London (AFP) – Jose Mourinho takes his table-topping Tottenham side to former club Chelsea this weekend determined to prove he is back where he belongs at the top of the Premier League.
Four straight wins have taken Spurs to 20 points after nine games, ahead of Liverpool on goal difference, but Frank Lampard’s Chelsea are just two points behind them.
Champions Liverpool travel to Brighton, while goal-shy Manchester City host Burnley in the unaccustomed position of 13th in the table and Arsenal seek a win to lift them out of their slump.
AFP Sport looks at some of the main talking points ahead of the weekend action in the Premier League.
Mourinho has point to prove
Spurs boss Mourinho has a point to prove against Lampard, with whom he won two Premier League titles at Stamford Bridge.
Mourinho and the former Chelsea midfielder-turned-manager have met four times in different dugouts.
Lampard gave Mourinho a bloody nose when his Derby side dumped Manchester United, then managed by the Mourinho, out of the League Cup on penalties in 2018.
After returning to Chelsea as manager, Lampard twice outwitted his former boss, by now in charge at Tottenham, in the Premier League last season.
The 57-year-old veteran will be hoping this season’s League Cup win against Chelsea on penalties has turned the tide. He has never lost three consecutive league matches against the same manager or club before.
Mourinho was keen to play down title talk after last week’s impressive 2-0 win at home to Manchester City, which took them top.
“People cannot expect us to come here and after one season we are fighting for the title,” he told the BBC.
“We are not fighting for the title, we are just fighting to win every match. But we are going to lose matches, we are going to draw matches.”
But, like it or not, Spurs are in the title mix and will have to get used to the pressure, which will be ramped up on Sunday.
Can Arteta stop the rot?
Arsenal’s indifferent start to the season has left them languishing 12th in the Premier League table, with just four points from their past five matches.
Mikel Arteta, whose side host Wolves on Sunday, remains optimistic despite his side’s poor run and struggles in front of goal — Arsenal have now not scored from open play in five Premier League games.
“When I see the young talents we have got here and the future that we can produce for them, it’s things that get me really excited,” he said.
“We know that we are going to go through difficult periods because you don’t change issues that have been going on for years in a small amount of time.”
Fans have been patient so far with their manager, who arrived late last year, but will start to get edgy unless they see an upturn in results soon.
City search for goals
Manchester City, who host Burnley on Saturday, have not scored more than once in a Premier League match since September.
It was the same old story last weekend. City had 22 shots in their 2-0 defeat against Tottenham, who mustered just four shots, with two on target.
The club’s record goalscorer, Sergio Aguero, had a brief runout in Wednesday’s 1-0 win at Olympiakos as he makes his way back to fitness following a hamstring injury.
City boss Guardiola said this week he was being cautious with the Argentine striker.
“We have many, many games to play this season and we’ll need him,” he said. “What we want is him to recover in his best condition.”
But it is a difficult balancing act for the manager, whose side are already eight points behind Spurs and Liverpool.
Fixtures (all times GMT)
Crystal Palace v Newcastle (2000)
Brighton v Liverpool (1230), Manchester City v Burnley (1500), Everton v Leeds (1730), West Brom v Sheffield Utd (2000)
Southampton v Manchester United (1400), Chelsea v Spurs (1630), Arsenal v Wolves (1915)
Leicester v Fulham (1730), West Ham v Aston Villa (2000)
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