Eight talking points from the Premier League this weekend

The North London Derby between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur will headline the weekend's Premier League clash as Liverpool seeks to set the pace at the top of the table.

Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk will be integral for Liverpool to maintain its lead at the top of the table.   -  GETTY IMAGES

1) Arsenal, Spurs battle for bragging rights

Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur battle for North London supremacy on Sunday in an early indicator as to who will be Manchester City and Liverpool’s closest challengers for the Premier League title.

Arsenal was given a lesson in how far they still have to go to challenge for the title in losing 3-1 at Anfield last weekend, but the Gunners can quickly erase the memory of that defeat should they get the better of Spurs at the Emirates.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette got on the score-sheet the last time Arsenal faced Spurs at home. PHOTO: AP

 

Mauricio Pochettino believes his Spurs squad is unsettled by speculation over the futures of Christian Eriksen, Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld.

Nicolas Pepe shone on his full Arsenal debut against Liverpool last weekend and could be unleashed alongside Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette from the start for the first time.

2) United seeks redemption at St Mary’s

Manchester United’s bright start to the season also came to an abrupt end in defeat at home by Crystal Palace last weekend.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men paid for a missed penalty for the second consecutive game as Marcus Rashford hit the post after Paul Pogba’s spot-kick was saved in a 1-1 draw at Wolves the week before.

Pogba has come under criticism after United's failure to win its last two games. PHOTO: AP

 

The departure of Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez to Inter Milan has also left Solskjaer desperately short on forward options, particularly with Anthony Martial ruled out for Saturday’s trip to Southampton.

Lose again and the alarm bells will already be ringing for United’s season before September is out.

3) Barnes a threat to leaky Liverpool

Liverpool looked more like its old self against Arsenal last weekend with Mohamed Salah in supreme form.

But at the other end of the field, the European champion has not looked nearly as solid without injured goalkeeper Alisson Becker.

The Reds have yet to keep a clean sheet in five games this season and Burnley have an in-form striker Ashley Barnes ready to pounce on any sloppiness this weekend.

Only Liverpool’s Sadio Mane has scored more Premier League goals in 2019 than Ashley Barnes’s 13, four of which have come in the opening three games of the season.

4) Man City eyes autumn advantage over Liverpool

City may trail Liverpool by two points in the early season running for the title, but opportunity knocks for the champion in a two-month stretch beginning with Saturday's visit of Brighton to the Etihad.

The visit of the Seagulls is the first of eight Premier League games Pep Guardiola's men face against sides outside of the traditional “top six” before a daunting trip to Liverpool on November 9.

That run could see City travel to Anfield with a comfortable lead in the title race, with Liverpool set to face Chelsea, Manchester United and Tottenham in the meantime.

The form book over City's last two title-winning seasons certainly suggests Guardiola will be expecting his team to collect maximum points over the next couple of months.

5) Chelsea youth look for consistency

Frank Lampard's persistence in Chelsea's youngsters at the start of the new season is beginning to yield positive results. The Blues now need to show more consistency as they take on Sheffield United at home on Saturday.

Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham were among the goals for Chelsea last weekend. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES   -  Getty Images

 

Mason Mount, 20, scored his second goal in successive game weeks and Tammy Abraham, 21, struck a match-winning brace in the 3-2 win over at Norwich City.

A first home win before the international break will keep Lampard's men in buoyed spirits as they head into a two-week international break.

6) Watford seeks first win

Watford had a flying start last season after four wins on the bounce. This season, however, the Hornets is facing a four-match losing streak after three loses on the bounce.

Javi Garcia's men will make a long trip up north to take on Newcastle United, which scored a surprise 1-0 win away to Tottenham last weekend thanks to record-signing Joelinton's first goal for the club.

Watford has scored just once in its three matches this season. PHOTO: AP

 

Watford's big-money arrival Ismaila Sarr scored his first goal midweek in the second round League Cup win over Coventry City. It will be hoping that the youngster sparks the side to a first win in the league and avoid getting stuck in the relegation zone.

7) Euro-travellers Wolves struggling to strike balance

Wolverhampton Wanderers has had a stellar start to its Europa League campaign with big wins on Thursday nights in the last month. However, it has so far failed to replicate the winning form in the Premier League with three successive draws.

Wolves have been in scintillating form in the Europa League this season. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

 

It must be noted that Wolves has secured points against strong teams like Leicester City, Manchester United and Burnley. 

Manager Nuno Espirito Santo will want to make sure that his team snaps out the ongoing pattern in the league starting with another tough assignment at Goodison Park against Everton on Sunday.

Marco Silva's Everton bounced back in the League Cup with a 4-2 win with Gylfi Sigurdsson, Alex Iwobi and Richarlison finding the net against Lincoln City after a 2-0 defeat at Aston Villa in the league.

8) Norwich's defence under spotlight

Norwich City has caught the eye with his expansive, attacking football on its return to the Premier League often at the risk of being exposed at the back.

Manager Daniel Farke stressed that his team will continue to take risks but it remains to be seen how it can adapt its defensive structure in the top flight.

The Canaries now travel to West Ham United and will be put to test by the aerial strength of striker Sebastien Haller, who scored his first goals in the win over Watford last weekend.

(With inputs from PTI)