Starting now, REm will look at the month ahead in football’s English Premiership in a regular online-only preview.
At the start of the season the clash between the two Manchester clubs would have been billed as a potential title decider, even though the season will only be a third of the way through when they meet.
Now, however, given United’s poor start to the season even the Reds’ most ardent fans would struggle to see it as little more than the chance to secure bragging rights in the city.
Title-decider, it ain’t! That horse has already bolted, I feel, in United’s case. City, currently on top of the table, look well placed and it’s hard to picture anyone stopping them retaining their crown.
Last season United managed to secure an away win in this fixture. It was viewed as an unlikely result then. It looks even more unlikely this time around.
The Manchester pair will line up at City’s Etihad Stadium on Sunday, November 11, at 4.30pm, UK time. If you are thinking of staying up to watch it be aware that the clocks will have now gone back in the UK. So, the kick-off in Thailand will be seven hours (not six) different, meaning the first kick of the match will be at 11.30pm in the Land of Smiles.
It’s hard to predict anything other than a win for the blue half of the city in this one, although it looks like they may be missing the talents of Kevin de Bruyne again.
The Premiership will be disrupted halfway through the month of November with a break for internationals and that ‘missing’ weekend means major clashes are in shorter supply than one might expect.
I can spot just two more matches worthy of special note for table toppers. If you don’t follow any of these teams please feel free to differ about how important they are.
Pundits agree that Liverpool are the side most likely to run City close in pursuit of the crown and I wouldn’t be in a rush to argue. Liverpool have strengthened in key areas of the pitch, especially at goalkeeper. Though Alisson’s screw-up at Leicester a couple of months back must have seemed like a bad case of déjà vu for the Koppites.
The Merseysiders’ title aspirations will be tested further early in the month when Arsenal line up against them on Saturday, November 3 in a 5.30pm (12.30am in the early hours of Sunday morning in Thailand) kick-off.
Arsenal seem to have found considerable consistency – a good run of wins followed by a draw at Crystal Palace – so I expect this clash to be close.
A win for the Gunners at the Emirates would come as no surprise at all but I’m hoping this one finishes as a draw. That’s a hope, not a prediction.
The other big clash is an all-London one in which Spurs will meet Chelsea in another 5.30pm (12.30am Thailand on the Sunday) game on Saturday, November 24. Both sides are again looking serious contenders for a top four slot and qualification for next season’s Champions League.
Spurs’ new stadium won’t be open in time to host this one. That may be delayed until the new year. Given the mess of a pitch they played on against City after the NFL game had been staged at Wembley the day before I reckon the stadium opening cannot come soon enough.
I might have a flutter on an away win for the Blues of Chelsea. Might!
It’s probably too early to start considering relegation dog-fights but I spotted a couple of fixtures that look like they may be six-pointers – both on a Monday night (early hours of Tuesday in Thailand).
They are Huddersfield against Fulham on November 5. That’s bonfire night in the UK though I expect few fireworks in this match. Neither side is in a good place at the time of writing. Fulham need some serious work on their defence if they are to stay up; Huddersfield desperately need goals.
This one has draw written all over it.
The other match of interest follows three weeks later when Burnley host Newcastle United. Burnley relegation candidates? After their great season last time that seems crazy but a 4-0 thumping at home by Chelsea has left them uncomfortably low in the table. Newcastle are in trouble at present, even though they have a manager I much admire.
A win for Burnley looks likely to me.
Monday night football and Thailand do not mix. You need to be a real fan to want to get up at 3 in the morning. Though, that said, I used to set the alarm to watch Champions League games.
My personal highlight of the month will be a trip to Old Trafford to see United take on Palace though I’m not looking forward to the journey. A trip that would take less than two hours by car from my Peterborough base will take more than four.
Well, there are the dreaded engineering works taking place on the line. This means my rail journey will see me change at Leicester for a train to Sheffield, then from Sheffield to Manchester Piccadilly. Followed by a short hop on the Metro to the ground. Must be love.
I did consider hiring a car for the day but, then, it would be a lot more expensive and I wouldn’t be able to have a drink. The train wins.
I have friends in Pattaya who are Place followers and my youngest son has a Place-supporting girlfriend. I would wish them good luck, but no one would believe me.
Hope whoever you support has a good month.
*One hardly knows what to say in the wake of the tragedy in the car park outside the Leicester City ground in which the club’s Thai owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha lost his life in a helicopter crash. In truth, I think there is little to say that hasn’t been said already.
King Power owner Khun Vichai helped bring off a sporting miracle when his club won the Premiership title a couple of seasons back. His place in football history is assured – not that his family will draw much comfort from that right now.
What a contrast between that great sadness and seeing the boys who were pulled alive from the cave in Chiang Rai last July being hosted at the Manchester United V Everton game. A nice touch which, understandably, has paled into insignificance given the terrible events of the previous day some 100 miles to the south.
By Dave Buckley