Premier League soccer is coming back this weekend and not a moment too soon.
The first international break of the 2015-16 season interrupted play in England’s top flight for two weeks, but all 20 teams return to the field this weekend for the fifth of 38 rounds in the campaign. The teams have had the chance to digest and move on from the previous round’s results. Some hope to re-boot their seasons after the break, while others hope to ride their early momentum for the next month.
Manchester United versus Liverpool remains the biggest game in the Premier League, regardless of their respective positions in the standings. Such is the history the Reds and Red Devils boast and the nature of their rivalry.
Manchester United will host Liverpool on Saturday in the first meeting of Louis van Gaal’s and Brendan Rodgers’ teams this season. Both sides earned seven points from their first four games, lost their last league outing and have ambitions of finishing in the top four or even mounting an unlikely challenge for the title. Saturday’s game won’t decide anything, but the outcome could propel Manchester United and Liverpool into opposite directions.
The Red Devils are dominating the storylines heading into the game. Wayne Rooney broke Bobby Charlton’s England goals record Tuesday but still searches for his first Premier League goal of the season. We’re also speculating whether David de Gea will play following the collapse of his transfer to Real Madrid on deadline day. Louis van Gaal and de Gea reportedly have made peace, and the manager could restore the Spanish goalkepeer to the starting 11 at Sergio Romero’s expense.
Liverpool will be short-handed for the trip to Old Trafford. Philippe Coutinho is suspended because of his dismissal during the loss to West Ham. Fellow midfielders Jordan Henderson and Adam Lallana didn’t practice this week and are likely to sit out with foot and thigh injuries, respectively. Daniel Sturridge has made his long-awaited return to practice, but Rodgers is unlikely to rely on the striker just yet.
And what would a Manchester United-Liverpool game be without some local flavor on the field? We’re probably going to find out, as neither Rodgers nor van Gaal is expected to include a homegrown player in his starting lineup.
However, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Premier League Round 5 schedule (home team listed first; all kickoff times ET):
Saturday, Sept. 12
Everton vs. Chelsea, 7:45 a.m.
Norwich City vs. Bournemouth, 10 a.m.
Crystal Palace vs. Manchester City, 10 a.m.
West Brom vs. Southampton, 10 a.m.
Arsenal vs. Stoke City, 10 a.m.
Watford vs. Swansea City, 10 a.m.
Manchester United vs. Liverpool, 12:30 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 13
Sunderland vs. Tottenham, 8:30 a.m.
Leicester City vs. Aston Villa, 11 a.m.
Monday, Sept. 14
West Ham vs. Newcastle, 3 p.m.
Thumbnail photo via Twitter/@LivEchoLFC
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