Mourinho’s clash with old foe Wenger, Man City and Liverpool’s tricky tests

The ESPN FC crew discuss whether Manchester United will be defensive against Arsenal.
The ESPN FC crew discuss whether Manchester United will be defensive against Arsenal.

Manchester United vs. Arsenal remains one of the great Premier League rivalries and it will be cranked up a notch this Saturday as Jose Mourinho prepares to face Arsene Wenger.

The pair have clashed, like United and Arsenal, so many times down the years and the Portuguese would love nothing more than to put a dent in the Gunners’ title charge. Wenger, meanwhile, will be desperate to finally beat Mourinho in the Premier League as he has yet to take three points off his old adversary. 

The showdown at Old Trafford headlines the Premier League action this weekend. Elsewhere, Liverpool and Manchester City face tricky trips to Southampton and Crystal Palace respectively, while there’s a massive match at the bottom as Sunderland host Hull City.

Predict the outcome of all the weekend’s matches in our polls.

MAN UNITED: There’s no rational reason to predict a Manchester United win here — they’re out of form despite a positive result at Swansea before the international break — but football doesn’t work with reason. Mourinho to deliver a team talk to get the best out of his players and prolong his curse on Wenger.
Prediction: Manchester United 2-1 Arsenal Scott Patterson

ARSENAL: Having failed to overcome Tottenham in their last game, it’s imperative Arsenal don’t lose here. With Mourinho also likely to employ a safety-first approach, this one has draw written all over it. Mourinho’s 13-game unbeaten streak against Wenger looks set to continue.
Prediction: Manchester United 1-1 Arsenal James McNicholas

SOUTHAMPTON: No team in the country are in better form than Liverpool and Southampton will have to be on top of their game to cut down the league leaders. Stopping Sadio Mane on his return to St Mary’s will be a key part of manager Claude Puel’s gameplan. 
Prediction: Southampton 1-3 Liverpool Alex Crook

LIVERPOOL: A minor injury picked up on international duty has ruled Adam Lallana out of a reunion with his former club and has also made a tough game for Liverpool even more difficult. Lallana will be missed but Georginio Wijnaldum is a quality replacement and the Reds should still have enough to get the win, but it will be close.
Prediction: Southampton 1-2 Liverpool Dave Usher

CRYSTAL PALACE: While Manchester City’s recent form hasn’t been as stellar as Pep Guardiola would have hoped, he meets a Crystal Palace side that have suffered from defensive errors and a lack of focus. Palace will undoubtedly try to go toe-to-toe with City, but it will likely prove fruitless.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 1-3 Manchester City Rob Sutherland

MAN CITY: Guardiola’s men are in patchy form. An impressive 3-1 win against Barcelona has been overshadowed by stunted 1-1 draws with Everton, Southampton and Middlesbrough. It probably helps that City are away from home for this match and with Palace losing their last four, the time is right for a good performance. City need a big win to get back on track.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 1-3 Manchester City David Mooney

MIDDLESBROUGH: Boro now have a bit of a knack for holding their own against the Premier League’s elite, with recent fervent displays helping them to take a point from both Arsenal and Manchester City. Aitor Karanka will set out his stall in the same defence-first manner against Chelsea in the hope that fortune favours the brave, but it will not be a simple ask.
Prediction: Middlesbrough 0-2 Chelsea Catherine Wilson

CHELSEA: Concerns over the fitness of Eden Hazard and Diego Costa have eased so Chelsea will be confident of continuing their winning run against a goal-shy Middlebrough side. However, they will still need to deal with the threat posed by young Adama Traore and a revitalised Gaston Ramirez if they are to prosper on Teesside.
Prediction: Middlesbrough 0-3 ChelseaPhil Lythell

TOTTENHAM: Spurs are due a big performance and West Ham could well be the unlucky team on the wrong end of it. With Harry Kane inching his way back to match fitness and Mousa Dembele almost back to his best, Tottenham gave encouraging signs they were beginning to shrug off their indifferent form in the second half of the north London derby against Arsenal in early November. West Ham have struggled for goals all season and Spurs’ tight defence should give the visitors little encouragement.
Prediction: Tottenham 2-0 West Ham John Crace

WEST HAM: This is almost certainly a bigger fixture for West Ham than it is for Tottenham and that’s sometimes reflected in the performances of both sides. Spurs have a number of injury worries going into the weekend, though, and the Hammers could take advantage
Prediction: Tottenham 2-2 West Ham Peter Thorne

SUNDERLAND: Beating Bournemouth away on Nov. 5 was just a belated start to Sunderland’s annual relegation battle. Third-bottom Hull City are Saturday’s visitors for another game with must-win status, perhaps demanding more heroics from goalkeeper Jordan Pickford and strikers Jermain Defoe and Victor Anichebe. A nervous afternoon looms.
Prediction: Sunderland 2-1 Hull City Colin Randall

HULL CITY: It might only be November, but this has the feel of the season’s first relegation scrap. Sunderland, with the most ground to make up, will be the team under greater pressure on home soil and that can work to Hull’s advantage if they are compact and disciplined. Mike Phelan’s men should have confidence on the back of win against Southampton to find the victory that takes them out of the bottom three.
Prediction: Hull City 1-2 Sunderland Phil Buckingham

WATFORD: The Hornets will be hoping to bounce back after a humiliating 6-1 defeat against a rampant Liverpool last time out. The Foxes will provide a stern test for a shaky looking defence which should be bolstered by the return of Sebastian Prodl. Impressive left wing-back Jose Holebas misses out through suspension and is likely to be replaced with the Colombian Camilo Zuniga. This will be a fascinating test for Walter Mazzarri and the mettle of his Watford team, with goals likely. Prediction: Watford 3-2 Leicester — Mike Parkin

LEICESTER: The champions need a response after losing to West Brom at home before the international break. Victory at Watford would not only pull them clear of the relegation zone but ensure a first away win in the Premier League. Jamie Vardy will hope to start and after scoring for England against Spain, he will hope to kick start his and Leicester’s season with a match winning performance. On current form, though, that looks a tough ask.
Prediction: Watford 1-1 Leicester Ben Jacobs

EVERTON: Results and performances must improve after a 5-0 mauling at Chelsea dropped Everton to one win in six games prior to the international break. Gareth Barry’s one-match ban tempers Idrissa Gueye’s return from suspension, but the hosts can have no excuses against a Swansea side winless in 10 games.
Prediction: Everton 1-0 Swansea Luke O’Farrell

SWANSEA: Bob Bradley’s men have won one league game all season and have taken three points just once in their history at Goodison Park. Everton are unbeaten in eight games at home, and former Swans captain Ashley Williams will be on hand to help continue that trend. Swansea need to turn their season around and quickly, but might have to wait for December’s softer schedule to do so.
Prediction: Everton 3-1 Swansea Max Hicks

STOKE: Marko Arnautovic’s return from suspension is a timely one, as his work rate and defensive efforts will be key to keeping Bournemouth’s rampant right side quiet. The potential losses of Glenn Whelan and Wilfried Bony to injury could be offset by the availability of Glen Johnson and Xherdan Shaqiri, who are both back in contention to feature.
Prediction: Stoke 2-0 Bournemouth James Whittaker

BOURNEMOUTH: Eddie Howe’s biggest dilemma this weekend is how to extract goals from Bournemouth’s clearly talented squad. The recent lack of scoring is bizarre and while the Cherries will strike against Stoke, they won’t end Mark Hughes’ side undefeated run. However, Bournemouth will still leave with a valuable away point.
Prediction: Stoke 1-1 Bournemouth Will Kent

WEST BROM: The Baggies will be looking to build on their 2-1 over Leicester with a home fixture against Burnley in their first game since the international break. The emphasis will be Tony Pulis’ side to break down Burnley, so the return of Nacer Chadli will be vital to their prospects of victory.
Prediction: West Brom 2-0 Burnley Matthew Evans

BURNLEY: The Hawthorns was the scene of a humiliating 4-0 loss for the Clarets on their last visit two years ago, but Monday’s trip should be more productive for Sean Dyche’s in-form side, who took seven points from their three matches before the international break. While West Brom will be tough to break down, Burnley can pick up their second away point of the season.
Prediction: West Brom 1-1 Burnley  Jamie Smith

Meanwhile, Bradley has yet to win a match as Swansea manager and faces a tough trip to Everton, while high flying Chelsea face a trip to Middlesbrough this Sunday, with Karanka’s men still on a high after their dramatic draw at Manchester City.

Who will come out on top? Vote in our polls and have your say in the comments below. 

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