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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Guardian sport

Premier League: 10 things to look out for this weekend

From left: Nayef Aguerd, Son Heung-min and Tyler Adams.
From left: Nayef Aguerd, Son Heung-min and Tyler Adams. Composite: Getty

Villa need to shake Carabao hangover

If Aston Villa’s defeat by Everton in midweek told us anything, it was perhaps that Unai Emery’s reserves are not as rich as first thought. Robin Olsen does not seem to strike anywhere near the same confidence into the back line as Emiliano Martínez and Leander Dendoncker, and Youri Tielemans looked sluggish. Jhon Durán, who has impressed in cameos, endured a forgettable 48 minutes. The cavalry – Ollie Watkins, Boubacar Kamara and Martínez – will be back at home to Brighton on Saturday and at least a quick turnaround gives Villa a chance to shake off the pain of an unusually sloppy showing. Ben Fisher

  • Aston Villa v Brighton, Saturday 12.30pm (all times BST)

A repeat performance at Old Trafford?

After Manchester United handed Crystal Palace a 3-0 schooling in the Carabao Cup third round, this instant rematch raises precisely the same question for both teams. Which version will turn up at Old Trafford on Saturday? Will Erik ten Hag’s men again be free-flowing and camp at will in Palace territory, or are they to regress to their previous hotch-potch? Are Roy Hodgson’s team to be as insipid and unimaginative or can the expected return of Eberechi Eze and Marc Guéhi transform them into a proposition able to stop their hosts dominating once more? Both sides could use a win as neither has enjoyed two on the bounce in the league this season. Jamie Jackson

  • Manchester United v Crystal Palace, Saturday 3pm

Anthony Martial scores Manchester United’s third goal against Palace in midweek
Anthony Martial scores United’s third goal against Palace in midweek. Photograph: Ash Donelon/Manchester United/Getty Images,

Adams aims to hit ground running

There was a welcome new face among Bournemouth’s match-day squad in midweek: Tyler Adams, a £20m signing from Leeds last month. The USA captain played the final 20 minutes of their routine win over Stoke, his first action since picking up a hamstring injury in March. Bournemouth identified central midfield as a key area to strengthen in the summer so it felt something of a calculated risk when they signed Adams and Alex Scott, the latter arriving from Bristol City, for a combined £45m knowing the pair were both injured. Adams could get his first league minutes for his new club at home to Arsenal, the perfect opportunity to make up for lost time with Bournemouth still searching for their first top-flight win of the season. BF

  • Bournemouth v Arsenal, Saturday 3pm

Garner gives Dyche cause for hope

Two impressive away wins in five days have lifted the mood around Everton, brought overdue reward for Dominic Calvert-Lewin and strengthened Sean Dyche’s assertion that his team will be on the right path once they correct the fine details in both boxes. An integral part of the turnaround has been the form, and positioning, of James Garner. The 22-year-old, one of the more astute signings in recent times at Everton, scored his first goal for the club and was voted player of the match in the Carabao Cup victory at Aston Villa. The £15m recruit from Manchester United was handed a rare start in his favoured central midfield role at Villa Park and partnered Amadou Onana to telling effect. Having plugged several round holes with square pegs in the opening weeks, Dyche now has options and difficult choices to make as he attempts to transfer Everton’s newfound away form into a first win of the season at Goodison Park. Andy Hunter

  • Everton v Luton, Saturday 3pm

Everton’s James Garner celebrates scoring against Aston Villa
James Garner celebrates his goal in the win at Villa. Photograph: Tony McArdle/Everton FC/Getty Images

Aguerd living much too dangerously

Nayef Aguerd has to improve when it comes to the basics. The defender is comfortable on the ball and exhibits impressive recovery speed but he has made too many errors since joining West Ham in the summer of 2022. David Moyes’s patience must be wearing thin. Sometimes it seems as if Aguerd, who has had interest from the Saudi Pro League, is suffering from a lack of concentration. This season the Morocco international has been sent off against Chelsea after picking up a second booking for a mistimed challenge, been at fault for a crucial goal against Manchester City and given away a penalty against Liverpool, who beat West Ham 3-1 last weekend. It is not good enough from a player who cost £30m and it could lead to him being dropped. West Ham, who host Sheffield United on Saturday, have competition for places after signing Konstantinos Mavropanos. Jacob Steinberg

  • West Ham v Sheffield United, Saturday 3pm

Convenient timing for Newcastle

When Newcastle kick off against Burnley it will be the first time Eddie Howe’s side have had a 3pm Saturday Premier League start at St James’ Park in 2023. The last one was against Leeds on New Year’s Eve 2022. It is a similar story when it comes to away matches, with a win at Brentford in April being the sole trip that kicked off at the once-traditional time. In one sense this is a sign that Howe’s side are doing well – Newcastle are a big draw for television companies – but the timings are often tough, and expensive, for their fans. Outside London and the south-east much of England’s public transport infrastructure closes down in the early evening, with weekends a particular problem, leaving supporters facing long car journeys, pricey parking and inconveniently late returns home. Television and football executives either do not understand or simply don’t care. Moreover, while 3pm Saturday kick-offs are generally family-friendly, the same cannot be said for 5.30pm, 7.45 or 8pm on Saturdays, 4.30pm on Sundays and 7.45 or 8pm on Friday and Monday nights. Louise Taylor

  • Newcastle v Burnley, Saturday 3pm

A view of Newcastle fans at St James’ Park
A traditional Saturday kick-off time awaits fans on Tyneside for a change. Photograph: George Wood/Getty Images

Can Wolves rediscover early spark?

How better to get a cup upset out of the system than a visit from the champions? There are probably preferable opponents but Gary O’Neil’s side have already shown they can rise to such occasions a couple of times this season. They should have taken something from their league opener at Manchester United and overwhelmed Liverpool a fortnight ago before capitulating late on. Wolves, who squandered a two-goal lead in midweek in a Carabao Cup defeat at Ipswich, host Manchester City hoping to register their first home win of the season. Pep Guardiola is also reeling from exiting the competition and so O’Neil, who has his own problems to remedy, will expect to face a wounded animal. “There’s a big list of things that need fixing,” he said. “I understand it’s my responsibility.” BF

  • Wolves v Manchester City, Saturday 3pm

Son thrives as Spurs’ central raider

There was an exchange after the north London derby last Sunday when Son Heung-min was asked about playing as the No 9 for Tottenham, having just done so superbly, scoring twice in the 2-2 draw. “The gaffer probably has a plan … if he plays me as a full-back, I’ll play as a full-back,” the captain said. Sonny, Ange Postecoglou is not going to play you at full-back. “Well, that’s how I feel,” he added, stressing he would do whatever the manager told him. Son’s work through the middle speaks for itself. Postecoglou likes his wingers to stay wide while Son is all about slicing inside, raising the question of whether he really fits in there. But as a quick and mobile centre-forward, still able to bend wide on overlaps, with James Maddison playing the passes? It is an increasingly tantalising prospect. Liverpool will need a plan against him on Saturday. David Hytner

  • Tottenham v Liverpool, Saturday 5.30pm

Brentford are Frank about issues

The relegation calculation that there must be three teams worse is dangerous to rely upon, but it was voiced in the light of Brentford’s defeat by Everton. Even Thomas Frank, usually reliable in his commitment to arguing his team deserve something from each game, held his hands up in submission. It is a mark of the club’s progress that Brentford struggling is seen as a surprise, but the negative factors are piling up. Ivan Toney’s absence was built into pre-season expectations but Arsenal’s reported interest in him as a January signing may remove the striker as a safety valve. The loss of David Raya is also being felt by a defence now riddled with injuries. Rico Henry will be a huge loss for the season and Ben Mee’s muscle problem is little help, either. No panic yet – Frank has proven himself too good a manager for that – but Brentford must return to punching above their weight sooner rather than later. John Brewin

  • Nottingham Forest v Brentford, Sunday 2pm

Brentford’s Nathan Collins appears dejected after their League Cup exit to Arsenal.
Brentford’s Nathan Collins (left) appears dejected after their League Cup exit to Arsenal. Photograph: John Walton/PA

Sterling could solve Pochettino’s puzzle

With Nicolas Jackson suspended after contriving to pick up five bookings in six league games, Mauricio Pochettino has a dilemma to solve in attack when Chelsea visit Fulham on Monday. Options are thin on the ground, with Christopher Nkunku’s return from a knee injury a long way off, and Pochettino may have to play without a traditional No 9. Starting Armando Broja would be a risk. The striker has just recovered from a torn cruciate ligament and has made only two brief substitute appearances this season. This is surely not the time to throw Broja into the side, bearing in mind Chelsea do not exactly have a great record when it comes to keeping their players fit, so perhaps Pochettino will decide to use Raheem Sterling through the middle. Sterling has played on the right this season but he could be effective as a false 9. JS

  • Fulham v Chelsea, Monday 8pm

Pos Team P GD Pts
1 Man City 6 13 18
2 Liverpool 6 10 16
3 Brighton 6 10 15
4 Tottenham Hotspur 6 8 14
5 Arsenal 6 5 14
6 Aston Villa 6 2 12
7 West Ham 6 1 10
8 Newcastle 6 9 9
9 Man Utd 6 -3 9
10 Crystal Palace 6 -1 8
11 Fulham 6 -5 8
12 Nottm Forest 6 -2 7
13 Brentford 6 0 6
14 Chelsea 6 -1 5
15 Everton 6 -5 4
16 Wolverhampton 6 -6 4
17 AFC Bournemouth 6 -6 3
18 Luton 5 -8 1
19 Burnley 5 -9 1
20 Sheff Utd 6 -12 1
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