Upcoming EPL weekend action

AFTER the international break, the self-styled “best league in the world” returns with much fanfare. Managers will be hoping their star players return injury-free as early-season form begins to take shape. Below FocusM looks at the weekend’s fixtures and the talking points from each.

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Liverpool (Sat, 7.30pm)

Liverpool will be missing Big Virg after his reaction to his sending-off at Newcastle saw him handed an extended ban. That would probably mean the pairing of Joe Gomez and Joel Matip would be retained to deal with the 6’7″ menace that is Sasa Kalajdzic.

All eyes will also be on which trio Jurgen Klopp will pick to lead the attack given he has five mercurial talents at his disposal: Luis Diaz, Darwin Nunez, Diogo Jota, Cody Gapko and last but not least, the irrepressible Mo Salah.

Manchester United v Brighton & Hove Albion (Sat, 10pm)

After a deflating last-minute defeat away to Arsenal, Manchester United (MU) desperately needs a pick-me-up to avoid an early-season crisis. However, the high-flying Seagulls will give no quarter and will fancy their chances against an injury-depleted side at Old Trafford.

With clouds hanging over the fates of Jordan Sancho, Antony Martial and Harry Macguire for very different reasons, defeat could leave MU having to re-evaluate their goals for the season after just five games.

West Ham United v Manchester City (Sat, 10pm)

The Hammers have begun the season in fine fashion, accumulating 10 points from the opening four games. They will not fear the reigning champions and will feel the time has come for the London club to stake a claim in the upper echelons of English football. Their European success last season has certainly laid the proper foundations for that and whetted their collective appetite for more silverware, with their supporters in buoyant mood.

Tottenham Hotspur v Sheffield United (Sat, 10pm)

After comprehensively dismantling Burnley in their last fixture, Spurs will be confident of inflicting equal amounts of pain on another newly promoted side. The Blades have had a difficult start to the season and have amassed a measly solitary point from their first four matches back in the big time.

They will not want a repeat of their previous season in the Premier League where they were relegated for playing a turgid brand of football. Blades supporters will be satisfied if the players show some backbone and maybe earn a point.

Fulham v Luton Town (Sat, 10pm)

The Hatters need to start picking up points if they want to steer clear of the drop zone. Craven Cottage is not the easiest place to do so, with Marco Silva’s side in eleventh place but after being thrashed by Manchester City just before the international break, morale may be low and Luton may just fancy their chances.

Jaoa Palhinha’s failed move to Bayern Munich on deadline day adds intrigue as Fulham fans will be wondering if the Portugal international already has his mind set on a Bavarian adventure come the January transfer window.

Aston Villa v Crystal Palace (Sat, 10pm)

The Villans’ form has been patchy and one-sided defeats to Liverpool and Newcastle underline the gap that must be bridged. In Unai Emery, they have a coach whose methods have seen European success and supporters will be hoping he can conjure up similar results sooner rather than later.

Midtable mediocrity is not what they were expecting after Villa’s late surge up the table last season. A home loss to the Eagles will raise some serious questions about Villa’s top six aspirations.

Eddie Howe 


Newcastle United v Brentford (Sat, 11.30pm)

Newcastle will be stewing from back-to-back defeats, most painfully to 10-man Liverpool at home. They were then systematically taken apart by Brighton a week later with critics again questioning Eddie Howe’s pedigree in leading a top-four side.

The new Saudi owners have shown restraint in the transfer market, and it remains to be seen if they will display similar patience if the Magpies lose three in a row. Brentford fear no one and will look to put Newcastle to the test with their fast, counter-attacking football.

Bournemouth v Chelsea (Sun, 9pm)

The Great Disruptor is what Chelsea owner Ted Boehly sees himself as, having spent close to a billion pounds since taking charge at Stamford Bridge, overinflating an already bloated market. Causing even Pep Guardiola to claim he would have been killed if he had spent that kind of money.

Sadly for Chelsea, but extremely funny to everyone else, the project has thus far failed to reflect the crazy money spent, with embarrassing defeats to West Ham and Nottingham Forest already blotting coach Mauricio Pochettino’s form book. A must-win game for Chelsea if they are to avoid talks of an early-season meltdown

Everton v Arsenal (Sun, 11.30pm)

It was defeat at Goodison Park last season that started Arsenal’s unravelling in the title race. Mikel Arteta will want better from his Gunners when they visit his former club, and his players will be buoyed by the dramatic win against MU before the international break.

With the return of Gabriel Jesus from injury and Bukaya Sako looking like a world-class talent, Arsenal should prove too much for a beleaguered Everton side, whose fans are rejoicing at potential new ownership.

Nottingham Forest v Burnley (Tues, 3.45am)

Vincent Kompany desperately needs three points to stop his Burnley side from becoming too used to defeats. Rock bottom with zero points is not how he would have planned Burnley’s start to the campaign, but Forest away does represent a genuine chance of kick-starting their season.

Kompany has stuck by his attacking principles which blossomed in the Championship but is making his side look naive at times at the elite level. Defeat here and there, and there will be calls for a Sam Allardyce-type manager to help stave off relegation, with pragmatism taking the place of Kompany’s adventurous approach. – Sept 16, 2023

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