With the festive season bearing down on the Premier League, the fixtures are coming thick and fast, with the first slate of midweek fixtures taking place this week.
All eyes will be on Anfield on Wednesday evening when the top two go head to head, Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool welcoming Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham in what will be the most he anticipated fixture this week.
However, there are still plenty of talking points from other matches around the top-flight, with Frank Lampard hit with a selection dilemma ahead of Chelsea‘s clash with Wolves, and Manchester United set to dump their unwanted history on Sheffield United.
Ahead of the action kicking off on Tuesday evening, we look at the big talking points from each game, and the incredible pieces of top-flight history that can be made.
TIME TO TURN TO TAMMY
The momentum has drained from Frank Lampard’s Chelsea side, and the Blues are badly in need of a shot in the arm when they face Wolves on Tuesday night.
That could be provided by a simple change up front, given their recent struggles in front of goal on the domestic front.
Kept at bay twice in their last three Premier League outings, they will be looking for goals when they head to Molineux. Those could be provided by Tammy Abraham, if he is picked to line up against one of his favourite opponents.
Tammy Abraham enjoys playing against Wolves, having scored six times against them
He’s scored six goals against Wolves in four league outings, including a hat-trick during this exact fixture last season.
Something needs to give, with Timo Werner failing to find the net in any of his last seven appearances. There will also be a desire to ensure Olivier Giroud does not face burnout ahead of the hectic Christmas schedule.
In doing so, they should avoid drawing another blank – something they have only done once in their last 17 top-flight meetings with Wolves.
Timo Werner has failed to score in any of his last seven appearances for Chelsea
AN ANFIELD TRIP TO REMEMBER FOR KANE?
Harry Kane must loathe his trips to Anfield. Despite his happy knack of scoring on Merseyside, he has never experienced victory in front of the Kop.
Six outings to Liverpool have produced four goals, and even one assist, but still the experience of gaining three points has eluded him, with just two draws and four defeats from those.
Perhaps, then, under the guidance of Jose Mourinho this time it could be different. The Portuguese has experience of winning big matches there – and celebrating them in his own unique style, too – and there can be no bigger fixture than first versus second in the table.
They come up against a Jurgen Klopp side that is flagging at the moment, with a midweek draw against Midtjylland in the Champions League followed up by a more frustrating stalemate at Fulham on Sunday.
Crystal Palace ensured Spurs do not go into this fixture all guns blazing either, after holding their London rivals at Selhurst Park on the same day.
Harry Kane is in top form and could register his tenth goal of the season at Anfield this week
But there is no denying the form Kane finds himself in, and continuing that will see him take a Premier League record this weekend.
With nine goals and 10 assists already this season, the England striker is one strike away from reaching double figures in both categories.
Cesc Fabregas boasts the record for reaching that feat the quickest, doing so in 17 matches while at Arsenal in 2009. If Kane were to find the net at Anfield once more, he would be completing his double after just 13 matches.
UNITED CAN PASS ON UNWANTED GIFT
There are no two ways about it, things look very bleak for Christ Wilder and Sheffield United at the moment.
One point in 12 matches after another limp defeat at the weekend and it appears that there is nothing that will turn their fortunes around. Not least a home fixture against Manchester United.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has suffered from speculation regarding his own future, but in truth, his side boast the best form in the Premier League over the last five matches, and they have been imperious on the road this season.
Manchester United actually have the best form in the Premier League at this moment in time
All of this, points to the Red Devils dumping more misery on the Blades, and that could come in the form of an unwanted record.
The Manchester United side of 1930-31 currently hold the dubious honour of having made the worst start to a top-flight season. They lost each of their opening 12 matches, before beating Birmingham at the thirteenth attempt.
Should Wilder’s men fail to come up with a win on Thursday, then that mantle shall be passed to them. How any manager would hope to survive that type of run is up for debate.
Chris Wilder could have the dubious honour of overseeing the worst ever start in the top flight
GUNNERS SEEING RED
Arsenal’s plight looks a whole lot worse after their disastrous defeat at home to Burnley in front of their returning fans.
Many watched through their fingers as Mikel Arteta’s men served up a timid display that saw them register their seventh Premier League defeat of the season. No side outside the bottom three has registered more.
Supporters are getting angry about their form, and rightly so, but the same attitude simply cannot be held by the players themselves. As evidence shows, that method isn’t working.
Granit Xhaka’s red card was the sixth received by an Arsenal player since Mikel Arteta arrived
Granit Xhaka lost his temper at the weekend and was duly produced with a red card. It was the sixth shown to an Arsenal player since Arteta’s arrival a year ago.
In that time no other top-flight side has been shown more than three – half of the Gunners’ total.
While everyone else around the club are losing theirs, Arsenal players – and their manager – must learn to keep their heads when they face Southampton at the Emirates.
The Saints have never experienced a Premier League win at Arsenal. In their eyes, there has never been a better time to put that right.
TOP FOUR AUDITION AT THE KING POWER
With the twists and turns of this Premier League season more unpredictable than ever before, it would be folly to suggest we are set for the same-old top four.
It feels like forever and a day we have been watching Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham and Chelsea vie for the same five spots. This season, there is a suggestion that may not be the case.
Every time the group appear to be pulling away, a draw at Fulham or a defeat at home to Crystal Palace suggests that there is hope for the rest. And don’t Leicester City and Everton both know it.
Leicester City are keeping pace with Tottenham and Liverpool and have lofty ambitions
Both have impressed against the big clubs this season, with Everton beating Chelsea at the weekend, and Leicester City memorably smashing Manchester City for five in their own back yard.
It has earned both the title of top four pretenders, and on Wednesday the pair will go toe-to-toe in what is sure to be a lively audition.
Brendan Rodgers men are keeping pace with the top two at the moment, and talks have turned to another title charge, yet alone settling for a Champions League spot.
Meanwhile, Carlo Ancelotti’s side have rediscovered their tenacious best after a slight dip that saw them fall away. Victory would put them just a point behind the Foxes, and right back into the European race.
ANOTHER TERRIBLE TUESDAY FOR THE BAGGIES?
Tuesday may not be everyone’s favourite day of the week, but it holds a special kind of loathing for West Brom supporters.
In their entire Premier League existence, the Baggies have failed to register a victory on a Tuesday in 27 attempts. It is the worst run on any given day by any team in the competition’s history.
Something tells you that attempt 28 is not going to prove any more fruitful, either.
Coming up against Manchester City is no walk in the park at any time, but this is a side that appear to have rediscovered their nose for goals, too. Pep Guardiola’s side have scored 10 in their last three home matches across all competitions.
City have also enjoyed victory in each of their last 13 matches against West Brom. If Slaven Bilic and his side were hoping for any indications they may be able to stop the rot at the Etihad, they may need to look elsewhere.
Slaven Bilic can have little room for optimism as his side prepare to face Manchester City
BRUCE LEEDS THE WAY FOR LONGEVITY
Newcastle supporters would sometimes do well to remember the experience they have in their dugout in the form of Steve Bruce.
The 59-year-old has copped a lot of stick for the football that his side play, but their were plenty of plaudits after masterminding a 2-1 win over West Brom in difficult circumstances at the weekend.
He goes in search of a third league victory in a row for the first time as Newcastle boss at Elland Road a place he hasn’t visited in the top flight since 2003.
In fact, when he takes to the sidelines on Wednesday, it will be the third-longest gap any manager has had in Premier League history between two visits to the same ground as a boss – 17 years and 87 days since his last visit as Brimingham City boss.
Only Kenny Dalglish and Roy Hodgson can boast longer spells between trips.
Bruce will be hoping his day is just as memorable as it was all those years ago – the Blues came away with a 2-0 win courtesy of strikes from Robbie Savage and Mikael Forssell.
Steve Bruce was at Brimingham in 2003 – the last time he managed a top flight game at Leeds
HAMMERS ARE NAILING IT
After two defeats in their opening two matches this season, people would have thought you mad to suggest West Ham could be contenders for Europe.
But ever since David Moyes was forced to take a step back due to his Covid-19 diagnosis, the Hammer have been on an upwards trajectory. And the return of the Scotsman has only propelled them further.
A bank of Mr. Reliables, such as midfielder Tomas Soucek, have provided a platform that has seen them win four of their last five matches – their form in the top flight second only to Manchester United.
Facing a Palace side buoyed by a point against Tottenham, victory here would lay down a real marker as to what they can hope to achieve this season.
Tomas Soucek has been key for West Ham after they bounced back from a poo start this term
DYCHE AND BURNLEY HAVE THEIR GRIT BACK
It appears as though Burnley have rediscovered their grit.
Looking at their performance at the Etihad last month, Manchester City’s 5-0 win over Sean Dyche’s side appeared to be the norm given their dire start to the season. Other results, though, suggest it might be more of an outlier
Many would have struggled to think where even a point would come from for Dyche’s men during a run of games against City, Everton and Arsenal, but four points from those games show they are finding their mettle.
Aston Villa meanwhile, appear to be heading in the opposite direction. While eye-catching wins against Arsenal and Liverpool have accentuated the positives, Dean Smith is actually looking to avoid defeat for a fourth successive time at Villa Park.
A month ago this would have looked a home banker. Now, you sense Burnley may put up more of a fight.
Burnley are looking more like their old selves after a disastrous opening to the new campaign
PARKER HAS FOUND HIS BOBBY DAZZLER
It has taken a while, but Fulham have finally found their Premier League feet.
They are still in the relegation zone, but Sunday’s draw at home to champions Liverpool will have done the world of good to their confidence.
No one is looking more confident for the Cottagers at the moment than Bobby Decordova-Reid.
He has scored in each of the Cottagers’ last three Premier League matches at Craven Cottage.
Doing so in a fourth would represent a club record, and he will fancy his chances against a Brighton side teetering on the edge of the drop zone.
Bobby Decordova-Reid is in fine form for Fulham and scored against Liverpool on Sunday
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