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Matchweek Five Preview: Derbies and Debuts

Matchweek Five

It’s good to be back. After what felt like a yearlong international break, the Premier League returns with matchweek five. Every club is in action, with derbies, gut checks and debuts lined up for the weekend. Let’s not waste any time. Here’s the weekend ahead.

Match of the Week: Everton vs Liverpool

Matchweek five’s best match is its first. The season’s first edition of the Merseyside Derby will take place at Goodison Park, as the league leaders Everton take on the defending champions Liverpool.

The champions have had a bit of a hangover in the first four matches of their title defense. After starting the year with a scary 4-3 win over Leeds, they won convincingly against Arsenal and Chelsea. Then came their last match before the break: Aston Villa away. Liverpool’s usually phenomenal defense was nowhere to be found. They conceded seven against a team that was thought to be nowhere near their level. Of course, Villa are now second in the league, in large part thanks to the bump in goal differential from this match, but they aren’t expected to keep this stellar form. Liverpool, on the other hand, were expected to be title contenders. They’re instead the only team in the top half without a positive goal differential, and it isn’t going to get easier for them.

Matchweek Five
Can Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Carlo Ancelotti maintain Everton’s hot start? (via Getty)

After the bloodbath against the league’s second place side, Liverpool have to face the first. After an offseason overhaul, Carlo Ancelloti has the Toffees in phenomenal form. Colombian international James Rodríguez has been incredible, but he hasn’t been the star of the show. Dominic Calvert-Lewin has six goals in four matches. That puts him tied for top scorer in the league. The question becomes if this form is sustainable for Everton. This weekend, against their bitter rivals and the defending champions, will be a huge test for them. It might just prove whether they’re truly a team to be reckoned with or just a flash in the pan.

Matchweek Five: Best of the Rest

Manchester City vs Arsenal

There’s no sugarcoating it: City have been bad this season. They’ve taken only four points in three matches and sit in 14th place. Of course, most of the league has a game in hand, but even if City won that extra game by five goals they wouldn’t crack the top six. For Oil Money FC, that’s not good enough. Arsenal, on the other hand, have been solid. They have nine points through four matches, with their only loss against Liverpool. They need to find scoring outside of Alexandre Lacazette, though, as he’s the only player with multiple league goals in the league. City are the better team, but with star Kevin De Bruyne out, this one could go either way.

Tottenham Hotspur vs West Ham

The last time Gareth Bale played West Ham in a Tottenham uniform, he scored one of the most iconic goals of his storied career. Sunday, he will likely re-debut for Tottenham against their London rival. This time around, he won’t have Tom Carroll’s setup play to make it easy for him. Instead, he’ll join a front three centered by Harry Kane, the EPL’s assist leader, and flanked by Son Heung-Min, the league’s joint-highest scorer. While West Ham have looked solid this season, they’ve been inconsistent. Big wins over Wolves and Leicester have been offset by losses against Newcastle and Arsenal. Tottenham, on the other hand, look like potential title contenders, and Gareth Bale will only make them better.

Matchweek Five
West Ham fans still have nightmares about Gareth Bale’s last goal against them. Will he add another in his return to Tottenham Sunday? (via Claret & Hugh)
Leicester City vs Aston Villa

No one would’ve thought this would be a top four matchup at the start of the season. Aston Villa were potential relegation candidates, but they’ve been the best team in the league so far. They’ve taken nine points from three matches, including the already mentioned drubbing of Liverpool. Leicester, conversely, had somewhat lofty expectations. Nine points from their first four matches seemed likely, but the way they did it was surprising. A huge, unexpected 5-2 win over Manchester City was followed by an equally shocking 3-0 loss to West Ham. The question becomes which Leicester will show up this weekend. Will it be the side that scored 12 goals in their first three matches, or the meek, dominated side that was shutout against West Ham? For Villa, the question is whether this form is sustainable. Jack Grealish is a star, of course, but can the rest of the side keep the form it had against Liverpool? If so, they’ll be a scary team matchweek five and beyond.

Full Matchweek Five Fixture List

Saturday 17 October

7:30am ET: Everton v Liverpool – NBCSN
10am ET: Chelsea v Southampton – NBCSN
12:30pm ET: Man City v Arsenal – NBC
3pm ET: Newcastle United v Man Utd – Peacock Premium

Sunday 18 October

7am ET: Sheffield United v Fulham – Peacock Premium
9am ET: Crystal Palace v Brighton – Peacock Premium
11:30am ET: Spurs v West Ham – NBCSN
2:15pm ET: Leicester City v Aston Villa – Peacock Premium

Monday 19 October

12:30pm ET: West Brom v Burnley – NBCSN
3pm ET: Leeds United v Wolves – NBCSN

 

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