There’s one match, above all others, that screams drama this weekend: the 148th edition of the Tyne-Wear derby.
Sunderland may languish at the bottom of the table with one win from eight, but when has form ever counted for anything in a derby? Eh?
Plus, there’s also the added spice of Newcastle seeking revenge after the 3-0 drubbing they suffered at home earlier in the year, a result which kick-started Sunderland’s bid for safety and dragged Newcastle into a relegation battle.
|EPL Week 9 Predictions|
|Oct. 26, 12:45 p.m BST||Crystal Palace||vs.||Arsenal||Arsenal win, 4-0|
|Oct. 26, 3 p.m BST||Norwich City||vs.||Cardiff City||Norwich win, 2-1|
|Oct. 26, 3 p.m BST||Liverpool||vs.||West Brom||Draw, 2-2|
|Oct. 26, 3 p.m BST||Aston Villa||vs.||Everton||Everton win, 1-0|
|Oct. 26, 3 p.m BST||Manchester United||vs.||Stoke||United win, 3-0|
|Oct. 26, 5:30 p.m BST||Southampton||vs.||Fulham||Southampton win, 2-1|
|Oct. 27, 1:30 p.m BST||Sunderland||vs.||Newcastle||Newcastle win, 2-1|
|Oct. 27, 4 p.m BST||Swansea||vs.||West Ham||Swansea win, 3-1|
|Oct. 27, 4 p.m BST||Tottenham||vs.||Hull||Spurs win, 3-1|
|Oct. 27, 4 p.m BST||Chelsea||vs.||Manchester City||Draw, 2-2|
|Schedule via premierleague.com|
There are other potential headline-grabbing encounters at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea welcome Manchester City while there’s also potential for some drama when West Bromwich Albion travel to Anfield, where they experienced success against Liverpool last season.
Here’s a look at the matches guaranteed to have fans sitting up and taking note.
Sunderland vs. Newcastle, Sunday, Oct. 27, 1:30 p.m BST
Between them, Sunderland (20) and Newcastle (14) have conceded 34 goals in the opening eight games of the season, and both managers will be looking to exploit each other’s respective frailties at the back come kickoff time on Sunday.
Sunderland possess the poorest defensive record in the Premier League, with Newcastle the third-worst, so expect the net to rattle more than once at the Stadium of Light.
The last 12 meetings between these two sides have produced 35 goals—per 11v11—but the most goals between them in one match came in 1908, when the Black Cats came out on the right side of a 9-1 drubbing.
And what manager Gus Poyet would do for one of those goals now. His side have netted just five times in the league, and it’s difficult to see where their goals will come from.
Alan Pardew’s side have shown signs of improvement in their last two games—a win over Cardiff and a draw with Liverpool—and they will be favourites against Sunderland, who shipped four goals in their last league outing in Swansea.
Derby matches ignite passion in a way that regular fixtures don’t, and with so much riding on the game, particularly for Sunderland, there are bound to be fireworks.
Expect some twists and turns, but it’s difficult to see Sunderland taking anything from the game, especially if they go an early goal down.
Chelsea vs. Manchester City, Sunday, Oct. 27, 4 p.m. BST
Seven of the last 10 matches between Chelsea and Manchester City have been decided by one goal—per 11v11—and another tight affair is expected this weekend at Stamford Bridge.
City have won three and drawn one of their last four encounters with the London outfit, including a 2-1 victory in last season’s FA Cup, and they come into the game on a high after picking up their first away win of the season at the Boleyn Ground.
Chelsea will be hoping for a drama-free weekend after manager Jose Mourinho was charged with improper conduct for his behaviour during last weekend’s 4-1 victory over Cardiff. His side currently sit second in the table, two points off Arsenal, and they will be eager for a win with the North London outfit scheduled to play the lowly Crystal Palace.
Top-of-the-table clashes often hinge on a moment of magic, a controversial refereeing decision, or an astute substitution, and this match promises to be a tightly-fought contest.
Liverpool vs. West Brom, Saturday, Oct. 26, 3 p.m. BST
West Bromwich Albion have been a bogey side of sorts for Liverpool in recent years.
The Reds did boast a 20-game unbeaten streak against the Baggies from 1981 to 2010, but according to 11v11, West Brom have won four of the last five meetings between the two teams in the Premier League, including victories in their last two trips to Anfield.
Brendan Rodgers' side, who sit tied with Chelsea for third in the table, have often been guilty of dominating teams without actually killing them off, a characteristic that has effected them in recent years against West Brom.
The Baggies will arrive on Merseyside full of confidence, but Liverpool fans will be hoping their team don’t make the same mistake at home three seasons in a row.