Reds face derby test and United seek response – 5 Premier League talking points

Kevin De Bruyne, James Rodriguez and Harry Maguire, l-r
Kevin De Bruyne, James Rodriguez and Harry Maguire, l-r
15:53pm, Fri 16 Oct 2020
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The Premier League looks set to return from the international break with a bang.

Here, the PA news agency picks out five of the main talking points heading into this round of fixtures.

Liverpool facing derby-day test

Everton have started the season on fire - (Copyright PA Wire)

Reigning Premier League champions Liverpool can welcome back the likes of Sadio Mane and Thiago Alcantara on Saturday, but there looks no better time for Everton to end their 22-match winless streak in all competitions against their neighbours. Carlo Ancelotti’s in-form side sit top of the standings after winning their first four matches of the season, with summer signing James Rodriguez hitting the ground running and newly-capped England international Dominic Calvert-Lewin leading the line with aplomb.

How will Manchester United react?

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The wounds remain raw from Manchester United’s 6-1 home humbling at the hands of former manager Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham earlier this month. The Old Trafford giants swiftly brought in new faces but the squad still looks short in key areas, while Harry Maguire, the most expensive defender in history, is well short of his best. The United skipper, who was sent off for England in midweek, is a doubt for this weekend’s crunch clash. United have not lost back-to-back league matches at Newcastle since 1987 and can ill afford to do so now.

Can Chelsea settle against Saints?

Chelsea’s Kai Havertz and Timo Werner have yet to flourish in the Premier League - (Copyright PA Wire)

Chelsea made the biggest splash in world football during the summer transfer market, with Timo Werner, Thiago Silva, Kai Havertz and Ben Chilwell among the throng of exciting new arrivals in west London. But Blues boss Frank Lampard has yet to get the best out of his new charges and this weekend welcomes a Southampton side looking to claim three straight Premier League wins for the first time since 2016.

Bramall Lane basement battle

Something has to give on Sunday lunchtime when 19th-placed Sheffield United welcome rock-bottom Fulham to Bramall Lane. Neither has mustered a point in their opening four matches and this clash has the potential to provide the catalyst to a much-needed change in fortunes. Scott Parker’s Cottagers have faltered embarrassingly since sealing promotion back to the top flight and he will need his new signings to prove their worth against Chris Wilder’s Blades, who will surely kick on soon given their fine 2019-20 season.

Will Arsenal Partey as City miss De Bruyne?

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Manchester City will be without star turn Kevin De Bruyne through injury when Pep Guardiola’s former assistant Mikel Arteta visits on Saturday. City ran out comfortable 3-0 victors against Arsenal when the Spaniard first returned to the Etihad Stadium in June, but they are a different beast now. Apprentice overcame master in the FA Cup semi-finals and Arteta went on to inspire Arsenal to glory in the final, before doing the same in the Community Shield later that month. The north Londoners have won three of their opening four fixtures and have been further bolstered by £45million deadline-day arrival Thomas Partey, who would love to mark his debut with a statement victory.

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