Manchester City’s bid to regain the Premier League title faces a defining moment against leaders Liverpool this weekend, while Ole Gunnar Solskjaer fights to silence the critics as troubled Manchester United take on Everton.
City are already five points behind Liverpool, albeit with a game in hand, and cannot afford to lose to the champions at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.
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Pep Guardiola’s side have allowed Liverpool to steal a march on them after winning just three of their first six league games.
Although City have won five of their last six games in all competitions, including a midweek Champions League success against Olympiakos, they remain some way short of their peak form.
Hampered by Sergio Aguero’s recurring injury problems, City have lacked a cutting edge at times.
Guardiola can take heart from the return to fitness of Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus, who came off the bench to score against Olympiakos.
While City have made a spluttering start, Liverpool appear back to their best despite the absence of key defender Virgil van Dijk.
Meanwhile, Manchester United’s dismal start to the season has left Solskjaer in danger of the sack.
After two successive losses, another damaging defeat at Everton would put the Norwegian under intense pressure amid reports United’s board have made contact with representatives of former Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino.
United’s shock 2-1 defeat at Istanbul Basaksehir in the Champions League on Wednesday was an especially embarrassing night for Solskjaer as his team’s defensive frailties came back to haunt him yet again.