run, and ends with one of the top non-geographic rivalries in the league.
Along the way we’ll see the first match managed by an American in the PL, as well as a litmus test for Everton, and a match-up between South and East London.
Chelsea sweats the Top Four, while Leicester looks below
Chelsea vs. Leicester City — 7:30 a.m. EDT Saturday (NBCSN)
When N'Golo Kante looks across the pitch to see his ex-teammates at Leicester City, he will see a unit closer to a relegation fight than the Top Four. The midfielder, however, has other issues, as Chelsea needs to win matches like this if it wants to be a legit threat to the crown. Five points back of Man City as the day begins, Chelsea is definitely a Top Four contender. But the title race is where it wants to be all year-long.
Everton to be tested by a wounded Pep
Manchester City vs. Everton — 10 a.m. EDT Saturday (NBCSN)
We doubt Pep Guardiola is overly concerned by his side’s first loss, but he’s definitely seen enough tape to know that Ronald Koeman‘s Everton plays a style that can challenge the Etihad Stadium set. Watch how City’s midfield and attack works around the relentless pursuit of Idrissa Gueye, and if Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley can tempt a solid group of defenders.
America vs. Arsenal
Arsenal vs. Swansea City — 10 a.m. EDT Saturday (CNBC)
While new Swansea City manager Bob Bradley doesn’t want to be thought of as an American manager, he’s going to have a large part of the United States rooting for his side on Saturday when he becomes the first Yank to manage in England’s top flight. Arsene Wenger‘s bunch has looked prepared for a title fight and could provide a ruthless hello to Bradley, but Swansea’s players will addressing a new lease on life with a new manager. Look for a battle.
Who’s in what place now?
Crystal Palace vs. West Ham United — 12:30 p.m. EDT Saturday (NBC)
West Ham United is an unlikely early season struggler, in the relegation zone by virtue of goal differential. While few expect Dimitri Payet and company to stay this low for a long time, fewer calculated that Alan Pardew would bring a woeful second half of last season and an 0-3 start to this one back from the dead. But that’s what the Londoner does, right? And he’ll look to keep the surprises going when the visiting Irons come calling on NBC.
Red rivalry renewed
Liverpool vs. Manchester United — 3 p.m. EDT Monday (NBCSN)
Jurgen Klopp vs. Jose Mourinho.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic vs. Lovren and Matip.
Mane, Firmino, Coutinho, and Lallana vs. Bailly and Blind.
Yeah, let’s do this.
Jose Mourinho and Jurgen Klopp square off in a league rivalry for the first time, as the Red Devils hope to join Liverpool on 16 points while the Reds aim to keep pressure on Manchester City. It’s one of the matches of the year, and takes place at a tantalizing mid-afternoon time on Monday.