Big Weekend: Newcastle v Arsenal, big-game Chelsea, Erik ten Hag and DCL

Will Ford
Arsenal Newcstle Erik ten Hag Calvert Lewin
Newcastle welcome Arsenal in another Big Weekend.

Newcastle could do with a big Premier League scalp as they welcome Arsenal, while Chelsea will enjoy the Tottenham challenge and Erik ten Hag ‘fights’ for his job against Fulham.


Game to watch: Newcastle v Arsenal
Newcastle followed their midweek games in September with the 8-0 spanking of Sheffield United and the 2-0 win over Burnley, but October’s Champions League commitments saw them drop points the following weekends against West Ham and Wolves, with both games ending 2-2.

Their thoroughly enjoyable 3-0 win over Manchester United at Old Trafford shouldn’t hamper them significantly ahead of the visit of Arsenal on Saturday – very few of the players starting that game will line up against the Gunners. And Eddie Howe’s side could really do with a win, not just to keep pace with their rivals chasing Champions League qualification spots, but to show they’re capable of claiming a big Premier League scalp after defeats to Liverpool and Manchester City earlier in the season.

Arsenal will want to put what was a pretty lame display against West Ham in the League Cup behind them but should also be relatively fresh having also rested players midweek. Given the pace set by Tottenham in the Premier League, and the inevitable unstoppable charge of Manchester City in the second half of the season, it’s games like this that could be the difference between winning the title and just coming up short for Mikel Arteta’s side.


Team to watch: Chelsea
So bereft of actual wins against good Premier League teams, the Chelsea fans took the 2-2 draw against Arsenal as a victory. It was a moral one, at least – they were the vastly superior side for the majority of the game. But it would be really nice for a ‘win’ to mean a bona fide three points.

Chelsea have won a pitiful seven Premier League games in 2023, and are yet to beat a team above them in the table. As they showed against Arsenal, and Liverpool on the first day of the season, they play far better against superior sides, when there’s space to create, opportunity to pinch the ball high up the pitch and they’re not faced with the conundrum of breaking down a team happy to absorb pressure, which was a problem at Chelsea long before Mauricio Pochettino or the new owners arrived.

Tottenham won’t sit off them on Monday night. There will be space between the lines and behind the defence of Ange Postecoglou’s side, who will take the game to Chelsea. James Maddison v Moises Caicedo looks set to be an absorbing battle in midfield, and whoever is tasked with keeping tabs on Cole Palmer for Spurs will likely have their work cut out, after the summer signing’s excellent displays in recent weeks.

Expect an end-to-end game with multiple chances for both teams, some of which Tottenham will score, all of which Chelsea will miss.

Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino
Mauricio Pochettino could do with a big win at Chelsea.


Player to watch: Dominic Calvert-Lewin
He scored a brilliant goal against West Ham to take his Premier League tally to three from from just five starts, and was excellent in the 3-0 Carabao Cup win over Burnley on Wednesday. He’s got his mojo back.

It’s been a long time coming, but Calvert-Lewin appears to have put his injury woes behind him and is starting to put in the sort of performances that previously saw him linked with Arsenal and other top Premier League teams. In combination with Abdoulaye Doucoure, Sean Dyche has some serious presence in the box, and with Dwight McNeil and Jack Harrison on the wings, the Everton boss has created the perfect conditions for Calvert-Lewin to thrive.

The fans are starting to believe in the team again, with Calvert-Lewin absolutely key to their optimism, and the visit of Brighton to Goodison Park on Saturday is a perfect opportunity for Dyche’s side to show their progress.


Manager to watch: Erik ten Hag
It’s never a good sign when a manager insists they’re “a fighter”. In a game of about-to-be-sacked bingo that would be a mainstay, along with claims that they still have the backing of the owners. F*ck knows if Ten Hag has the latter – there’s never any word from the Glazers, to the manager, potential investors or the fans, who will be washing their yellow-and-green scarves ready for their trip to Fulham on Saturday.

We could call it a must-win for Ten Hag, but while every poor result takes him a step closer to the sack, it also makes the job more and more unappealing for potential replacements, and the shortlist consists of candidates that are ill-suited, under-qualified or smart enough not to go near this hot mess of a football club.

A big problem for Ten Hag is that opposition teams will all be relishing the opportunity to play them. Perhaps the promoted teams aside, every Premier League side will fancy their chances of getting under their skin and watching the players crumble – it doesn’t take much these days.

And Ten Hag currently has no answers. There’s no style to speak of and no combination of players that look as though they can form a coherent team. Their confidence is shot, morale is low and again – as was the case at the end of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and multiple managers before him – the players don’t seem to care that it’s all going to sh*t.


EFL game to watch: Leicester v Leeds
We’re only into November and Leicester already look nailed on for promotion back to the Premier League. They’ve won 13 of their 14 games with what is essentially a top-flight team and are 14 points clear of Leeds in third, ahead of the visit of The Whites to the King Power Stadium on Friday night.

Crysencio Summerville is in fine form for Leeds, scoring a brace in their stunning comeback win over Norwich on October 21 before another two goals in the comfortable 4-1 win over Huddesrfield last weekend.


European game to watch: Borussia Dortmund v Bayern Munich
You probably saw the scenes of jubilation on Wednesday night, not just from the players and fans of Saarbrucken, but from anyone with a passing interest in German football, as Bundesliga powerhouses Bayern Munich were dumped out of the DFB-Pokal by the third-tier side, who scored a 96th-minute winner.

Harry Kane watched from the bench, but will return for the trip to Dortmund on Saturday. Bayern currently sit two points behind Bayer Leverkusen, who top the Bundesliga, but Dortmund can go ahead of Thomas Tuchel’s side with victory at Signal Iduna Park.