Manchester City travel to Chelsea as Liverpool take on the Toon, “Nord-Derby” in Germany

Manchester City travel to Chelsea as Liverpool take on the Toon, “Nord-Derby” in Germany

The mid-week Champions League games were good for the Premier League teams who ran out winners in almost all their games. But this week sees the rematch between two of the Premier Leagues’ most respected managers. In Germany, Bayern Munich have sacked Carlo Ancelotti after their poor defensive showings in both the domestic and European competition. But this weekend’s most exciting match is between the two (former) powerhouses from the north, Werder Bremen and HSV.

Chelsea vs Manchester City

The two previous matches between these managers were both won by Antonio Conte. This fixture last at the end of last season confirmed Chelsea as the top team in the league. In April, a double by Eden Hazard was enough to push Chelsea past City on that day. That win epitomized what made Chelsea so deadly last season, breaking quickly to score against teams that dominate possession (City had 60% possession that day). Can we expect a similar match? I expect Guardiola’s men will be much better at breaking down Chelsea than they were last season. The combination of Gabriel Jesus and Aguero has been deadly this season and I expect them to cause havoc against a defense in which Christensen is likely to replace Luiz. Batshuayi showed mid-week that he can be a threat and I think he is likely to cause a small Manchester City defense some problems (if Conte plays him). Overall, I think this will be an attractive game with goals for both sides. But at the end of the day, I think Conte has Guardiola’s number – 2:1 to Chelsea.

Newcastle vs Liverpool

Liverpool were the only British side not to win in the Champions League mid-week and Klopp’s testy press conference on Monday suggests things are not all well. The issue has been, as with many of Klopp’s sides, poor defending. Liverpool’s high pressing has been very effective against some of the slower teams in the league, but has left their defenders exposed against fast attackers. I think they will struggle against a quick Newcastle front three who will be eager to pounce on sloppy play at the back. Liverpool is likely to come out all guns blazing, as early pressure has worked for them against Arsenal and Leicester but I think Newcastle can withstand an early onslaught. As the game goes on Newcastle will look to use its pace on the wings to bring in low crosses. This means a lot of running for Atsu and Ritchie who have yet to hit their stride this season. The match will be very entertaining match and I think Benitez will want to prove he has still got it against his former club. I expect Liverpool’s attacking quality will be just too much for Newcastle. Liverpool win 3-2.

Bremen vs Hamburg

In the early 2000s this was one of the highlights of the season. However, poor transfer policies (and financial mismanagement) has meant that these two teams meet at the bottom of the table. Nevertheless, the 107. meeting of these teams is likely to be a spicy affair. Bremen are in bad shape having been winless in 9 matches (including last season), but their three draws only leave them three points behind HSV who are just outside of the relegation zone. Bremen’s issue this season has been a lack of goals and their hopes are high for the return of their Austrian captain and striker Zlatko Junuzovic. I think he may well be the matchwinner for a team desperate to get back to winning ways. Hamburg have only scored four goals this season and many Rothosen fans struggle to see Piere-Michel Lasogga fire in the goals for Leeds (he has already scored three). Hamburg have been underachievers over the past few seasons and this year appears to be another difficult one. Although these two struggling teams are not exactly known for their attacking play, I am expecting a heated battle. Both teams want to get out of the bottom five and they are willing to scrap for it, so expect a red card. I think the return of Bremen’s captain will make the difference as they win a hard fought match 1-0.

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