With the international break behind us and England’s indifferent performance against Slovakia last Sunday thankfully a mere afterthought, the focus now shifts back to domestic matters and namely a return to Premier League action. Unless you have been living under a rock over the past week then you will be fully aware that it is the Manchester Derby this Saturday lunchtime and the game is one where someone’s 100% record has to go. It is, without doubt, the biggest story of the weekend but it certainly is not the only one, so without further ado let’s now have a look at what will make the headlines this weekend…
Jose Mourinho vs. Pep Guardiola makes it way to English shores as Old Trafford hosts the first Manchester Derby of the season. The build-up to the game has undoubtedly been focusing on the fact that Sergio Aguero will miss out as he undertakes the first of a three-match ban.
That decision came with somewhat of a level of controversy as the incident which led to the ban, that of Aguero’s elbow being firmly planted in on the neck of Winston Reid, was initially missed, but thanks to retrospective action the diminutive Argentine has to sit out what is easily the biggest game of the season so far.
The absence of Aguero will very much play into the hands of United and Jose Mourinho as they look to make it four wins from four and continue their perfect start to the campaign. That is still the case for City but without Aguero, the task has become much harder, yet certainly not impossible.
United will look to their big summer signings Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba to deliver the goods when it really matters while City will look to a rejuvenated Raheem Sterling and Spanish star Nolito to snatch a win against their most hated rivals
At least one of these teams will have dropped points by Saturday afternoon, the question is who?
Stoke have a habit of starting their seasons slowly and this campaign is the slowest in a while as Mark Hughes’s side find themselves rooted to the bottom of the table after the first three matches. Obviously with only three matches played there isn’t the need for any knee-jerk reactions such as calling for a change of manager but this is certainly not the start that Stoke fans would have expected.
Life doesn’t get any easier for them on Saturday as they play host to Tottenham, a side that ran roughshod over them last April as they eased to a 4-0 victory. Tottenham fans will point to that as the final high point of the season as the wheels very much fell off the waggon after that and with an unbeaten start to this campaign they will look to continue that run against the league’s basement side
But that said this isn’t the Tottenham of old as they were fortunate to get themselves back into their encounter with Liverpool. This is a Spurs side that still looks a bit disjointed and one in which Mauricio Pochettino seemingly hasn’t quite got the balance of personnel right in both midfield and attack.
Stoke will look to take full advantage of an opposition that doesn’t quite know it’s best XI, but then again Stoke are losing the qualities that made their home ground the indomitable fortress that it used to be and as Manchester City showed last month there seems to be a soft underbelly in this current Potters side. Stoke will look for a first win of the season while Tottenham will be disappointed if they don’t come away with all three points
— Onefootball (@Onefootball) August 31, 2016
Jack Wilshere is set to play his first official fixture as a Bournemouth player on Saturday as Eddie Howe’s side play host to West Brom. Bournemouth are yet to pick up a win this season although they were moments away from doing so in their last fixture before the break only for Crystal Palace to snatch a late equaliser at Selhurst Park. Can the arrival of Wilshere make all the difference?
England international Wilshere was reportedly chased by over 20 clubs for his loan signature but Arsene Wenger felt that Bournemouth would be the best fit for the player who has been besieged by injuries and a lack of fitness. It was a big transfer coup for Bournemouth to win the race for his services, but it’s an ever bigger move for Wilshere.
If he can get a season of football under his belt on the South Coast then there is no reason why he can’t be accepted back at the Emirates Stadium with all arms open next season, but should we see another stop-start campaign and a lack of game time, then serious questions will be asked about how long Wilshere’s tenure on north London will be.
Jack will no doubt hog all the headlines in Dorset on Saturday but let’s not to forget the rumblings of discontent at West Brom as Tony Pulis has once again bemoaned the lack of transfer activity undertaken by the Baggies. The fact that the club was recently taken over by new Chinese owners and they decided not to spend over the summer highlights the issue even more. Pulis says he is happy to stay at the club but if results go against him then I don’t think it will be him ultimately making that decision.
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