Premier League: 10 things to look out for this weekend

first_imgShare on LinkedIn Facebook Premier League Pinterest Topics Read more Share on Facebook Newcastle United 7) Howe under scrutiny as Bournemouth seek potencyLike Palace, Bournemouth are still waiting for their first point of the season. Unlike Palace, they are not about to sack their manager. Just because Frank de Boer paid for his team’s wretched start, it does not follow that Eddie Howe’s job should be under threat. Howe’s achievements have earned him too much goodwill for Bournemouth to consider firing him without giving him a proper chance to turn things around. Nonetheless that does not mean that he should be immune from criticism. Bournemouth were desperately disappointing at Arsenal last weekend and Howe will face some tough questions if they lose to Brighton at home on Friday night. The biggest concern for Bournemouth is less their leaky defence and more that they are not clicking in attack. They have scored one goal in four matches, a wonder strike against Manchester City that came out of the blue from Charlie Daniels, and have not been creating enough chances. If that continues at home to a promoted side, it will be time to worry. JSBournemouth’s season: four defeats, one central problemGross double delivers first victory for Brighton8) A clue about the Oxlade-Chamberlain enigmaWhy did Liverpool want Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain? And why did he want to move to Liverpool? A smidgin of insight may be gleaned this weekend if, with Sadio Mané suspended, Oxlade-Chamberlain makes his first start for his new club against Burnley. He should prove to be a useful deputy for the Senegalese and also, on other occasions, for Mohamed Salah. He probably has grander aspirations than to be a high-end back-up player but that seems the only option reasonably available to him at the moment. Although Liverpool are humdrum in central midfield – and Emre Can should be waved off to Juventus or wherever he fancies going when his contract expires – any ambition that Oxlade-Chamberlain has of playing regularly in the middle before the arrival of Naby Keïta will remain delusional unless his passing and tackling improve a lot. The lack of control in central midfield is, of course, a contributory factor to Liverpool’s ramshackle defending. The persistence of those linked problems may give Oxlade-Chamberlain flashbacks to Arsenal, last month’s 4-0 win for Jürgen Klopp’s men over Arsène Wenger’s team notwithstanding. It will certainly give Burnley belief that they can plunder another valuable away point this season following their victory at Chelsea and the draw at Tottenham Hotspur. PDMisses prove costly for Klopp’s side against SevillaMané will not change his game despite Ederson regrets David Squires on … the Premier League, trapped bats and Roy Hodgson’s return Wayne Rooney and Everton need to bounce back from a torrid night in Italy on Thursday. Photograph: Elisabetta Baracchi/AP Watford Mikel Merino has thrived for Newcastle in Jonjo Shelvey’s absence. Photograph: Lewis/ProSports/Rex/Shutterstock Pinterest Ten things to look out for this weekend Share on WhatsApp 4) Will Sánchez return for Arsenal and who might he replace?Ever the optimist, Arsène Wenger remains adamant that Alexis Sánchez will continue to give his all for Arsenal even though the Chilean was denied a transfer to Manchester City, and despite the way the Chilean sulked through the humbling at Anfield last month. Yet it is easy to see why Wenger was so reluctant to sell Sánchez. You only have to think back to his outstanding performance in the FA Cup final victory over Chelsea in May to appreciate the effect Sánchez can have on this Arsenal team, explaining why his manager decided that the forward was worth keeping. It is a gamble, though. Sánchez’s attitude has reportedly tried the patience of his team-mates and there is no guarantee that he will go above and beyond as Arsenal attempt to climb back into the top four, even in a World Cup year. They won without him last weekend, beating Bournemouth 3-0 thanks to goals from Alexandre Lacazette and Danny Welbeck. Do either of them deserve to make way for Sánchez when Arsenal visit Chelsea on Sunday? Arsenal fans must be itching to see Sánchez and Lacazette start together at last. They also know that Sánchez is more likely than Welbeck to turn a game with one bravura moment. But what will it do for team harmony if Welbeck makes way for Sánchez and Chelsea hand Arsenal another Stamford Bridge humbling? Wenger has a big call to make. JSSánchez settles nerves as Arsenal beat CologneBarney Ronay: Arsenal caught on hop by Cologne fans5) How does Bilic get the best out of Hernández?West Ham United rallied around their beleaguered manager and went back to basics against Huddersfield on a wet and windy night at the London Stadium, securing their first league win with the kind of ugly performance that would make the likes of Lionel Messi think twice about playing in the famously tough Premier League. Slaven Bilic covered up his defence’s ponderousness by playing a back three, Michail Antonio created problems by bulldozing down both flanks and Andy Carroll’s uncomplicated game unsettled their opponents.Yet while Bilic bought himself some time, the win was built on shaky foundations. West Bromwich Albion are unlikely to be overawed by Carroll’s aerial threat at the Hawthorns, while the inclusion of the big striker against Huddersfield saw Javier Hernández shunted out to the left flank, where he was unsurprisingly ineffective and eventually substituted. The return of Marko Arnautovic from suspension could see the Mexican dropped to the bench, with Carroll continuing to lead the line instead. It is enough to make one wonder if West Ham have thought this through properly. Hernández’s scoring record at Manchester United and Bayer Leverkusen was impressive but because he is not at his best linking play, United often used him as an impact substitute. For a top team chasing a goal, he is a major asset. For a lesser side needing to relieve pressure, £16m signing Hernández lacks stature. He would probably be more dangerous playing alongside Carroll in a classic front two, but then the dilemma for Bilic would be how to fit Antonio, Arnautovic and Manuel Lanzini into his attack.In theory West Ham’s lone striker should be Diafra Sakho, who is quick, strong and dangerous. However the Senegalese needs to regain Bilic’s trust after his deadline-day shenanigans, meaning that West Ham could once again find themselves relying on Carroll, without necessarily being set up to exploit his strengths properly. Carroll has much to offer when he is fit but his presence also make the team too direct, making it harder to stretch opponents, cramping space for creative players. It is up to Bilic to find the right balance. JSWest Ham battle past Huddersfield to claim first winFootball Weekly Extra: our preview of the weekend’s action Marco Silva looks a good fit for Watford. Photograph: Sean Ryan/IPS/Rex/Shutterstock Read more Read more 1) Hodgson’s meat-and-potatoes approach to getting Palace in shapeFollowing the fiasco of Frank de Boer’s short reign at Selhurst Park, Roy Hodgson takes charge of a Crystal Palace team who have already suffered four scoreless defeats in as many Premier League matches. With trips to Manchester City, Manchester United and a home match against Chelsea to follow the game against Southampton, the importance of getting a morale-boosting result against comparatively easy opposition cannot be overstated and the manner in which Hodgson approaches this match will give Palace fans some idea what to expect in the months ahead. Quite how instant an impact he’ll have is open to question, considering that his former charge Simon Davies once said Hodgson had taken more than two years to “convert” Fulham’s players to methods that eventually got them to the 2010 Europa League final. Very recent history suggests he won’t get that kind of time at Palace. While we all know what atrocities they are capable of at their worst, at their best Hodgson’s teams work hard to maintain a solid shape that renders them difficult to break down, the stuff of relentless, presumably tedious but effective training ground drills. “Every day in training is geared towards team shape,” said Davies back then. “I’ve been working with the manager three seasons now and every day is team shape, and it shows.” While this meat-and-potatoes approach that has served Hodgson with varying degrees of success is unlikely to get Palace’s players or their supporters too excited, if it yields better results than De Boer’s methods it will do for now. BGRepetition and ruthlessness: why Hodgson could be perfect for PalaceBarney Ronay: which Hodgson will Crystal Palace get?2) Shakespeare spoilt for choice for once Despite having lost three of the four Premier League matches they’ve played so far this season, Leicester City don’t seem to have done a great deal wrong and their visit to Huddersfield pits them against a newly promoted side that didn’t taste Premier League defeat until the fourth time of asking. Circumstances beyond Craig Shakespeare’s control, ranging from injury, jet lag, the loss of Danny Drinkwater and the ongoing ineligibility of his replacement Adrien Silva, left the Leicester manager with a limited range of options against Chelsea. This weekend, he has plenty to choose from despite a vicious assault by a rogue training ground pole putting the fitness of Christian Fuchs in doubt. Yet to make more than a fleeting cameo for his new team, Kelechi Iheanacho scored in an under-23 match on Monday and looks bound to feature as he returns to full fitness, while centre-half Robert Huth and defensive midfielder Vicente Iborra have also returned from injury. Signed from Sevilla for £15m, Iborra has yet to make his Leicester debut and his availability, along with that of Huth and Iheanacho, will provide Shakespeare with the kind of selection headache that was beyond his wildest dreams last weekend. BGHammers ease Bilic’s fear of following De BoerMatty James: ‘I’ll remember the pain for the rest of my life’ 9) No happy return to Old Trafford for RooneyThe evidence at this admittedly early stage suggests that Ronald Koeman has spent around £200m to make Everton a slow, boring and unbalanced disgrace. An energetic and coherent performance against Manchester United at Old Trafford would be timely. But what can Koeman do to inspire that? A good start would be to start Dominic Calvert-Lewin up front to inject much-needed energy and a clearer sense of purpose. Omitting Sandro Ramírez to make way for the 20-year-old striker would be one option, but dropping Wayne Rooney on his return to Old Trafford would do more to shake up Everton. Koeman’s side, however, are still likely to look blunt going forward in comparison to United. Last season Ashley Williams berated his then-team-mate Romelu Lukaku for a displeasing attitude when Everton pitched up at Old Trafford. Lukaku gestured at the Welshman to shush; the chances of Williams keeping Lukaku quiet this weekend do not look good. PDEverton crumble against Atalanta in Europa LeaguePogba may be out for a month with hamstring injury Arsenal Twitter 10) Aurier to be eased into the Premier League Serge Aurier made an impressive Tottenham debut on Wednesday, constantly threatening Borussia Dortmund with his raids forward. But Kieran Trippier can do that pretty well too, and is more reliable defensively. He deserves to be considered as Spurs’ first-choice right-back, if Mauricio Pochettiino believes in such a role, which he might not. Nonetheless, a second deployment within a few days might be in order for Aurier, who could hardly wish for a more gentle introduction to the Premier League than a game against impotent Swansea, relegation candidates for sure. PDBarney Ronay: Kane’s masterclass of craft and energy galvanises SpursExcitement at odds with reality as Sanches makes his bow 6) Can Watford go top of the league?Manchester City encountered scant resistance when they travelled to Vicarage Road needing a win to qualify for the Champions League on the final day last season. With the departure of Walter Mazzarri already announced, Watford’s minds were elsewhere and a potentially awkward assignment for Pep Guardiola’s inconsistent side turned into a stroll. The home fans seethed as the visitors raced into a 4-0 lead by the interval. It finished 5-0. It could have been 10. Anyone watching that game might have feared for Watford this season. Losing seven of their final eight matches wasn’t particularly encouraging either. But of course they were letting Mazzarri go, offering them a chance to start afresh, as long as they picked the right replacement for the Italian. There was every reason to suspect that they would, as the Pozzo family have mostly made correct decisions and swiftly rectified errors since buying Watford five years ago.They got their man. Marco Silva might have gone down with Hull City, but he played a bad hand as well as he could, and Watford have quickly warmed to his leadership. Having bought astutely, bringing in players from home and abroad, they have been solid and organised, keeping three clean sheets in their first four matches while making sure to carry a threat up front. They are fourth, two points behind City, and will go top for at least 24 hours if they stun Guardiola’s side on Saturday afternoon. City have scored nine goals without reply in their past two matches, but they should not expect to receive such a hospitable welcome at Vicarage Road this time. They could be punished if their focus dips. JSJanmaat thunderbolt confirms Watford victoryStones strikes twice as City cruise against Feyenoord Facebook Twitter The Recap: sign up for the best of the Guardian’s sport coverage Facebook Leicester City Crystal Palace 3) Will Merino keep Shelvey on the outside looking in?For all the talk of impending crisis at St James’ Park this summer, Newcastle prepare to entertain Stoke City on the back of consecutive Premier League wins few of their fans could have foreseen after defeats at the hands of Tottenham and Huddersfield. Rafael Benítez missed his team’s win over Swansea as he recuperated from surgery but will be back in his technical area to make confusing hand gestures for the visit of Stoke, who were branded dirty long-ball merchants by a Manchester United manager who has never been slow to stick Marouane Fellaini up front and target him with bombs in times of crisis. Eligible for selection again after serving a three-match ban for his idiotic impetuousness against Tottenham Hotspur, it will be intriguing to see how much work Jonjo Shelvey has to do to regain his manager’s trust. The Newcastle quarter-back played for the under-23s earlier this week, but is unlikely to earn an instant recall to the first team. His replacement, Mikel Merino, a 21-year-old Spaniard in on loan from Borussia Dortmund, has impressed in Shelvey’s absence and was named the Newcastle fans’ player of the month for August. Already an early contender for September’s award after his performance against Swansea, he will not be easily displaced. BGBenítez reveals Shelvey apology for Tottenham red card Twitter Share via Email Pinterest Share on Twitter Share on Messenger Frank de Boer left Crystal Palace after 77 days. Dave Bassett didn’t last 77 hours Share on Pinterest West Ham United blogposts Reuse this contentlast_img

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