The Premier League continues this weekend with Matchday 7, and Sportsnet will have live coverage of five games:
Saturday, September 30
• Manchester United vs. Crystal Palace, 9:30 a.m. ET (Sportsnet East, Ontario, West and Pacific)
• Bournemouth vs. Leicester City, 9:30 a.m. ET (Sportsnet World)
• Stoke City vs. Southampton, 9:30 a.m. ET (Sportsnet World Plus)
• Chelsea vs. Manchester City, noon ET (Sportsnet ONE)
Sunday, October 1
• Arsenal vs. Brighton & Hove Albion, 6:30 a.m. ET (Sportsnet East, Ontario, West and Pacific)
Here’s what you need to know ahead of this weekend…
THE BIG GAME
Chelsea vs. Manchester City: Although technically not a top-of-the-table clash (City is tied for first with Manchester United, while Chelsea sits second in the standings), Saturday’s contest at Stamford Bridge certainly feels like a contest between the two best teams in the Premier League.
City’s ascension to the top of the table owes us much to its attack (a league-best 21 goals) as it does to its defence (only two goals conceded). Chelsea, on the other hand, has been grinding out results, and has benefited from the play of newcomer Alvaro Morata, who has scored six of the club’s 15 goals.
City enters the contest the hotter of the two sides as they’ve won four straight. But Chelsea has history in its favour, having lost only one of their last seven Premier League matches against Manchester City at Stamford Bridge. They are also the only team to do a league double over City during Pep Guardiola’s tenure in charge.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Mohamed Salah, Liverpool: The Egyptian international has been one of the brightest additions to the Premier League so far this season, adding a touch of class and danger to Liverpool’s attack. If Salah find the back of the net on Sunday away to Newcastle United, he will be the first Liverpool player to score in five of his first seven Premier League matches for the club.
VAN DIJK GETTING CLOSER TO 1ST START
Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk is close to making his first start of the season. The Dutchman was left out of the Saints’ first-team squad to start the campaign after handing in a transfer request over the summer. He saw his first action of the campaign when he came on as substitute in Southampton’s win over Crystal Palace a few weeks ago, and manager Mauricio Pellegrino hinted this week that van Dijk might start against Stoke City this weekend.
FELLAINI EXPECTED TO BE OUT FOR TWO WEEKS
Manchester United confirmed this week that Marouane Fellaini will likely be out of action for two weeks with an ankle problem. The Belgian suffered the injury when he was tackled by Shane Long during United’s 1-0 win over Southampton last Saturday. The absence of Fellaini is a bit of a blow for Jose Mourinho’s side, who is already missing midfielders Paul Pogba and Michael Carrick through injury. Fellaini will sit out Saturday’s home game against Crystal Palace, but he could return for United’s next contest, away to Liverpool on Oct. 14.
MENDY OUT FOR MOST OF THE SEASON
Manchester City confirmed this week that left fullback Benjamin Mendy ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, and that he is expected to miss most of the remaining Premier League season. The French defender, who joined City from Monaco in the summer, suffered the injury in City’s 5-0 win over Crystal Palace last weekend. The loss of Mendy is a big blow for City, as the team lacks depth at the left fullback position. The Frenchman also added a new dimension to City’s attack.
BRIGHTON’S HEMED BANNED FOR 3 GAMES
Brighton & Hove Albion striker Tomer Hemed was hit with a three-match ban this week after he stamped on the back of Newcastle United defender DeAndre Yedlin’s leg in last Sunday’s 1-0 win. The match officials missed the play on the field, but the English FA took retrospective action against the Israeli international after reviewing the incident. Brighton & Hove Albion visits Arsenal on Sunday.
THE BIG QUESTION
Every week, Sportsnet’s soccer panel will debate The Big Question. Have your say by voting in the poll below:
HE SAID IT
“It’s a huge game and it’s away, so it’s even more difficult, but we feel ready. We know that we are a great team, we have great players and it’s just up to us to prove it every fourth day. It’s also about character, going to Stamford Bridge against the champions to play our game. We’re going to prove that we are ready for that and hopefully it will be a great game for us.” – Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan told Sky Sports.