Is Leicester playing with Brendan in Tottenham? Villa can also make Steven Gerrard’s international break more comfortable, and we’re calling for Diego Costa’s debut…
Match to watch – Tottenham vs Leicester
It certainly isn’t the big weekend we’ve been looking forward to.
If all matches are going on, Leicester’s trip to Tottenham may not shine in the first three games of the Premier League, with many eagerly anticipating Chelsea’s match against Liverpool and Leeds going to Manchester United.
Brighton and Palace fans will even make the case that their grudge match will be bigger than Saturday night’s match between a team that has yet to lose and a team that has yet to win.
Being the perfect team they should overtake Spurs in last place in the Premier League, but Antonio Conte’s men showed their weaknesses in their first defeat of the season, a potentially costly collapse late in the Champions League at Sporting Lisbon on Tuesday night.
Heung Min Son is more vulnerable than most of the players at Tottenham. The South Korean shared the Premier League Golden Boot last season, but this season, he has yet to score any goal or assist. He looks absolutely talented And talk of dropping Son, a prospect unimaginable not too long ago, is getting louder, especially since Antonio Conte has Dejan Kulusevsky — who looked dangerous as a substitute in Lisbon — the champion of the game.
Brendan Rodgers will be killed because of Conte’s problems at the moment. Leicester has a solitary point and the fans turn against the manager. On paper, there was no shame in the odd goal loss against Chelsea and Manchester United, but in both games the Foxes lacked aggressiveness and the pre-summer belief seems to have left everyone at King Power in trouble.
The same is true of their visit to Brighton, on which I really rubbed Rodgers’ nose. As the manager and players acknowledged the visiting fans at AmEx, a white sheet that read “RODGERS OUT” appeared. A few weeks ago, the Northern Irish might have attributed it to the quirky stranger, but Rodgers can’t deny now that opinion is turning against him, no matter how handcuffed his hands may be.
The international break comes at a bad time for Rodgers. There has been little desire for change among the Leicester hierarchy, but the Foxes need to pull out of the slump quickly. A win may not be necessary for Rodgers, but another meek surrender similar to Brighton’s defeat could see the Leicester owners’ attitude shift.
Watching Director – Steven Gerrard
It’s been a tough start to the season for the midlands coaches, with Gerrard feeling the heat at Aston Villa as well.
At the start of the season, many assumed that Ralph Hsenhuttl’s employability would be on the line ahead of Southampton’s trip to Villa Park on Friday night, but the Saints have shown enough by a difficult start to the season to delay their manager’s retirement for the time being.
Gerrard is likely to be safe in the short term too after Villa’s takeover of Manchester City two weeks ago. But against the Saints, the Holt End expects. Their good work against the champions will be quickly forgotten if Villa return to the level that made them frown after losing at home to West Ham.
Gerrard remains weak as there are few excuses for a poor start to the season. Villa supported their manager in the transfer market and closed most of the deals early on. Gerrard has had plenty of time to put his squad together, but it still looks as if Villa have yet to settle on the preferred side or form.
Imposing themselves on Southampton and beating them presents a different challenge for Gerrard to stop City. Perhaps this was a bonus point for the Via. Three predicted against the Saints.
Player in the spotlight – Diego Costa
if All-star game between North and South Set to happen, each side would likely leave the Midlands for the other if it relied on the current form of Leicester, Villa and Forest Wolves.
The wolves at least tried to lift the gloom in the black country this week. We are here to sign Diego Costa. Sh*thouse is back in the Premier League, likely after snarling hard enough in the litigations responsible for work permits to scare them into agreeing to his appeal.
We have no idea if Costa will face Manchester City on Saturday. The fact that he hasn’t played a competitive match this year does not bode well but reports indicate that he has taken part in full training this week and has an outside opportunity to face the champions, especially since Bruno Lage suffers from a lack of attack.
The Brazilian doesn’t attack us as a player who needs all the physical and mental frameworks in place to play and scale opponents – maybe Costa is vacationing in the red. Faced with a City defense that is currently not as secure as it used to be, appearing on the bench would be something to consider.
Team to watch – Everton
On the face of it, things aren’t going well for Everton any more than for any of the Midlands teams mentioned above. Like Leicester, the Toffees have yet to win this season. But there is much less gloom about Goodison Park, even after they feared relegation last season.
Their current points tally suggests that Everton have not learned their lesson, but while they have not won, they have only lost twice – against Chelsea and at Villa when they should have had at least one point. Since then, they’ve built up their strength, particularly in midfield, and at reasonable intervals over their last four games – all drawn – they’ve been pretty good at watching.
The last of those confrontations came in the Merseyside derby when Everton took the fight to Liverpool. As you would expect. But there was enough in that performance to offer plenty of encouragement as their first win was right around the corner, perhaps when West Ham attends Goodison on Sunday.
It is expected to be a thrilling battle in the middle of the park when both managers face their former sides. Thomas Suchek and Declan Rice are tough opponents for anyone, especially since the former rediscovered what he looked like, but Frank Lampard’s engine room is now equipped to handle the matter. Amadou Onana has made a hugely promising start to his career at Everton, while new boys Idrissa Gaye and James Garner may have to wait patiently as Tom Davies and Alex Iwobi looked against Leeds and Liverpool to inspire new threats to their place.
Jordan Pickford’s absence is a blow, but Lampard should hope to rely less on his goalkeeper than he had against Liverpool. The intensity of the derby must be maintained, though, if Everton are to avoid going into the international break without winning their name.
The Must-Watch EFL Match – Middlesbrough vs Rotherham
Don’t pretend you have anything more exciting to do on a Saturday night than watching Rotherham go to Middlesbrough.
For Boro and Chris Wilder, that’s huge. The manager needs his players to stay strong after they succumbed to Cardiff midweek. Burrow responded in the second half but was too little and too late after losing 3-0 in the first half.
The start of the season has been the most fun for Rotherham. Paul Warren’s team lost one of their first eight games, and while they tied in half of those games, they would have finished third had they won the match in hand they have over the eight teams that currently have them in the table.
At the start of the season, most were expecting Boro and Millers to fill each other’s positions. Boro’s current location is unacceptable and Wilder needs a quick reaction.
European match worth watching – Atletico Madrid – Real Madrid
Real set their perfect record – the only one remaining in Europe’s top five leagues – via Madrid in the derby against Atletico on Sunday night.
The European champions have won every game, both domestically and in Europe, so far this season, but Diego Simeone will put their credentials under serious scrutiny, especially with doubts over Karim Benzema’s fitness.
Atletico have been struggling with injury issues particularly in the back, with Jan Oblak, Stefan Savic and Jose Gimenez facing fitness tests of late. All three were missing in the middle of the week, and that was certainly shown when Atletico were defeated at Bayer Leverkusen.
Simeone hopes to stay in the game until about an hour has passed, at which time he is allowed to play his Antoine Griezmann card.