The double-derby weekend that could define the Premier League seasonSubscribe to Showmax Pro
The North London and Manchester derbies are always fixtures to put in bold on the season calendar. This weekend, they also need to be highlighted, put into the most standout colour and linked directly to any reminder alarm you can find.
Manchester United vs Manchester City
Everything about the early stages of the season suggested that it would be an easy ride for Manchester City to win the title. However, they’ve started the year with a five-point deficit to make up before a tricky trip to their rejuvenated rivals.
With six wins in a row since the FIFA World Cup break, Manchester United are starting to look like a good football team again. Erik ten Hag’s influence on his new team is starting to show and now that they’ve gotten rid of the expensive distraction of Cristiano Ronaldo, they certainly appear on the up again.
Ten Hag has picked up impressive scalps this season with the likes of Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham all suffering defeats against his team, but he did suffer a humiliating 6-3 defeat in his debut Manchester derby and will relish a chance to set that record straight.
Pep Guardiola’s City squad looks as dangerous as ever, but they have dropped points at surprising times this season and can’t afford to drop much more if they are to become the second club to win three Premier League titles (and emulate their city rivals who have been the only club to achieve the feat).
As for United’s season, they’ve just creeped into the promised land of the top four and will be desperate for another major win to give their fans hope of upgrading from Europa League football to Champions League fare.
Tottenham vs Arsenal
No one believed that Arsenal were ready to genuinely be in the title race, but now we’re at the halfway point of the season and the Gunners are five points clear at the top.
Denial can only go so far. Whether you like it or not, Mikel Arteta’s men are in contention.
Their post-World Cup break form suggests that they’re not letting up, with a goalless draw against Newcastle the only blip in a run of wins.
Next up is Tottenham Hotspur, who have recently been battling their own demons of being too “Spursy” – a label that no doubt originated from Arsenal fans describing their characteristic nature of always showing promise, but being too flimsy to properly challenge for trophies.
“Spursiness” is a state of being that Antonio Conte will no doubt detest. The Italian was brought in as the opposite of “Spursiness”. A hard-nosed, passionate winner that the club hoped was the missing part of the club’s DNA.
While he impressively rejuvenated the side to finish in the top four last season, their results in the big games this season have left a lot to be desired, with losses against Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool so far without any wins against “big six” clubs.
This North London derby could be the catalyst Conte’s side need. Tottenham are very proud of the fact that they have finished above their neighbours for six successive seasons and will need a win this weekend to keep up their hopes of extending that streak.
While both games deserve their box office status in isolation, it’s the combined effect that’ll make things so interesting. We could have a situation where Arsenal start next week eight points ahead of Manchester City. Another possibility is City cutting the gap to a tantalising two points.
Spurs could leapfrog Manchester United into the top four. United might even leave the weekend feeling like they’re in the title race themselves.
All set for a season-defining weekend? With all matches streaming live on Showmax Pro, courtesy of SuperSport, and with the derbies being on different days, you don’t have to miss a second of the most defining games of the season.
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