Champions City headline blockbuster Sunday

A blockbuster Sunday afternoon of Premier League action is in store this week, with a quartet of games featuring four of the top five in the table and culminating with an eagerly anticipated Manchester derby at the Etihad Stadium.

Reds can get their mojo back

Liverpool host Fulham at Anfield in the opening gambit of Sunday’s action with Reds boss Jurgen Klopp suggesting his team have “lost their mojo” following a midweek Champions League defeat at Red Star Belgrade.

It isn’t hard to agree with the German. Liverpool have drawn three of their last four games in the Premier League and, casting aside a 4-1 over Cardiff City at Anfield (where they scored two goals in the final six minutes), they’ve netted only three times in their last four league games.

They are of course strong favourites at 1.11 to defeat the Premier League’s basement club and the owners of the worst defensive record in the top flight (29 goals conceded in 11 games).

Slavisa Jokanovic is coming under increasing pressing with Fulham having only one win and five points to their credit three months into their top tier return.

They’ve lost five on the spin now and, while they were all-too cavalier in the 5-1 home defeat against Arsenal last month, it is the trio of losses to Cardiff, Bournemouth and Huddersfield since that have intensified the gloom around the Cottagers. Those were games Fulham must have been targeting for gains. A trip to Anfield, by comparison, offers very few chinks of light.

Fulham have failed to score in five of their last six visits to this Merseyside venue and have lost their last four games against Liverpool in the top flight, conceding at least three goals on each occasion. Value bets are hard to come by in what is expected to be a one-sided affair.

Xherdan Shaqiri didn’t travel with Liverpool in midweek but he has impressed of late and is likely to get a start here. The Swiss international should see plenty of the ball in the final third if he does get the nod and is worth chancing at 6.10 to score two or more goals against this ponderous Fulham defence.

Blues to find Toffees sticky

Everton are making some nice progress under Marco Silva this season, despite the continuing failure to really find a centre forward they can hang their hat on.

The burden of expectation is currently falling on Richarlison, more of a playmaker by trade than an out and out goalscorer. However, the ex-Watford man is doing well and has contributed six goals in nine games so far in the league.

Everton head to Stamford Bridge to face a Chelsea side unbeaten under new boss Maurizio Sarri and currently leading the pack chasing table-topping champions Manchester City. The Blues have drawn three of their last six games in the league and could be vulnerable to another stalemate here, with the score draw priced at 5.40.

The Toffees were unfortunate to lose 2-1 at Old Trafford last month and have scored in all of their last five league outings. They don’t have a strong record against Chelsea, losing four of the last five, but they can alter that now.

Sarri rested most of his big names for Thursday’s 1-0 Europa League win at BATE Borisov but playing Thursday-Sunday can be a tough ask. Chelsea have also managed just one clean sheet in seven domestic games at the Bridge so far this season. Everton are capable of scoring here and may nick a point, with a 1-1 draw priced at 9.00.

Emirates treat in store

All eyes will surely be on the Etihad Stadium come 4.30pm but Arsenal versus Wolves in north London has the makings of a decent game.

Last season’s Championship winners started brightly in the top tier but have come under some closer scrutiny following three straight defeats. Nuno Espirito Santo’s team have done well when facing stronger opposition so far, taking credible draws off Everton, Manchester City and Manchester United and mounting a good fightback in last week’s 3-2 loss at home to Spurs.

His team are encouraged to play football and so they’ll come up against a mirror image of themselves, albeit with a shade more overall quality, in the Gunners.

Unai Emery has added some resolve to this Arsenal squad, that is undeniable, but they are far from the finished product and while they kept Sporting Lisbon on out in Thursday’s stalemate, haven’t managed a clean sheet in any of their previous five domestic games.

Wolves will get some space to play in when they have possession and are more than capable of finding the net, but the home side have an array of threats going forward themselves and should win an entertaining game. Arsenal to win and both teams to score is 2.65 at the Emirates.

City rule in Manchester

Manchester City have taken over top billing in the city, at least on the field of play, and the champions will start this game as overwhelming favourites at 1.40 to win.

Pep Guardiola’s side are seemingly growing in confidence as this season matures and it is going to take something special to prize the title away from them. They thrashed Shakhtar Donetsk 6-0 in midweek, with Guardiola able to indulge his squad depth by giving Sergio Aguero a rest.

The Red Devils have conceded the opening goal in their last three away games, though Jose Mourinho’s team has gone on to avoid defeat in each of those outings. Their 2-1 midweek win in Turin against Juventus was very much of the ‘smash and grab’ variety however and they’ll surely need more here.

Both renewals of this fixture last season were won by the away side but United’s task is evidenced by the fact they are 7.75 to continue that trend here.

Looking back now, it seems almost an anomaly that Mourinho’s team came from a 0-2 half-time deficit in April to win 3-2, prolonging City’s wait to be crowned champions in defiant fashion when they did.

It would be hard to forecast a similar turnaround now and, simply put, Man United cannot afford to keep giving teams a leg-up with a goal start. The visitors may resist for a while but Guardiola’s team will likely wear them down and, at 11.75, a 3-1 home success is fancied.