Talking points from the weekend’s EPL fixtures

AFTER the opening round of European fixtures in mid-week, the English Premier League returns for a full round of games. FocusM analyses each fixture as the weekend promises more goals and talking points.

Manchester City v Nottingham Forest (Sat, 10pm)

It seems like an eternity ago but Forest fans will be quick to remind the current European champions that they have two stars on their shirts compared to City’s solitary success.

City are faced with a bit of an injury crisis, with the likes of Bernado Silva, John Stones and Jack Grealish joining long-term absentee Kevin de Bruyne in the treatment room but Pep Guardiola can still call upon the likes of Phil Foden, Mattheus Nunes, Kalvin Phillips and Rico Lewis as cover. That strength in depth should help City overcome a Forest side showing signs of improving after their return to the top flight last season.

Luton Town v Wolverhampton Wanderers (Sat, 10pm)

Wolves were beaten at home by Liverpool after putting in a great first-half performance. To have nothing to show for their efforts will have stung Wolves players and they will be desperate to make amends against a struggling Luton side. The Hatters are still pointless and will need to start picking up points, especially at home, if they want to avoid a fast return to the championship. Ross Barkley’s return to the home side cannot come soon enough, as they seek his premiership experience to help push the team forward in search of that elusive first win.

Crystal Palace v Fulham (Sat, 10pm)

With both teams cementing their places as good bets for mid-table safety, the Cottagers and the Eagles will need to step up if they want to stake a claim for a European spot. Both are finding goals a little hard to come by having lost key personnel during the transfer window. Palace lost talisman Wilfred Zaha to Turkish side Galatasaray while Fulham were unable to prevent top scorer Aleksander Mitrovic making the switch to the Saudi Pro League. A draw seems likely in this London derby.

Brentford v Everton (Sat, 11.30pm)

Norberto Bercique Gomes Betuncal (affectionately known as Beto)


Sean Dyche will be desperate to turn things around for Everton after three successive one-nil defeats. Greatly improving Everton’s chances of survival is the late addition of Beto to their frontline, giving them a cutting edge that has been missing from their game for far too long.

The former Udinese striker was brought in for EUR25 mil and could just be the key man as the new owners – 777 Partners Consortium – look to build the Toffees into a team capable of challenging for a European spot rather than perennially looking to avoid the drop.

Burnley v Manchester United (Sun, 3am)

Andre Onana


On paper, this should be a walk in the park for a club of MU’s size and stature but the Premier League is an unforgiving environment and any sniff of weakness will be pounced upon. Burnley will sense an opportunity having seen MU’s new keeper, Andre Onana, struggle in the midweek defeat to Bayern Munich.

Vincent Kompany will surely be instructing his players to pump as many balls into the Man Utd box in an effort to test and possibly unnerve the Cameroon goalkeeper. Burnley will want to exploit a defence short on confidence after the Bavarians put four past them, earning them yet another defeat this early in the season.

Arsenal v Tottenham (Sun, 9pm)

It’s definitely the pick of the weekend’s fixtures with both teams entering the North London derby in good form. The Gunners will be buoyed by their emphatic dismantling of PSV Eindhoven on their return to Europe’s elite competition. Having missed out on European competition, Spurs will have had a full week to prepare for this encounter.

With so many exciting forwards from both sides in good form, expect plenty of goals in what should be an explosive encounter. With the likes of Gabriel Jesus, Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinez gelling into a formidable attacking unit, Arsenal might just have the firepower to take all three points.

Brighton & Hove Albion v Bournemouth (Sun, 9pm)

Brighton will be licking their wounds after a painful home defeat to AEK Athens in their first ever European fixture in midweek. The Seagulls have been neutrals’ favourite team with an exciting, attacking brand of football that favours a ‘high risk, high reward’ approach. Bournemouth are still looking to register their first win of the season and Brighton is hardly the ideal place for it.

However, the Cherries will take heart from the Greek side’s smash-and-grab and will be hoping the Seagulls are suffering from the dreaded European hangover.

Chelsea v Aston Villa (Sun, 9pm)

Another team that could be suffering a European hangover is Aston Villa. An eagerly awaited return to continental football ended with a painful defeat to Legia Warsaw in mid-week, underlining that there’s still plenty of work for Unai Emery to do.

Chelsea meanwhile are stuttering along as a slew of expensive stars struggle to adapt to coach Mauricio Pochettino’s methods and gel into anything resembling a cohesive unit. Raheem Sterling represents their most potent attacking threat, with his pace and invention key to Chelsea’s attempt at a home win.

Liverpool v West Ham United (Sun, 9pm)

Liverpool have made a habit of coming from behind before taking all three points this season. Their slow start to games was again evident in Austria where they needed three second-half goals to overcome LASK 1-3. David Moyes will be desperate to finally end his Anfield hoodoo having never won there in his long managerial career despite being in charge of MU and Everton.

His high-flying Hammers might actually represent his best chance at rectifying that, given their recent good form which includes victories over Brighton, Chelsea and, in Europe, Backa Topola. Meanwhile, Liverpool can rely on the sterling form of Mo Salah whose 10-minute cameo in Austria in mid-week yielded a spectacular solo goal and an assist.

Sheffield United v Newcastle United (Sun, 11.30pm)

Newcastle visited AC Milan in mid-week for their first European fixture in two decades and came back with a hard-earned point, thanks largely to the heroics of Nick Pope in goal. Being under the cosh at the homes of European royalty is understandable, but there can be no hiding place when the Geordies visit Bramall Lane.

The Magpies will be expected to take all three points from a struggling Sheffield United side, still winless after five games. The Blades will need to end their bad run at some point and will take heart from their spirited display against the Spurs last week. They just might spring a surprise over a Newcastle team unused to mid-week exertions on the continent. – Sept 23, 2023

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