The Premier League is finally returning after what somehow felt like the longest international break in ages.
Anyone else feel that way?
[ MORE: USMNT roundtable ]
Here’s what we have on the docket for a busy weekend in England.
The reigning champs begin life without Laporte
- Norwich City v. Man City, Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC
Aymeric Laporte may not get the headlines of Virgil Van Dijk, but the Man City man has been a close second to the Liverpool star when it comes to how important a role he plays to his defense. Fortunately, Man City has reliable Nicolas Otamendi and a healthy John Stones. How they perform together will go a long way to determining whether a 3-peat is an option once Laporte returns after the new year. The first Laporte-less test comes against Teemu Pukki and defense-starved Norwich City
Spurs aching for stability, return to form
- Tottenham Hotspur v. Crystal Palace, Saturday, 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN
Both Tottenham and their visitors had a key attacker in the rumor mill throughout August, and both Christian Eriksen and Wilfried Zaha stayed put at the transfer deadline. Spurs have just five points through four games, but have already played two Top Four rivals (draws with Man City and Arsenal). It’s fair to say nothing short of a home win over Palace will be acceptable to the Lilywhite faithful. Can Spurs “re-focus?”
New (old) boss bump against dangerous Gunners?
- Watford v. Arsenal, Sunday, 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN
Watford fired Javi Gracia in favor of a return to Quique Sanchez Flores, and the Hornets’ home faithful will see whether it gives the moribund Hornets a return to 2018-19 form. Watford has just one point from the first four matches of the season, while Arsenal has only lost to Liverpool. Goal fest?
Someone’s stalling has to end here
- Wolves v. Chelsea, Saturday, 10 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold
Europa League congestion can rightfully be blamed for some of Wolves’ struggles to start the season, but no such prognosis can be made ahead of a visit from less-than-inspiring Chelsea. This is a good litmus test for two teams’ high-end hopes, and a loss for the hosts could see them finish the weekend in the drop zone.
Business as usual for Salah, Mane versus Newcastle
- Liverpool v. Newcastle United, Saturday, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN
Forget the argument last week: Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, and their fellow Reds will be licking their lips to face a Newcastle team which hasn’t won at Anfield since a League Cup match in 1995. The goal scorer? Steve Watson.
Brendan Rodgers aims to make statement at Old Trafford
- Manchester United v. Leicester City, Saturday, 10 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold
The hosts Red Devils are running out of excuses for their in-game dominance not producing three points, and the latest test at Old Trafford comes via an in-form Leicester City. Will Foxes manager Brendan Rodgers deliver his first big result of the season?