Premier League: 10 things to look out for this weekend

Michael Butler, Sachin Nakrani, Nick Miller and Simon Burnton on 18 October 2018

1) Mourinho in need of marker against former employers

In Manchester United’s last match, against Newcastle, José Mourinho demonstrated some of the audacity with which he made his name. He made a tactical substitution after 19 minutes, swinging a game his team was already losing 2-0 back in his side’s favour. Two of the three goals United scored came from his substitutes. It was an impressive demonstration of a coach’s ability to affect a match, the only shame being that the transformation was made necessary by the appalling performance of his starting XI. United are still some way from convincing anyone of their outstanding quality, with the best team they have beaten so far ninth-placed Watford. If they are to set a new marker in the Saturday lunchtime kick-off against Chelsea, Mourinho will have to demonstrate his tactical astuteness again – only without the woeful opening this time. SB

The Fiver: sign up and get our daily football email.

2) Serene Hughton prepares for St James’s Park return

Chris Hughton is probably much too nice a guy to indulge in schadenfreude, but anyone else might enjoy some sly pleasure as their well-run, stable, happy current employers visit the beleaguered, chaotic, despairing club that coldly sacked them eight years ago. There is a useful contemporary lesson here for the Newcastle hierarchy, should they choose to heed it: keeping a good, popular manager as happy as possible is highly advisable. It almost seems inevitable that Rafa Benítez will leave Newcastle soon enough, and while he’s not blameless for their current position in the bottom three, he’s at least something positive for their support to cling to. In many respects Hughton’s Brighton are the antithesis of Newcastle, a club who have done more or less everything right against one who have done more or less everything wrong. NM

Paul Wilson: Things bleak for clubs near Premier League basement

Rafa Benítez’s Newcastle side are second-bottom with only two points from eight games.
Rafa Benítez’s Newcastle side are second-bottom with only two points from eight games. Photograph: Serena Taylor/Newcastle Utd via Getty Images

3) Guardiola gives youth glimpse to follow Foden’s footsteps

This week Pep Guardiola invited five members of Manchester City’s youth system to train with the first team. Philippe Sandler, the defender signed in the summer from Zwolle for around £2.25m, is 21, Cameron Humphreys 20, Iker Pozo 18 and both Adrià Bernabé and Alpha Dionkou 17. Given the quality of the players ahead of them in the fight for a first-team berth it is hard not to pity them, particularly in a week when Kevin De Bruyne’s anticipated return from injury marks an end to a period in which 18-year-old Phil Foden has had one less obstacle barring his own path to the pitch. Yet it is impossible to criticise Guardiola for not giving youth a chance, particularly in contrast to Saturday’s opponents. The 18-year-old winger Dwight McNeil, who has had one start and a one-minute cameo off the bench, is the youngest player to appear for Burnley in the top flight this season by a margin of nearly six years, with the 25-year-old Charlie Taylor their next youngest player. Including Foden, City have so far fielded nine players younger than Taylor. SB

4) Chalobah to be buzzing after winning first cap

Coming on against Spain, Nathaniel Chalobah became the first Watford outfield player to represent England since John Barnes in 1987. While it is clear Gareth Southgate did not pick his England squads purely on form – Chalobah has played only four minutes of league football this season – there is no doubting the talent of the 23-year-old and he finally looks to be rid of injury. His captain Troy Deeney said earlier this season that England’s new recruit is a £50m player in the making, having been signed for only £5m last sumer. Chalobah will be hoping to build on his international debut with a first league start at Wolves on Saturday, although there are easier tasks than trying to nullify Rúben Neves and João Moutinho. MB

Nathaniel Chalobah clears the ball on his England debut against Spain in the Nations League on Monday.
Nathaniel Chalobah clears the ball on his England debut against Spain in the Nations League on Monday. Photograph: Michael Regan/Getty Images

5) Eriksen could be crucial in tipping derby

Life moves pretty fast when you’re Christian Eriksen. Between trying to sort out Denmark’s pay dispute, dispelling the myth (put out by your national manager) that he could have a chronic abdominal injury, and being heavily linked with a move to Real Madrid, it can be hard to focus on everyday matters like a trip to West Ham or signing a new contract. Harry Kane aside, Eriksen is probably Spurs’ only other irreplaceable player and would obviously be missed if he is not fit enough to play on Saturday. Derby matches against West Ham are always tight – just one of the last nine games has had a winning margin of more than one goal for either team – and the Hammers have been excellent at home recently against Chelsea and Manchester United. MB

6) Injuries bring Shaqiri and Sturridge into Liverpool picture

Not for the first time, the international break has resulted in a string of injuries for Liverpool to deal with. Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané and Naby Keïta all returned to Merseyside in a worse state than they departed, leaving Jürgen Klopp with much to ponder before picking his team to face Huddersfield. Salah and Mané have generally been short of their best this season, so this may not necessarily be the worst time for them to be unavailable for selection. In their place could come Xherdan Shaqiri and Daniel Sturridge, both of whom have impressed when given the chance to do so. Also, given Saturday’s late game is the first of five matches Liverpool play in the space of 18 days, their manager needs to be managing his resources regardless of injury and illness. SN

Golden Goal: John Barnes v QPR (1987)

Daniel Sturridge could be in line for a Liverpool start after Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané sustained injuries during the international break.
Daniel Sturridge could be in line for a Liverpool start after Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané sustained injuries. Photograph: Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

7) Cherries on top after Saints’ coastal erosion

It is interesting now to look back on the way Eddie Howe approached his first match against Southampton as Bournemouth’s manager. It came in the League Cup in August 2010, and was the clubs’ first encounter in 23 years and the first of three in a season when both were in League One. “You can’t compare us to Southampton,” he said. “Southampton are a massive club. It’s good to see they’ve got over their financial problems, because I think it’s good for us if Southampton are doing well. They have played us in pre-season and loaned us players, so we’ve always had a good relationship with them and I think that’s important.” Back then the Saints did the treble over them), but now Howe’s side are 10 places and 11 points ahead of them in the Premier League, have won five of their eight games to Southampton’s lonely one, and it looks like Southampton will need luck or charity to emerge from this meeting with anything but defeat. SB

8) Sessegnon unable to shine amid constant shuffle

The excitement about the youngsters involved in the most recent England squads was understandable given the talent involved. But among Mason Mount, Jadon Sancho and Phil Foden, a name was not just missing, but barely remarked upon. It’s easy to forget that there was serious talk that Gareth Southgate might have taken Ryan Sessegnon to the World Cup, but his absence from the discussion now demonstrates how quickly these things can change. There could be myriad reasons for this, but might one of them be his positional inconsistency? In six starts Sessegnon has been a left-winger, a left-back and a left wing-back: it’s no wonder the 18-year-old hasn’t been able to perform regularly. As his side prepares to visit Cardiff on Saturday, he is still incredibly young and getting used to the Premier League, but so far this term Sessegnon hasn’t been able to excel as his contemporaries have. NM

Ryan Sessegnon has failed to capitalise on his outstanding Championship form.
Ryan Sessegnon has failed to capitalise on his outstanding Championship form. Photograph: Michael Zemanek/BPI/Rex/Shutterstock

9) Bernard’s boatloads leave Everton buoyant

The signing of Bernard in the summer might even have looked a little needless for Everton: another No 10/winger type to go with the 57 they already had. But he might turn out to be their most important acquisition because he could solve a couple of pressing problems in one go. The biggest issue for Everton – who host Crystal Palace on Sunday – over the last 18 months has been replacing Romelu Lukaku, with various inadequate solutions tried, but the win at Leicester last time out suggested that Richarlison could be the man: quick, direct, smart and physical. But that then leaves a gap on the left, which is where Bernard comes in, and as he has created a boatload of chances to date, he’s potentially solved a creativity problem too. These are early days, but for a club who have been so wasteful in the transfer market, this might be their most efficient signing for years. NM

10) Holding handed a chance to cement his place

Following their 5-1 blitz away at Fulham there has, quite rightly, been much focus on Arsenal’s attacking prowess. At the back, however, the picture is less rosy. Arsenal have kept just three clean sheets in all competitions and have now been hit with the news that Sokratis Papastathopoulos is a doubt for Monday’s visit of Leicester City after he sustained an ankle injury in Greece’s recent defeat by Finland. Losing the 30-year-old would prove a headache for Unai Emery given the paper-thin nature of his centre-back options but it would at least provide Rob Holding with a chance to establish himself in the heart of Arsenal’s back four. The 23-year-old has started his team’s last two league games and generally performed well. Another decent display against Leicester and he may keep his place, even when Sokratis is available again for selection. SN

Pos Team P GD Pts
1 Man City 8 18 20
2 Chelsea 8 13 20
3 Liverpool 8 12 20
4 Arsenal 8 9 18
5 Tottenham Hotspur 8 8 18
6 AFC Bournemouth 8 4 16
7 Wolverhampton 8 3 15
8 Man Utd 8 -1 13
9 Watford 8 -1 13
10 Leicester 8 2 12
11 Everton 8 1 12
12 Burnley 8 -2 8
13 Brighton 8 -4 8
14 Crystal Palace 8 -4 7
15 West Ham 8 -5 7
16 Southampton 8 -8 5
17 Fulham 8 -12 5
18 Huddersfield 8 -13 3
19 Newcastle 8 -7 2
20 Cardiff 8 -13 2

Latest football headlines

Latest Football News