LONDON – Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool side will have a considerable amount of dusting off to do this weekend as they take on league leaders Everton in a hotly anticipated Merseyside derby, which kicks off the weekend’s Premier League action on Saturday.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side is unbeaten so far and leads the standings in the early stages of the season.
“Carlo is a sensational manager,” Klopp told a pre-match press conference on Friday. “It was always clear that when he had the time to build something, he will do that.”
Striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin has shone for Everton, scoring 10 goals in all competitions this season, including two hat tricks. The 23-year-old even found the net on his England debut in the international break.
Colombian James Rodriguez has slotted in perfectly at the Toffees, scoring two against Brighton in the last match.
Everton is on the hunt for its first Merseyside derby win in exactly one decade.
Standing in its way is the reigning champion that in recent weeks has been beset by injuries and COVID-19 cases, forcing some of its top players to the sidelines, including new signing Thiago and Sadio Mane.
Both have returned to fitness, Klopp told reporters on Friday. But the same cannot be said for first-choice goalkeeper Allison, who will miss the derby with a shoulder injury. The Liverpool boss said he had “made big steps” in his recovery process.
Allison also missed Liverpool’s shock 7-2 defeat to Aston Villa in the last round of fixtures.
Adrian stepped in for the Brazilian, but spent most of the game watching as the Villains relentlessly dismantled Liverpool’s high press.
Liverpool, which is fifth in the league, travels to Goodison Park for a 1430 GMT kickoff.
Later on Saturday, the Etihad Stadium will set the scene for a reunion between master and former apprentice as Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal head up the road to take on Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.
Arteta served as Guardiola’s assistant manager at Man City between 2016-19, during which time the Citizens won the Premier League twice.
Man City’s manager praised his former right-hand-man on Friday.
“He was able to get Arsenal back in the position they were in a while ago,” he said. “They are a team like Mikel, a competitor and a fighter.”
City has struggled to find its habitual winning groove this season, drawing 1-1 with Leeds United and losing 5-2 to Leicester City in its two previous Premier League outings.
Guardiola will be without an injured Kevin de Bruyne, Gabriel Jesus and Agüero.
Thomas Partey, who recently joined Arsenal from Atletico Madrid, could get his first run out against Manchester City.
“I think he is a player we had the radar on for a long time and we have managed to bring him in and I think he will be a really important addition to the team,” Arteta said of the Ghanian on Thursday.
Manchester City vs. Arsenal kicks off at 1930 GMT.
Frank Lampard’s Chelsea hosts Southampton at 1700 GMT and the London side has a deep squad at its disposal following a summer spending spree.
Lampard told reporters on Friday that new signings Thiago Silva and goalkeeper Edouard Mendy would not be in the squad for Saturday’s game. Hakim Ziyech, Christian Pulisic and Ben Chilwell will be available, however.
To cap off Saturday’s fixtures, Manchester United travels to the northeast for a date with Newcastle United.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men have failed to get going this season and were punished 6-1 by Tottenham before the international break after going down to 10 men.
Solskjaer called for team unity before heading up to the northeast on Friday.
“It is one of those things that you have to get over as soon as you can and move on,” he said.
United could be without captain Harry Maguire, who suffered a knock while on international duty.
New signing Edison Cavani is still quarantining and won’t be available for the match against Newcastle, while Anthony Martial is suspended, leaving United very short in attack, but new left-back Brazilian Alex Telles could make his debut, the manager said, despite his long-flight from South America following international duty.