Klopp banking on Chelsea to slow City charge as vital Napoli tie looms
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)
Everton v Watford (3am Tuesday)