Premier League: 10 things to look out for this weekend | Premier League

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Both Forest and Blades began the season with a one-goal defeat, but the mood around them felt very different. Forest were away to Arsenal and missed a terrific early chance to take the lead, then crafted a lovely counter-attacking goal to give their more illustrious opponents a late scare. Blades, on the other hand, lost at home to Crystal Palace – the kind of game they need to win just to have a chance of staying up – so will be desperate for points and a performance this time. And they’ve got a better chance of securing them that they did, having added Tom Davies and Gus Hamer to their squad during the last week. Aged 25 and 26 respectively, both men are ready to hit their peak, with Davies’s leadership, energy and composure complementing Hamer’s guile, imagination and risk-taking. Suddenly, Blades’ midfield looks a better proposition and though who scores for them remains a mystery, their strikers should, at least, be able to rely on something resembling service. Daniel Harris



2

Can Spurs provide midfield menace?

Ange Postecoglou has been handed a blue-riband fixture for his competitive first home match and may fancy getting the better of a Manchester United team who looked decidedly rusty on Monday. Not that his new team found life much easier at Brentford last weekend but there were moments, when Yves Bissouma and James Maddison were breaking from midfield, that bore similarities to the repeated Wolves breaks that caused United such problems. The issue, as Wolves found, will be in converting chances. Richarlison is now Tottenham’s only senior striker and scored just one Premier League goal last season, while Son Heung-min, the new club captain, looked uncomfortable playing off the left last week. Both Spurs goals at Brentford came via defenders and it remains to be seen whether concussion protocols allow Cristian Romero to feature. The Australian manager has won approval with his calm handling of Harry Kane’s exit and signs of creative football. Now for a first statement victory. John Brewin



3

Liverpool search for building blocks

The new Anfield Road stand is not the only rebuilding job currently behind schedule at Liverpool. Jürgen Klopp may be close to landing a defensive midfielder in Wataru Endo, and the Stuttgart and Japan captain could be registered in time for Bournemouth’s visit on Saturday, but it is a transfer that raises more questions over Liverpool’s strategy. Endo is a player well known to Klopp and Liverpool’s current sporting director Jörg Schmadtke. His figures and fitness record at Stuttgart are impressive, as was his contribution to Japan’s World Cup campaign last year. At €18m, the deal leaves Liverpool room for any further midfield or defensive additions, although an added bonus of Endo’s arrival is that he can also operate at centre-half. At 30, however, the Japan international will be the oldest player Liverpool have paid a transfer fee for in seven years. At the end of a week when Chelsea gazumped them for 21-year-old Moisés Caicedo and 19-year-old Roméo Lavia, the sudden change of direction for an older player with no Premier League experience reinforces the sense that Liverpool are scrambling to complete work with the new season under way. Andy Hunter

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4

Newcastle to exploit City absences?

Ilkay Gündogan and Riyad Mahrez have left, Kevin De Bruyne is injured for several months and Bernardo Silva has been ill: the absence of this A-list quartet was glaring in Manchester City’s tepid 1-1 draw with Sevilla before they claimed Wednesday’s Uefa Super Cup final on penalties. Cole Palmer, Mahrez’s stand-in in Athens, may also depart (he is unsure) and Pep Guardiola’s similar lack of clarity when asked about the youngster’s future hinted at an ambivalence regarding the manager’s assessment of his worth. This all may hearten Newcastle for Saturday’s visit to City but as Guardiola has a magic that can conjure the right performance at the right time, Eddie Howe’s men should remain wary. The Catalan, though, will hope Silva, who is expected to sign a new one-year contract, is available again. Jamie Jackson



5

Hungry Wolves seek cutting edge

Well, who saw that rip-roaring Wolves performance coming at Manchester United on Monday? After swallowing apologies from Howard Webb and Jonathan Moss, and the disappointment of being denied a blatant stoppage-time penalty, they host Brighton on Saturday hoping to register their first points. An agonising defeat also extended a painful statistic: since the start of 2020-21, Wolves have failed to score in 45 Premier League games, more than any other side. Wolves recorded 23 shots at Old Trafford, six of which were on target, and while Matheus Cunha appeared unplayable at times, Gary O’Neil must decide how best to hurt Brighton. Fabio Silva tested André Onana off the bench and fellow substitutes Hwang Hee-chan and Sasa Kalajdzic certainly made life uncomfortable. Perhaps given his all-round display Cunha deserves to lead the line but O’Neil has further options. Ben Fisher

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6

Wan-Bissaka must sharpen up

A year ago, Aaron Wan-Bissaka seemed a cert to leave Old Trafford. Now, though, he is Manchester United’s first-choice right-back, having worked on his game to eliminate – more or less – his back-post doziness, while also improving his movement and ball-carrying. Nevertheless, he still ended last season with a grand total of zero goals and zero assists – stats he has already improved upon this, creating Raphaël Varane’s Monday-night winner with a clever run and composed delivery. But the battle is not won because it is largely on Wan-Bissaka’s account that opponents – such as Wolves – try funnelling United’s attacks down his flank and target him as a pressing trigger. So, given Erik ten Hag wants his team to play out from the back as a matter of course, signing André Onana to help facilitate that, if he wants to keep his spot he must now improve his passing. DH


7

Silva shelters from winds of change

The odds are not stacked in Marco Silva’s favour. João Palhinha, his most influential midfielder, dislocated a shoulder during pre-season and Aleksandar Mitrovic is closing in on a move to the Saudi Pro League. Willian has also attracted attention from Saudi and incomings have been slow to arrive. Last season, though, Silva demonstrated that he is more than capable of coaching a team to perform above expectations. Fulham should not be written off. They rode their luck against Everton last week but still came away with a win after Silva’s substitutes combined for the game’s only goal. They will hope for another committed display at home to Brentford. With Mitrovic seemingly on his way, though, they need Raúl Jiménez to step it up in attack. Jacob Steinberg



8

Midfield battle as east meets west

The focus will be on the midfield battle at the London Stadium. West Ham are trying to move on from Declan Rice and could hand debuts to James Ward-Prowse and Edson Álvarez. Chelsea have broken the British transfer record again, signing Moisés Caicedo for £115m, and their need for the Ecuador international was clear during their draw with Liverpool. Enzo Fernández produced some dreamy touches in his new advanced role and Conor Gallagher worked tirelessly in defensive midfield, but it was still too easy for Liverpool to break through the middle during the early stages. Mauricio Pochettino will have seen gaps that need filling and he must decide whether to throw Caicedo in straight away. West Ham, who have so far managed to resist City’s attempts to sign Lucas Paquetá, will threaten on the counterattack. JS

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9

Carlos given chance by Mings loss

There was a crushing sense of deja vu when scans confirmed Tyrone Mings sustained an anterior cruciate ligament injury in defeat at Newcastle. Four days earlier it was Emi Buendía, in the very last action of training. For Aston Villa, the reality remains raw but misfortune breeds opportunity. With Mings unlikely to play again this season Pau Torres, a £35m buy from Villarreal this summer, or Diego Carlos, a £26m arrival from Sevilla the last one, will step in against Everton on Sunday. It was in this fixture last year, also on the second weekend of the season, that Carlos ruptured an achilles tendon on his home debut and the Brazilian, who went on to play only another 25 minutes at the end of last season, will inevitably be desperate to make up for lost time. BF



10

Arrivals add complications for Arteta

Mikel Arteta is under pressure. So is every manager, but not every manager manages Arsenal and no Arsenal manager has ever enjoyed such intense financial backing; Arteta has a player he likes in every position and various high-level replacements. But this can also complicate matters. Last season, because he had few options, he also had few dilemmas of tactics and personnel – which caught up with his team in the end, but also gave him a settled, cohesive unit. Now, though, Arteta must keep a squad happy and select the right players without losing the consistency that facilitated his team’s surprise title challenge. Last weekend, he experimented with Declan Rice and Kai Havertz alongside Martin Ødegaard in midfield, with Thomas Partey at right-back and Eddie Nketiah up front, but any side he put out was likely to beat Nottingham Forest at home. A night game at Selhurst Park, though, is trickier. DH


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