Weekend Watch: Gunners relishing NLD; must-win for Mourinho

Date published: Friday 4th November 2016 9:00 - Mark Scott

Arsenal are in a perfect place to end Tottenham’s unbeaten record, while Jose Mourinho has to quickly establish some control at Man Utd. Plus thoughts on Manchester City, Liverpool and Sunderland.

Super Sunday

With Liverpool and Manchester United in action, and the small matter of a north London derby to begin with, ‘Super Sunday’ may finally be able to live up its often over-hyped billing.

If you mention Tottenham at the moment, the word ‘crisis’ is usually not far away in following despite them being the only team remaining who have yet to be beaten in the Premier League. It sounds utterly bizarre, but with no win in six games in all competitions, injuries to key players like Toby Alderweireld and Harry Kane, and coming into such a massive game off the back of an absolutely horrific performance against Bayer Leverkusen, it becomes easy to see why the NLD has arrived at the worst possible time.

Even more so when you consider that an upgraded Arsenal 2.0 are perfectly placed to become the first club to add a one to Tottenham’s loss column. Nacho Monreal, Granit Xhaka and Theo Walcott are all tipped to return, but even without this trio, the Gunners are equipped with a new-found resilience.

They provided an emphatic response to Sunderland’s equaliser last weekend and followed up with a remarkable comeback against Ludogorets in midweek to show that they are capable of responding to adversity. A characteristic that Tottenham need to quickly adopt if they are to have any chance of claiming all three points at the Emirates.

Tricky test for City

Pep Guardiola: Thrilled by Man City comeback

Pep Guardiola managed to silence a lot of doubters following Manchester City’s statement win against Barcelona on Tuesday and now that he has ridden the first wave of doubt and pressure, only a victory against Middlesbrough will suffice if he is able to continue his job in relative peace.

We have seen time and time again how difficult it is for a team to replicate that kind of high-level performance and Middlesbrough have shown already this season that they can match the heavyweights at the top of the division. This will not be an easy game for Guardiola’s men.

Boro’s display in the 0-0 draw against Arsenal will act as the benchmark and inspiration for all their biggest games this season. They only had 25% of the ball against the Gunners but still managed to out-shoot them and, if it wasn’t for a man-of-the-match performance from Petr Cech, we would be talking about one of the shock results of the season.

It will be a similar situation on Saturday at the Etihad, but now that they finally have a home win under their belt as well, Aitor Karanka will be feeling that Middlesbrough’s season is only just beginning.

Red men to run riot?

Firmino Liverpool

One potential home win which should be more straightforward is Liverpool’s clash against Watford on Sunday afternoon. Jurgen Klopp’s awesome foursome have been a pleasure to watch so far this season and can take full advantage of the off-the-field problems that could undo the Hornets’ promising start.

All the background noise surrounding Watford in light of the recent takeover allegations will be hard for Walter Mazzarri and his team to block out, and with that dark cloud hanging over them it would take a very brave person to predict an away win at Anfield.

They could make things difficult for Liverpool, but only if they put the vulnerable Loris Karius through his paces and exploit the lack of authority he has over his defence.

Under pressure

Jose Mourinho: In trouble with the FA once again

If ‘crisis’ can be correctly applied to any club then it has to be Manchester United. With one Premier League win in their last seven games, the Red Devils are running the risk of suffering a carbon-copy of the final year they had under Louis van Gaal.

With touchline bans and fines already being dished out to Jose Mourinho by the FA, he appears to be hurtling toward meltdown mode – a journey that has been accelerated by an ever-growing injury list and the poor form of captain Wayne Rooney and world-record transfer Paul Pogba.

Standing in their way this weekend are a wounded Swansea City, who are still yet to taste victory again since their opening day win against Burnley. New manager Bob Bradley has admitted he faces one hell of a task trying to keep the Swans afloat and if Mourinho cannot reignite the old flame here then you will begin to wonder if he can turned United’s fortunes around at all.

An arduous trip and defeat to Fenerbahce on Thursday is a very unwelcome distraction, but even with the mounting injuries and the hectic schedule there can be no excuses for not bringing all three points away from Wales on Sunday afternoon.

The time is now

David Moyes: Staring into the barrel at Sunderland

Beleaguered Sunderland manager David Moyes admitted he sits in darkened rooms to try and come to terms with each and every defeat that he suffers with the Black Cats. At Bournemouth, the dreary Scot needs to switch one light to show at least somebody is home.

Moyes inherited a team a little bit behind the rest of the pack after the FA’s lengthy and ill-fated pursuit of Sam Allardyce, but that represents just one grain of sand on Bournemouth’s beach when weigh up all the other resulting factors behind the worst start made in Premier League history.

Sunderland’s recruitment policy over the rest of the summer will heavily scrutinised but what has to be more alarming is the complete lack of identity the team have under Moyes. A characteristic that was encapsulated in the 4-1 defeat to Arsenal.

The amount of times that Sunderland lost possession against the Gunners would have infuriated the home fans and it suggests that with so much indecision on the pitch there is just no clear plan or structure in place which is just unforgivable 10 games into the season.

Bournemouth haven’t made many stand up and take notice yet, even with the acquisition of Jack Wilshere, so Moyes has to use opportunities like these to show their miserable fans a glimmer of a long-term vision.

Another weekend of Premier League action before the international break, so be sure to check out our regular betting preview for Betsafe.

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