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


1) Liverpool welcome Arsenal as Emery faces first real test

This is where it gets serious for Arsenal. They have made a solid start, seeing off Newcastle and Burnley by one-goal margins, and there is renewed optimism after an encouraging show of ambition in the summer. As transfer windows go from an Arsenal perspective, the signings of David Luiz, Kieran Tierney, Dani Ceballos and Nicolas Pépé represent a big step in the right direction and have gone a way towards quelling supporter unrest. Yet Unai Emery’s side have not faced a proper test yet and they will learn how much progress has been made when they visit Anfield. Arsenal have suffered 3-1, 4-0 and 5-1 defeats on their last three visits, so cannot come out all guns blazing against the European champions. We know they can score against anyone but this is an opportunity for the north Londoners to show that David Luiz will improve their defence and prove they are capable of maintaining their organisation when the going gets tough. JS
Liverpool v Arsenal, Saturday, 5.30pm (all times BST)

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2) Bournemouth ponder how to stop Manchester City

Riyad Mahrez scored the only goal on Manchester City’s last visit to Dorset in March. It was a scruffy strike and a dreadful game, but it was the fact Bournemouth had no shots, no corners and less than 20% possession that dominated the discourse. England defender Kyle Walker, for example, completed more passes than the entire Bournemouth team but Pep Guardiola described it as one of his side’s best performances, while Eddie Howe said City were so peerless that they did not give his side a sniff. Howe took plenty of flak for successfully making life difficult – until that game City led 24-3 across seven top-flight meetings – and he must be tempted to do so again, and bear the brunt of any criticism that will inevitably come. “It is difficult,” Howe said. “You want to be competitive but that was the way for us to make the game tight.” BF
Bournemouth v Manchester City, Sunday, 2pm

3) Bruce already under pressure

Newcastle visit Tottenham looking for their first point, with Steve Bruce already facing questions about the tactics – or lack of them – he employs. His team were dismal at Norwich last week and, in the aftermath, former Newcastle striker Michael Chopra claimed in a radio interview with TalkSport that he had spoken to senior players at the club who claimed they “don’t know their jobs” under Bruce. On social media, Chopra’s comments seemed to be largely ridiculed by fans who preferred to focus on his own shortcomings as a player rather than address the clearly salient points he made about those currently representing their team. While all available evidence from the Norwich debacle suggests he might have had a point, Sunday’s trip ought to provide Newcastle supporters with a very clear indication of exactly just how concerned they should be. BG
Tottenham v Newcastle, Sunday, 4.30pm



Newcastle players play a possession game during training this week. Photograph: Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images

4) Old friends Wan-Bissaka and Zaha set for tasty duel

The first time Aaron Wan-Bissaka came up against Wilfried Zaha, the rookie right-back surprised Crystal Palace’s best player by nullifying him with his turn of pace and tackling ability. Both players will remember those duels when Palace visit Old Trafford. Unfortunately for Palace they are not teammates any more and Wan-Bissaka, who has not looked out of place after his £45m move to Manchester United, could be tasked with subduing Zaha when he faces his old side. Unlike Wan-Bissaka, Zaha did not get his summer move and Roy Hodgson, whose side are yet to score this season, needs the winger to step up. JS
Manchester United v Crystal Palace, Saturday, 3pm

5) Lampard needs a solution

While those of us who thought Teemu Pukki might struggle to carry Championship form into the Premier League are left wiping a combination of egg and remnants of humble pie from our faces, Chelsea travel to Carrow Road, hoping to put a stop to the gallop of a striker who scored 29 goals last season and has already got four to his name in his first two top-flight excursions. Yet to keep a clean sheet in three competitive games without a win under Frank Lampard, they have been handed a boost with the news Antonio Rudiger has been declared fit and could replace Kurt Zouma in the heart of their defence. It is further up the pitch where Chelsea’s defensive shortcomings seem more apparent, as was evidenced by the manner in which both Manchester United and Leicester repeatedly bypassed their midfield. A team that has refused to compromise their principles as they embark on this season’s adventure, Norwich are similarly lethal in transitional play and should cause their opponents similar problems. Lampard will need to come up with a solution if he is to secure his first win. BG
Norwich v Chelsea, Saturday, 12.30pm

Chelsea held an open training session at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.



Chelsea held an open training session at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday. Photograph: Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

6) Villa feel optimism but look short in attack

The last time Aston Villa entertained Everton, home supporters staged a walkout in protest against then owner Randy Lerner. Discontent reigned, apathetic fans’ feelings summed up by a banner in the stands at Old Trafford when relegation was confirmed a month later. It read: from Rotterdam to Rotherham. Fast-forward three years and, despite a pointless start on their Premier League return, the mood could not be more different under Dean Smith. The early performances have been encouraging – Villa Park is sold out on Friday – but there is already a worrying onus on Wesley, a £22m club-record signing from Club Brugge and the only senior striker in the squad, to find the net. Scott Hogan has been farmed out on loan to Stoke, Jonathan Kodjia is injured and 21-year-old Keinan Davis has not scored a league goal since September 2017. Villa spent more than £127 this summer, making 12 signings but Smith’s side already seem stretched. BF
Aston Villa v Everton, Friday, 8pm

7) Sarr can help change Hornets’ fortunes

Goalless and pointless in two games with just one win in their past nine, Watford already look a pale imitation of the side that won their first four Premier League games last season. While their performance in defeat to Everton was a marked improvement on what passed for their effort against Brighton, the ultimate outcome – defeat – was the same. In light of their team’s worryingly poor start, Watford fans will have been heartened to learn that Ismaila Sarr took part in first-team training for the first time on Tuesday and is in line for a call-up for this weekend’s game against West Ham. The club’s record £30m signing, brought in from Rennes, Sarr could get his first taste of action at Vicarage Road and looks a certain to start on the right wing when fully fit. Without the injured Troy Deeney, should Javi Gracia stick to his 4-4-2 formation, a team that has yet to score will have Gerard Deulofeu, Andre Gray and Danny Welbeck fighting it out for two berths. BG
Watford v West Ham, Saturday, 3pm

Watford’s new signings Ismaila Sarr and Danny Welbeck.



Watford’s new signings Ismaila Sarr and Danny Welbeck. Photograph: Nick Potts/PA

8) Blades look the part as Wilder’s methods carry wide

Chris Wilder’s overlapping centre-backs have caused a stir well beyond Bramall Lane, with Chris Basham and Jack O’Connell reaching the pages of Italian daily Corriere dello Sport this week. Wilder’s methods impressed those on the Match of the Day sofa and Marcelo Bielsa last season, with the Leeds manager saying: “I have seen very few people with these kinds of ideas.” But there is more to Wilder’s side than Basham bombing forward at every opportunity. A three-man defence, including John Egan, and the midfield axis of Oli Norwood, a cute passer, John Fleck, who offers no end of bite and John Lundstram – who has now scored in each of the top four divisions of English football – are not the most glamorous but they have a psychic understanding, built on last season’s solid foundations. Up front David McGoldrick is also yet to look out of place. BF
Sheffield United v Leicester, Saturday, 3pm

9) How will Wolves cope with workload?

Nuno Espírito Santo could ask Sean Dyche a thing or two about the challenge of balancing European tour with a Premier League campaign. Burnley’s struggles during the first half of last season are a warning to Wolves. Dyche’s side looked drained after failing to make it past the Europa League play-offs last summer and Wolves must take care to ensure fatigue does not hinder them. Yet it has been a taxing schedule for Wolves. They had to battle hard to earn a point against United on Monday and will not relish facing opponents as tough as Burnley three days after a tough first leg of their Europa League play-off against Torino in Italy, which they won 3-2. JS
Wolves v Burnley, Sunday, 4.30pm

10) Vibrant Saints have reasons to be cheerful

Last weekend Jürgen Klopp said what almost every Southampton supporter has long thought. “What a team Southampton would have if all of those players had had stayed here,” he said, referencing Sadio Mané, Virgil van Dijk and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, with Dejan Lovren and Adam Lallana also swapping the south coast for Merseyside in years gone by. After two games Ralph Hasenhüttl’s side have zero points but it is not all doom and gloom for a team packed with more young talent determined to make their mark. Yan Valery, the 20-year-old full-back, particularly impressed against Liverpool, while striker Che Adams and captain Pierre-Emile Højbjerg have also shown glimpses of quality. Along with Angus Gunn and summer signing Moussa Djenepo, there are reasons to be cheerful, with this vibrant side more than capable picking up their first win at Brighton, who have started well under Graham Potter. BF
Brighton v Southampton, Saturday, 3pm





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