Pep Guardiola’s gift for improvisation is to come to the fore when Premier League leaders Manchester City jostle for leadership with Arsenal in the standout fixture of match day eight. The treble winning gaffer pulled a huge rabbit out of the hat when he fielded starlet Rico Lewis in central midfield as the Cityzens toppled RB Leipzig 3-1 in a Uefa Champions League game midweek. The 18-year-old is once again in contention as the Catalan football alchemist plots to fill the void created by Rodrigo Cascante Hernandez ‘Rodri’s suspension.
The Spaniard is very much the fulcrum on which Manchester City’s midfield rotates and the club missed his directing intelligence as they lost consecutive games to Newcastle United (Carabao Cup) and Wolverhampton Wanderers (EPL). Lewis usually plays as a right back but was outstanding in Leipzig and should keep his place in midfield where he will be joined by either Mateo Kovacic or Kalvin Phillips as Guardiola protects a precarious one point cushion atop the standings.
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta cut his coaching teeth as Guardiola’s assistant and would love to better August’s Community Shield penalty shoot out victory that ended a dismal run of results in direct confrontations with Manchester City. The injury suffered by talismanic winger Bukayo Saka in Tuesday’s 1-2 Champions League loss at Racing Lens and a superior head to head record which has yielded 16 victories in 20 outings has the Etihad Stadium club as bookmakers slight favourites to win the tie.
Ange Postecoglu’s Tottenham Hotspur can seize leadership of the standings for at least 24 hours if they can overcome Luton Town in Saturday’s lunch time kick off. Spurs, who are one of the two remaining unbeaten sides along with Arsenal, will fancy their chances of winning all three points at a Luton Town side exuding confidence following their maiden victory at Everton last weekend.
Pressure is mounting on Manchester United manager Eric Ten Haag to turn around the club’s fortunes starting with Saturday’s home rubber with Brentford. The record champions are enduring a lean spell which has seen the club lose four out of their opening seven Premier League games. Tuesday’s 2-3 setback at the hands of Galatasaray in the Champions League had fans nostalgic about former goalkeeper after new signing Andre Onana committed yet another grave mistake.
All games scheduled for Sunday promise fireworks. West Ham United will be hoping to build on the momentum gathered from Thursday’s 2-1 Europa League victory at Freiburg when they host a Newcastle United side that announced their arrival in the big time by that eviscerating French moneybags Paris Saint Germain 4-1. The game between Liverpool and Brighton at the American Express Stadium guarantees goals.
Luton Town v Tottenham Hotspur,
Burnley v Chelsea,
Everton v Bournemouth,
Fulham v Sheffield United,
Manchester United v Brentford,
Crystal Palace v Nottingham Forest
West Ham United v Newcastle United,
Wolves v Aston Villa,
Brighton v Liverpool,
Arsenal v Manchester City