Arsenal plan a long stay at the top of the Premier League
Arsenal are back on top of the Premier League with ambitions to stay there as they host Wolves this weekend while champions Manchester City play faltering Tottenham.
Newcastle play Manchester United in a clash of two clubs with big ambitions, while Chelsea face Brighton, who are still looking for consistency. AFP Sport highlights three hot topics ahead of the action. Can Arsenal combine style and substance?
Arsenal’s 1-0 triumph at Brentford last week, which returned them to the top of the Premier League table, was their fifth by a single goal this season. The Gunners lack the fluidity they shown in the 2022/23 season, and their attacking numbers have decreased, but former Manchester United defender Gary Neville feels they are now better placed to win the championship.
“Perfect, pretty football is unlikely to win the league unless it’s combined with doggedness and resilience,” he said on X, now known as Twitter. “Arsenal are better this year in these areas and the football will come in due course.” Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher, who co-hosts Sky Sports with Neville, says Mikel Arteta’s team has to win more convincingly.
“If Arsenal continue how they are, if this is the Arsenal we’re going to see this season, I don’t think they can win the league,” he said on Sky Sports. “So many games are going to the wire, and sometimes that can work against you,” he continued. Games that end 1-0 can easily turn 1-0 the opposite way.” In Tuesday, Arsenal thrashed Lens 6-0 in the Champions League, demonstrating what can happen when everything falls into place.
Tottenham must travel to Manchester City.
Early trailblazers Tottenham need to stop their slide following three straight defeats, but champions Manchester City are their next stop. Ange Postecoglou’s side, unbeaten in their first ten games, had made the expensive mistake of allowing leads to slip, losing to Chelsea, Wolves, and Aston Villa despite scoring first in each of those games.
Postecoglou is already dealing with a long list of absentees, and the loss of midfielder Rodrigo Bentancur, who is anticipated to be out until February after suffering a catastrophic ankle injury against Villa, has added to the list. City showed a weakness in their armor last week, failing to win at home in any competition for the first time this season, drawing 1-1 with Liverpool.
But Erling Haaland broke Andy Cole’s record by scoring his 50th Premier League goal in his 48th game at the Etihad, and with his goal against RB Leipzig this week, he became the quickest man to 40 Champions League goals. The city will be optimistic that normalcy can be restored at home.
Newcastle will rely on their home form against Manchester United.
Newcastle vs. Manchester United pits a team with one of the best home records against a team that has been winning away from home. Despite a lengthy injury list, Newcastle has won six of its seven Premier League games this season at St James’ Park. Despite a spotty overall record, Erik ten Hag’s Manchester United have won four of their last six road games.
After midweek draws, both teams have dreams of qualifying for this season’s Champions League, and they both face a battle to qualify for the knockout stages of this year’s competition. Newcastle, who recently thrashed Manchester United 3-0 in the League Cup, will fancy their chances against a squad that, despite scoring more freely, is still susceptible at the back. United have surrendered 33 goals in all competitions this season, the most in any season’s first 20 games since 1962/63.
Saturday (15:00 GMT unless otherwise specified)
Arsenal vs. Wolves, Brentford vs. Luton Town, Burnley vs. Sheffield United, Nottingham Forest vs. Everton (17:30), Manchester United vs. Newcastle (20:00).
Sunday (14:00 unless otherwise specified)
Bournemouth vs. Aston Villa (16:30), Chelsea vs. Brighton, Liverpool vs. Fulham, West Ham vs. Crystal Palace, and Manchester City vs. Tottenham