Premier League football returns this weekend, amid tragedy that struck right at the heart of the English game. Here are five things to look out for.
The football family in England and around the world was stunned last Saturday evening following the news of the tragic death of Leicester City owner and chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha. The Thai entrepreneur, a popular and greatly loved figure at the club perished shortly after his helicopter crashed outside the King Power stadium during take-off.
Srivaddhanaprabha bought the club while they were struggling in the Championship in 2010. His vision and investment in the club led them all the way to a fairy-Atale Premier League title within six incredible years. He has been lauded as a man who was overly generous toward those around him. Above all, Srivaddhanaprabha will be remembered as the man who allowed the underdog to dream of the impossible. The Foxes’ match against Cardiff City will go on this weekend, but there will definitely be tributes flowing in from across the grounds.
Another Arsenal-Liverpool classic?
There are few iconic matches in the English football calendar that compare to the clash between Arsenal and Liverpool. The two traditional giants have served up some memorable games, even in the past decade alone. Fans might remember, for example, the classic 4-4 draw at Anfield in 2009 when Russian Andrei Arshavin scored four times for the Gunners, or when Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool ran riot to win 5-1 in 2014.
A total of 27 goals have been scored between the two sides in their last five encounters only. Every single one of those has produced at least four goals. With both teams in impressive form so far this season, the match at the Emirates this weekend could be yet another for the history books.
Litmus test for United’s apparent progress
Manchester United manager José Mourinho has been at pains to convince people that his team is in the ascendancy. A dramatic come-back against Newcastle, an impressive performance against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and a vital win over Everton have lifted some of the pressure that had been mounting on the Portuguese.
The Red Devils play away to Juventus and Manchester City within the next week, in two matches that will go a long way to defining their season. Before those though is yet another away fixture against a buoyant Bournemouth side. This match will not only set the tone for a tough week for United, it will also put to the test José’s arguments of progress.
Relegation dogfight at John Smith’s Stadium
Huddersfield Town will host Fulham at the John Smith’s Stadium on Monday in what will be one of the most crucial matches of the weekend, and perhaps the season, concerning the battle to avoid relegation. The Terriers are currently bottom of the Premier League table after losing seven and drawing three of their first ten games of the season. They have only mustered four goals but have leaked in 21.
Fulham’s season appears to be going off the rails after what had been an encouraging start. They have now lost five consecutive matches in all competitions, and have consequently dropped into the relegation zone. Three points would be worth their weight in gold for the potential winner.
Newcastle’s bad run to continue?
Huddersfield and Fulham are joined in the relegation zone by fellow strugglers Newcastle United. Rafa Benitez’s side are the only other side who have failed to conjure a win in the Premier League so far this season. They will welcome Watford to St. James’ Park this weekend, with the Hornets enjoying a turnaround in form after a tough period of their own.
Defeat for the Magpies could push them to the bottom of the table, depending on the outcome of the Huddersfield v Fulham clash.