Premier League preview: Eight talking points ahead of the weekend action

Ahead of this weekend’s Premier League fixtures we’ve assessed some of the division’s major talking points, with a huge clash between Liverpool and Chelsea headlining the third round of fixtures.

Elsewhere an out-of-sorts Arsenal travel to face Manchester City at the Etihad, whilst Harry Kane is set to return to the starting side for Tottenham after ending the uncertainty surrounding his future this week.


Here are eight major talking points ahead of the Premier League’s weekend action.

Arteta the apprentice needs performance ahead of Guardiola reunion

The pressure continues to grow on Mikel Arteta following Arsenal’s woeful start to the new season, the Gunners outworked and outclassed during their opening fixtures against Brentford and Chelsea.

Whilst the defeat at Brentford was a huge disappointment, the loss to Chelsea was a reflection of the north Londoners current status – a significant way adrift of the Premier League’s best sides.

Arteta was hailed as a potential successor to Pep Guardiola during his time on the coaching staff at Manchester City, but has endured a difficult start to his first senior role at the Emirates.

Arsenal face the realistic prospect of heading into the international break without a point, travelling to City in Saturday’s lunchtime fixture in a clash many are fearing the worst from.

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Guardiola’s side thrashed Norwich 5-0 last weekend and have won 10 of their last 11 against this weekend’s opponents, with the Etihad having been far from a happy hunting ground for Arsenal of late.

Arteta has spent more money than any other Premier League manager this summer and there remains huge question marks over the club’s recruitment, an improved performance – if not quite a result – is the least an unsettled fanbase will expect.

Can Toney find his feet at Premier League level?

Brentford have enjoyed an encouraging start to their first Premier League campaign, securing four points and successive clean sheets to sit eighth in the division ahead of this weekend’s fixtures.

Their strong start has been all the more impressive given talisman Ivan Toney is yet to open his account for the campaign, having fired the Bees’ promotion charge with a record-breaking 31-goal Championship campaign.

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Toney has risen rapidly through the lower leagues but the 25-year-old is yet to reap the rewards of his industrious performances to date, and he will hope to mix battling displays with the familiar sight of hitting the net in the coming weeks.

Brentford face an Aston Villa side still adjusting in the post-Jack Grealish era this weekend and Toney – rested for the Carabao Cup win over Forest Green in midweek – will be hoping to announce his arrival on the Premier League stage at Villa Park.

Can the Canaries contain Rodgers’ reeling Foxes?

The fixture computer has been far from kind to newly-promoted Norwich after handing the Canaries clashes with Liverpool and Man City to start the season, with the visit of Leicester this weekend making it three of last season’s top five in succession.

Eight goals conceded and none scored are worrying totals for Daniel Farke’s side regardless of the calibre of opposition, statistics that will need to improve if Norwich are to avoid an instant return to the second tier.

Leicester arrive at Carrow Road this weekend reeling from a 4-1 thrashing at West Ham on Monday night, a poor performance from Brendan Rodgers’ side whose lack of a settled backline was exposed at the London Stadium.

Jannick Vestergaard and Jonny Evans are both expected to miss this week’s clash and Norwich will be hoping to expose the visitors depleted defence.

Rodgers will demand nothing less than a response from his side however, which could lead to a cracker as both sides bid to capitalise on their opposition’s frailties.

Returning Armstrong can increase pressure on under-fire Bruce

Adam Armstrong is back in the Premier League after failing to make the grade at Newcastle, the forward afforded just one league start for the Magpies after coming through the academy ranks.

The drop into the second tier allowed the forward to flourish and a 28-goal season for Blackburn last term persuaded Southampton to make Armstrong their Danny Ings replacement.

The 24-year-old netted on his Premier League debut for the Saints and now returns to St James’ Park this weekend, where he will be hoping to show his former side how far he has come.

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Newcastle have opened the season with back-to-back losses and the already unpopular Steve Bruce is facing fierce pressure, his decision to field a second-string side for the mid-week Carabao Cup exit to Burnley having upped the unrest.

Armstrong – clocked as the fastest player in the Premier League so far this season – can haunt his former employers this weekend.

Anfield acid test awaits contenders Chelsea

Chelsea travel to face Liverpool this weekend in a huge clash between two potential title rivals, the former widely expected to challenge this season following their improvement under Thomas Tuchel.

The signing of Romelu Lukaku has provided the west Londoners with the centre-forward presence their side had previously lacked and last weekend’s 2-0 win at Arsenal was an encouraging start for the Belgium international.

Both Liverpool and Chelsea have begun the new season with successive wins, but Saturday’s clash represents a significant step-up in opposition for both clubs and will provide an early indicator of their championship credentials.

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The individual battle between Virgil van Dijk and Lukaku will be a fascinating match-up and could prove decisive to the outcome of the clash, with a trip to face Liverpool in front of raucous capacity crowd at Anfield the first real acid test for Chelsea this season.

Kane return can continue Spurs momentum

The will he, won’t he saga of Harry Kane’s future is finally over, with the forward this week confirming he will be staying at Tottenham.

Whether that decision has come from Spurs or as a result of Manchester City’s unwillingness to meet his asking price is unclear, but it represents a huge boost to Nuno Espirito Santo’s side.

Spurs have began the new season with consecutive wins despite the uncertainty surrounding their talisman, edging narrow clashes against both Manchester City and Wolves to make a perfect start.

The return of Kane can help the north Londoners continue that winning momentum, with the England captain having scored twice on his return to the starting side in the Europa Conference League in midweek.

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That performance should help erase any doubts over Kane’s mentality and the 28-year-old will hope to move on from the saga as he hunts silverware with Spurs this season, starting with a home clash against newly-promoted Watford this weekend.

Record-breaker Antonio a ‘proper’ number nine

Michail Antonio’s record-breaking moment for West Ham on Monday night resulted in a unique celebration, the forward becoming the Hammers’ record scorer in the Premier League era against Leicester.

A player whose best position was often questioned has now found his mojo at centre-forward, his switch to the number nine shirt completing his evolution from versatile wide player to bona fide central striker.

There are few players who possess Antonio’s blend of elite athleticism and the 31-year-old is primed to continue his strong start to the season against winless Crystal Palace this weekend.

Antonio’s three goals are the most of any player in the Premier League so far this season and an improvement on his career-best 10 league goals last term is well within reach for a player playing the best football of his career at present.

Varane and Sancho ready to make their mark for Manchester United

Manchester United’s summer transfer business has raised hopes of a title challenge this season, the marquee arrivals of Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane having addressed key areas of weakness.

Sancho’s impact so far has been substitute appearances across the first two Premier League games, whilst Varane is yet to make his bow for the Red Devils following a move from Real Madrid.

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Last weekend’s draw at Southampton was a disappointing result and performance from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, who travel to Wolves looking to get their season back on track.

The introduction of Sancho and Varane to the starting side at Molineux can aid that objective, with a clash against a misfiring Wolves team perhaps the perfect opportunity to introduce the latter to the demands of the Premier League.

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