Four points separate teams from fifth to 15th in one of the closest seasons in recent history.
There’s one final push in the English Premier League before the international break starts once again.
Fortunately fans will be treated to some mouth-watering match-ups. There are some heavyweight teams facing off and it could have significant ramifications later in the season. Here are the games you need to see.
Southampton versus Newcastle
Saturday at 7:00am (AEDT)
Southampton have received some bad news, with Danny Ings expected to miss at least four weeks with a knee injury. This puts a massive dent in Southampton’s brilliant campaign so far. The Saints currently sit fifth on the table but Danny Ings was pivotal in the goals that they score. He has scored five goals while assisting two goals so far.
Newcastle have been inconsistent in the first seven weeks. However, a recurring theme seems to be that whenever striker Callum Wilson scores or assists a goal, the Magpies have been unbeaten. He currently has six goals and one assist so far and Southampton will need to shut him down to ensure success.
It will be interesting to see how Southampton respond to Ings’s absence while also seeing if Newcastle can produce a quality performance with or without Wilson’s involvement.
Everton versus Manchester United
Saturday at 11:30pm (AEDT)
Everton have dropped to fourth after losing two straight games and they have a tough test against Manchester United, who also need to see this as a must-win game.
Everton should expect to have James Rodriguez return, while United will be ecstatic to welcome Anthony Martial back from suspension.
United need to figure out their optimal midfield line-up, which seems to raise the biggest question mark. Donny van de Beek has not been featured much, while Paul Pogba has provided plenty of disappointing performances. Outside of their three-goal flurry at the end of their game against Newcastle, United have been creatively bankrupt going forward.
On the other hand, Rodriguez’s return should provide the creativity needed to conjure up goalscoring chances. Dominic Calvert-Lewin will certainly be interested in getting quality service to score more goals.
Everton have the benefit of not participating in Europe and should get some rest as they await United. How Ole Gunnar Solskjaer prepares the team will be crucial for their prospects against Everton
Leicester City versus Wolverhampton
Monday at 1:00am (AEDT)
We have one of the best attacking teams up against one of the best defensive teams in the league so far. Wolves lead the league with four clean sheets, while Leicester have shown the ability to score three or more goals multiple times.
While the Wolves attack hasn’t been as fluid as it was last season, their defensive formations have worked wonders for them so far.
They have played three at the back all season with a rotation of Willy Boly, Romain Saiss, Max Kilman and Conor Coady. But the fascinating aspect is that Nuno Espirito Santo has managed to modify his formations accordingly.
We saw the 3-4-2-1 against Palace, 3-4-3 against Newcastle, 3-5-2 against Leeds and even the 5-3-2 against Manchester City. While Raul Jiminez and Daniel Podence has to carry the burden up front, it’s great that Wolves have plenty of depth in the midfield and defence to be able to change formations when needed.
For Leicester, they’ve won every game except for matches where they have been held scoreless. When the Foxes have managed to score goals, they’ve been able to hold on and see games out as well as blow teams out of the park.
Stopping Jamie Vardy is obviously key but Wolves did look vulnerable against counterattacking situations against Manchester City and West Ham. If Leicester can go on the counter, they may be reaping the rewards at the end of 90 minutes.
Manchester City versus Liverpool
Monday at 3:30am (AEDT)
These two teams were billed to be the major title contenders that would battle until the end of the season. We know what the teams are capable of. However, both teams have had their hiccups this season and this game could have an impact to where they end up towards the end of the season.
Manchester City have only lost once this season but have dropped a few points already. Meanwhile, Liverpool have looked very shaky defensively which could encourage City to be aggressive.
How Pep Guardiola sets up City will be the key to the game. Whether he aims to play on the counter or tries to dominate possession, they need to ensure that they don’t leave themselves vulnerable to a potent attack from Liverpool also.
This game sells itself and should be one of the most-watched games of the weekend.
Arsenal versus Aston Villa
Monday at 6:15 am (AEDT)
Arsenal come into Week 8 feeling extremely good after they finally winning an away game against a ‘big six’ team. Additionally, the Gunners come into this game with the least goals conceded showcasing the progress that Mikel Arteta has made defensively led by Gabriel.
Aston Villa was able to conjure up some late momentum against Southampton and will be hoping that they can break down Arsenal’s defence. Jack Grealish will be the catalyst for Villa’s success, and if Arsenal can shut him down, it will improve their odds of winning the game.
A lot of Arsenal’s games have required them to grind victories as they have not won by more than one goal outside of their first game against Fulham. Arsenal fans will be hoping Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang can regain his goal-scoring form after dispatching a penalty against United.