1) Arsenal face Bradley bow looking to build on late escape
Everything about Arsenal’s performance at Burnley screamed late Wenger era. Manchester City’s defeat at Tottenham gave them the opportunity to make a statement and as such the pressure was on; the game was tricky but hardly impossible. They delivered a performance devoid of intensity, purpose and conviction. Only Alexis Sánchez appeared not to deem the indignity of effort beneath him. Then, in the final seconds, everything changed, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Laurent Koscielny contriving the most glorious finish imaginable.
2) Moses mishap could make room for Fàbregas
After making his first Chelsea start in more than three years just before the international break, Victor Moses faces the prospect of being denied two in a row, even if the Nigerian FA has questions about the severity of his injury. If Moses is unavailable for Saturday’s visit of Leicester City to Stamford Bridge, Antonio Conte may opt to abandon the 3-4-3 formation that he tested successfully at Hull City, where Moses excelled as a left wing-back. That might just open a route back into the starting lineup for Cesc Fàbregas. His sparkling display against Leicester during the League Cup win at the King Power last month earned a first Premier League start of the season four days later, but he was swept away during Chelsea’s abject defeat by Arsenal, and omitted from the team who won at Hull. Conte has probably already made up his mind about Fàbregas, who is unlikely to get many more chances to change it. If he wants to regain influence at Stamford Bridge, tormenting Leicester again would be a good start.
3) Spurs’ tough test and deciding how much to gamble
To fail against West Brom after taking Manchester City apart would be the absolute height of Tottenham – except Tottenham aren’t quite Tottenham anymore. Under Mauricio Pochettino, they have become reliable and predictable, but in the best possible way. Regardless of who plays, there will be exuberance, intensity and creativity. But there is still a doubt as to whether such an energetic way of playing can be sustained through a season, all the more given Spurs’ Champions League obligations. There must be a temptation for Pochettino to rest players this weekend, given he faces a Tuesday trip to Leverkusen and a November comprised of three London derbies and two more European ties. The problem is that West Brom are difficult to beat, particularly at the Hawthorns and, though Spurs now have greater strength in depth, Pochettino is as reliant upon his best players as any manager. Dare he risk short-term momentum for long-term sustainability?
4) Everton’s chance to show their true colours
Manchester City were found out by Tottenham: to beat them, you simply need an outstanding manager and a settled, skilled and drilled team performing to its maximum. No problem. But Spurs did expose City – to limited extent, but nonetheless. They are not the unbeatable, impregnable force that had been suggested, and have flaws that cannot be obscured by tactical genius: their defence is suspect and their midfield is nowhere excellent enough to monopolise possession such that it becomes irrelevant. As such, any team prepared to go at them will cause them problems and Everton are certainly capable of doing that. Ronald Koeman has organised their defence remarkably quickly – only Spurs have conceded fewer – and the protection afforded it by Idrissa Gueye gives the rest of the side licence to attack. If Romelu Lukaku has a good day, he is a handful for any defence – likewise Ross Barkley – while the pace and enterprise of Yannick Bolasie and Séamus Coleman will compromise the midfield overloads of which Pep Guardiola is so fond. Alternatively, City will just wipe the floor with them.
5) A showdown between the bottom two at Stoke
If Sky Sports can declare Red Monday a thing, then surely so too is Red and White Striped Saturday, even if Sunderland will wear one of their array of away kits at Stoke. The clash of the Premier League’s bottom two sides will be laden with significance for both clubs and managers. Mark Hughes’ side go into the game eager to build on improved performances in their last two matches by gaining their first league win of the campaign. David Moyes needs to find a way of exploiting Stoke’s defensive frailties without the injured Fabio Borini and Adnan Januzaj. This would be an ideal time for Wahbi Khazri to recapture the form of last season.
6) Palace provide prickly prospect for Hammers
Doubtless known by Alan Pardew as the Alan Pardew derby, West Ham’s game with Palace brings them blessed relief from the London Stadium, its distant, synthetic corporatisation increasingly reminiscent of the city for which it was so bafflingly named. But for all the noise about his side’s new home, Slaven Bilic’s biggest problem so far this season has been injuries. Andy Carroll, Gokhan Tore, Sam Byram, Arthur Masuaku, Diafra Sakho and André Ayew are all unavailable, though the return of Aaron Cresswell will solve a left-back issue that has caused problems in attack as well as defence.
7) Hornets’ goal threat against Boro
Though football is now a global, corporate game, there is still something weird and brilliant about Watford, a town most famous for the roads leading out of it, establishing itself in the Premier League. The club’s money may come from outside the UK, but its identity most certainly does not. With Walter Mazzari still getting to know his players and experimenting with various formations and combinations, performances have fluctuated. Watford played well in defeat against Chelsea, beat Manchester United handsomely and won at West Ham, but also lost badly to Burnley and Arsenal.
8) Reorganised Burnley face big test at Saints
Sean Dyche has deviated from his habitual 4-4-2 in recent weeks and the change has paid dividends, allowing Burnley to gain more control in midfield by deploying Steven Defour, Jeff Hendrick and George Boyd together. Burnley are likely to stick with that plan for Sunday’s trip to St Mary’s, especially with Andre Gray still suspended. But Dyche’s team will have have to excel to beat a Southampton side that are starting to look really slick and solid under Claude Puel and have not conceded a goal in six matches.
9) Are Hull Phelan courageous enough?
After a decent start to the season, Hull have been thoroughly dealt with in their last three league games, beaten 4-1, 5-1 and 2-0. Though their opponents were Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea, they are still nearly two months without a league win and must find a way of imposing themselves on opponents if they are to have any chance of staying up. There are worse places to start than Bournemouth. Eddie Howe’s side have managed just six league goals this season and are lacking the kind of devil that conjures points where there looked to be none. So if Hull are prepared to be brave, attacking with ferocity and in numbers, they can mark Mike Phelan’s first match as permanent manager with a win.
10) A quiet Monday night meet-up at Anfield
Liverpool have started the season superbly, blowing away a succession of opponents unable to handle their power and pace. But they have yet to face a side with the attacking verve and variety of Manchester United, which may test the top half’s most porous defence.Liverpool have the advantage of a manager now more than a year into his reign, his side grooved into a system while United still seek one, more reliant on moments and individuals. Both managers, though, have decisions to make.