As we head into Week 5 of the Premier League season, let’s take a quick look around at the top five storylines this weekend.
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With a huge rivalry match between Manchester United and Liverpool taking center stage, tricky tests away for Chelsea and Man City and the first chance for us to see the plethora of new players signed at the end of the transfer window 10 days ago, there’s a lot going.
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Here’s five things you need to look out for.
Here come the debutants
The likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Nicolas Otamendi, Anthony Martial, Virgil Van Dijk and Heung-Min Son could make their Premier League debuts this weekend as a record $1.3 billion was spent during the 2015 Summer Transfer Window with PL sides bolstering their squads. A flurry of deals were done in and around Deadline Day and there are always a few transfers which initially raise eyebrows but after this weekend it could seem like money well spent. On the flip side, is De Bruyne really worth $86 million? We are about to find out.
Manchester United vs. Liverpool takes center stage
So many storylines swirling around this monster clash between two of world soccer’s fiercest rivals. United welcome Liverpool to Old Trafford on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via Live Extra) with nobody sure if David De Gea will start in goal after his move to Real Madrid collapsed on Deadline Day. Will new $55 million signing Anthony Martial — Louis Van Gaal said that price was “ridiculous” by the way — be the hero on his debut? Can Wayne Rooney finally deliver the goods for United as their talisman has failed to score this season? As for Liverpool, this will be their first derby in 17 years without Steven Gerrard and no local lads are likely to appear on the pitch in this game. The bigger concern for Brendan Rodgers‘ side will be scoring goals, as they’ve scored just twice in their opening four games this season. Roberto Firmino and Christian Benteke, it’s time to step up.
Upset-alert: Surely Chelsea won’t slip up again? Also, what about City?
Both Chelsea and Manchester City face tricky trips away from home this weekend. When it comes to Chelsea, the Blues may be sweating ahead of their match against Everton on Saturday (Watch live, 7:45 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra) at Goodison Park. Mourinho’s men have one win and two defeats from their opening four games and with the Toffees impressing away against Southampton and Tottenham, can they now finally get going at Goodison? Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley will be key for Everton, while John Stones remained with the Toffees despite heavy interest from Chelsea in the transfer window. Seeing how he gets on against Jose Mourinho’s side will be a treat. As for City, they head to Crystal Palace, the team who beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge before the international break, and the Eagles are more than capable of following up that shock win by beating City. However, this is a City side that will also add Nicolas Otamendi and Kevin De Bruyne to the ranks and Manuel Pellegrini‘s men have been on fire in the first four weeks of the season, scoring 10 times and conceding zero on their way to four wins. Then again, City fans will not need reminding about their damaging defeats away to the likes of Burnley last season…
Searching for that win…
Heading into Week 5, there are five PL teams still without a win. I’m sure they’ll love me for putting this out, but Tottenham Hotspur, Newcastle United, Stoke City, Watford and Sunderland have all yet to register that all-important ‘W.’ Okay, early in the season you can get unlucky with tough schedules working against you and new players failing to settle in, but with no victories heading through the first international break, managers, fans and players are all starting to get a bit nervous. Spurs play Sunderland, Stoke head to Arsenal, while Newcastle head to West Ham and Watford host Swansea. Out of that lot, you’d say that only Spurs have a legit chance of heading into Week 6 with a win under their belt. As for the other four… things are getting a little bit tense.
The wantaway boys
It will be very interesting to see how the likes of Saido Berahino, Victor Wanyama and the aforementioned De Gea react this weekend. In the case of all three, they’d probably rather be elsewhere than lining up for West Brom, Southampton and Manchester United respectively, but they are where they are. They must deal with it. Berahino has dealt with having his move to Tottenham rejected by West Brom poorly, while Wanyama is said to have changed his tune after Saints told him they would not sell him to Spurs. As for De Gea, the big question mark remains over whether or not he will start vs. Liverpool. If he does it will be his first United game since July 29. That would be a big call by Van Gaal if he does play him over Sergio Romero. But then again, it is a big game and those top class players will win you them, as long they are focused. For those three players, and others who maybe didn’t get the move away on Deadline Day that they were hoping for, focus is key.