SOCCER

Enjoy Week Eight Of English Premier League Before International Break

Nov 6, 2020, 11:16 AM | Updated: 11:19 am
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 05: (THE SUN OUT, THE SUN ON SUNDAY OUT) Mohamed Salah and Kostas Tsi...
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 05: (THE SUN OUT, THE SUN ON SUNDAY OUT) Mohamed Salah and Kostas Tsimikas of Liverpool during a training session at Melwood Training Ground on November 05, 2020 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)
(Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – As we head into round eight in the EPL, we brace ourselves for another international break (yuck).

The last games of the round finish on November 8 and we won’t be blessed with another round of EPL soccer until November 21.

If you’re not feeling the Chelsea versus Sheffield United match on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. which you can catch on KSL 5 (which should be a decent match) – tune in to ESPN+ at the same time and you can catch Borussia Dortmund versus Bayern Munich, where you’ll more than likely catch two of the best #9s in Europe – Erling Haaland of Dortmund, and Robert Lewandowski over at Munich. Plus who wouldn’t want to check out one of the brightest young talents that just so happens to be the American in Gio Reyna.

Everton v. Manchester United

This is your early doors kick off on Saturday morning. 5:30 a.m. on NBCSN. This one is absolutely the game of the day.

Everton came out of the blocks this season with such fire that they more than raised a few eyebrows, but as of late have been brought back down to earth with a bit of a bump. Of course, no one really expects to go throughout the season unbeaten, and Everton has been missing a couple of players through suspension and minor injuries. James Rodriguez should be back (let’s hope because he is so much fun to watch), and Lucas Digne also back from suspension. However, Richarlison will be serving the last of his three-match suspension.

One thing to keep an eye on is goalkeeper, Jordan Pickford, as he was dropped for the Newcastle loss, but manager Carlo Ancelotti did say he was just missing for last week’s game. In truth though, the last couple of games they’ve been second best and there will be an eagerness to get back to that blistering start. A mixture of physicality and good ball movement.

Manchester United is a team that is hot and cold. Been poor at home in the EPL, but really solid on the road. As a high profile club and squad when the results aren’t there the scrutiny they come under might be a little unfair. A couple of losses and the pressure is right back on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The squad as we know has some quality, but it’s fitting it all into the right system.

Paul Pogba will always have the spotlight on him, and as a World Cup winner, with a huge reputation, he hasn’t consistently turned it on week in week out. Is that entirely his fault? Probably not, but it’s come to a point, in my opinion, that he should find another club where he could possibly excel again. Of course, it might still happen at United, it just feels like it’s run its course.

The reason I say United have been hot and cold is because one match they’ll look like a genuine powerhouse (particularly in the Champions League) but then follow up with a slow and timid performance, riddled with defensive insecurities and poor shape.

Both teams are desperate to get their seasons moving in the right direction again, but there is only one manager on the hot seat. Solskjaer is publicly backed by the board, but rumors swirling around are that discussions have been held with former Spurs manager Mauircio Pochettino and because of that I’ll actually give United the edge. We saw Solskjaer (albeit on the back of Bruno Fernandes’ signing) take his United team on a phenomenal run last season, and got the fans and media off his back in the process. He’s a fighter, and I expect the likes of Rashford and Greenwood to deliver on the day.

Maybe this is delaying the inevitable… but lookout for a fully committed performance from both teams.

Prediction: It won’t be a classic, but plenty of grit and determination on show and United grind out all three points on this occasion.

Manchester City v. Liverpool

Tune in to Peacock on Sunday for the match of the weekend, 9:30 a.m kick-off. The first installment of the best two teams in the EPL. I genuinely don’t know what to expect.

Pep Guardiola’s boys haven’t hit the heights they set for a little while now, but I expect them to be the main challengers to take Liverpool’s crown.

Guardiola will likely be without club legend Sergio Aguero, but he is nearing full fitness, but the welcome sight of Gabriel Jesus making his return in the CL with a goal will boost last season runners up.

Like city rivals, Man United, they had a shortened pre-season, and slowly they’re gathering momentum. Scraping a 1-1 versus West Ham and then a 1-0 win against Sheffield United has left a minimal impression, but this season is going to be strange.

Less flash, and more grit as the games come at a ridiculous pace. It already feels like the Christmas schedule starting in October, which is wild, and won’t ease up. You’re getting flashes of brilliance from City, but not a full 90 minutes as they look to manage players’ fitness levels and games within the game.

I’d be surprised if the eventual EPL winners get anywhere close to the total points haul we’ve seen the last few seasons. As always, Kevin De Bruyne could well decide this match. A genuine match-winner with a goal or an assist, if Liverpool can’t shut him down then it could be a long 90 minutes.

Liverpool we all know are facing major defensive issues and as of yet have withstood other teams but City poses a new type of problem, movement and pace. All of the Citizens’ attacks are interchangeable parts. For me, it’s the Reds first real test without Virgil Van Djik and Fabinho (not entirely sure Joel Matip will be available).

On the flipside City hasn’t gone up against an attack like Liverpool’s this season either. Sadio Mane could possibly be the best attacker in the league right now (I see you Son @ Spurs). Mo Salah has been very good this season as well, but mid-week we saw Diogo Jota help take this attack to another level in the Champions League midweek against Atalanta, with a stunning hat-trick. It may well be a sign of things to come.

This has all the makings of an absolutely cracking affair. Quick slick soccer. With more possession for City and Liverpool looking to exploit the counter-attack. A tough one to call.

Prediction: I’ve got a feeling the home side will take all three points, bumping them up to 14 points, with a game in hand over Liverpool. The title race is well and truly on.

I’ll be back in a couple of weeks, keep an eye on your favorite players with their national teams. Fingers crossed they all stay fit and healthy.

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Enjoy Week Eight Of English Premier League Before International Break