This week sees the last round of fixtures before the players go off to represent their countries in the Euro 2016 qualifiers. There are some intriguing games and matchups to look forward to, as the teams look to end on a high before the two-week break.
Here are five things to watch out for in Gameweek 7 of the 2014-15 Premier League campaign:
1) Mourinho vs Wenger; Fabregas vs Arsenal:
The oldest existing managerial rivalry in the Premier League is between Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger. The duo has faced off 11 times in the past and on Sunday, as Arsenal travel west to take on Chelsea, it will be round 12. Interestingly, Mourinho is still unbeaten against Wenger, winning 6 out of the 11 meetings and drawing 5. This heavyweight clash at Stamford Bridge ended 6-0 to Chelsea last time out, and even though the Blues are once again massive favourites, the Gunners will have revenge on their minds.
Arsenal striker Danny Welbeck was exceptional in midweek, scoring a hattrick in his side’s 4-1 win against Galatasaray in the Champions League. The fans expect him to deliver again on Sunday, and it will be interesting to see how he handles the pressure. His opposite number Diego Costa, in the meanwhile, is the league’s top-scorer with 8, and despite a slight injury concern, is expected to start and lead the line for Chelsea.
This will also be an emotional game for Cesc Fabregas, who plays against Arsenal for the first time since leaving for Barcelona in 2011. The 27 year-old can expect a hostile reception from a section of the Gunners’ supporters, who found his decision to join his beloved club’s fierce rivals inexplicable.
2) The Battle of the High-Profile Strugglers:
Normally, when 7th takes on 15th, it is hardly a game that turns too many heads. This though, is no ordinary match, as Everton travel to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United.
Despite spending an incredible amount of money in the summer, Manchester United have struggled to find form and have only registered 2 wins out of 6 so far. Everton, on the other hand, have just won win under their belt, and despite their impressive draw in the Merseyside derby last week, are looking for a confidence-boosting result.
Both teams have been extremely shaky in defence and very good going forward, and we can therefore expect a high-scoring game at Old Trafford.
3) Potential Banana-Skin For Liverpool:
There is really only result one would anticipate when Liverpool take on West Bromwich Albion at Anfield. The Reds are expected to easily beat the Baggies on Saturday, but this game may not be as easy as it seems. Brendan Rodgers’ men have already lost 3 out of their first 6 fixtures and are yet to win at home since the opening day of the season. The fact that they put in a soulless performance in midweek in a 1-0 defeat away at Basel in the Champions League doesn’t make things any easier. In West Brom, they come up against an in-form team. Following a torrid start to life under Alan Irvine, the Baggies have now won two on the bounce, including a victory at White Hart Lane a couple of weeks back.
All eyes will be on Mario Balotelli in this one. Following a week laden with criticism, the Italian will be looking to open his account in the Premier League for Liverpool. Balotelli has been accused of being lazy and incapable of leading the line for Liverpool, and he will want to send out a strong message out to his detractors.
4) Pochettino vs Southampton:
Mauricio Pochettin faces his old side Southampton for the first time since leaving to join Tottenham Hotspur. When the Argentine led a mass exodus from St. Mary’s in the summer, nobody gave them a chance of replicating their 8th-place finish from last season. But, despite losing their best players and their manager, the Saints are in 2nd place in the league.
New manager Ronald Koeman has got in some talented young players into the squad and they delivered big-time for the Dutchman so far. Striker Graziano Pelle has caught the eye of one and all with his performances, and will be a major threat for Tottenham, who are struggling to find consistency. Some Southampton players may have a point to prove to their former manager, and this game at White Hart Lane on Sunday is expected to be a cracker.
5) Last Throw of the Dice For Pardew:
Newcastle are winless in the league this season and most of their fans have turned against their manager Alan Pardew. This poor form stretches back to last season and large factions of the Geordie-faithful have seen enough. This week, the Magpies travel to Wales to take on high-flying Swansea City. Another defeat and it may well be the end of Pardew’s Newcastle career.