Premier League: Eight things to look forward to this weekend

Liverpool will look to maintain its perfect start to the season while Manchester United will hope to bounce back from a string of disappointment results in the Premier League.

Liverpool takes on New Castle United as it goes on the hunt for a 14th consecutive Premier League win.   -  Getty Images

The Premier League is back after a two-week international break as top clubs look to close in on Liverpool which is the only side with a 100 per cent record.

Matchday 5 will see Manchester City and Chelsea travel to Norwich City and Wolves, while Liverpool and Tottenham will enjoy home support.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's Manchester United will look to break its string of poor results when it hosts Leicester City on Saturday. Here we look at the things in focus for the fifth round of Premier League.

Premier League's Pace-setter hosts Newcastle

Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino became the first Brazilian to score 50 Premier League goals.   -  Getty Images

 

Liverpool hosts Steve Bruce's side and will be looking to become just the fourth team to win 14 consecutive English top-flight games.

Only Arsenal in 2002 (14 games) and Manchester City in 2017 (18) and 2019 (15) have achieved the feat. The Reds could become the first team to do so while scoring more than one goal in each match.

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Standing in its way is a Newcastle side in surprisingly good form away from home. The Magpies have won three of their last five Premier League away games – as many as they had in their previous 24 on the road.

There are still no signs of first-choice keeper Alisson Becker returning, but Adrian has proved to be a worthy deputy. With the attacking trident of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino in fine form, the visitor might have to deal with more than one problem.

Injury-ridden Norwich hosts holder City

Pep Guardiola will be relieved that his star players have returned without injuries from the international break.   -  Getty Images

 

Pep Guardiola's City travels to Carrow Road and is unbeaten in its last 25 Premier League games against newly-promoted sides. The champion has been at its free-flowing best, but an unlikely 2-2 draw to Tottenham saw it fall two points behind early leader Liverpool.

The Cityzens might enjoy themselves against Daniel Farke's generous side, which has faced the most open-play shots this season (54) and conceded the most open-play goals (9). City, meanwhile, has attempted the most shots in open-play (62) and scored the most open-play goals (13).

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City will be without centre-back Aymeric Laporte, but Guardiola will be a relieved man as his star players return from the international break unhurt. Meanwhile, Norwich City has been dealt with a blow as it lost Timm Klose, Christoph Zimmermann and Tom Trybull to ligament injuries

Solskjaer's men out to contain early season rot

Manchester United has only won one match in its first four matches in the league season.   -  Getty Images

 

After just four rounds, the wheels seem to be coming off at Old Trafford. The Red Devils' five points so far is their worst start since 1992-93 season which has piled early pressure on manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Daniel James has been a rare bright spark in United's underwhelming start to the season and the Wales international is aiming to become just the second Red Devils player to score in his first three Premier League appearances at Old Trafford.

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The other person to achieve that feat? United's current manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Should Leicester avoid defeat, it would be only the second time in the last 19 seasons the Foxes have gone unbeaten in their first five league games of a season. The last time they did that – in 2015-16 – they won the Premier League.

Spurs host giant-killer Crystal Palace

Mauricio Pochettino will come up against a tough side when his team faces Crystal Palace this weekend.   -  Getty Images

 

Tottenham hosts a Palace side which has exceeded expectations so far this season. An away 2-1 win at Old Trafford has certainly boosted the confidence of Roy Hodgson's side which looked sharp in the 1-0 win against Aston Villa on matchday 4.

Palace travels to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium knowing it can do damage to the 'big six' sides. In its last five away games against those teams, Roy Hodgson's men have beaten Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United.

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Spurs will need to improve on their poor form either side of the off-season. The North London derby looked like it was the Spurs to lose and they let a 2-0 lead slip to be content with 2-2 draw. They have won just 16 points from their last 16 Premier League matches, 23 fewer than they won in their previous 16 games.

High-flying Wolves host ailing Chelsea

Frank Lampard did not have the perfect of starts as Chelsea's manager.   -  Getty Images

 

They have been flying in the Europa League, but Wolves are yet to get fully up and running in the Premier League. Winless after four games, they are the only team yet to lead for a single minute so far this season, while only Norwich City has trailed for more minutes - 187 minutes to Wolves' 182.

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Chelsea looked to be on the path to recovery under new boss Frank Lampard but a calamitous 2-2 draw against Sheffield United has brought back the lingering questions at Stamford Bridge. The Blues will hope Tammy Abraham's potency in front of goal continues. He has scored twice in each of his last two Premier League appearances – only two players aged 21 or younger have scored two or more in three consecutive games: Cristiano Ronaldo in December 2006 and Dele Alli in January 2017.

Can Sanchez Flores revitalise Watford?

Watford's new head coach Quique Sanchez Flores   -  Getty Images

 

Watford's solitary point from four Premier League matches this season is a far cry from its 11th placed finish and an FA Cup final appearance last season. A draw against Newcastle United was not seen as a welcome sign at the Vicarage road as Javi Gracia's sacking on Saturday was immediately followed by the resinstatement of Quique Sanchez Flores ahead of Arsenal's visit. A familiar face in the dugout could just be the spark the Hornets need as they look to get out of the bottom place.

Things are not too bright for Arsenal which has picked up just one point from the past two encounters against Liverpool and Tottenham. However, the Gunners have not conceded against Watford in its past three encounters and will be banking on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after the striker bailed them out with an important goal in the North London derby.

Woeful Villa hosts in-form West Ham

Aston Villa manager Dean Smith will hope to turn things around against a confident West Ham side.   -  Getty Images

 

After a 10th placed finish last season, West Ham has set early pace to stay in that position with a draw and two back-to-back wins in the new season. With confidence on Manuel Pelligrini's side will be raring to go up against newly promoted Aston Villa.

Aston Villa's return to the top flight has hardly been ideal as it suffered three defeats in its opening four games. Facing an in-form West Ham will be another big challenge for Dean Smith's side which has leaked eight goals so far and scored two in return. The return of Zimbabwean international Marvelous Nakamba could help shore up the defence.

Sheffield out to pile pressure on Saints

Southampton finished 16th in the Premier League last season.   -  Getty Images

 

There was little optimism among Southampton fans when the Saints lost their opening two matches following an underwhelming transfer window. However, Ralph Hasenhuttl's side has managed to get out of the drop zone with a comfortable 2-0 win over Brighton. The Saints will travel to Bramall Lane on the back of an encouraging 1-1 draw against Manchester United.
New comer Sheffield United will be buoyed by the 2-2 draw against Chelsea two weeks ago. However, the Blades will have to put in a strong defensive performance against Southampton if they are to continue its run in the top 10.