Liverpool players in training ahead of their Premier League match against Everton on Saturday. Courtesy: Liverpool website
Liverpool face Premier League pacesetters Everton this weekend determined to prove their 7-2 drubbing by Aston Villa was just a bizarre blip while misfiring Manchester United could slip into the relegation zone.
The Merseyside derby kicks off the Premier League action on Saturday after the international break, with Manchester City’s match against Arsenal also catching the eye.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be desperate to turn around Manchester United’s fortunes at Newcastle after their 6-1 humbling by Tottenham.
Everton are top of the table with four wins out of four and Jurgen Klopp will not be relishing the short trip across Stanley Park.
The champions are smarting from their rout at Villa, which followed impressive wins against Chelsea and Arsenal, and it will be the defence that is giving the German boss his biggest headache.
Liverpool have conceded 11 goals in the Premier League so far -- only West Brom have conceded more (13) -- and they are coming up against the Premier League’s joint top-scorer in Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who has six goals.
The forward, who scored for England on his debut last week, is quick to praise fellow attackers James Rodriguez and Richarlison.
Meanwhile, Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola revealed on Friday that Kevin De Bruyne would miss this weekend’s visit of Arsenal after picking up an injury while on international duty.
The City playmaker was withdrawn in the second half of Belgium’s Nations League defeat against England last Sunday and did not play against Iceland in midweek. While Guardiola is optimistic De Bruyne will not be sidelined for too long, the Spaniard refused to put a timescale on his recovery.
Speaking ahead of Saturday’s game against Arsenal, Guardiola said: “Unfortunately Kevin is out but the rest of the players they have come back well.”
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer described Manchester United’s 6-1 defeat at home to Tottenham as the “worst day” in his career as a club player or manager.
United are just three points above the relegation zone after shipping 11 goals in their three matches so far and their confidence looks to be in tatters.
The question until recently was who would partner Harry Maguire at the back but the world’s most expensive defender is himself enduring a horror season on and off the pitch.
The central defender’s latest low point was his red card during England’s 1-0 defeat to Denmark in the Nations League on Wednesday.
Left-back Luke Shaw, whose place is under threat from the arrival of Alex Telles, urged United to tighten up.
Solskjaer says Maguire will “bounce back” after his torrid start to the season but could miss Saturday’s Premier League trip to Newcastle through injury.
“When Harry is part of the England team that beats number-one ranked Belgium, that’s just a normal day and then you get the headlines when you get the sending-off,” said Solskjaer.
“Harry’s got great resilience. I know he’ll bounce back. I’ll know that he wants to play, he wants to just work his way out of the last couple of games that he’s been criticised (for).”
Elsewhere, Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham, which started the season with a Premier League defeat against Everton but have been unbeaten since, face West Ham on Sunday. Player Lucas Moura says Tottenham are keen to pick up where they left off.
Gareth Bale is set to make his second Tottenham debut against the Hammers, according to Mourinho, who revealed the Welshman is already feeling back at home.
Bale rejoined Tottenham on a season-long loan deal from Real Madrid last month after seven years in Spain, where he struggled to integrate into the culture and language.
Meanwhile, Aston Villa meet Leicester in a summit clash. When Aston Villa escaped relegation on the final day of the 2019/20 season, few would have expected them to be second in the table, with three wins out of three, in mid-October.
Defender Ezri Konsa is confident they can maintain that flying start against Leicester, who are just behind Villa on goal difference.
English Premier League fixtures:
On Saturday: Everton vs Liverpool (1130 GMT), Chelsea vs Southampton (1400), Manchester City vs Arsenal (1630), Newcastle vs Manchester United (1900)
On Sunday: Sheffield United vs Fulham (1100), Crystal Palace vs Brighton (1300), Tottenham vs West Ham (1530), Leicester vs
Aston Villa (1815)
On Monday: West Brom vs Burnley (1630), Leeds vs Wolves (1900)
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