Premier League preview: What will and won't happen this weekend

Bournemouth vs Manchester City (Saturday, 12.30pm)

The big talking point: Gabriel Jesus vs Sergio Aguero. Pep Guardiola is playing both at the moment in a 3-1-4-2, and on the evidence of the first two games it isn’t working all that well for either player. Is this a long-term plan or just a way of avoiding a politically complicated situation?

What will happen: A City walkover. Eddie Howe has got problems. At the end of last season his team shook off their winter form to survive comfortably, but they seem to have reverted to their January worst. The midfield's habit of being aimless in possession has returned, so too the team's inability to reliably feed their forward line.

What won’t happen: Kyle Walker won’t play, suspended following that incident with Dominic Calvert-Lewin on Monday night. A strange situation; weren’t the new laws governing simulation supposed to prevent this type of situation?

Crystal Palace vs Swansea (Saturday, 3pm)

The big talking point: The gentle improvement in Palace. If the 0-3 loss to Huddersfield was a catastrophe, then the 1-0 defeat at Anfield was – while still not deserving of points – an improvement. A further week on, with a little more exposure to Frank de Boer’s methods and ideas, this is a perfect chance for the hosts to express themselves against a team who are likely to be docile. 

What will happen: Alas, a stalemate. The fear for Palace is that without Wilfried Zaha (injured), they aren’t really built to be expressive. Currently, their only fit and available offensive asset is Christian Benteke and, whatever else they may be, Swansea are built to nullify targetmen. Alfie Mawson is more than a match for Benteke physically, so expect this to be an attritional, low-scoring battle.

What won't happen: Anybody anticipating a proper representation of how life under De Boer is likely to look will be disappointed. When teams attempt to make a stylistic quantum leap, as Palace are doing, the transition tends to take time. Patience, patience, patience. 

Huddersfield vs Southampton (Saturday, 3pm)

The big talking point: Huddersfield’s start. Two wins from two, six points from six, four goals scored and none conceded. 

What will happen: Southampton will prove a level above anything David Wagner has faced. Mauricio Pellegrino has certainly inherited some issues at both ends of the pitch, but he will still take a talented team up north. Can Huddersfield cope with the movement of Manolo Gabbiadini? Can Aaron Mooy be as effective from a midfield in which he will face Oriel Romeu and Mario Lemina? Nothing that has happened thus far really provides any indication, so this should be an informative fixture.

What won’t happen: The goals aren’t going to fall out of this game. Newcastle offered a limp threat last weekend, but Huddersfield’s back four still impressed. Yes, Gabbiadini is a different calibre of player to any that Rafa Benitez was able to call upon, and Nathan Redmond and Dusan Tadic are both superior to anything Newcastle offered, but Wagner’s backline look the best-coached among their newly promoted peers.  

Newcastle vs West Ham (Saturday, 3pm)

The big talking points: Managerial futures: who goes first? Rafa Benitez’s uneasy alliance with Mike Ashley grows increasingly strained, while defeat here would condemn Slaven Bilic to three straight defeats and a long, nervy international break.

What will happen: How Newcastle expect to score goals remains a mystery - and is the main basis for Benitez’s frustration - but West Ham are actually well stocked at the top of the pitch. Diafra Sakho looked sharp against Cheltenham in midweek and looks close to fitness, while Javier Hernandez is a known predator capable of sinewing between the gaps of a makeshift Newcastle defence that will be without Florian Lejeune, Paul Dummett and DeAndre Yedlin. 

What won’t happen: If Newcastle lose, expect the politics to bite on Tyneside. Benitez has always been careful not to align himself with likely failure in the past, so defeat here leads either to some frantic transfer activity or a resignation. 

Watford vs Brighton (Saturday, 3pm)

The big talking point: Watford’s form. As he did at Hull, Marco Silva has his team - particularly his midfield - immediately looking highly organised. Nathaniel Chalobah already looks like an excellent signing, and Brazilian Richarlison was also vibrant against Bournemouth last weekend.

What will happen: We’ll start to worry about Brighton. It’s a nice story and, yes, Chris Hughton is one of the better people in the game, but his players already looked badly overmatched at this level. Manchester City swatted them away quite easily, Leicester handled them comfortably and, on form at least, you’d expect Watford to take the points here. It is only August and there will still be 35 games left to play, but even so - that zero next to their name is troubling.

What won’t happen: The league is waiting for a breakout performance from Anthony Knockaert, who returned last weekend from injury, but don’t expect it to come here. Jose Holebas and Richarlison (with midfield support) looked extremely secure without the ball on Watford's left against Bournemouth, preventing Jordon Ibe from having any impact at all. Part of that depended on Ibe, who looks a shell of the player that left Liverpool, but it was also another measure of what Silva has been able to quickly build.

Manchester United vs Leicester (Saturday, 5.30pm)

The big talking point: United’s start. They look powerful, dominant and as uninhibited as they have in years.

What will happen: Leicester will prove a worthier opponent than either West Ham or Swansea, mainly because of the counter-attacking threat they carry. All the froth about United has been lathered by their growing attacking ambition and commitment to more aggressive football, but this will be the first time this season that they’ll need to show balance. So are Jose Mourinho’s team quite as cohesive as they look, or simply a flat-track bully who have been trampling weakling sides?

What won’t happen: A United clean sheet. Back-to-back 4-0 wins are hard to argue with, but there’s been at least a hint of vulnerability to Mourinho’s side in both games. West Ham and Swansea each struck the woodwork before the respective scorelines escalated out of control, so if Leicester take the chances - which they are likely to get - this could be an entirely different sort of encounter.

Chelsea vs Everton (Sunday, 1.30pm)

The big talking point: Wayne Rooney. Two Premier League starts for his (old) new club, two goals. Rooney may have announced the end of his international career on Wednesday, but domestically he looks fresh and sharp. 

FEATURE Wayne Rooney’s 5 best moments in an England shirt

What will happen: Perhaps a reminder that there are still lingering issues at Chelsea? The win over Tottenham will have been cathartic, but in retrospect it was fortunate. Everton played extremely well at the Etihad in subduing Manchester City, and they could be the team to prove that everything isn’t quite back to normal yet at Stamford Bridge.

What won’t happen: Morgan Schneiderlin (suspended) will not take his place in the visiting midfield, which undermines a critical area of Ronald Koeman’s gameplan. Everton’s rigidity comes from their tough middle, so Muhamed Besic - or whomever is selected to replace Schneiderlin - will have to step in without weakening the structure.

West Brom vs Stoke (Sunday, 1.30pm)

The big talking point: Jese. What a debut. He’s had a strange career, a victim of injury and circumstance to an extent, and that’s led him down this familiar reclamation path. Someone to keep watching, certainly.

What will happen: No, we’re still not buying into Stoke just yet. Arsenal are an antagonistic opponent who stir the crowd in the Potteries and nearly always provoke a reaction. West Brom away? Not so much. Jese aside, this looks suspiciously like the same old tired team who appear dead behind the eyes. Narrow home win.

What won’t happen: Fun seems like a long-shot. These are two physical teams that are built to grind. Stoke may have a flourish or two at the top of the pitch, but expect this to be rather joyless, percentage-based and ultimately quite blunt. Hello, last slot on Match of the Day.

Tottenham vs Burnley (Sunday, 4pm)

The big talking point: The Wembley pitch. Rugby League’s Challenge Cup final is taking place on Saturday, so all eyes will be on the playing surface.

What will happen: Perhaps another chance for Kyle Walker-Peters? He was faultless on debut at St James’ Park on the opening weekend and has signed a new three-year contract this week. Kieran Trippier was adequate but clearly unfit a week ago, struggling with the speed of the game and his delivery, so Mauricio Pochettino could - against a theoretically weaker opponent - see this as an opportunity to give his developing full-back more exposure.

What won’t happen: There will be no Davinson Sanchez, unfortunately. Spurs’ new £40m centre-half has completed his transfer, but is still waiting on a work permit and international clearance.

TALENTSPOTTER Everything Tottenham fans need to know about Davinson Sanchez

Liverpool vs Arsenal (Sunday, 4pm)

The big talking point: A week on from Tottenham against Chelsea, another collision between two teams with title ambitions.

What will happen: Interestingly, Arsene Wenger confirmed on Thursday that Alexis Sanchez is available for selection. Whether he starts or appears from the substitutes’ bench, the Chilean’s return to the squad will clearly be an emboldening moment - and one which comes at the right time, after Liverpool appeared to empty their tank against Hoffenheim on Wednesday night

What won’t happen: Talking of which, Liverpool do often crash land just after they appear to hit their potential. Anytime they produce the perfect representation of Jurgen Klopp’s football, there’s usually a deferred penalty to pay in the next game - and that would seem particularly likely in this case, just three days removed from a performance of such impressive physical intensity.

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