SPURS FACE EMIRATES TEST
Spurs are unbeaten so far but they’ve only won half of their games. Are they legit or are they just going to be Spurs again?
This weekend won’t prove that either way - we’ll find that out when the spring comes - but this is the most interesting of this round of fixtures for me as Arsenal have taken advantage of a lot of easy fixtures to get themselves on a roll. A defeat for Spurs on Sunday would leave them six points behind the Gunners (and probably us and City as well, barring any mishaps), so it's important they go to the Emirates and get something.
That won’t be easy if they’ve still got ‘Dutch Soldado’ leading the line, but Harry Kane is back and should be on the bench, which is huge for them as players like Kane can often turn draws into wins.
In terms of what result is best for us, most would say a draw but for me a Spurs win is more beneficial, both in the short term and long term. In the short term it’s obviously better as we’re level on points with Arsenal but have a three point cushion over Spurs (and then there’s the Arsenal Fan TV aspect of it, which can’t be understated).
Long term it’s better too because I don’t think Tottenham are quite as big a threat as Arsenal. A draw would suit us nicely too of course, and as that’s something Spurs have been specialising in hopefully they’ll do enough to stop Arsenal claiming three points. I'd also like a red card or two and a few suspensions for both sides, but maybe that's just being greedy.
TACTICAL BATTLE AT THE BRIDGE
The fixture that catches my eye this weekend is the visit of Everton to Stamford Bridge. Chelsea have been much improved over the last few weeks and, having not conceded a goal for four matches now, look to be a serious proposition this season.
Everton have been a bit inconsistent recently but I’d imagine Ronald Koeman will be backing himself to come up with a tactical gameplan to end that run of clean sheets.
One of the interesting areas will be out on the wings. With Victor Moses as a converted wing-back and Marcos Alonso offering a huge amount going forward Chelsea’s 3-4-3 relies a lot on them performing as required. This weekend they’ll be coming up against arguably one of the best attacking full-backs in the league in Seamus Coleman. Which side manages to dominate out in those wide areas could be hugely important to the match.
The midfield partnership of Kante and Matic has recently been emerging as a formidable one but trying to control a match where Lukaku, Barkley and Bolasie will be looking to counter, and to exploit spaces out wide, may be a tougher challenge than anything they’ve faced in the last few weeks.
One of the enjoyable things about this season is that there looks to be far more of these games on offer, where we have two genuinely excellent coaches looking to go toe to toe. Long may it continue.
LOSS FOR TRANSLATOR?
It has been a laugh a week recently watching the Mancs go into full blown rage mode. They have been the gift that keeps on giving with dreadful performances, horrible individual errors, goalkeepers having worldies against them and above all, The Translator getting more and more spiky every week to the extent where I think even the press are bored with him.
He threw his boys under the bus after another awful result/performance against Fenerbahce last night and they have already fallen eight points behind in the title race even before the final international break this year.
If the Mancs string together any kind of decent performance they will get the win this weekend. I have Swansea down as being massive relegation candidates and the litany of jamooks they have brought in as an attempt to replace Bony since selling him on just makes their situation worse. But I want to see more of Borja. I heard something interesting about him on the radio a few weeks back – he was at Atleti from the ages of 4-24 and played one solitary game for them. He has mostly been bumming around for the likes of Depor, Zaragoza and Eibar but he is Swansea’s record signing at £15m. I want to see him repay some of that fee by scoring a couple past De Gea, who he has no doubt known for a long spell of his career.
I think the Mancs win this one with relative ease – and the fact The Translator can’t throw them under the bus after the game because he’s banned may even help them, which is a shame as I’d like to see him go into another meltdown. Unfortunately he won't be able to make a bigger plank of himself than he already has been doing, but the other pity is that he has an international break to take a breather and circle the wagons. If I'm wrong and Swansea win though...