EPL Spotlight: Merseyside derby a must-win for both sides
Liverpool and Everton will be looking to lift their indifferent form with a derby win, United badly need to recover (but only have on fit centre-back to do so with) while the champions must pick up their form. It's another edition of EPL Spotlight...
Liverpool and Everton
After a rather good season for Merseyside's English Premier League representatives, it's fair to say that both Liverpool and Everton haven't quite been able to match their exploits from last season so far.
The two teams might be enjoying the additional challenge of playing Europe, but their domestic form leaves a lot more to be desired.
The Reds have already been struck off some pundits' lists of title challengers after two consecutive EPL defeats, while the usually solid Toffees have been leaking goals at an alarming rate. Even though Goodison Park has long been one of the most intimidating grounds to visit, Roberto Martinez' side has already conceded 11 goals at home.
Under these circumstances, a draw won't help much for either team - both need a win to boost their flagging confidence.
When it comes to the Premier League, it's been one long month for Spurs.
Even though Mauricio Pochettino kicked off his reign at White Hart Lane with back-to-back wins, it has been just over a month since that 4-0 spanking of QPR.
But a 3-0 schooling from Liverpool in their own backyard quickly followed before last week's unlikely 1-0 home loss to hapless West Brom.
While Spurs could definitely use a derby tonic like Liverpool and Everton, their record against neighbours Arsenal doesn't make for pleasant reading.
A big performance will be needed.
It must be a curious proposition to watch Arsenal this season.
One moment they're soaring from cutting up a tough-looking Aston Villa side, next moment they've been dumped out of the Capital One Cup by Southampton.
And the Gunners' run isn't getting any easier. After the north London derby will come a crucial Champions League match against Galatasaray followed by a big clash against league leaders Chelsea.
Needless to say, Arsene Wenger must get some much-needed momentum into his team - starting this weekend in the derby.
Manchester United's defence
When it rains, it seems to bloody pour for Manchester United these days.
After their defensive frailties were exposed so ruthlessly by Leicester City, the Red Devils have been plunged even deeper into a crisis at the back when Louis van Gaal revealed that Marcos Rojo was the club's last senior centre-back standing for their match against West Ham.
And while it's worrying enough that Rojo hasn't been played in that position for the club yet, Luke Shaw - who has not got a competitive sniff since his move to become Britain's most expensive teenager due to injury/lack of fitness/inability to impress van Gaal - is set to start in a very unfamiliar-looking United backline.
Will they be able to hold out against a West Ham side that showed some good attacking prowess in their 3-1 disposal of Liverpool? Or will they need their super-expensive colleagues at the other end to bail them out?
Most visible during the self-destruction at Leicester for his ranting and screaming at his teammates, but barely noticeable in attack save the cameo appearance to slide Angel di Maria in for that lovely chip. United's captain must start to walk the talk more and deliver the goods.
After key clashes against Arsenal and Chelsea comes a tricky away test to Hull City, who have been pretty impressive this season.
It has been more than a month since Man City tasted three points in the Premier League and Manuel Pellegrini's men will be keen to get their title defence back on track.
Sorry, buddy. Sending on Papiss Cisse to rescue a 2-2 draw doesn't mean you're not out of the woods yet. Not by a longshot.