What to look out for
Klopp to make some changes in personnel from Klopp
Despite Klopp’s grumbles about the dire need for extra substitutes to help ease player fatigue in this compacted season, Klopp didn’t use any of the three available to him against Tottenham. With eight of the team that started against Tottenham having played the full 90 minutes against Fulham, Klopp may freshen things up a little before a festive schedule in which his team is slated to play four matches in 13 days, including the FA Cup tie against Aston Villa. Midfielders Naby Keïta and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are both fit again and may well feature against Palace.
Agüero’s return can get City firing again
Having made a 14-minute cameo against West Brom in midweek Sergio Agüero could return to Manchester City’s starting eleven as they seek to end a run of two successive draws. Agüero has scored in each of his last three appearances against Southampton and in four of the last five – the Saints’ 1-0 win in this fixture in July came while the Argentinian was out with a knee injury. This is the first time in a little over six years that Southampton will go into a fixture against Manchester City above their opponents in the table.
Arteta back at Goodison
Arsenal’s trip to Goodison Park is also a dose of nostalgia for manager Mikel Arteta, while former Gunner Alex Iwobi is starting to regain the form which caused Everton to spend around £30m on the Nigerian international. In a slightly deeper role, Iwobi has added work rate and tactical understanding to complement his attacking flair under Carlo Ancelotti, who was full of praise for the Arsenal academy graduate after Everton’s 2-0 win at Leicester.
Newcastle to fight for the three points
A penny for the thoughts of Steve Bruce after he saw his Newcastle side get dismantled by Leeds. Such is the contempt in which he is held on Tyneside right now, Bruce knows he will be criticised whatever the outcome. Even victory would likely be greeted with shoulder shrugs accompanied by grumbles that it was “only Fulham”. Newcastle’s every good result appears to be attributed to blind luck, and every bad one blamed specifically on his shortcomings.
Another chance for Sánchez at Brighton
Brighton have conceded 21 goals this season; outside the bottom three, only Leeds have conceded more. That is despite the Seagulls allowing their opponents only 112 shots, fewer than every team but Manchester City. Of every five shots taken against them, one will go in. Mat Ryan’s apparent inability to stop shots resulted in his being dropped for the midweek trip to Fulham, and Graham Potter has said Robert Sánchez will stay in goal for this game. Sánchez is unlikely to be hugely tested by a Sheffield United side whose start to the season is now officially the worst in English top-flight history, even if nine of their last 12 games have been lost by just one goal.
Ndidi and Castagne to return to Leicester side
Both Tottenham and Leicester go into their meeting on Sunday on the back of defeats to Merseyside clubs, with both in need of at least a point to keep spirits up for the festive period. Having been forced to play Wilfried Ndidi in a makeshift defence against Everton, Brendan Rodgers will welcome back Jonny Evans from suspension, while the expected return of Timothy Castagne after nearly two months out will further bolster their defence. Making his second start after an eight-week absence through injury, Ndidi was one of few Leicester players to impress against Everton and his return to his rightful place in midfield could prove crucial as Rodgers plots to nullify Tottenham’s potentially lethal attacks on the break.
Big Sam to Brom’s rescue
And while there is general uproar at West Brom’s sacking of Slaven Bilic after automatic promotion last season and the Baggies’ spirited draw away at Manchester City on Tuesday, the simple fact is that seven points from 13 games is relegation form and a change of manager is the easiest, cheapest way to bring overhaul to a club. The football might not be pretty, but Sam Allardyce has never been relegated and has twice before been appointed to clubs in 19th place – Blackburn in 2008 and Sunderland in 2015 – and survived on both occasions. If West Brom do go down, the board will be to blame – they sacked two managers (Tony Pulis and Alan Pardew) in 2017-18 and finished bottom.
Wolves until the last minute
It may reassure Wolves, whose last two matches have featured decisive stoppage-time goals, to know that Burnley are yet to score in the final 15 minutes of either half in any game this season, and the Clarets’ two goals at Turf Moor so far have come in the third and eighth minutes. On the other hand, both games between these sides last season featured stoppage-time penalty equalisers, with Chris Wood’s 96th-minute spot-kick at Turf Moor Burnley’s only shot on target in that match.
Hammers going for Haller
It’s been a funny start to life at West Ham for Sébastien Haller. Much like his performance (and wonder goal) against Crystal Palace, the £45m signing has ranged from complete obscurity to centre of attention. Seven goals in 15 appearances this season isn’t bad, though, and his bicycle kick on Wednesday oozed class. It was reminiscent of another big, France-born striker, Oliver Giroud, who has also flickered between the sublime and the ordinary during his career. Haller has a long way to go before he can be mentioned in the same bracket as his opponent on Monday night, but will be hoping for a start at Chelsea even if Michail Antonio returns from injury.