Premier League: 10 things to look out for this weekend

1) Spurs profit from shrewd summer deals

Cutting off the supply lines between Harry Kane and Son Heung-min worked a treat for Chelsea last Sunday, until the introduction of Richarlison for the ineffective Ryan Sessegnon provided added distraction for the home side’s defenders, his off-the-ball runs repeatedly pulling them out of position. The Brazilian will be hoping to start against Wolves and his inclusion in the lineup could well spell disappointment for Son. Fitness permitting, Clément Lenglet is likely to fill in for the injured Cristian Romero and, with Sessegnon looking a good bet to make way for Ivan Perisic, Tottenham’s uncharacteristically early transfer dealings are already looking as sensible as they are shrewd. A second-half replacement for Hwang Hee-chan in his side’s scoreless draw against Fulham, it would also be no surprise to see Gonçalo Guedes make his first start for Wolves, and fellow big-money recruit Matheus Nunes could also feature. BG

  • Tottenham v Wolves, Saturday 12.30pm (all times BST)

2) Trio of Arsenal victories long overdue

The last time Arsenal won their opening three matches of the league season, they were in the middle of a 49-match unbeaten run. At the start of the 2004-05 season, as Arsène Wenger’s side breezed past Everton, Middlesbrough and Blackburn by an aggregate scoreline of 12-4, few would have predicted that it would take (at least) 18 years for them to make such a strong start again. The list of Arsenal goalscorers across those three games reads like a truncated roll call of the club’s greatest players of the 21st century: Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, Freddie Ljungberg, Robert Pires, José Antonio Reyes and Cesc Fàbregas, then still a goofy teenage prodigy. No pressure, then, on Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Jesus and Gabriel Martinelli. Arsenal finished second that season but, if they beat Bournemouth on Saturday, they are guaranteed to end the day top of the table. WM

  • Bournemouth v Arsenal, Saturday 5.30pm

Granit Xhaka after scoring against Leicester last weekend.
Granit Xhaka celebrates after scoring against Leicester last weekend. Photograph: Xinhua/Rex/Shutterstock

3) Howe’s defensive plan against champions

Pep Guardiola’s ominous warning that his already formidable Manchester City striker Erling Haaland is “step by step, only going to get better” has focused Newcastle fans’ minds on Eddie Howe’s likely defensive configuration on Sunday. Does the manager stick with his preferred back four and, if so, who out of Sven Botman, Dan Burn and Fabian Schär will drop to the bench? Last week all three played in the 0-0 draw at Brighton, but that was only because Burn switched to left-back to replace Matt Targett. On Sunday, though, Targett is expected to be fit enough for restoration to full-back, leaving Howe with a dilemma. He will surely plump for Schär and Botman, if only as that creates a nice right-footed/left-footed equilibrium. With Botman and Burn both left-footed, the dangers of a central defensive imbalance appear too great to risk. Alternatively, Howe could field a 3-4-3 formation featuring Kieran Trippier and Targett as wing-backs. LT

  • Newcastle v Manchester City, Sunday 4.30pm

4) Onana, that’s the game

In the absence of a point or a goalscorer – it is now 50 days since Richarlison was sold to Tottenham – the prospect of Amadou Onana making his full Everton debut against Nottingham Forest captures the imagination at Goodison Park. The midfielder, a recent £33m signing from Lille, made a brief but highly eventful introduction to the Premier League at Aston Villa last weekend. Replacing Conor Coady in the 81st minute, he lost possession in the buildup to Villa’s winner in the 86th, created a consolation seconds later and went close to salvaging an unlikely draw in stoppage time. Frank Lampard absolved the Belgian of blame for Villa’s second goal – “I want midfield players that want to receive the ball and play forward,” the manager said – and Onana, who had barely trained for 10 days before the game while his transfer went through, certainly offered a glimpse of the dynamic midfield presence that Everton crave. AH

  • Everton v Nottingham Forest, Saturday 3pm

5) Soucek key to Hammers’ hopes

West Ham’s desire to add more dynamism to their midfield is no secret. They have looked at several players this summer, but change is yet to arrive. Flynn Downes, signed from Swansea, is one for the future and, with the chase for a domineering new midfielder proving frustrating, David Moyes still finds himself leaning on Tomas Soucek amid doubts over the Czech Republic international’s future. The situation is not ideal and Moyes needs Soucek to up his game when West Ham, who have lost their first two matches, host Brighton on Sunday. It is a huge test. Brighton’s flexible midfield will pose plenty of problems and West Ham will struggle if Soucek, who can be vulnerable against a high press, is off the pace. Declan Rice cannot do it alone. Soucek, whose scoring threat diminished last season, has to put himself about and find a way of rediscovering his form. JS

Tomas Soucek during training on Wednesday.
Tomas Soucek during training on Wednesday. Photograph: James Griffiths/West Ham United/Rex/Shutterstock

5.1) Taylor unfairly in spotlight

Thomas Tuchel’s lament regarding the performance of the referee Anthony Taylor prompted a pile-on from the more paranoid, unhinged and entitled elements of Chelsea’s fanbase, more than 140,000 of whom have since signed a petition calling for the official to be precluded from taking charge of one of their fixtures ever again. Taylor will find himself unfairly placed in the spotlight when he officiates this match, his every decision subjected to intense scrutiny so that any small error can be pounced upon as “evidence” that he is in some way incompetent or corrupt. Even in the Premier League referees don’t get paid enough to put up with this sort of bullying and harassment. Until the serial whiners among the management ranks start getting properly punished with massive fines, suspensions or stadium bans, these officials – without whom the game cannot be played – would be well within their rights to down their whistles and go on strike. BG

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  • West Ham v Brighton, Sunday 2.30pm

6) Bamford overshadowing any contretemps?

After last weekend’s technical area altercation with Tottenham’s Antonio Conte, goodness knows how Tuchel will react to Jesse Marsch at Elland Road. Away from the pitch the Leeds manager is open, engaging and unfailingly courteous but, down on the touchline, Marsch sometimes seems to think he is still the pesky enforcer he once was as a player. Such lightly controlled aggression does not always go down too well with his managerial counterparts, so an intriguing subplot could centre on the dugouts. Patrick Bamford will hope to pass a fitness test in time to eclipse thoroughly such a sideshow, though. Marsch’s key striker always aims to impress – and never more so than against the club which employed him between 2012 and 2017, in which time he appeared for six different teams during assorted loan stints while failing to make a single first-team appearance in a Chelsea shirt. LT

  • Leeds v Chelsea, Sunday 2pm

7) One man’s misery is one Mings’ chance

Having stripped Tyrone Mings of the Aston Villa captaincy and left him on the bench for their season opener, Steven Gerrard raised quizzical eyebrows when he picked the England international to start against Everton last weekend. While those outside the Villa camp can only speculate over the healthiness of Gerrard’s relationship with his former captain, the long-term achilles injury suffered by Diego Carlos ought to mean Mings features more prominently in his manager’s plans than he might have expected to a fortnight ago. The absence of Diego Carlos should prompt the return of Ezri Konsa to Villa’s starting lineup when Crystal Palace rock up at Villa Park, while the lesser-spotted Calum Chambers is also available for a recall. BG

8) Barnes back to lift Leicester

For Leicester, good news has been in short supply of late but the return of Harvey Barnes from a knee injury has given Brendan Rodgers a timely boost. Leicester are yet to sign a senior outfield player this summer, while Barnes, Wesley Fofana and James Maddison have been the subject of inquiries from rival clubs this summer. There could be more positives if Leicester reach a deal with Maddison over a new deal, with the club keen to avoid a repeat of the situation they find themselves in with Youri Tielemans, who is out of contract next summer. “Both sides have to be able to find an agreement,” Rodgers said. “With James, with two years left, naturally the club would want to protect the asset. But it works both ways. Sometimes, everything goes on to the club. If a player – not saying James – doesn’t want to sign it, then it can be a stalemate.” BF

  • Leicester City v Southampton, Saturday 3pm

Brendan Rodgers facing the media on Thursday.
Brendan Rodgers facing the media on Thursday. Photograph: Plumb Images/Leicester City FC/Getty Images

9) Battle of the forwards by the Thames

Fulham will be hoping it’s a case of “after the lord mayor’s show” for Brentford when they visit Craven Cottage a week after their humiliation of Manchester United. While this west London match-up may lack the spice of more high-profile derbies, Marco Silva was critical of his players’ lack of first-half intensity on a sweltering afternoon at Molineux. We can expect them to come roaring out of the traps in a match that could hinge on the respective performances of the rival centre-forwards, Aleksandar Mitrovic and Ivan Toney. After his opening-day double, Mitrovic will be eager to make up for last week’s penalty miss. Interestingly, Fulham’s designated penalty taker has missed nine out of 31 career spot-kicks, while Toney has a vastly superior record of just one miss from 24. BG

10) Liverpool’s trip to basement boys

Forget a win or a draw, can Manchester United summon a credible performance in their third game of an already listing campaign? With Liverpool their Monday evening visitors the obvious answer may be no, but as Jürgen Klopp’s team have drawn their first two games, maybe there is a glimmer of hope for Erik ten Hag’s side. While the United manager should not have to gee up his thus-far dismal players for a meeting with their arch-rivals, the same equation is true for Klopp, already four points behind Manchester City after only 180 minutes of football. Expect Cristiano Ronaldo to start once more despite his desire to leave, and for United’s fragile confidence to crumble should Liverpool get an early goal. If that occurs then the Old Trafford crowd will have to find its voice to try to offer what their team lacks badly: belief. JJ

  • Manchester United v Liverpool, Monday 8pm

1Man City266
4Tottenham Hotspur234
9Aston Villa2-13
10Nottm Forest2-13
11AFC Bournemouth2-23
16Crystal Palace2-21
19West Ham2-30
20Man Utd2-50

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