1. Kane misses trip to Old Trafford
LEVEL ON POINTS after nine matches with only leaders Manchester City ahead of them, Manchester United and Tottenham lock horns at lunch time on Saturday.
Spurs travel to Old Trafford without their talisman, however, as Harry Kane is ruled out with a hamstring strain picked up in last weekend’s dismantling of Liverpool.
The England striker has already hit 13 goals in 12 appearances for the Londoners this season, and he will undoubtedly be a massive loss — with Spaniard Fernando Llorente a shoe-in to lead the line in his place.
Man City boss recently labelled Tottenham “the Harry Kane team”, but manager Mauricio Pochettino has been quick to point out their ability to cope without the 24-year-old during a spell on the sidelines last year.
“We don’t need to prove ourselves, that we’re Tottenham,” said Pochettino. ”Maybe people expect that but for us, no. I think last season, in the period he [Kane] was injured, you can see the stats and the games we played — win and lose with Harry, win and lose without Harry.
I’m disappointed because he is our main striker and I think he is one of the best strikers in Europe, in the world, and always you are going to miss your best striker. I am not silly or stupid to talk in a different way.”
United suffered their first defeat of the season after a lacklustre display away to Huddersfield a week ago, and although they ran out 2-0 winners over Swansea in the Carabao Cup since then, Jose Mourinho will be seeking a much-improved performance to the one shown at the John Smith Stadium.
2. Can the Baggies stop Man City?
Free-scoring Manchester City are the team to beat right now, but both current form and the history books suggest West Brom are unlikely to be the first ones to inflict a loss on them this term.
City are on a run of 11 straight victories over the Baggies and their recent performances have been sensational at times — Pep Guardiola’s side rattling in 32 Premier League goals to sore to the top of the table.
The Catalan coach had the luxury of resting nine players for the league cup win in mid-week, so he will be able to recall his star names on Saturday. City only progressed past Wolves after a penalty shootout, with Guardiola bizarrely blaming the Mitre match ball for his team’s failure to score in 120 minutes of football.
13th-placed West Brom are now eight games without a win in all competitions, and Tony Pulis will no doubt set up to try and frustrate. Defender Craig Dawson is out for two months after a collision with team-mate Allan Nyom, while Jonny Evans — who was linked with a move to City during the last transfer window — is rated as doubtful.
James McClean, Ireland’s hero in recent times, is finding it difficult to get a game at club level these days. The winger was an unused substitute in Saturday’s defeat at Southampton.
3. Old friends go head-to-head
Buoyed by their confidence-boosting win over Man United, Huddersfield travel to Anfield on Saturday. The fixture means a reunion for close friends David Wagner and Jurgen Klopp, who began as team-mates at Mainz before working together as coaches with Borussia Dortmund.
Wagner was best man at Klopp’s wedding, while the Reds boss is godfather to his fellow German’s daughter. Now the pair face off as opposing managers in a competitive game for the first time.
The Merseysiders are badly in need of a response after they were undone 4-1 by Spurs last time out. They will be without Brazilian schemer Philippe Coutinho, however, as he is unavailable due to an abductor problem.
4. Conte furious with the media
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte was in a fiery mood during his pre-match press conference on Friday morning.
The Italian, who has reportedly been unhappy with goings on behind the scenes at the club of late, branded media coverage linking compatriot Carlo Ancelotti to a return and claims the players are unhappy with his training methods as “bullshit”.
The reigning Premier League champions are preparing for an away trip to take on Bournemouth on Saturday, and they will be expected to make it three wins in a week after seeing off Everton and Watford in their most recent outings.
Eddie Howe’s men, languishing in the drop zone, also come into the fixture on the back of two victories, but Chelsea look a far tougher prospect than Middlesbrough or Stoke.
5. Fresh starts for Foxes and Toffees
On Sunday, two clubs who have recently relieved their managers of duties clash at the King Power Stadium.
Leicester City have brought in former Southampton boss Claude Puel to replace the sacked Craig Shakespeare, and the Frenchman takes charge of the Foxes for the first time.
Everton, meanwhile, parted ways with Ronald Koeman after a run of form that sees them sit 18th in the table. U23 boss David Unsworth stepped in for the Carabao Cup defeat to Chelsea on Wednesday, and the former Toffees defender will continue his caretaker role while they search for someone to fill the position on a more permanent basis.
After making his first competitive appearance for club or country during the week, Ireland midfielder James McCarthy will be aiming to get more minutes under his belt in a blue shirt ahead of the World Cup play-off against Denmark in a fortnight.
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