5 talking points ahead of this weekend’s Premier League fixtures
Will Manchester United see off Southampton?
Premier League sides head into game week four looking to enter the international break on a high.
Ahead of this weekend’s matches, the PA news agency picks out five of the main talking points.
Can Solskjaer’s side see off Saints?
An opening-day thumping of Chelsea and promising performance at Wolves was followed by an all too familiar feeling of disappointment last weekend. Manchester United failed to take their chances and were struck by a late sucker punch as Crystal Palace secured a memorable 2-1 win at Old Trafford. While it has not sent Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side into a tailspin, defeat in the early kick-off at St Mary’s would increase scrutiny. Ralph Hasenhuttl’s Southampton head into the match energised by away wins at Brighton and Fulham in the Carabao Cup. Saints managed to get a 2-2 draw against Jose Mourinho’s men even with Mark Hughes at the helm, so may well fancy their chances of a first home win against United since 2003.
Will Gracia stop the rot?
Watford have been adept at changing managers without disrupting the squad too much. In Javi Gracia, the Hornets finally appeared to find a man to build for the future and last November rewarded him with a new and improved contract until 2023. The fact the deal included the option to extend the Spaniard’s deal by a further three years showed the respect towards him at Vicarage Road. But that success and Watford’s run to the FA Cup final has been followed by a poor start to the campaign. The only side yet to win a point, victory at Newcastle would provide a much-needed shot in the arm.
Who will be the kings of north London?
All eyes will be on the Emirates Stadium on Sunday afternoon for the latest edition of the north London derby. Tottenham make the short journey on the back of a chastening 1-0 home loss to struggling Newcastle last weekend, but Mauricio Pochettino’s men have the chance to become the second Spurs side to rack up back-to-back wins in the Gunners’ backyard. That is something Unai Emery’s side will be desperate to avoid. Arsenal impressed with their late work in the transfer market, but they were put in their place by Liverpool in a 3-1 Anfield loss last weekend. It promises to be a fascinating clash.
Liverpool to be hurt by Barnes and Burnley?
Jurgen Klopp’s men can win a 13th straight league match for the first time in their history on Saturday evening – but that result is unlikely to come easy at Turf Moor. Mohamed Salah shone with his brace against Arsenal, but Burnley boast their own free-scoring forward in the form of Ashley Barnes. He has scored four goals in the opening three matches of the season and a third of Barnes’ Premier League haul since his top-flight bow in August 2014 have come against the top six. Virgil van Dijk, crowned UEFA Men’s Player of the Year for 2019 on Thursday, and his team-mates will need to be alert.
Can the Seagulls peck at City?
Brighton have never won a league match at Manchester City and Pep Guardiola’s side have won their previous five encounters in all competitions. Admittedly, the statistics do not bode well for Graham Potter’s men but there have been some promising signs from Albion under their new boss. A 3-0 opening-day win at Watford was an impressive marker for side that will need to surpass that performance to get anything at the Etihad Stadium. City’s last home match ended in a frustrating 2-2 draw with Tottenham, but they have won 49 of 51 points since losing to Newcastle in January. It is a big ask but Potter’s Swansea side gave City a scare in last season’s FA Cup.