Premier League preview: Things to look out for - (2021)
Game of the weekend
The Premier League has a new leader. Liverpool’s 4-0 victory over Bournemouth in last Saturday’s early kick-off lifted the Reds to the summit of the standings, which is where they remained when Manchester City lost 2-0 to Chelsea later in the day.
There is, of course, a long way to go, but Liverpool’s record of 13 victories and three draws from their first 16 encounters has given their fans hope that a 28-year title drought could finally be brought to an end this season. Manchester United have zero chance of claiming their 21st championship crown this campaign, but they would love nothing more than to derail Liverpool’s bid at Anfield on Sunday afternoon.
All eyes on
There is more than one Manchester vs Merseyside clash taking place this weekend, with City hosting Everton on Saturday. Pep Guardiola’s side are not used to setbacks so it will be interesting to see how they react after last weekend’s loss at Stamford Bridge; a quick start is likely – City have scored 14 goals in the opening 20 minutes of Premier League matches this term – but Everton will grow in confidence if they are able to survive until half-time with the scores level.
Man in form
Lucas Torreira was not bought for his goalscoring prowess, but two strikes in his last three Premier League matches have helped endear him to the Arsenal fan base even more.
The tenacious midfielder is already a favourite among the Emirates crowd, having enjoyed a brilliant start to life in English football. Torreira may only be 5ft 6in, but he possesses the bite, drive and physicality that the Gunners have been lacking in the engine room for some time. A natural defensive midfielder who brings out the best in those around him, the Uruguayan has quickly become one of Arsenal’s most important players.
One to watch
Wolverhampton Wanderers’ recruitment has been the subject of much talk in the last couple of seasons, but the player who is most exciting the club’s supporters at present is an academy graduate. Morgan Gibbs-White first joined Wolves at the age of eight and made his first-team debut as a 16-year-old in January 2017; fast forward 23 months and he is now beginning to make his mark on the Premier League.
Gibbs-White caught the eye during a cameo appearance against Tottenham Hotspur in November, carrying the ball forward dangerously and showing absolutely no fear in possession. He then recorded an assist as Nuno’s men beat Chelsea in the recent round of midweek fixtures, and was again bright and purposeful after coming on in the 60th minute of Wolves’ 2-1 triumph over Newcastle United last weekend. The 18-year-old has surely done enough to earn his second start of the season when Bournemouth visit Molineux on Saturday.
Manager under pressure
Crystal Palace conceded three goals for the second game on the bounce last time out, going down 3-2 to West Ham United just days after their dismal 3-1 defeat by a Brighton and Hove Albion side who were forced to play the majority of the match with 10 men.
Palace’s principal problems – poor squad depth, a short-term recruitment strategy and the lack of a coherent vision of how to run the club – cannot be blamed on Roy Hodgson, but it is managers who usually pay the price for bad results. The Eagles have won just one of their last 11 Premier League matches, failing to beat Bournemouth, Wolves, Newcastle, Brighton and West Ham in that time. If Leicester City are able to add their name to that list on Saturday, Hodgson could find himself in a precarious position.
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