English game makes a fist of diversification
This week saw football take a positive step forward with the Football Association devising a code of rules to help tackle racial equality in the English game.
As a result, football clubs will be required to meet a recruitment diversity target of 15 per cent in new executive jobs and 25 per cent in coaching roles, with the FA’s inclusion advisory board aiming to “hold football to account”.
At present, only five of the 92 Premier League and English Football League managers or head coaches are black, Asian and minority ethnic.
Last weekend resulted in the last perfect record in the Premier League being ended, as Everton lost to Southampton, while Liverpool drew level on points at the top of the standings with their Merseyside neighbours with a hard-fought victory over Sheffield United.
That result left United second from bottom, with the bottom three, also consisting of Burnley and Fulham, all only taking a point apiece so far this term.
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Crystal Palace
Two evenly matched teams meet at Molineux Stadium with both Wolves and Crystal Palace just three points adrift of top spot.
Eighth-placed Palace travel to the West Midlands aiming to build on the momentum of a professional 2-1 win away to Fulham in which talisman Wilfried Zaha struck his fifth goal from six appearances this season.
Ahead of the game, Nuno Espírito Santo has called on his Wolves side to be more clinical, having seen their two-game winning streak halted in a frustrating 1-1 draw against Newcastle last time out.
Sheffield United v Manchester City
Sheffield United will be desperate to kick-start their campaign, having lost five of their opening six matches.
A visit from Man City would normally be viewed as the worst possible next fixture; however, Pep Guardiola’s side have hardly set this season alight, sitting in thirteenth place, having picked up only two wins from five.
City followed up a 5-2 humbling by Leicester by being held to a 1-1 draw by West Ham United. They have also been dealt a further blow with the news that record goalscorer Sergio Agüero could miss up to a month through injury.
Burnley v Chelsea
Another encounter featuring a team desperate for points and one failing to live up to expectations.
Burnley were unlucky not to pick up a point from Monday’s visit of Tottenham as the visitors came away with a 1-0 win courtesy of Son Heung Min.
Despite their slow start, Burnley boss Sean Dyche won’t be panicking just yet, as his side had failed to win in their opening five Premier League games twice before, including in 2018-19, when like this year they picked up one point, before going on to avoid relegation by six points.
Much like Man City, Chelsea have failed to really get going as of yet, winning just twice in the league and will be aiming to get back on track after back-to-back draws.
Liverpool v West Ham United
The champions will be out to keep up the pressure on their neighbouring rivals but will face a tough match against an unpredictable West Ham side.
David Moyes’s side travel to Anfield unbeaten in their past four games, including successive draws with Tottenham and Man City. In the first, the Hammers battled back from a three-goal, first-half deficit.
They will also take confidence from the absence of Liverpool captain Virgil van Dijk, as Jürgen Klopp’s side aim to build on their narrow 2-1 victory over Sheffield United last time out.
Aston Villa v Southampton
Another intriguing encounter kicks off Sunday’s action with a finely poised tussle between Aston Villa and Southampton.
Villa saw their perfect record halted in spectacular fashion in a 3-0 defeat by promoted Leeds United last week, having won their first four matches.
The Saints head to the West Midlands on the back of a good run of recent form, unbeaten in four, including a 3-3 draw against Chelsea and an impressive 2-0 success at home to previously unbeaten table-toppers Everton in their last fixture.
Newcastle United v Everton
Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti will be desperate for his side to find a way back to form after seeing their promising start to the season stutter in recent weeks.
A 2-2 draw with rivals Liverpool was followed up with a 2-0 loss against Southampton in which the manager was left to bemoan the sending-off of France left back Lucas Digne.
Newcastle have proved to be another unpredictable outfit this season, capable of holding teams such as Wolves and Tottenham to a draw, as well as suffering heavy defeats to the likes of Brighton.
Manchester United v Arsenal
A classic title decider of what seems the bygone era arrives this weekend as a mid-table clash between eleventh-placed Arsenal and fifteenth-placed Man United.
Arsenal head to Manchester on the back of successive defeats by Man City and Leicester in recent weeks, and have lost three of their past five.
United find themselves in a worse position, having picked up just two victories from their opening five matches, with pressure constantly growing on manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Fans have been calling to see more of summer signing Donny van de Beek, with Solskjaer this week coming out to reassure fans that the Dutchman is in his plans and he expects the former Ajax midfielder to play a "big, big part“ in their season.
Tottenham Hotspur v Brighton & Hove Albion
The league’s most in-form side Tottenham, will be confident of extending their five-game unbeaten run when they host Brighton.
In what could prove the most unpredictable season yet, José Mourinho has got Spurs fans dreaming of a title challenge, especially with one of the league’s most dangerous striking duos in Son and Harry Kane.
The pair combined for the ninth time this season and the 29th time in total in the Premier League to secure victory over Burnley. Only Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard have combined more in the Premier League era.
They sit just two points off the summit ahead of hosting sixteenth-placed Brighton, who are winless in four, having recorded only one win this campaign.
Fulham v West Bromwich Albion
Both teams are still searching for their first win of the season ahead of a huge meeting at the wrong end of the table.
Bottom club Fulham come into the match on the back of a 2-1 defeat by Crystal Palace, having conceded 14 goals already this season from six matches.
West Brom have conceded the same amount but sit outside of the relegation zone with three points from six matches, including back-to-back draws against Burnley and Brighton in recent weeks.
Three points at this stage would be invaluable to either side in a match where chances could be at a premium.
Leeds United v Leicester City
Another exciting affair pits two entertaining sides against one another, as sixth-placed Leeds host fourth-placed Leicester.
Both will be aiming to build on impressive victories last time out with Leeds ending Aston Villa’s perfect run in a 3-0 success, while Leicester overcame Arsenal 1-0 courtesy of talisman Jamie Vardy’s eleventh Premier League goal against the Gunners in 12 appearances.
Leeds have their own in-form marksman among their ranks, with Patrick Bamford having already scored four goals this season, including a hat-trick against Aston Villa last weekend.
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