Gunners, Spurs battle to keep pace with Reds, City - GulfToday

Gunners, Spurs battle to keep pace with Reds, City

Gunners, Spurs battle to keep pace with Reds, City

Tottenham Hotspur’s Son Heung-min (left) and Daniel Rose at a team practice session ahead of their Saturday’s EPL tie against Brighton.

Arsenal and Tottenham battle for North London supremacy on Sunday in an early indicator as to who will be Manchester City and Liverpool’s closest challengers for the Premier League title.

City and Liverpool have already moved clear of the chasing pack with Jurgen Klopp’s men boasting the only 100 percent record after three games to open a two-point lead over the champions.

Both will expect to add another three points before the international break as City host Brighton, while Liverpool travel to Burnley.

Manchester City may trail Liverpool by two points in the early season running for the Premier League title, but opportunity knocks for the champions in a two-month stretch beginning with Saturday’s visit of Brighton to the Etihad.

The visit of the Seagulls is the first of eight Premier League games Pep Guardiola’s men face against sides outside of the traditional “top six” before a daunting trip to Liverpool on Nov.9.

That run could see City travel to Anfield with a comfortable lead in the title race, with Liverpool set to face Chelsea, Manchester United and Tottenham in the meantime.

The form book over City’s last two title-winning seasons certainly suggests Guardiola will be expecting his team to collect maximum points over the next couple of months.

After Brighton, City face home games against struggling Watford, Wolves, Aston Villa and Southampton and travel to Norwich, Everton and Crystal Palace.

But below them the rest have plenty of room for improvement with Tottenham, Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea having already tasted defeat.

Arsenal were given a lesson in how far they still have to go to challenge for the title in losing 3-1 at Anfield last weekend, but the Gunners can quickly erase the memory of that defeat should they get the better of Spurs at the Emirates.

A thrilling 4-2 win over the Champions League finalists in this fixture last season was the highlight of Unai Emery’s first season in charge and Arsenal have little to fear from Tottenham’s start to the season.

Mauricio Pochettino believes his squad is unsettled by speculation over the futures of Christian Eriksen, Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld.

Vertonghen has been dropped for all three games so far this season, whilst Eriksen started on the bench against Aston Villa and Newcastle.

A shock 1-0 reverse to the Magpies last weekend showed Pochettino can ill afford the luxury of leaving out two of his better players, even if they seem set to leave the club at the end of the season after failing to agree new contracts.

Arsenal missed out on Champions League football to their local rivals by a point last season, but still reinforced well in the transfer market.

Nicolas Pepe shone on his full debut against Liverpool last weekend and could be unleashed alongside Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette from the start for the first time.

Should Arsenal’s exciting new attacking trio click, they can lay down an early marker in the battle to be the best of the rest behind the top two.

Manchester United’s bright start to the season also came to an abrupt end in defeat at home by Crystal Palace last weekend.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men paid for a missed penalty for the second consecutive game as Marcus Rashford hit the post after Paul Pogba’s spot-kick was saved in a 1-1 draw at Wolves the week before.

However, the debate over who should be on penalty duties has masked familiar problems from United’s disastrous end to last season.

Goalkeeper David de Gea was at fault for Palace’s injury-time equaliser, while Victor Lindelof and £80 million summer signing Harry Maguire were caught flat-footed for the visitor’s opener.

The departure of Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez to Inter Milan has also left Solskjaer desperately short on forward options, particularly with Anthony Martial ruled out for Saturday’s trip to Southampton.

Meanwhile, Liverpool in defence have not looked nearly as solid without injured goalkeeper Alisson Becker.

The Reds have yet to keep a clean sheet in five games this season and Burnley have an in-form striker ready to pounce on any sloppiness this weekend.

Only Liverpool’s Sadio Mane has scored more Premier League goals in 2019 than Ashley Barnes’s 13, four of which have come in the opening three games of the season.

“We go into every game confident,” said Barnes.

Agence France-Presse

English Premier League fixtures (kick-off 1400 GMT unless stated):

Saturday: Southampton vs Man Utd (1130), West Ham vs Norwich, Leicester vs Bournemouth, Manchester City vs Brighton, Newcastle vs Watford, Chelsea vs Sheffield United, Crystal Palace vs Aston Villa, Burnley vs Liverpool (1630); Sunday: Everton vs Wolves (1300), Arsenal vs Tottenham (1530)

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