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.

Serie A: Leaders Inter Milan open door for Juve by drawing Roma

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MILAN (AP) Italian league leader Inter Milan was held by Roma to 0-0 on Friday, giving second-placed Juventus a chance to return to the top.

[ MORE: Chelsea transfer ban reduced; can sign players in January ]

The home draw left Inter only two points ahead of Juventus, which can regain the lead when it visits third-placed Lazio on Saturday.The result also wasn’t good for Roma, which moved from fifth to fourth place in the standings but remained nine points off the lead after 15 matches.

Inter forward Lautaro Martinez had one of the game’s best chances when he got past a defender and entered the area in the 68th minute, but his shot was blocked at the last minute. He called for a handball by the defender but the referee let play continue.

[ MORE: Brendan Rodgers signs new contract at Leicester ]

Inter was coming off five straight wins in the league, with its last setback in all competitions last month against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League. Its last league loss was against Juventus in October, nine matches ago.

Roma was seeking its third straight league win. It had won five of its last six matches since last month.

Inter visits Barcelona in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Premier League Preview: Man City v. Man United

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  • Man City (3rd) trail Liverpool by 11 points
  • Man United (6th) eight points out of 4th
  • Last meeting: Man United 0-2 Man City

For the first time in recent memory, Manchester City and Manchester United each find themselves failing to meet expectations — by their own respective standards, at least — as they prepare to meet at the Etihad Stadium in the 179th Manchester derby on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and NBCSports.com).

Man City, the two-time defending Premier League champions, are looking increasingly unlikely to retain their crown for a third straight season but look a surefire bet to finish in the top-four, which is a place for which Man United would bite your hand off as they currently trail leaders Liverpool by more points (22) than they have points of their own (21).

[ STREAM: Every PL match live

The struggles for United have been all about consistency as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s side hasn’t won back-to-back games all season. The Red Devils haven’t won two in a row in the PL since March. On the bright side, United turned in one of their complete performances of the season on Wednesday, spoiling Jose Mourinho’s return to Old Trafford and beating Tottenham Hotspur 2-1. Marcus Rashford scored both goals and Solskjaer couldn’t rave enough about his 22-year-old forward after the game. From start to finish, United were the better team and looked in majority control, which isn’t something they’ve been able to say often in 2019.

As for City, they’ve simply been “not good enough” without ever actually being “bad” this season, given Liverpool’s scintillating form (14W-1D-0L thus far). Realistically, City likely need to pick up all 69 remaining points this season, and even then they might still come up short.


Man City: OUT – Sergio Aguero (thigh), Aymeric Laporte (knee), Leroy Sane (knee), Oleksandr Zinchenko (knee)

Man United: OUT – Anthony Martial (hamstring), Eric Bailly (knee), Marcos Rojo (undisclosed); QUESTIONABLE: Paul Pogba (ankle), Nemanja Matic (groin), Diogo Dalot (groin)

Projected lineups

Man City: Ederson — Walker, Otamendi, Fernandinho, Angeliño — Rodri, De Bruyne, Silva — Bernardo, Jesus, Sterling

Man United: De Gea — Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Young — Fred, McTominay, James, Mata, Lingard — Rashford

What they’re saying

Pep Guardiola, on the derby: “It’s Man United. I respect what they’ve done for English football, European, and world football. United have huge history and their quality is always there but we must try to beat them. We play against a good team, try to follow the performances we’ve put in and try to win the game. You know my opinion on the title race.”

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, on his derby memories: “It took many years before I played a Manchester derby myself. Of course, Man City are a better team now than when I was playing. … Confidence is a strange thing in football; you can get performances and results like Wednesday night and it boosts it so much. And I know our boys will be up for it. 24 hours less recovery time [than City] shouldn’t matter, you go on adrenaline.”


The win over Tottenham was impressive, no doubt about it, but City remain a challenge of an entirely different class, no matter what their points total says. If the title is well and truly gone for Guardiola’s side, then retaining superiority in Manchester will have to suffice. City 3-1 United.

Klinsmann gets first point as Hertha Berlin manager

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FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) Jurgen Klinsmann claimed his first point since returning to coaching as his Hertha Berlin team let slip a two-goal lead to draw with Frankfurt 2-2 in the Bundesliga on Friday.

[ MORE: Chelsea transfer ban reduced; can sign players in January ]

Hertha was clinging to a 2-1 lead in the 86th minute when Sebastian Rode hammered the ball in from a corner for Frankfurt to deny the Berlin team the win.

Hertha is in the relegation playoff spot in 16th and winless in its last six league games, while Frankfurt is 10th.

Dodi Lukebakio gave Hertha the lead with a shot through Frederik Ronnow’s legs. That goal was assisted by Marko Grujic, who later made it 2-0 with a header from a free kick.

However, Frankfurt almost immediately replied with a header of its own from Martin Hinteregger, the Austrian defender with five Bundesliga goals.

[ MORE: Brendan Rodgers signs new contract at Leicester ]

Frankfurt’s fans expressed their disapproval of the video assistant referee after it ruled out two goals for the hosts. There was a rare disallowed own goal when Hertha goalkeeper Thomas Kraft palmed a cross into his own net but was found to have been pushed while jumping.

Klinsmann took over Hertha last week on a temporary deal until the end of the season, after Ante Covic was fired with the team under threat of relegation. Klinsmann hadn’t coached since being fired in 2016 by the United States, and last worked at a club in 2009 at Bayern Munich.

Nigel Pearson appointed new Watford manager

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Nigel Pearson has been appointed new manager of Watford and been handed a very straightforward — but tall — task for the remainder of the season: avoid relegation from the Premier League.

[ MORE: Chelsea transfer ban reduced; can sign players in January ]

Pearson takes over from Quique Sanchez Flores — who only took over from Javi Gracia in September — who left his post at Vicarage Road with the Hornets sitting 20th out of 20 teams in the PL table, already seven points adrift from safety. Pearson’s contract runs through the end of the season.

The 56-year-old Pearson, who last managed in the PL with Leicester City in 2015, was most recently in charge of Belgian side OH Leuven before he was fired in February.

[ MORE: Brendan Rodgers signs new contract at Leicester ]

Pearson won’t take charge of Saturday’s game against Crystal Palace (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold). Interim manager Hayden Mullins will see out the week’s preparations and manage the team before handing the reins to Pearson on Sunday.