10 things to look forward to as Premier League returns this weekend


The last time we enjoyed a Premier League match, it was August.

Almost two weeks later, here we are. The PL is back and some intriguing storylines are developing ahead of Week 4.

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Here are 10 things to look out for this weekend across the league as you can watch every single game live online via NBC Sport Live Extra. Remember folks, set those alarm clocks for Saturday and Sunday morning!

source: AP
Can Falcao star for United?

1. Seeing Manchester United’s superstars in action, at the same time

This one is a head-scratcher. How do you fit Radamel Falcao, Angel Di Maria, Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie and Juan Mata all into the same team? Good luck with that, Louis van Gaal. Manchester United added plenty of world-class attackers over the summer and they are available to play together against Queens Park Rangers on Sunday at Old Trafford. Will LVG get the balance right with new boy Marcos Rojo and Daley Blind at the back? We are about to find out.

2. Danny Welbeck’s Arsenal debut

Much has been made about this signing on Deadline Day as the Gunners could have got a bit of a bargain. Welbeck scored twice for England in midweek and with Olivier Giroud’s injury, he will likely be played as the lone frontman. Excitement is building about how Welbeck could link up with fellow newbie Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil. Arsene Wenger has sent out mixed messages about Welbeck though.

3.  Can the Citizens rebound at the Emirates?

After that shock 1-0 defeat to Stoke City at home last time out, Man City’s players have had two weeks to let it fester. Will they come flying out of the traps at the Emirates Stadium? Last season they did that, but then let Arsenal off the hook in a 1-1 draw. The PST gang break down the weekend’s most intriguing matchup.

4. Mario Balotelli being the main man for Liverpool

Daniel Sturridge is out injured and could miss the next six games for Liverpool. ‘Have no fear, Super Mario is here!’ Or something like that… Anyway, Balotelli will be making his Anfield debut against Aston Villa on Saturday and will hold the goalscoring burden as the main man while Sturridge is out injured. Balotelli will come up against Ron Vlaar and Philippe Senderos, two powerhouses at the heart of Villa’s defense. That will be an intriguing battle as the Italian must keep his head.

source: Getty Images
Will Balotelli be on target for Liverpool on his Anfield debut?

5. Scrap at the Stadium of Light

Tottenham Hotspur head to the Stadium of Light after a week of headlines off the field and coming off the back of a 3-0 drubbing to Balotelli’s Liverpool. They play Sunderland and it will be a real battle on Wearside as two South American managers clash in Mauricio Pochettino and Gus Poyet. Both insist on high-pressure and Pochettino’s former side Southampton went to Sunderland three times last season in the league and cup, lost twice and blew a 2-0 lead. Poch will hope it’s a much happier hunting ground for him with his new team who must rebound, but they will have to work hard vs. the Black Cats.

6. Can the Toffees get through their sticky patch?

West Brom away. Before the season, you’d mark that down as a routine win for Everton, but after a tricky start where they have two points from three games and have let in 10 goals, Roberto Martinez’s men aren’t flowing. The Toffees look a little disjointed, especially at the back, and you get the feeling that their late collapse against Arsenal at home in Week 2 really knocked the stuffing out of them. Romelu Lukaku has yet to score and needs to put in a big display against his former team.

7. Eagles and Clarets battle for first win

Much like the match at Sunderland, this will be a real ding-dong battle, a blood and thunder affair, a …. okay, you get the picture. Both teams are still without a win this season and it is Neil Warnock’s first home game back in charge of Palace. Both teams will be earmarking this as ‘must-win’ already and it will be a game of few chances as Burnley have done well at stifling the opposition thus far in the PL. Passion, power and crunching tackles will be in abundance at Selhurst Park.

8. Top of the table clash between Chelsea and… Swansea

Okay, so it may not always be billed as a top of the table clash but on Saturday it will be. Both Chelsea and Swansea are the only two teams to win three from three so far. Garry Monk’s men have impressed, especially as they walloped West Brom 3-0 before the break. Can they upset Jose Mourinho and Chelsea? The Blues have looked imperious, smashing six past Everton and the signings of Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas continued to make the ‘Special One’ look, erm, special. A cracker for you to enjoy.

source: Getty Images
Let’s talk about Cesc…

9. Saints’ silky skills to get past under-pressure Magpies?

Ronald Koeman’s brand of “sexy football” hasn’t taken long to unearth itself on the South Coast. Saints cruised past West Ham 3-1 away from home last time out and will now look to hammer one of the final nails in the coffin of former manager Alan Pardew. His Newcastle side are without a win, and coupled with their poor form to finish last season, Pardew is on borrowed time already. Saints’ silky stars such as Dusan Tadic and Morgan Schneiderlin could spell trouble for the Magpies. Also, spare a thought for Newcastle’s fans who make the longest journey in the PL this weekend, a 750 mile round trip for the Toon Army.

10. Vanishing spray. Legendary.

Okay, let’s finish this on a lighter note. How much do we love the vanishing spray? I know, right. Also, how much do fans inside Premier League stadiums love vanishing spray? Even more, it seems. Listen in to the audio on all the games this weekend whenever a referee is using the spray. The crowd will build up tension and ring out the ‘ole’s’ when the spray is being applied. Like a wielding matador, referee’s have so far used swaggering panache to perform a pretty mundane task. You try telling PL crowds it’s mundane. They love it, as do I.

WATCH: Zlatan stunner answers Vela’s opener in El Trafico

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic is walking it like he talks it, not that that’s anything new.

A few days after claiming superiority over LAFC superstar Carlos Vela, Ibrahimovic and his Galaxy trailed early in El Trafico via a Vela penalty.

[ MORE: Latest on Eriksen ]

Naturally, Zlatan took it upon himself to answer the bell with his 14th goal in 17 games.

Ibrahimovic chests a long ball onto his right foot, cooking Eduard Atuesta by pushing it into position for a tremendous lash into the LAFC goal.

And if you haven’t been following LAFC’s amazing season, Atuesta’s probably been the side’s best player after Vela, who now has 20 goals in 20 games.

Wizard stuff.

Borussia Dortmund tops Liverpool 3-2 at Notre Dame

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A half-hour of the big guns wasn’t enough to get Jurgen Klopp a result against his former team.

Harry Wilson and Rhian Brewster scored for Liverpool in a 3-2 loss to Borussia Dortmund at the University of Notre Dame on Friday.

Paco Alcacer, Thomas Delaney, and Jacob Bruun Larsen scored for the Black Yellow, who led 3-1 when mass changes began with Virgil Van Dijk, Georginio Wijnaldum, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Jordan Henderson, and Andrew Robertson entering the match.

Liverpool faces Sevilla on Sunday at Fenway Park in Boston.

[ MORE: Latest on Eriksen ]

Alcacer with the ball in the box is a bad idea, and the Spaniard took advantage of Nathaniel Clyne and Joel Matip to smash home from a yard outside the six.

Wilson leveled the score before halftime, but Delaney made it 2-1 in the 53rd minute when a long diagonal ball beat the Reds line and a low pass across the box went undetected.

It was 3-1 via a clever Bruun Larsen touch to wrong foot James Milner, but Brewster brought the Reds back to within one when he converted a 75th minute penalty won by Ben Woodburn.

Liverpool was without Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, and Mohamed Salah, who are on break after deep summer tournament runs.

Eriksen offered big Spurs wages, but Atletico Madrid lurks

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Christian Eriksen may trade London for Madrid after all, but Marca claims it’ll be Real Madrid’s rivals who earn the services of Tottenham’s Danish playmaker.

Eriksen, 27, scored 10 goals with 17 assists for Spurs in all competitions last season, and was reportedly ready to spread his wings for Real Madrid.

[ MORE: Kean to Everton? ]

But pro-Real site Marca says Zinedine Zidane doesn’t want Eriksen at the Bernabeu, and that Diego Simeone feels differently… should Atletico Madrid fail at landing his prime option.

That’s James Rodriguez, who remains property of Real and that’s a problem.

So Eriksen to Atleti, helping to replace Antoine Griezmann? It’s possible.

From Marca.com:

Just last November, the London club put a 250 million euro price tag on his head, but now appear keen to move him on. The next few days will likely reveal a lot about what’s to come.

So we may get an idea of whether this report has any guts to it by next week. There could be some sense to it, but Metro claims that Spurs are offering Eriksen an “enormous” contract to keep him in North London.

Enormous means a doubling of Eriksen’s wages, and the Dane is said to be happy in England. Might Spurs hold off the finest of La Liga and Serie A after all.

Report: Everton could land Juventus’ Kean after all

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Everton could end up with one of the hottest prospects in world soccer.

Moise Kean may wind up leaving Juventus due to the club’s failure to offload fellow strikers Mario Mandzukic and Gonzalo Higuain.

And Kean, 19, was poised for a breakthrough to the first team, to the extent that Juve reportedly turned down a $33 million bid from Everton.

[ MORE: Algeria wins AFCON ]

The Toffees, however, may have new life due to the Higuain/Mandzukic problem, and Sky Sports Italia reports that Kean may indeed be an option for Marco Silva‘s club. He could join Michael Keane, if he’s keen.

It wouldn’t be surprising if Kean elected to leave Italy given the racial abuse he’s suffered in Serie A (Though racism is everywhere, of course).

The same report says Kean turned down a Barcelona offer because he would’ve headed on loan, while Arsenal is also said to be in the mix.

Kean scored six Serie A goals with an assist in just 13 matches for Juventus last season after scoring four times for Hellas Verona on loan.