Carabao Cup football can be checked off the list for October. With that, we return to the Premier League. There are a few managers on the cusp of the sack, and one, Everton’s David Unsworth, taking charge of his first Premier League fixture.
Away from the enormous Saturday lunchtime match between Manchester United and Tottenham at Old Trafford, there are a few 3pm kick-offs that could have significant consequences.
So, without further ado, let’s take a peek…
ARSENAL vs Swansea City
Arsenal had Eddie Nketiah to thank for avoiding a cupset in midweek. The teenager scored a brace to stun the Emirates, but it’s unlikely we will see him in action against Swansea this weekend.
The Gunners were excellent away at Everton last time out. Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil finally showed their best form, while Aaron Ramsey was again a threat. Now level on points with Chelsea, the talk of crisis is calmed and Arsenal can focus on pushing into the top four with Liverpool continuing to drop points.
Swansea hoped to have turned a corner with their win over Huddersfield, but their defence was flung into chaos against Leicester. It’s the Achilles heel of this Swansea side, and means that defeat here could see them slip into the bottom three.
Having scored only six goals so far this season, the reliance on Tammy Abraham is massive. The Chelsea loanee will have his work cut out against an Arsenal side that have won their last nine at home.
TIP: Arsenal to win @ 11/50
CRYSTAL PALACE vs WEST HAM UNITED
The improvement under Roy Hodgson is clear, but defeat to Newcastle last Saturday leaves Crystal Palace five points from safety. The defensive organisation that frustrated Chelsea will be expected each week now. Combining that with a goal threat in the absence of Christian Benteke is a bit trickier, however.
Slaven Bilic’s West Ham are now tasked with replicating their second half display against Spurs. The turnaround during the match was dramatic, but the 3-0 defeat to Brighton at the London Stadium last Friday still hangs over them.
Bilic’s job was saved – for the time being at least – by the midweek comeback. Defeat here, though, would suggest that the performance was more about who they were playing than his management.
Cautious football may well be the order of the day at Selhurst Park. Hodgson will aim to keep the match tight and nick a goal, while Bilic knows a defeat will undo the Carabao Cup success.
TIP: Under 2.5 goals @ 3/4
LIVERPOOL vs HUDDERSFIELD TOWN
Liverpool are in a familiar situation. Their defence has been humiliated, and Jurgen Klopp has his work cut out to name a back line that will inspire any confidence.
Worst of all, they face a Huddersfield team overflowing with self-belief after beating Manchester United. The Terriers have conceded 10 in nine so far, and have shown they are capable of shutting down an opposition. David Wagner’s side are the sort of opponent that have proven challenging for Liverpool on numerous occasions since Klopp took over.
Failure to win could see Klopp’s future come under serious pressure for the first time. Already three points off Chelsea and Arsenal, the top four could quickly become unattainable.
With only one win in their last six league matches, the Anfield crowd will quickly become restless if they are made to wait for a breakthrough again. Huddersfield’s attack has been ineffective for much of the season, but it’s almost impossible to envisage Liverpool keeping a clean sheet.
TIP: Both teams to score @ 21/20
WATFORD vs Stoke City
Marco Silva, like many of us, was in shock that Watford failed to get anything from Stamford Bridge last weekend. After their victory over Arsenal, though, the performance was another sign of how far the Hornets have come under Silva. It will not be long before a top club comes calling for the Watford manager, and rightly so.
In stark contrast, Stoke have seriously stagnated under Mark Hughes. Dire runs of form last season have eked into this season – albeit not aided by a horrible run of fixtures – and defeat to Bournemouth began to see the fans turn. Glenn Johnson was booed off by the Stoke supporters and last week's 7-2 defeat to Manchester City hasn't helped matters either.
The Potters delivered the dangerous combination of defensive mistakes and an idealess attack. The absence of Xherdan Shaqiri was obviously a factor, but they are a team without balance, and severely short of goal threat.
Both teams should be able to create chances this Saturday, though. However, it is Watford’s attack that has more guile, options, and speed. Two managers in wildly different situations, and two teams producing completely different football. Watford can return to the top four with victory, while Stoke may slip back into the bottom three.
TIP: Watford to win @ 21/20
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*