Move over Manchester. This weekend all eyes will be firmly fixed on London and Liverpool as a Premier League derby triple-header tops the bill
Sunday 2 December, from 11am, Sky Sports Premier League/HD (CH 512/502)
The derby duels get under way in West London as Fulham head to Chelsea desperate to harness the feel-good factor that comes with a new manager. But Maurizio Sarri’s Blues will be equally eager for a crushing victory to keep the pressure on runaway league leaders Man City.
We then jump on the Piccadilly line and head to the Emirates, where Arsenal coach Unai Emery will get his first taste of North London hostilities when Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs come calling.
Last but definitely not least is the Merseyside derby between Liverpool and Everton – the longest-running top-flight fight in England, having been played continuously since the 1962-63 season. And you can always expect fireworks at Anfield. Since the inception of the Premier League, this match has produced more red cards than any other game.
You can catch every kick, tackle and inevitable controversy live and exclusive on Sky Sports. But which of these sides will have the last laugh and bag precious points as well as bragging rights? Let’s take a look…
Chelsea v Fulham
Sunday 2 December, 11am, Sky Sports Premier League/HD (CH 512/502)
Stop Eden Hazard and Fulham have a chance. Let him out of their grip for a second and it’s game over. The brilliant Belgian has been in dazzling form all season and will be eyeing a hatful against the league’s leakiest defence.
By contrast Fulham, firmly rooted in the bottom three, have a mountain to climb at Stamford Bridge. New gaffer Claudio Ranieri will be looking to hit the ground running after succeeding Slaviša Jokanović – but despite the bounce a new manager often brings, and Ranieri’s history with the Blues, you could understand Fulham approaching this tie with damage limitation in mind.
Derby days, though, can inspire freak results and big performances. It did just that in March 2006 when Chelsea – then 12 points clear at the top of the Premier League and on their way to the title – suffered a 1-0 loss at Craven Cottage thanks to a Luis Boa Morte goal. The match erupted when Chelsea had a Didier Drogba goal disallowed and then defender William Gallas was sent off, sparking player protests and pitch invasions by fans. It was Fulham’s first victory over Chelsea in 27 years – but the Cottagers are yet to win again in the 17 matches they’ve played since.
Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur
Sunday 2 December, 2pm, Sky Sports Premier League/HD (CH 512/502)
Arsenal head into a first North London derby without Arsène Wenger at the helm for 22 years, a period which included a 21-game unbeaten streak against Spurs between 1999 and 2008. Now the mantle has passed to Emery, who has quickly restored belief at the Emirates and created a potent partnership between Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette up front.
As for Tottenham, despite their rise in fortunes over the past few years with regular Champions League qualification and the virtual eradication of their reputation for late collapses, they’ve still only won once at Arsenal since 1993. They’ve had a good start to the season but with further delays to their new ground and rumours that Manchester United and Real Madrid are interested in their Argentine coach, what effect is it all having on their mental strength? And with injuries stacking up, how much is their lack of summer transfer activity starting to hit home?
That said, it’s testament to Spurs’ recent success that they now head to the Emirates as slight favourites. With a fit and firing Harry Kane leading the line, they’ll be confident they can maintain their Premier League ascendency over their neighbours.
Liverpool v Everton
Sunday 2 December, 4pm, Sky Sports Premier League/HD (CH 512/502)
As the sun sets on this Super Sunday, Stanley Park neighbours Liverpool and Everton will take the field for arguably the fiercest rivalry of the three. There’s little love lost in the Merseyside derby, with the fixture having produced a staggering 21 red cards in 50 Premier League clashes.
But with attack-minded coaches Jürgen Klopp and Marco Silva in charge, and forwards Mohamed Salah and Richarlison in fine form, this match is surely going to be remembered for all the right reasons. Everton fans will certainly hope so: it’s been eight long years since their last victory over the Reds. Since a 2-0 Goodison Park win in October 2010, there’s been nine draws and eight Liverpool wins (and, surprisingly, just two red cards).
Last season the two Merseyside clubs couldn’t be separated, with a 1-1 draw at Anfield followed by a 0-0 draw at Everton. Can the Toffees produce an upset and put the brakes on Liverpool’s title charge? The blue side of Manchester will certainly be watching on – like the rest of us – with keen interest.
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