5 talking points ahead of the Premier League weekend
Last year’s champions and runners-up will want to maintain momentum while the promoted clubs are all at home.
The new Premier League season continues with Manchester City, Liverpool and Manchester United among the clubs looking to build on strong starts.
Here, PA looks at the key talking points as the action gets under way.
A renewed Arsenal attack?
Arsenal’s first home game of the season could see them aided by some fresh faces and the return of familiar ones. Gunners boss Unai Emery has confirmed that Mesut Ozil and Sead Kolasinac are both ready to return to action after an attempted car-jacking in London that meant they missed the first weekend due to security concerns. Emery’s offensive options are further strengthened by summer signings Nicolas Pepe and Gabriel Martinelli, and he could also unleash Brazilian centre-back David Luiz for the first time since acquiring him from Chelsea. After defeating Newcastle in an uncharacteristically strong opening display, last season’s fifth-placed finishers host Burnley at home and can approach the fixture with confidence having beaten the Clarets 3-1 in both league encounters last season.
Lampard’s floundering fortunes
Frank Lampard has endured a less-than-ideal start to his first season as Chelsea boss. His squad suffered a resounding 4-0 defeat by Manchester United in their opening fixture, followed by a Super Cup final loss on penalties to Liverpool. This time Chelsea line up against Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester, and Lampard will be hoping his squad can produce a result that will silence the critics and swerve a hat-trick of defeats. Forced to turn to academy graduates due to a transfer ban, Lampard could once again include 20-year-old midfielder Mason Mount, while hoping Tammy Abraham, 21, is not crestfallen after his Super Cup final penalty was blocked. The striker has since received racist abuse via social media.
Business as usual for Manchester City?
Manchester City looked as dominant as ever when trouncing West Ham in a 5-0 victory at the London Stadium. A hat-trick from Raheem Sterling, a 25th-minute strike by Gabriel Jesus and a penalty from Sergio Aguero left the Hammers entirely out of contention. This weekend provides stiffer competition, however, as Pep Guardiola’s side take on Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham at the Etihad Stadium. Having omitted key goal scorer Aguero and the established Bernardo Silva from last weekend’s starting XI, it will be telling to see if they are reinstated as City move up a gear in their bid to win a third consecutive title.
Manchester United wary of Wolves
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United hit their stride in the season opener by putting four goals past Chelsea, who failed to respond. Their trip to Molineux to face Wolves may prove a tougher test, however, as United were unable to get the better of Nuno Espirito Santo’s side last term. Able to rattle several top-flight sides last season, Wolves have proved that it is unwise to underestimate their squad. While Solskjaer will be hoping to maintain their winning momentum, Wolves will be looking to collect three points after drawing their opening fixture with Leicester and are unlikely to fold as easily as Chelsea did.
Championship heroes on home turf
All three newly promoted sides will play in front of a home crowd for the first time this term. The opening weekend produced mixed fortunes for the debutants, with only Sheffield United emerging with a point having drawn against Bournemouth. Now fans will see their teams perform on home turf for the first time since their successful Championship campaigns, a factor the trio are surely hoping will aid them in securing their first Premier League wins since promotion. Norwich host Newcastle and Sheffield United take on Crystal Palace, while play-off winners Aston Villa face Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth.