5️⃣ big questions ahead of the Premier League weekend | OneFootball

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Peter Fitzpatrick·25 November 2023

5️⃣ big questions ahead of the Premier League weekend

Article image:5️⃣ big questions ahead of the Premier League weekend

After the latest and last international break until March, the Premier League kicks back into action with a brilliant set of fixtures.

Here are the five biggest questions ahead of this weekend’s games.

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Are Liverpool true challengers to Man City this season?

Article image:5️⃣ big questions ahead of the Premier League weekend

The above photo is from April, as Mohamed Salah opened the scoring in what was eventually a 4-1 loss for his Liverpool side at the Etihad.

At the time, the Reds looked like a spent force while City were on the march to the treble. The sides meet this Saturday lunchtime with just one point between them. The more things change, the more they stay the same?

To overtake City at the top, Jürgen Klopp will need to do one of the few things he has never done: defeat Pep Guardiola in a Premier League game at the Etihad, although he’d perhaps take another draw to go with the three he already has there since 2016/17.

It is yet another 12:30 kick off for Liverpool, something that has frustrated them frequently, and not quite prime time viewing, particularly after the international break.

Let’s hope it does not take away from what should be another fascinating clash between the sides and one that will tell us more about Liverpool’s aspirations this season.

Which of the crisis clubs will prevail at Goodison?

Article image:5️⃣ big questions ahead of the Premier League weekend

In recent years, have any so called-big clubs in England been run as poorly as Everton and Manchester United?

Of course, the two-week international break saw further drama for both, although United’s focused more around the glacial pace of confirming Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s minority stake in the club.

Everton, on the other hand, were hit with a 10-point deduction (the biggest in English top-flight history) by an independent commission after breaching Premier League Profit and Sustainability Rules and opening up a can of worms for other clubs mentioned in this piece.

The club will appeal the severity of the punishment but it does cast them into the relegation battle, and undo some of the great work done by Sean Dyche so far this season.

A win against United could potentially see them climb into 17th place but Erik ten Hag will be hoping to finally kickstart his side’s wayward season.

Despite their issues, United are the most in-form side in the league, with 12 points from their last five outings (Everton have 10).

Given 3-0 home losses to City and Newcastle (EFL Cup) and that collapse in Copenhagen during that time, the saying ‘there are three types of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics’ feels rather apt.

At what is certain to be a white-hot Goodison Park, which team will give their fans some respite? Or will neither?

Can Chelsea continue to climb under Pochettino?

Article image:5️⃣ big questions ahead of the Premier League weekend

Newcastle and Chelsea entered the international break in very different spirits: The Magpies off the back of losses to Bournemouth and Borussia Dortmund and facing a major injury crisis; the Blues with confidence from that stunning 4-4 draw with City and the strange 4-1 win at Spurs, as well as the feeling things are coming together under Mauricio Pochettino.

Cole Palmer looks an inspired signing, while Raheem Sterling appears back to his best, which still isn’t good enough for Gareth Southgate.

Pochettino will need both those men and Nicolas Jackson to be at their most ruthless if his side are to emerge from St James’ Park with another positive result.

The stadium has become a fortress over the last 18 months, with only Liverpool (twice) and Arsenal coming away with three league points in that time.

Can Chelsea become the third or will they struggle like so many others on Tyneside?

Which of Spurs or Villa are more likely to break the top four?

Article image:5️⃣ big questions ahead of the Premier League weekend

If one was to select the manager of the season so far, surely it would be a two-horse race between Ange Postecoglou and Unai Emery.

Both have outperformed pre-season expectations so far, and both look well placed to have a real crack at breaking into the top four (likely top five with the new Champions League Swiss model).

However, neither are without their flaws, which have been exposed in recent weeks. That chaotic 4-1 loss at home to Chelsea saw Spurs not just lose the game but numerous key players to injury and suspension – all of Cristian Romero, Micky van de Ven and James Maddison will again miss out here.

Their absence was felt in the late, late 2-1 loss at Wolves, which had the term “Spursy” being thrown around for the first time in the ex-Celtic manager’s tenure.

While flawless at Villa Park, Unai Emery has an issue with his side’s away form – they have won just two of six this season, and been beaten 5-1 by Newcastle and 3-0 by Liverpool.

A win did come on their last trip to London (1-0 at Chelsea) and another could be needed here to arrest those concerns, while Postecoglou will be looking for a response from his side at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Can Ramsdale take his rare chance?

Article image:5️⃣ big questions ahead of the Premier League weekend

Arsenal’s trip to Brentford on Saturday evening offers Aaron Ramsdale a rare chance in goal and a glimmer of hope of taking back the gloves for the Gunners.

The reason for this is the ineligibility of David Raya, who is rather oddly on loan at Arsenal this season from the Bees, with a permanent move set to take place next summer.

Ramsdale has not played a Premier League game since the start of September, with his minutes being restricted to the EFL Cup, which Arsenal are now out of.

Given all the chatter around the goalkeeping spot at the Emirates and comments made by both the player and his dad on the current situation, it is imperative the England stopper steps up and shows Mikel Arteta his qualities.

It could be the difference in Arsenal claiming three points and a turning point in the 25-year-old’s career with the club.