In-form Spurs have Arsenal in their sight

LONDON (AFP) — Liverpool face a derby clash against Everton as they lick their Champions League soccer wounds while Tottenham travel to Arsenal with a spring in their step on a weekend of big-city derbies.

Jurgen Klopp’s team lost 2-1 to Paris Saint-Germain in midweek, meaning their bid to reach the knockout stages in Europe will go to the last game against Napoli, while Spurs face the daunting task of beating Barcelona to progress.

But both clubs will have to put their continental ambitions to one side as they attempt to stay on the coat-tails of Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in the English Premier League.

Chelsea take on Fulham and one of their former managers in another London derby but Claudio Ranieri’s side will travel the short distance to Stamford Bridge with new-found confidence after arresting a run of six English Premier League defeats.

Jose Mourinho’s misfiring Manchester United play Southampton away after edging past Swiss side Young Boys into the Champions League knockout phase.

Third-placed Spurs head to the Emirates stadium buoyed by last week’s 3-1 victory against Chelsea and their 1-0 win against Inter Milan in midweek, which keeps alive their hopes of reaching the Champions League knockouts.

Tottenham Hotspur midfielder, Harry Winks, has said tomorrow’s north London derby against Arsenal in the Premier League has come at the perfect time for his in-form team.

Mauricio Pochettino’s side are third in the standings on 30 points from 13 matches and have won their last six games in all competitions.

“The form we are in right now, it is probably the perfect time to go there,” Winks told British media.

Tottenham have not won at Arsenal since a 3-2 victory in 2010 and face a potentially difficult test against Unai Emery’s fifth-placed side, who are unbeaten in their last 17 games in all competitions.

However, England international Winks is optimistic that Tottenham can stop their city rivals’ charge.

“Of course, they are beatable but it is going to be another difficult game, so we have to be physically prepared for it,” England international Winks added.

Defender Jan Vertonghen suggested that Arsenal were a rejuvenated side under Spaniard Emery, who took over from long-serving Frenchman Arsene Wenger before the new campaign.

“They look like a good and solid team. They look a different team to the last couple of years,” the Belgian international, who returned against Inter after 10 games out with injury, said.

“It’s going to be a big game. They’ve won many games in a row, they’re confident. But the way we are playing gives a lot of confidence as well.”

Everton have a shocking record against city rivals Liverpool, not tasting victory in the derby since 2010 and failing to win at Anfield since 1999.

Marco Silva’s task looks daunting tomorrow but Everton travel in hope after a solid start to the season that sees them in sixth, 11 points behind Klopp’s team.

Liverpool, second in the table, come into the match smarting after their disappointing defeat in Paris and Klopp is expecting a tougher test from Everton than in previous seasons.

“This game is isolated from the season,” he said. “It’s a derby, it’s at home. Everton are doing really well this season, they’re a completely different cup of tea, I would say, to the last few years so it will be a tough one.”

Jose Mourinho appears to be flailing around for answers to his side’s lack of fluency but getting nowhere despite a changing cast of characters.

He demoted Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku to the substitutes’ bench for the match against Young Boys and Alexis Sanchez was missing from the squad entirely but United still failed to find any rhythm.

United are already seven points adrift of fourth-placed Chelsea and show no sign of putting together a run to haul themselves into contention to qualify next season’s Champions League.

Midfielder, Marouane Fellaini, who scored the late winner against Young Boys, said the mood in the camp was upbeat following the 1-0 win, despite United’s patchy form this season.

“Criticism is part of football but we have to work,” he said. “We are a team, we are together, and give everything too. Together we have to move forward and take the points.”

English Premiership Fixtures
(all 5PM unless otherwise stated)

Today: Huddersfield Town v Brighton & Hove Albion; Newcastle United v West Ham United; Manchester City v Bournemouth; Crystal Palace v Burnley; Leicester City v Watford; Southampton v Manchester United (7:30PM).

Tomorrow: Chelsea v Fulham (2PM); Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur (4:05PM); Liverpool v Everton (6:15PM)