Preview and Predictions for Matchweek 9 of the 2021-22 Premier League Season
Week 9 of the Premier League season offers up a match that is surely going to excite and leave us wishing for more. The two most successful clubs in the history of English football, Manchester United and Liverpool, are set to resume hostilities at Old Trafford on Sunday.
Both teams are fresh off huge midweek results in the UEFA Champions League and sit four points apart in the Premier League table.
Hot diggity dog.
The rest of the gameweek should be decent, no question about it, but the aforementioned contest is the big-money main event everyone will be locked into watching. No more preamble. Let's jump right in and talk about how things could shake out at the Theatre of Dreams.
Manchester United vs. Liverpool
Old Trafford, Sunday, October 24, 11:30 a.m. ET
Streaming: NBCSN, Telemundo
This match is one of those you look for and circle with a big red pen as soon as the fixture list is released, especially these days.
Mancunians will hate to hear this (well, at least those of a red persuasion considering City's recent success), but the scales have been tipping these past few years. With another Champions League win and the long-awaited Premier League title, Liverpool has been trending upward while its rivals down the East Lancs Road have been languishing compared to the lofty heights they reached under the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson.
Liverpool is once again squarely in the hunt for the title with the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City, while the past week has seen Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's Red Devils lose 4-2 to Leicester City and struggle to beat Atalanta at home in the UCL. This season certainly feels as though it has started off with contrasting fortunes for the historic adversaries. However, three draws from its opening eight league games means a defeat Sunday would leave Liverpool just one point ahead of United, though there is something to be said for the quality of opponents both teams have faced.
Jurgen Klopp's team boasts the most in-form player on Earth, one Mohamed Salah. He has, to understate it slightly, been unplayable this season. The confidence, the determination, the skill to push forward with unrelenting pace and vigor, he is among you, in a crowd with the ball at his feet, and then, in a heartbeat, ripping the ball into the net like it offended him somehow. He is a joy to watch and a player the United defense will not be too keen to see running at them. He's so good that he was recently immortalized as a waxwork.
As we all know, United has its own ace in the hole, as the 36-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo just won't stop scoring goals, and he would love to steal the headlines from Salah on Sunday with another vintage display. It depends, though, on which Ronaldo shows up to Old Trafford. Against Leicester, CR7 was barely involved. That is something he sought to rectify against Atalanta, especially after United went 2-0 down. The Portugal international wanted the win and was fighting for every ball, at times even in the United penalty area.
Outside of Salah and Ronaldo, the pair entrusted with keeping the balls out of the net, Alisson and David De Gea, will be hoping to keep up their strong form. Despite United's worrying record of one clean sheet in 20 matches, De Gea, in particular, has been fantastic and has saved his side's blushes more than once this season. The Spain international has undoubtedly won the competition for the No. 1 spot with Dean Henderson.
The world is counting down to this match. Despite Ronaldo, De Gea and the first crowd at Old Trafford for this fixture in more than two years, Liverpool is just too good right now and should take another famous victory.
Prediction: Man Utd 1, Liverpool 2
Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Manchester City
Amex Stadium, Saturday, October 23, 12:30 p.m. ET
Streaming: NBC, Universo
A novel top-four clash between champions Manchester City and hot-starting Brighton & Hove Albion concludes Saturday's Premier League action.
Brighton has hung with the big boys through the first two months of the season and finds itself in fourth place ahead of the visit from Pep Guardiola's men.
One loss through eight games is mighty impressive from Graham Potter's Seagulls, but this will be their biggest test by far. City has been incredibly good in the league this season, scoring 16 goals and conceding only three.
What's been impressive, besides this silly tweet, is the diversity of the City attack. Four players have scored two league goals through eight matches. Not bad. No runaway lynchpin of the forward line (could have been one Harry Kane) but balance and consistency throughout the team, something every manager is hungry for.
Despite Brighton's resilience, it is going to find this match arduous, even at home. The Seagulls will be relying on striker Neal Maupay (four league goals this term, though none since September) and goalkeeper Robert Sanchez (four clean sheets) if they want to have any chance in this one. As fun as the run into the Champions League positions has been, it will come to an end this weekend, as City will be too much to handle.
Here's hoping for fewer fireworks on the sidelines than there were the last time the teams met.
Prediction: Brighton 1, Man City 3
West Ham United vs. Tottenham Hotspur
London Stadium, Sunday, October 24, 9:00 a.m. ET
Another London derby is on the cards Sunday as West Ham United hosts Tottenham Hotspur. With only a point separating the teams, it should be an entertaining contest.
Both clubs are European participants this season, with West Ham's performance on the continent quite a bit better than Spurs'. David Moyes' Hammers comfortably saw off Genk 3-0 in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday, while Nuno Espirito Santo's charges lost 1-0 to Vitesse in the UEFA Europa Conference League.
Back home in London, this fixture will prove to be a test of where both teams stand.
If it comes down to coaching and tactics, Moyes' impress Hammers setup should be able to disrupt a Tottenham squad still getting used to Nuno. You could even argue that the West Ham manager has another big-time gig in his future if he keeps his club in contention, both domestically and abroad.
Spurs are hoping that Harry Kane's first league goal of the season in Week 8's 3-2 win over Newcastle United will precipitate a return to form. His performance at St James' Park was much more like it and a good sign for someone who thinks he is having a better season than most observers believe he is. More production in the league is what matters, though, and a goal against West Ham would go a long way in getting both him and his team back to where they want to be.
He will be up for it Sunday and score in his second consecutive Premier League match to help Spurs to a big, confidence-boosting win.
Prediction: West Ham United 1, Tottenham Hotspur 2
Other Fixtures and Predictions
Friday, Oct. 22
Arsenal vs. Aston Villa (3 p.m. ET): 2-2
Saturday, Oct. 23
Chelsea vs. Norwich City (7:30 a.m. ET): 4-1
Crystal Palace vs. Newcastle United (10 a.m. ET): 2-1
Everton vs. Watford (10 a.m. ET): 2-2
Leeds United vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers (10 a.m. ET): 1-2
Burnley vs. Southampton (10 a.m. ET): 2-2
Sunday, Oct. 24
Brentford vs. Leicester City (9 a.m. ET): 1-2