Klopp bank­ing on Chelsea to slow City charge as vi­tal Napoli tie looms

The Nation - - SPORT -

JUR­GEN KLOPP will be des­per­ately hop­ing Chelsea can slow down Manch­ester City’s ti­tle charge this week­end as he bal­ances his Pre­mier League am­bi­tions with a Cham­pi­ons League de­cider against Napoli.

Un­beaten Liver­pool are cling­ing on in the ti­tle race, scor­ing deep into added time against Ever­ton last week and re­cov­er­ing from a goal down to beat Burn­ley on Wed­nes­day to be within two points of City.

Else­where, all eyes will again be on the next in­stal­ment in the Old Traf­ford soap opera, with stut­ter­ing Manch­ester United host­ing bot­tom club Ful­ham.

Here are some of the main talk­ing points ahead of the week­end fix­tures:

Chelsea seek to ar­rest slide

Chelsea were un­beaten in their first 12 Pre­mier League games, deter­minedly hang­ing on to the coat-tails of Manch­ester City and Liver­pool

If they lose to Pep Guardi­ola’s league lead­ers at Stam­ford Bridge on Satur­day, how­ever, they will be look­ing at a yawn­ing gap of 13 points … and it would be their third de­feat in four league games.

Chelsea de­fender Mar­cos Alonso has urged his team­mates to for­get about the gap, which al­ready looks omi­nously big. “We have to pre­pare well, not pay at­ten­tion to the ta­ble at the mo­ment,” he said. “It’s the per­fect op­por­tu­nity to come back.”

Does Mour­inho know his best team?

Jose Mour­inho is des­per­ately cast­ing around for so­lu­tions to the malaise at Old Traf­ford but is all the chop­ping and chang­ing hin­der­ing, rather than help­ing?

Manch­ester United have made a total of 46 changes to their start­ing XI in the Pre­mier League so far this sea­son, in­clud­ing seven changes on Wed­nes­day against Arse­nal , more than any other team in the com­pe­ti­tion

Ex-United de­fender Rio Fer­di­nand is con­cerned over the tin­ker­ing. “Some­thing needs to be done,” he said on BT Sport. “The com­mon thing that we’ve seen is changes ev­ery week. That doesn’t bode well be­cause you need to form re­la­tion­ships within a team and you can’t do that when there’s chop­ping and chang­ing.”

Will Klopp ring changes again?

Jur­gen Klopp made seven changes for his side’s mid­week match against Burn­ley, start­ing with­out any of the front three of Sa­dio Mane, Mo­hamed Salah and Roberto Firmino for the first time since Septem­ber 2017.

Liver­pool won 3-1, tak­ing their tally to 39 points af­ter 15 matches, more than any other An­field side in his­tory. On Tues­day they face Napoli at An­field with the prospect of crash­ing out of the Cham­pi­ons League group stage six months af­ter reach­ing the fi­nal, but first they must ne­go­ti­ate a trip to in-form Bournemouth.

Arse­nal: a team of two halves

Un­beaten in 20 games, Arse­nal have the cu­ri­ous record of not once lead­ing at half-time in a Pre­mier League game this sea­son ... but they have scored more sec­ond-half goals (25) than any­one else. Can they make a bet­ter start on Satur­day?

Fix­tures (10pm Thai­land time un­less stated) Satur­day

Bournemouth v Liver­pool (7.30pm) Arse­nal v Hud­der­s­field

Burn­ley v Brighton

Cardiff v Southamp­ton

Man United v Ful­ham

West Ham v Crys­tal Palace

Chelsea v Man City (12.30am) Le­ices­ter v Tot­ten­ham (2.45am) Sun­day

New­cas­tle v Wolves (11pm)

Mon­day

Ever­ton v Wat­ford (3am Tues­day)

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