Premier League: 10 things to watch out for this weekend | Premier League

1) The loss of forests may hasten Conte’s exit

Antonio Conte’s performance the season he won the league with Chelsea was spectacularly brilliant, but things have changed since then. No Bar Conte’s Chelsea team has won the Premier League by playing with three at the back; the standard at the top of the table is much higher now than it was then. Of the current five, only Conte’s Spurs play with a strenuous, careful and conscientious style that makes watching them an imposition. While Conte likes to trumpet his achievement in Spurs’ Champions League qualifiers, they were poor last season, the other teams just so happened to be worse, and their performance in the competition only showed how far his side is – despite spending around £150 in the summer million pounds – and how far from it, since he has scored the last eight only once in six attempts. Conte is running out of time and another poor result this weekend could mean the end. Daniel Harris

2) Liverpool’s forwards will not want to rest

When the two sides met in August, Liverpool won 9-0 at Anfield, costing Scott Parker his job. Jürgen Klopp’s men go into this match after an impressive 7-0 win over Manchester United, with Bournemouth winning once in their last 12 matches in all competitions. The signs are ominous for the cherries from the bottom of the table. Four Liverpool strikers scored in United’s attack, giving the front line a much-needed boost of confidence. Cody Gakpo, Mohamed Salah and Darwin Núñez and others will be eager for more shooting practice on the south coast as they head to Madrid midweek in desperate hopes of overcoming a three-goal deficit against Real so they will not want to be sacked, especially against a team that conceded seven goals in the last two matches. Rest can wait when it comes to goals. WU

3) Potter needs the Blues to keep fit

Chelsea beating Borussia Dortmund should come as no surprise: they have too many good players to be too bad for too long, and they hired a system coach who needed time to evaluate the bloated squad and instill his methods. Whether Graham Potter is the right man for the job remains an open question – would Brighton be as good under him as under his successor Roberto De Zerbi? Why did they start scoring as soon as he left and why did the issue of attacking impotence follow him to Stamford Bridge? He bought himself some time. The question, however, is whether the players and supporters believe in him, because even if the board would prefer to avoid the embarrassment of sacking the man they brought in to replace Champions League winner Thomas Tuchel – who they sacked for not respecting enough – if Chelsea’s league form does not improve immediately, they may soon have no choice. DH

Graham Potter, right, and Kai Havertz, left, talking.
Graham Potter saw Chelsea win twice in two games. Photo: Dave Shopland/Shutterstock

4) Team depth solving Arteta’s issues

If Arsenal are crowned champions, last weekend’s late victory over Bournemouth will no doubt be seen as a pivotal moment, and of course the dramatic nature of the final dominated the post-match discourse. How it happened should not be ignored. Mikel Arteta started Fábio Vieira in midfield, preferring his creativity to Granit Xhaka’s physicality, and replaced Jorginho with Thomas Partey, who scored; he removed Takehiro Tomiyasu at half-time to introduce the more enterprising Ben White, who also scored; and after sending Emile Smith Rowe for the injured Leandro Trossard, he then replaced his substitute with Reiss Nelson, who scored the winning goal. In other words, Arteta is now able to select specific players for specific games that may suit them, and if things go wrong, options on the bench to replace them. As such, and while Fulham are decent, chances are Arsenal will find a way to win. DH

All 11 Arsenal players celebrate their 97th minute victory against Bournemouth.
All 11 Arsenal players celebrate their 97th minute victory against Bournemouth. Photo: Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC/Getty Images

5) The Eagles need goals in difficult times

Crystal Palace haven’t won a game since the last day of last year and the pressure is mounting on Patrick Vieira. Twenty-one goals in 25 games is a terrible comeback for a team that boasts strikers as imaginative as Wilfried Zaha, Eberechi Eze and Michael Olise, and while there are likely to be three inferior teams in the league, there is no way, Deep into the season, Palace should be five points clear of the relegation zone. And they are unlikely to find their guests in a charitable mood. Manchester City have been extremely lenient recently, failing to punish Arsenal for their defeat to Everton – they lost to Spurs the next day – and then, after beating Arsenal, immediately gave away two of the three points they had drawn with Forest. While this may give Palace a glimmer of hope, another unfortunate weekend for the team looks likely – and with Brighton and then Arsenal, things could get worse. DH

6) United must forget the loss at Anfield

A 7-0 score that has eluded its biggest rival can never be erased from the record books, but Erik ten Hag will tell his players that, in addition to the loss of reputation and the mockery rights it gives to all opposition supporters, the material losses caused by the humiliation of last Sunday in Liverpool were huge. only three points. Southampton’s visit is Manchester United’s first Premier League match since then and a glance at the table shows them seven points behind Jürgen Klopp’s fifth-placed side. This means that Ten Hag can also raise their allegations by pointing out that after 13 matches to the end they keep a comfortable and comfortable cushion in the pursuit of Champions League football and that with the Carabao Cup and United still in Europe and the FA Cup, the overall picture remains pink when the decisive phase of the campaign begins. Jamie Jackson

skip previous newsletter promotion

7) Dyche needs to learn to get more out of subs

It was not until the 89th minute of Everton’s 2-2 draw with Nottingham Forest that personnel changes were made. Neal Maupay and Tom Davies were brought in as the Toffees held on to the point. It shows the lack of options at Sean Dyche’s disposal when it comes to changing the game. Against Forest, he had four defenders on the bench, two central midfielders and two forwards who have scored once in the Premier League this season. The momentum went towards Forest after Brennan Johnson’s leveler, but Dyche stuck with his tired players, feeling he trusted them the most. At Burnley, Dyche would rely on a similar core group, keeping fringe players as perennial unused substitutes. If he is to take Everton out of the relegation zone, he will have to rely on a full squad, knowing the roles they can play off the bench to make the difference in difficult situations as there will be plenty of them in the final 12 games of the campaign. WU

Tom Davies chasing a ball in Nottingham Forest.
Tom Davies was a late substitute against Nottingham Forest. Photo: Tony McArdle/Everton FC/Getty Images

8) Wilson hunts for goals as Newcastle chase the sun

It’s been almost two months since Newcastle last won a game in the top flight and they have recorded just one league win in their last eight attempts. Unsurprisingly, failure to beat Wolves could put Eddie Howe on the brink of his first mini-crisis as Newcastle manager. While everything is relative – this time last year the team struggled to stay relegated, and now a place in the Champions League remains in sight – some fear that a campaign that started with overwhelming promise is now in danger of failing. A big part of the problem is Callum Wilson’s loss of form after the World Cup. Since returning from Qatar, the English forward, who is integral to Howe’s ambitions, has scored just once in 14 appearances. “I’m a striker so I take responsibility,” Wilson told Footballers’ Football Podcast. “I have to fix the situation in front of the goal. It’s important not to let self-doubt creep in, but I’ve heard noise and negativity and I use that as motivation.” Perhaps the centre-forward, who has struggled with illness and injury in recent weeks, will benefit from a restorative, vitamin D-infused sunny trip to Dubai later this month. Meanwhile, Howe could probably do worse than changing formation and pairing Wilson and Alexander Isak up front. Louise Taylor

9) Emery has a helper problem to solve

Aston Villa’s impressive away record since the appointment of Unai Emery will be a worry for West Ham. Emery has lost one away game in the league since his appointment, a 3–1 defeat to Manchester City. The impressive streak included wins over Brighton, Tottenham, Everton and Southampton. Villa have become an effective counter-attacking force thanks in large part to the work that Ollie Watkins is doing up front, and they will be imagining their chances of furthering West Ham’s relegation fears. However, Villa has a problem to solve in midfield. Boubacar Kamara will be out for a month after injuring his ankle in last weekend’s win over Crystal Palace and Emery is short of a replacement for the influential Frenchman who fell victim to Cheick Doucouré’s crude outing. He suggested using Calum Chambers and he could move John McGinn or Jacob Ramsey into a deeper role. But Leander Dendoncker is a doubt. Jacob Steinberg

10) Leeds gets a push to think ahead

Managers sometimes like to say that teams are only as good as their forwards and that saying certainly applies to Leeds. The lack of goals cost Jesse Marsch his job as manager at Elland Road, with his old team having scored just seven goals in their last 11 Premier League games. The good news for Javi Gracia is that not only is Patrick Bamford ready for Brighton’s visit to West Yorkshire, but so is Rodrigo, who has recovered prematurely from ankle surgery. Rodrigo has been greatly missed over the last few months as he scored 10 Premier League goals in 18 matches. Marsch had his flaws but arguably his greatest achievement was getting the best out of Rodrigo, a £27m striker Marcelo Bielsa never used. Marsch has also had to do without Bamford for most of his tenure, and Gracia’s challenge is to restore No. 9 to its former glory. “I think Patrick is an important player for us,” he said. “I’m trying to give us the best version of it.” Could this require playing alongside Rodrigo in the top two rather than as a lone spearhead attacker? LT

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *