5 talking points ahead of this weekend’s Premier League action

Manchester City are battling an injury crisis, West Ham are set to be managerless and there is a mouth-watering Yorkshire derby at Bramall Lane.

By Press Association Published: 25 September 2020 - 10.21am

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Champions Liverpool host Arsenal in the pick of this weekend’s Premier League fixtures, while all eyes will be on Chelsea’s goalkeeper at The Hawthorns.

Elsewhere, Manchester City are already battling an injury crisis, West Ham are set to be managerless against Wolves and there is a mouth-watering Yorkshire derby at Bramall Lane.

Here, the PA news agency looks at five of the main talking points ahead of the latest round of top-flight games.

All good things come to an end

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, left, is preparing to face Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp (left) is preparing to face Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta (Paul Childs/PA)

At least two of the five clubs to have begun the season with successive wins will have their perfect starts ended over the next few days. Crystal Palace, who stunned Manchester United last weekend, host Carlo Ancelotti’s new-look Everton on side on Saturday, before champions Liverpool round things off on Monday evening with an enticing encounter at home to Arsenal. The Anfield clash is this weekend’s standout game and comes less than a month after the two clubs met in the Community Shield. Jurgen Klopp’s champions stumbled past newly-promoted Leeds in their opening home game and should receive a stern test of their title credentials from the Gunners.

All eyes on Chelsea goalkeeper

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard has already shown he has little faith in error-prone £72million goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga. The Blues continued their relentless recruitment drive under Lampard by signing Senegal stopper Edouard Mendy from Rennes as a replacement. Kepa, who has made a string of high-profile errors since signing from Athletic Bilbao in 2018, gifted Liverpool a second goal in last weekend’s 2-0 loss and may have no future at Stamford Bridge. It is not yet certain if Mendy will be ready to be thrust into action at West Brom on Saturday. Whether Lampard opts for Mendy, Kepa or Willy Caballero this weekend, Chelsea’s goalkeeping situation will be under intense scrutiny.

Hammer blow

West Ham manager David Moyes has tested positive for coronavirus
West Ham manager David Moyes has tested positive for coronavirus (Michael Regan/PA)

After starting the new top-flight season with successive defeats, West Ham’s hopes of ending that run at home to Wolves will have to happen without manager David Moyes. Positive coronavirus tests for Moyes and Hammers players Issa Diop and Josh Cullen have forced the trio into self-isolation and prompted the club to carry out extra tests. A deep clean of the London Stadium – where Moyes was when he discovered he had Covid-19 – has been carried out. Assistant boss Alan Irvine, who oversaw Tuesday’s 5-1 Carabao Cup win over Hull, will once again be in charge on Sunday evening and no doubt have his fingers crossed there are no further victims before then.

Injury woes for Guardiola

It feels far too early in the new season for a manager to be talking about an injury crisis. But, according to Pep Guardiola, Manchester City have just 13 fit senior players available for Sunday’s clash with Leicester. Star striker Sergio Aguero is the most high-profile player among a lengthy list of absentees, which also includes Ilkay Gundogan, Bernardo Silva, Joao Cancelo and Oleksandr Zinchenko. A team without those star names managed to power past Wolves on Monday evening, while three days later, a youthful line-up overcame Championship club Bournemouth in the Carabao Cup. Guardiola admits he will need to use academy talent in his first team, including 17-year-old striker Liam Delap – son of former Stoke midfielder Rory – who opened the scoring against the Cherries.

Yorkshire derby

Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder, right, got the better of Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa, second left, in the Championship
Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder (right) got the better of Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa (second left) in the Championship (Richard Sellers/PA)

Sunday’s lunchtime kick-off is a tasty-looking clash between Yorkshire rivals Sheffield United and Leeds. Having taken the Premier League by storm last season, the pointless Blades will be eager to bounce back from frustrating defeats to Wolves and Aston Villa against the team they beat to promotion by six points in 2019. Free-scoring Leeds travel to Bramall Lane buoyed by victory over Fulham. The West Yorkshire visitors, whose opening two games have included a remarkable 14 goals, are searching for a first top-flight away win since Steven Caldwell and Mark Viduka earned a 2-1 success at Blackburn in April 2004.