Top of the Table Clashes This Weekend

The Premier League starts with an early kick off between Stoke City and Leicester City this weekend but much of the attention is on the Sunday afternoon fixtures.

Four of the top five teams meet in the Premier League on Sunday and leaders Manchester City will get things under way as they welcome Arsenal to the Etihad Stadium.

Pep Guardiola and Manchester City have enjoyed a tremendous start to the 2017/18 season and added to their tally of exciting wins as they defeated Napoli 4-2 away from home in the Champions League on Wednesday night.

The Citizens have qualified from their Champions League group with two matches remaining and have opened a 5-point gap at the top of the Premier League.  Manchester City have won their last 8 Premier League games in a row and have not only been successful in terms of results but have been playing attacking football, which is good on the eye.

Arsenal have a job on their hands to pick anything up from this game, especially having played in the Europa League at Koln on Thursday.  Thankfully for the Gunners, it is a short journey and should they win the game, they will have booked their place in the next round of the tournament.

Arsenal will start this match 9 points behind Manchester City in the Premier League table and although it is still early days, a loss in this game would realistically end any lingering hopes Arsenal have of challenging for the title this season.

Arsene Wenger’s team have won only one of their last 5 away Premier League games and could find the back of the net at the Etihad Stadium but will struggle to prevent the hosts from scoring.  Expect to see goals when Manchester City are playing and with home advantage, this should be another 3 points for Guardiola and his players.

If Manchester City do claim maximum points, the pressure will be on their city rivals, Manchester United, to win 3 points at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea.  This is the second of the huge top of the table Premier League clashes this weekend.

The Red Devils have a terrible recent record at Chelsea and have failed to win in their last 7 attempts in all competitions.

They will feel this is their chance to change that statistic, especially after the way Chelsea performed at Roma in mid-week, conceding 3 goals without reply.  Chelsea were poor defensively in that match and Antonio Conte will be working hard in training to ensure they are solid this weekend.

Unfortunately for the neutral, this could mean we are in for a tight match, as Jose Mourinho has already shown himself to be happy with a point when playing the top teams away from home in the Premier League.  A clean sheet is what Mourinho wants first and foremost and if Chelsea are also focusing on their defence after what happened on Tuesday night, this could be a very cagey game.

A point is no good for either team unless Arsenal defeat Manchester City in the earlier kick-off but that doesn’t mean they will be prepared to play open, attacking football.  Manchester United have scored 2 goals in their previous 6 visits to Stamford Bridge and it would be a surprise to see them score more than a single goal in this one.

Tottenham Hotspur will be hoping both Manchester clubs drop points this weekend, as they aim to reduce the deficit at the top of the table following their 1-0 defeat at Old Trafford last weekend.

Having tasted defeat to Manchester United, there was only one way to respond and Tottenham produced a magnificent display to beat defending champions Real Madrid 3-1 in the Champions League at Wembley.

This will see them make the short trip to Selhurst Park on Sunday full of confidence and believing they can win maximum points at bottom of the table Crystal Palace.

The Eagles picked up a point thanks to an injury-time winner against West Ham last weekend but will need to play well for the full 90 minutes if they are take anything from this match.

Tottenham have shown they can be held by teams this season, as both Burnley and Swansea City have taken a point against them but with the adrenaline running through their veins from Wednesday night, Tottenham should claim all 3 points.

At the bottom of the Premier League, Everton host Watford at Goodison Park.  The Toffees have been struggling this season and Watford have lost their last two league games, making this a tricky one to call.  Everton have won only one of their last 9 Premier League matches and have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last 4 at home.

Watford will expect to get on the scoresheet in this game and could pile on further misery for Everton and whoever comes in to manage the club for the remainder of the season.

Moving to the Championship and the pick of the games must be the clash between Bristol City and Cardiff City at Aston Gate.

As everyone has established so far this season, the Premier league has been a closely fought contest, regardless of a team’s position in the table (bar perhaps Man City and Palace, respectively). This has made it difficult to consistently predict the outcome of matches, much to the delight of bookmakers.

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The Bluebirds start his match second in the Championship table, a point off the leaders Wolverhampton Wanderers following their 3-1 victory over Ipswich Town in mid-week. Bristol City also won impressively on Tuesday night, defeating Fulham 2-0 at Craven Cottage.

However, Bristol City suffered a heavy 3-0 defeat in their last home Championship match against Leeds United and Cardiff City have enjoyed some good away wins recently, defeating Sunderland and Middlesbrough 1-0.

In 6 of the last 8 meetings between the teams in the Championship, both have scored and with a passionate atmosphere at Aston Gate, we could be in for a thrilling game.  Recently, it has only been local pride which has been at stake when these teams have met but promotion to the Premier League appears to be a real possibility for both this season.

Bristol City have failed to defeat Cardiff City in their last 5 attempts and may be forced to wait a little longer for a win. Under Neil Warnock the Bluebirds have become difficult to beat and should at least claim a point from this match.

There is so much to look forward to in the Premier League and Championship this weekend.  Will Manchester City extend their lead at the top, can Everton climb out of the relegation zone and will Cardiff City get one over on their English rivals in search for promotion?