After 13 rounds of fixtures in the English Premier League, eight points separate the top five sides. Manchester City (35) currently enjoy a two point lead over Liverpool (33), tipped by many as City’s likeliest challengers, with Tottenham Hotspurs (30) at third.
However, this weekend could provide the champions a chance to put more daylight between themselves and the chasing pack. For, not only do the second and third placed sides play against fellow top six sides on Sunday, they would be playing two of the most fiercely contested derbies in the league.
Even fourth placed Chelsea (28) have a derby contest against Fulham, in what would be an action packed, the most supreme of Super Sundays.
So with City expected to beat Bournemouth on Saturday, they could be looking at doubling their league over Liverpool. And if other results similarly go their way, the champions could head into the festive period in firm control of their throne.
Mismatch in West London
Chelsea vs Fulham kicks off the Super Derby Sunday, in what is the greatest mismatch of the three contests of the day. However, bottom placed Fulham would argue that it is less of a mismatch than it would’ve been only a week ago, with the side from Craven Cottage getting their first win in the league against Southampton since August 26, when they beat Burnley.
Incidentally, Chelsea suffered their first league defeat of the season last weekend as well, as they were overturned by Spurs 3-1. So Fulham might argue that it might actually be a relatively better time to visit Stamford Bridge than they would get for most of the season.
Of course, with former Chelsea boss Claudio Ranieri in charge, and evidently showing immediate impact, there is additional spice to the West London derby as well.
For Chelsea, however, it’s a case of bouncing back from the first league defeat. Losing away to Spurs isn’t a disaster at all, and Maurizio Sarri’s side would look to return to winning ways at home, and make sure they keep on the toes of Liverpool and Man City – now the only two unbeaten sides in the league – by getting maximum points at Stamford Bridge.
North London clashes
Arsenal’s unbeaten run in all competitions currently stands at 18 matches. This has seen Unai Emery’s side slowly climb up the table to fifth spot with 27 points. On Sunday, they can enter the top four by overtaking their North London rivals Spurs if they beat them, and can even be third at the end of the week, should Chelsea fail to beat Fulham.
Spurs are at the back of a mammoth 1-0 win over Inter Milan in the Champions League, which has kept them alive in the tournament. Meanwhile, Arsenal’s 3-0 away win to Vorskla in the Europa league was their 18th consecutive match without a defeat.
However, Arsenal have drawn both their last two home matches in the league 1-1, against Liverpool and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Spurs have won each of their six matches in November, in all competitions, since the 1-0 defeat at home against Manchester City.
As is evident, the North London derby would be a clash between two sides in form, with more than just bragging rights at stake as Arsenal and Spurs could swap league places if the former win.
It’s a match between two sides that like to express themselves going forward, and that could make for a great spectacle. Even so, while historically there have been goals galore in this fixture, it might just be a cagey affair at the Emirates this Sunday given what’s at stake.
No other fixture has had more red cards since the Premier League’s inception than the Merseyside derby. And when Liverpool host Everton to round off the Super Sunday, it would be contest between a side looking to keep pace in the race for the league title, which they have been searching for almost three decades, and one that has ambitions to return to European football.
But of course, Liverpool versus Everton is one fixture where long-term aspirations take the back seat and local pride takes centre stage. Fireworks are guaranteed in this one – in front of goal, or otherwise.
While Liverpool remain unbeaten in the league, only dropping six points in 13 contests, their European troubles could have a negative impact on their domestic bids. The midweek defeat against Paris Saint Germaine in the Champions League has left last year’s runners-up on the brink of elimination ahead of Match Day 6.
In the context of Sunday’s derby, it is the travel away to Paris on Wednesday that would have taken its toll, while Everton enjoyed a weeklong rest.
On paper, Liverpool have more quality, but the tired legs could feel the intensity of the derby especially in the final quarter of the contest. There is attacking talent on both sides, which should result in goals. And of course, it would be a surprise if the teams finish 11 versus 11 at the end of this one.