How many Premier Leagues can we possibly stomach?
Another week and another attempt by football’s major powers to reshape the sport’s landscape.
Just days after the radical “Project Big Picture” plan proposed by Manchester United and Liverpool to restructure English football, was unanimously rejected by Premier League clubs, a fresh bombshell has been dropped in attempt to yet again fracture the very nature of the league.
Once again Liverpool and United appear central to a plot involving Europe's biggest football clubs to join a new Fifa-backed tournament with a reported $6 billion funding package to assist the creation of what could become known as the European Premier League.
As many as five English clubs, also including Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham, could sign up to join the 18-team league, with a reported a provisional start date said to have been discussed as early as 2022.
Back in the Premier League, focus was on a fiery Merseyside derby, with Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford injuring Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk in a unsightly clash. Van Dijk will miss the majority of the season as a consequence of the right knee injury, with his club believing Pickford should be retrospectively reprimanded for the challenge.
This week, action kicks off today with Aston Villa aiming to maintain their perfect record against Leeds United, while other notable fixtures include Manchester United hosting Chelsea tomorrow and fourth-placed Leicester City facing fifth-placed Arsenal on Sunday.
Aston Villa v Leeds United
Aston Villa remain the only side in the league to have won all of their matches and will be aiming to build on the momentum of a 1-0 victory over Leicester last time out.
Leeds have fared fairly well since their return to the top flight and despite a 1-0 defeat by Wolves last week, Marco Bielsa’s side sit comfortably in mid table having won two and drawn one of their five matches this season.
Villa failed to beat Leeds in their previous two league matches but they are on a four-game unbeaten run at home.
West Ham United v Manchester City
West Ham host Man City on the back of a thrilling draw with London rivals Tottenham in which they overturned a three-goal deficit to rescue a point.
Eleventh-placed City have endured a stuttering start to the season but travel to East London on the back of a welcome 1-0 victory over Arsenal.
As well as being unbeaten in their previous four away matches, City also remain unbeaten in their last five visits to West Ham.
Fulham v Crystal Palace
Roy Hodgson heads into this London derby under pressure from the Eagles faithful after a turgid display against rivals Brighton in which they were lucky to take a point.
In that match Palace became the first team since Opta began recording shot data in the Premier League in 2003-04, to have had just one shot in a match in the competition and for that shot be a penalty.
There has also been frustration due to Hodgson’s defensive tactics and reluctance to allow forwards to express themselves despite having an array of attacking talent within his squad in Wilfred Zaha, Andros Townsend, Eberechi Eze, Max Meyer and Michy Batshuayi.
That pressure will increase should Palace fail to beat bottom-side Fulham, who have taken a single point from their five matches.
However, Scott Parker’s side should have taking all three points from the 1-1 draw with Sheffield United last week in which Aleksandar Mitrovic missed a penalty before conceding a late spot kick at the other end.
Manchester United v Chelsea
Man United’s season finally looks to have ignited in the past week with a 4-1 victory away to Newcastle United being followed up with an impressive 2-1 win away to Paris St Germain in the Champions League on Tuesday.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer be will be hoping his side can continue in that vein of form against a misfiring Chelsea side and begin to climb the table from their present position of fifteenth.
Frank Lampard’s expensively assembled squad has failed to live up to expectations so far, coming into the match on the back of a disappointing 3-3 draw at home to Southampton in which Jannik Vestergaard headed in a dramatic stoppage-time equaliser to snatch the visitors a point.
Chelsea have also failed to beat United in the past seven league matches at Old Trafford.
Liverpool v Sheffield United
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp continues to endure somewhat of an injury crisis with key players Thiago, Van Dijk and goalkeeper Alisson all poised to miss the visit of Sheffield United.
However, Klopp will take great confidence from the form guide with Liverpool unbeaten in their last 61 home league matches, as well remaining unbeaten against United in their last four games.
Second-from-bottom United have taken a point from their first five matches and have failed to win on the road in their past eight matches.
Southampton v Everton
An intriguing encounter kicks off Sunday’s action with high-flying Everton travelling to St Mary’s to take on in-form Southampton.
The visitors saw their perfect record ended in the fiery 2-2 with Liverpool last weekend in which forward Richarlison was shown a straight red card for a poor challenge on Thiago.
Mid-table Saints come into the encounter on a three-game unbeaten run, including last week’s incredible comeback against Chelsea to earn a point.
However, Ralph Hasenhüttl's side have failed to beat Everton in their previous two attempts, with the visitors also unbeaten in their last three matches on the road.
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Newcastle United
Upwardly mobile Wolves will be aiming to claim a third successive victory when they host unpredictable Newcastle.
Despite their back-to-wins, sixth-placed Wolves were far from convincing in either, coming away with narrow 1-0 wins against newly promoted sides Fulham and Leeds.
Steve Bruce’s Newcastle come into the match on the back of a 4-1 thumping against Man United, however they can take hope from a positive recent history against Wolves.
They remain unbeaten against Sunday’s hosts in their past six games at the Molineux Stadium and also haven’t lost in their past three away games.
Arsenal v Leicester City
Leicester City will be desperate for a victory to end a run of successive defeats and get their early promising season back on track.
Having won their first three games, including an impressive 5-2 success away to Man City, Brendan Rodgers men lost both their previous October fixtures going down 3-0 to West Ham and 1-0 against Aston Villa last weekend.
Meanwhile, Arsenal come into the game on the back of a slender 1-0 defeat against Man City last time out and will be aiming to claim a first league win against the Foxes in four matches.
They did however beat Leicester earlier this season, winning their Caraboa Cup third round tie 2-0, while Mikel Arteta’s side are also unbeaten at home in their past 11 matches.
Leicester may also have to contend with the unavailability of key players Jamie Vardy, Ricardo Pereira and Wilfred Ndidi for the trip to London.
Brighton & Hove Albion v West Bromwich Albion
Brighton and Hove Albion will be aiming to end a three-game winless run while West Bromwich Albion remain in search of their first win this season.
Graham Potter’s Brighton dominated last weekend’s trip to rivals Palace and they would have been relieved to snatch a late point, the least they deserved.
West Brom should have also arguably taken all three points last weekend having dominated their match at home to Burnley without finding a breakthrough in the league’s first stalemate this season.
In previous fixtures, the side at home has come away with a victory in the past five meetings between the teams.
Burnley v Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham travel to Turf Moor aiming to extend a four-game unbeaten run and win their first three away matches in the Premier League for only the second time.
However, there will be disappointment among fans that they don’t come into the game on the back of a victory having thrown away a three-goal advantage in the 3-3 draw with West Ham last weekend.
Struggling Burnley find themselves third-from bottom having only picked up a single point so far but have played a game less than those around them.
Sean Dyche’s side did however stop the rot last weekend with the 0-0 draw against West Brom halting a three-game losing streak.
From their 12 Premier League meetings, Burnley’s two victories over Tottenham came at home.