Manchester City v Liverpool
It's a fantastic game, isn't it? I think we might be deprived of a little bit of quality because of the kick-off time. We all know that the South American players, the players that are spread all over the world and international duty won't get back till Thursday day. The managers won't get to work with them much. It'll be a recovery. It'll be team shape on Friday. And I think because of that kick-off time, we very rarely get good games at that time of day. It's hard for players to prepare. It's different. the atmosphere is not the same. Fans just kind of rolling out of bed and turning up. But listen, it's got all the ingredients for a great game.
Rodri pulled out the Spain squad, Harland pulled out of a dead rubber Norway game. A lot of the Manchester City players played for England. Liverpool players been South America all over the world. It's going to be fantastic to watch. Liverpool could go top with a win, but they don't win at the Etihad.
I think Liverpool take a point - and I think the way that the Premier League is this season, you look at the top five, top six, there's more points between them than there's been in many years, probably ever in the Premier League. You look at the bottom, between the bottom five teams there's the fewest points. Between the top five, there's the most points.
City have proven that they're vulnerable. They conceded four last week at Chelsea, they lost away in the Carabao cup at Newcastle. They lost away at Wolves. They've had a couple of indifferent results this season, City, but they are a very, very well-oiled machine at home and it's going to be difficult for Liverpool to go there. I think they would take a point but they are capable.
It's hard to back against City, especially at home because you always think they've got the firepower to get back in games or to come back and win a game if they were to go down but you look at what Liverpool have got. Szoboszlai for me has been one of the signings of the season with James Maddison and I think their season's really taking shape. They're in a completely different place to where they were last year and this season at times when they've not played well, they've got results and they've found a way, which they didn't do last year. I think they're in a lot better place than they were, and I think they're serious title contenders for City.
Newcastle United v Chelsea
Chelsea play well against teams that will play expansive against them. You look at when they played against nine men of Tottenham, they scored four because there were the spaces for them to attack. When they played against Manchester City they were playing against a team that attacked them, that pressed high up the field and played the same way that they want to and left gaps and allowed them to score the goals. Where Chelsea struggle is when they play teams that have a low block that sit defensively and say go and then come and break us down.
Newcastle won't do that I don't think at home. They are good defensively but it’s a huge injury list for Eddie Howe. The biggest test of the season is coming for them. We saw the poor defeat last time out before the international break against Bournemouth. They've got a massive game against PSG. We knew that Champions League group was going to be tough but they can still get out of it. His starting eleven from last week looks okay. It looks like it's capable of getting a point. Should he get any injuries during the game or you look at his bench, I think he had two or three fullbacks on his bench last week, which he won't be pleased with. The January transfer window can't come quick enough. He does need reinforcements but they're good at home. I think this will be a good game to watch and I think both teams are capable of scoring.
PR on Eddie Howe’s future
This couple of weeks could be crucial for Eddie Howe. They are 7th at the moment: they're well in touch. I think they've got to stick around there and he's obviously going to want to be in the Champions League. On the flip side of that. Do they want The Europa League? If they're really pushing again for the Champions League and the Premier League, do they want to drop into the Europa League? That's another one because, I mean the games there, the Thursday Sunday games that kick in. Liverpool got it this year. Nobody likes it, do they? Everybody wants the Champions League. From the highs of a Champions League group, with PSG, with AC, Milan, with Dortmund, to a Europa League Thursday night and then having to sustain a Champions League challenge. It might be better off if they don't get Europa League, if they don't qualify for the Champions League knockouts.
Is Eddie Howe’s job at risk? He’s not a favourite to be sacked first for me, no. Bournemouth’s Iraiola would be favourite. There's a lot of talk about Paul Heckingbottom at Sheffield United. Vincent Company, for all his stubbornness and he's wanting to play the same way, looks pretty tight with the chairman at Burnley. He looks pretty safe regardless of results. Ten Hag? Is there anybody in position at United to actually make that decision? Is that why he's had a stay of execution for this long?
Eddie Howe has done an incredible job there where he's brought that team in the last, what is it? 12, 18, 24 months? He signed players to keep him in the league, and then he signed players to make them better and now he signed players to challenge in the Champions League. The structure that he's put in place, he’s not just gone out and bought World superstars immediately. He's built that club and that squad, on a foundation and there is absolutely no way that you should be questioning his job.