Each week we preview the Premier League action and discuss some of the division’s major talking points.
Eight talking points ahead of the Premier League weekend:
Liverpool looking like their old selves
Are Liverpool title challengers?
Doubts surrounded Jurgen Klopp’s side after an unconvincing opening weekend draw at Chelsea, but the Reds have since rattled off three consecutive wins – beating Newcastle and Aston Villa in the process – to sit third in the table.
After a disappointing 2022/23 campaign with saw Liverpool look leggy in midfield, Klopp has rebuilt his engine room and the Reds look rather more like their old selves. Liverpool rank second for attempted presses (151) in the Premier League this season, having ranked 17th in the division on the same metric after four games last season.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) September 5, 2023
Dominik Szoboszlai has quickly impressed since arriving from RB Leipzig, while Ryan Gravenberch could debut against Wolves this weekend after signing from Bayern Munich on deadline day. Manchester City remain strong favourites for the title, but Liverpool will hope to establish themselves as the champion’s closest challengers once again.
Hope for Hatters against frail Fulham
Luton remain in search of their first Premier League point and travel to face Fulham this weekend.
The Hatters have opened the campaign with three consecutive losses, but will face Fulham with hope at Craven Cottage. Marco Silva’s side are yet to win on home soil this season and head into the game after a 5-1 thrashing at Manchester City last time out.
Fulham posted the worst expected goals against (xGA) figures in the Premier League last season despite a top-half finish and their defensive issues remain, with the Cottagers again topping that metric (11.49) during the current campaign. Only Burnley have conceded more than Fulham’s 10 goals this season.
Luton have also posted a better expected goals for figure (4.37) than Fulham (4.30) this season, despite playing a game less than the west Londoners.
Release the Hojland
Manchester United’s late defeat at Arsenal before the international break was a tough pill to swallow, but the silver lining in that loss was an encouraging cameo from Rasmus Hojland. The summer signing has had to wait for his debut after arriving at Old Trafford with a back issue, but came off the bench at Arsenal to impress.
The 20-year-old showed a neat first touch with a flick in the build-up to Alejandro Garnacho’s disallowed goal, while he troubled Arsenal’s centre-back pairing with brazen bursts of speed.
🇩🇰 Rasmus Højlund’s six goals in #EURO2024 qualifying so far
Joint 🔝 goalscorer 🔥 pic.twitter.com/qa8IChSOjy
— UEFA EURO 2024 (@EURO2024) September 6, 2023
Hojland has the physical frame and athletic attributes to provide a different dynamic to Erik ten Hag’s frontline, with his work-ethic and directness in contrast to Anthony Martial.
United placed their faith in the Dane with a £72m fee for his services this summer. It’s time to see whether Hojland can be the man to end their woes at number nine.
Spurs chasing record-breaking start
The mood can change quickly in football.
After initially being underwhelmed by Ange Postecoglou’s appointment and left despairing after the sale of Harry Kane, Spurs supporters are rather more positive after a superb start to the season.
The north Londoners are second in the Premier League table and have reached those heights with an attractive brand of football, raising optimism that the truly good times might just be around the corner.
Spurs face Sheffield United this weekend and a win would confirm the club’s best start to a season since 1965/66. With fixtures with Arsenal and Liverpool to come immediately after hosting the Blades, Postecoglou will want maximum points before his improving side take on their first major examinations of the Premier League season.
Do Hammers have blueprint for upset?
Manchester City have cruised to their usual position at the top of the Premier League with minimal fuss, the sole side in the division with a perfect record after four games. Pep Guardiola’s side might not have hit top gear, but City are side who, even below their best, are usually too much for opposition sides to handle.
The champions travel to face West Ham this weekend, a side who have enjoyed their best start to a Premier League campaign this century. The momentum from last season’s Conference League success has continued into the new season, with James Ward-Prowse and Edson Alvarez having done a fine job in replacing the Declan Rice-shaped void in the Irons’ midfield.
HT: Brighton 0-1 West Ham
Possession: 84% to Brighton, 16% to WHU 😳 pic.twitter.com/YhTffETyUM
— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) August 26, 2023
West Ham are unbeaten this season, despite an average possession of just 36.2%, the third-lowest figure in the league. David Moyes has reverted back to type with defensive solidity and a clinical counter-attacking game plan, one which had stunning success at Brighton last month.
Brighton finished the match with a whopping 79% of possession, but were undone on the break to lose 3-1. West Ham are likely to follow a similar set-up for the clash with City, targeting opportunities on the counter and from set-pieces.
Konstantinos Mavropanos – fresh from heading home two goals for Greece during the international break – adds another target for Ward-Prowse’s wicked deliveries and could debut.
No need for Newcastle panic
Newcastle find themselves seven points off the top four after a testing start to the campaign, one which has now seen the Magpies lose three consecutive Premier League games.
Eddie Howe’s side need not panic however, with no side in the division having had a tougher start. Newcastle have faced four of last season’s top seven in the opening four games of the season, while Manchester City, Liverpool and Brighton represent three of the most challenging games in the Premier League on current form.
Newcastle will have wanted better than their pointless return from those games, but the season remains early and this weekend’s home date with Brentford represents a chance to get back on track.
Howe will demand defensive improvement from his side, who have lost the solidity on which their Champions League qualification was built. Despite having the joint-best defensive record in the Premier League last season, Newcastle have now kept just two clean sheets in their last 22 fixtures.
Patience needed for Chelsea signing Jackson
Nicolas Jackson has proven to be a handful across his opening performances for Chelsea, but equally, all the signs are that the Senegalese striker will need time to adapt.
Jackson has been tasked with solving Chelsea’s centre-forward issues, though the 22-year-old remains raw and has arrived in the Premier League with just one season of senior experience.
Jackson was guilty of missing a glaring chance during the 1-0 defeat to Nottingham Forest last time out, blazing over from just four yards out. It continued a poor record around goal this season, with no player having missed more big chances (6) than Jackson in the Premier League.
6️⃣ big chances 𝐦𝐢𝐬𝐬𝐞𝐝
Nicolas Jackson has the most missed chances in the Premier League this season so far pic.twitter.com/s8hQfp5cCn
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) September 6, 2023
Last season Jackson converted 58% of his big chances at Villarreal, but that figure has dropped to just 14% over the first four fixtures of the Premier League campaign. The promise is obvious, but Chelsea fans will require patience for a player still finding his feet at this level.
Can Arsenal end Everton misery?
Arsenal travel to face Everton in the Premier League this weekend, a ground which has been a rather unhappy place for the Gunners in recent seasons.
Arsenal have not won at Everton since 2017, with the north Londoners failing to win at Goodison Park since former manager Arsene Wenger left the Emirates.
Last season Arsenal arrived as league leaders and unbeaten in 13 Premier League games, but were beaten by the Blues as Everton enjoyed a new manager bounce in Sean Dyche’s first game in charge.
Last Five results vs Arsenal, At Goodison.
Everton 1-0 Arsenal. ✅
Everton 2-1 Arsenal. ✅
Everton 2-1 Arsenal. ✅
Everton 0-0 Arsenal. 🤝
Everton 1-0 Arsenal. ✅
Let’s extend it, Sunday! 🙏🏼 pic.twitter.com/DTIX1JR7rB
— EFC DAILY (@EFCdaily_) September 13, 2023
Everton’s physical midfield unsettled the Gunners’ rhythm and provided the platform for a 1-0 win, with the Toffees having now won four and drawn one of the last five meetings on Merseyside.