Premier League: 10 things to look out for this weekend | Premier League


Hammers hope to build on promise

Winning the Conference League did not do much to lift the pressure on David Moyes after an underwhelming domestic season, but the clouds look to be lifting. New signings have joined to bolster the ranks and only two points have been dropped in three matches, to put the Hammers second behind Manchester City. Things could hardly be going better. One problem Moyes will soon face is European football, an activity that hindered West Ham’s league form last season. To limit its impact, picking up points in winnable matches – such as Friday’s trip to Kenilworth Road – will be crucial. At this stage last season, West Ham had failed to muster a point and they collected only four from their opening seven matches. They have the foundations to build on this time around and Luton’s first Premier League fixture at Kenilworth Road will be a tricky prospect, but a confident West Ham will not want to lose what they have worked hard to build. Will Unwin

  • Luton v West Ham, Friday 8pm (all times BST)

Fans enter the away section at Kenilworth Road
Kenilworth Road will stage a Premier League game for the very first time. Photograph: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images


Will Archer add to Everton’s troubles?

Cameron Archer began this season on Aston Villa’s bench as they lost 5-1 at Newcastle on the Premier League’s opening day. The England Under-21s striker – who scored twice as the European Championship crown was secured in Georgia this summer – had hoped to break into Unai Emery’s first team but instead has joined Sheffield United for £18m. His new manager, Paul Heckingbottom, must hope the striker reprises the sort of form that brought him 11 goals and six assists in 20 appearances for Michael Carrick’s Middlesbrough in the Championship last season. Heckingbottom has signed eight new, mainly inexperienced players since winning promotion but, as Sheffield United prepare to face Everton in an already vital-looking six-pointer at Bramall Lane, the Blades are still feeling the loss of two players they have sold, the midfielder Sander Berge and the principal striker, Iliman Ndiaye. They must hope Archer will at least solve the attacking gap vacated by the Senegal player’s exit. On the basis of Middlesbrough’s woeful start to this Championship campaign, Carrick is certainly missing a forward who scored four goals in 14 first-team appearances for Villa. Louise Taylor

  • Sheffield United v Everton, Saturday 12.30pm

Cameron Archer is unveiled on the pitch before the Premier League defeat to Manchester City at Bramall Lane last Sunday
Cameron Archer is unveiled on the pitch before the Premier League defeat to Manchester City at Bramall Lane last Sunday. Photograph: SportImage/Sheffield United FC/Getty Images

Ben Mee won supporters’ player of the season in his first year in west London but is yet to get his Premier League campaign under way after injury stopped him from partaking in their opening three matches. He returned in midweek to play against Newport in the Carabao Cup, leaving Thomas Frank with a decision to make this weekend. Nathan Collins and Ethan Pinnock have been his centre-back pairing so far, after Frank changed from a back five to a four this season. It is unlikely the manager will revert to three central defenders, mainly because the change in formation was brought about by Ivan Toney’s absence, so it is a question of whether he is bold enough to drop Collins or Pinnock to bring Mee’s added experience into a team lacking it. Joachim Andersen’s equaliser last weekend showed Brentford have a soft underbelly, an issue Mee could help to address. WU

Ben Mee applauds the away fans at the end of Brentford’s game at Newport
Ben Mee applauds the away fans at the end of Brentford’s game at Newport. Photograph: Paul Dennis/TGS Photo/Shutterstock


How will Spurs react at Burnley?

Ange Postecoglou said he was at the “discovery stage” of his Tottenham tenure when explaining why nine changes were made for the Carabao Cup second-round exit at Fulham. As well as discovering the limitations of his fringe players at Craven Cottage, where early-season momentum was hit by the performance level and the penalty shootout defeat, the Spurs manager received further evidence of James Maddison’s importance merely four games into their careers with the club. Maddison was among those benched at Fulham and entered the fray only in the 82nd minute as Postecoglou sought to avoid spot-kicks. The creativity he had sprinkled over Spurs’ win at Bournemouth three days earlier was badly missed along with an opportunity to pursue much-needed silverware. There was a complacency to the first setback of Postecoglou’s reign and he will be looking to Maddison to spark the reaction against a Burnley team without a Premier League point so far. Andy Hunter

  • Burnley v Tottenham, Saturday 3pm

James Maddison during training with Spurs on Thursday.
James Maddison at training on Thursday. Spurs struggled without him for most of the game at Fulham. Photograph: Alex Morton/Tottenham Hotspur FC/Shutterstock


Jackson continuing early form

Chelsea have not exactly earned a reputation for financial prudence during the last year but they deserve credit for spotting Nicolas Jackson’s potential. In a summer when Manchester United paid £72m to sign Rasmus Højlund from Atalanta, Jackson is looking comparative value for money after leaving Villarreal for £32m. The striker may have some rough edges but he has not been fazed by being handed the responsibility of trying to fix Chelsea’s problems in the final third. The 21-year-old’s all-round game has impressed – he caused plenty of problems for Liverpool and West Ham with his pace, strength, movement and link-up play – and he displayed a poacher’s instinct when he scored from close range during last week’s win over Luton. Mauricio Pochettino will hope Jackson’s momentum continues when Chelsea host Nottingham Forest. Jacob Steinberg

  • Chelsea v Nottingham Forest, Saturday 3pm

Nicolas Jackson celebrates with Raheem Sterling after scoring against Luton
Nicolas Jackson celebrates with Raheem Sterling after scoring against Luton. Photograph: Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC/Getty Images


Leaders looking imperious already

While Manchester City’s prospective title rivals Liverpool and Arsenal have dropped points, Pep Guardiola’s cold-eyed win-machine has reeled off three victories from three games. This has been done despite the exits of Ilkay Gündogan and Riyad Mahrez, and with Kevin De Bruyne ruled out due to injury until next year since the first half of the opening-night win at Burnley. But City are as expert in the market as their neighbours Manchester United are middling, and in has come Jérémy Doku (a wideman), to be followed by Matheus Nunes from Wolves. This means Guardiola, again, will have a frightening depth of squad quality and, as Fulham arrive with four points from their three Premier League outings, this should be victory number 201 under the Catalan in the competition. Jamie Jackson

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  • Manchester City v Fulham, Saturday 3pm

The former world boxing champion and City fan Terry Flanagan leaps on Erling Haaland after the Norwegian’s goal at Sheffield United
The former world boxing champion and City fan Terry Flanagan leaps on Erling Haaland after the Norwegian’s goal at Sheffield United. Photograph: Ryan Browne/Shutterstock


Baleba brings new option to Brighton

“He will be the future of the club,” said the Brighton manager, Roberto De Zerbi, of his new signing Carlos Baleba. The hype that is constantly associated with the Seagulls’ recruitment of players means there is growing pressure on whoever arrives, regardless of their reputation. Many will already be earmarking the Cameroonian for a big-money move in two years. In the immediate future, the 19-year-old will be a natural replacement for Moisés Caicedo, who performed his duties superbly in midfield to earn his record-breaking move to Chelsea. Baleba made only 19 appearances for Lille last season, an indication of his lack of experience. He will get the best schooling possible, but may start from the bench against Newcastle to get a glimpse of what being a Premier League player entails; because Brighton will be up against a classy collection of players and knowing how to shut them down will be a tough task for De Zerbi and his men. WU

  • Brighton v Newcastle, Saturday 5.30pm

Roberto De Zerbi watches the warm-up before Brighton’s game with West Ham
Roberto De Zerbi has high hopes for Carlos Baleba. Photograph: Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images


Liverpool’s evolution up front

Newcastle may have been a win “for the ages” in the eyes of Trent Alexander-Arnold but it needs to be a turning point for Darwin Núñez at Liverpool; the moment when his undoubted talent becomes an integral and consistent part of Jürgen Klopp’s formidable attack. The Uruguay international, already a cult hero at Anfield before his match-winning heroics at St James’ Park, has shown more quality in front of goal than his detractors would like to believe since arriving for a potential club-record £85m from Benfica last summer. But questions over his suitability to Klopp’s finely tuned tactics and willingness to start a defensive shift from the front remain legitimate. As the Liverpool manager’s selections testify. Núñez is yet to start this season and did so in only three of the final 10 games for which he was available at the end of his first campaign, missing the last three matches with a toe injury. His Newcastle heroics merit reward in another high-quality test against an in-form Aston Villa. AH

  • Liverpool v Aston Villa, Sunday 2pm

Darwin Núñez at the centre of attention in training this week.
Darwin Núñez at the centre of attention in training this week. Photograph: Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC/Getty Images


Forward thinking for Wolves

It may have been League One opposition, but Wolves managed to score five goals in their Carabao Cup thrashing of Blackpool in midweek. The better news is that three different forwards got on the scoresheet. Regardless of the opponents, getting into a rhythm in front of goal can only be good news for Gary O’Neil’s bullpen of strikers. Sasa Kalajdzic has two in as many games, while Fábio Silva netted his first Wolves goal since May 2021 and Nathan Fraser scored on his debut. As Wolves showed against Manchester United in their opening match, they can create chances but struggle to score them. Last season they mustered a pitiful 31 goals in 38 matches, which can partly be attributed to a lack of confidence from their misfiring strikers. Raúl Jiménez and Diego Costa have left, leaving a new set of forwards to take on the pressure of scoring enough goals to keep Wolves in the Premier League. Tuesday night’s efforts will have lifted a burden; now they need to follow it up at Selhurst Park to keep the momentum going. WU

  • Crystal Palace v Wolves, Sunday 2pm

Pablo Sarabia, Fábio Silva and Sasa Kalajdzic celebrate during Wolves’ 5-0 win over Blackpool
Pablo Sarabia, Fábio Silva and Sasa Kalajdzic (left to right) celebrate during Wolves’ 5-0 win over Blackpool. Photograph: Jack Thomas/WWFC/Wolves/Getty Images


Ten Hag’s latest midfield conundrum

Manchester United return to north London a fortnight after losing 2-0 to Tottenham. Despite victory over Nottingham Forest, Erik ten Hag still has far more questions than answers about his team this season. United could easily have lost all three of their opening matches; Wolves failed to convert chances, while Forest gave up a two-goal lead and had a man sent off. The midfield has clearly been the issue, with every combination selected so far looking unable to cope with the rigours of the opposition. Christian Eriksen was used alongside Casemiro against Forest but struggled with the physicality of the fixture. Against Arsenal, it would seem sensible to have someone more robust in that area to help the Brazilian, and Scott McTominay seems the ideal candidate for the role. He has his detractors but does perform his duties diligently in midfield, while having the stamina to get up and down for the entire match. United are unlikely to control proceedings at the Emirates, so bringing in the Scotland international would give them much-needed energy in the middle of the pitch. WU

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