The early kick off sets the weekend up perfectly, but while the Manchester derby is grabbing all the column inches, there is still plenty to whet the appetite.
Champions Leicester travel to Anfield which hosts its first game of the season. Building works on a new stand have been completed and Jürgen Klopp will be looking to maximise home support after three games on the road. An early report card would suggest that both teams: ‘Could do better’.
Everton travel to the North East with Sunderland in search of their first win, and where better to start than against David Moyes’ former side.
With players returning from the far flung corners of the world, availability can prove to be a logistical nightmare, factor the closure of the transfer window and picking a starting XI may be nigh on impossible. But to help you along the way, make sure you’re following the team who will be working tirelessly throughout, to ensure you don’t need to.
Manchester United – vs – Manchester City
Mourinho confirms “everyone is available” for the derby. There had been doubts over Henrikh Mkhitaryan who suffered a thigh injury playing for Armenia and Luke Shaw who returned to Old Trafford early on the advice of the England medical team: "It’s a slight problem with the leg. A little ache, muscular. It’s the calf where the break was.” Sergio Romero, Antonio Valencia and Marcos Rojo have been given the green light following their late return while Marouane Fellaini managed 84 minutes for Belgium after shaking off a back complaint. Jesse Lingard is also available for the first time this season. It remains to be seen whether Marcus Rashfords’ hat-trick for England under-21s has done anything to merit more than just a place on the bench.
Claudio Bravo looks set to set to make his debut in the highly anticipated clash: "He is OK,” said Guardiola. “He had a little bit of a problem in his leg but he’s trained the last two days." Of those returning from injury, Leroy Sane is best placed in terms of his physical condition although a place in the starting XI cannot be guaranteed. Ilkay Gundogan "is much better" but after four months out, the German will do well to make the squad. Vincent Kompany is training "but we are waiting for the blood test to be sure. He’s fit but we don’t want to take too much risk." Pep is checking his skippers CK [creatine kinase] levels which serve as an indicator for muscle damage. Sergio Aguero is suspended and Guardiola must consider his options – Kelechi Iheanacho could lead the City attack but David Silva or Raheem Sterling are also options in the false number ‘9’ role. Bacary Sagna declares himself fit after recovering from “a little” hamstring tear.
AFC Bournemouth – vs – West Bromwich Albion
The Cherries still have a couple of players who will need to be assessed but "in the main we look okay in terms of injury news." Emmerson Hyndman and Junior Stanislas played 90 minutes last weekend as the pair continue to build fitness. Jack Wilshere "has settled in very well" and Eddie Howe must decide whether the Arsenal loanee is ready to start. Josh King faces a late test after he was replaced for Norway because of a hamstring issue. Tyrone Mings returned to action after more than a year on the sidelines, but his run out against AC Milan was a far cry from the rigours of the Premier League and the defender may have to wait a little longer before making his competitive bow in 2016/17.
Hal Robson-Kanu will have to wait a little longer before being considered. Tony Pulis feels the striker, who has been without a club since leaving Reading in May, needs around 10-days training before he’s ready. The Baggies were able to strengthen their squad towards the end of the transfer window and Pulis will make a late decision on Nacer Chadli who arrived from Tottenham for £13m and Allan Nyom. Chris Brunt is edging nearer to a return after rupturing his ACL back in February. According to club doctor Mark Gillett: "Chris is making good progress – he’s doing well and now back in training. Obviously, we need to balance that with the fact that he has been out for the last six months. We will make sure he is carefully managed over the next few weeks."
Arsenal – vs – Southampton
Alexis Sanchez and David Ospina need to be checked but “everyone else looks okay,” said Arsène Wenger with the exception of Aaron Ramsey who is not ready. The Wales international has also been ruled out of the Champions League game in Paris next week. Alex Iwobi and Nacho Monreal are passed fit and new signings - Lucas Perez and Shkodran Mustafi - have settled "very quickly and very well" although no decision on their involvement has been taken. Mustafi has managed to shake off a minor ankle injury and could replace Rob Holding, but Perez is likely to start on the bench. On the departure of Jack Wilshere, who joined AFC Bournemouth on-loan, Wenger said “I couldn’t guarantee minutes, my thinking [behind letting him go] is that he gets regular football. I hope he stays his whole career here. He's a world-class player." Olivier Giroud is fully fit and the Frenchman may come in for his first start with the possibility of Alexis Sanchez moving across to the left; Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could be the player to make way.
"I am happy; all the international players came back in good health" said Claude Puel during Thursdays press-conference. Ryan Bertrand has "worked well [during the break] to a good level and I think it is possible that he can begin this game." The England international will be pushing for his first start of the campaign with Matt Targett at risk of dropping out. Fitness concerns and a niggling knee problem might mean it’s up-to month before Sofiane Boufal is ready to start training with the first team. Fraser Forster is passed fit after suffering an arm injury while training with England: "I think it's OK for Fraser," said Puel who also revealed Jeremy Pied [ACL] will be missing for between 6-9 months: "It's a big injury."
Burnley – vs – Hull City
No fresh injury concerns for Sean Dyche. Ashley Barnes “has a slight niggle” and won't feature. However, the Clarets boss did say that new striker Patrick Bamford and record signing Jeff Hendrick will come into his thoughts as Burnley go in search of their second win of the campaign. “I have a team in my own mind.” Andre Gray requested a personal hearing to discuss the FA misconduct charge levied against him for his alleged homophobic posts on Twitter back in 2012. With no date set for the hearing, the striker will be clear to feature in game week four. Jon Flanagan will be hoping for his first Premier League start after completing 120 minutes at Accrington Stanley in the EFL Cup.
“Ryan Mason will be involved in the squad,” said Mike Phelan. “All the signings are available,” which includes a raft of new additions made towards the end of the transfer window - Dieumerci Mbokani, Markus Henriksen, James Weir, Will Keane and David Marshall are all in contention. Late returner Abel Hernandez will be assessed in training on Friday. Michael Dawson [ankle] is progressing nicely and he could return by late September. Brian Lenihan should be back soon as he closes in on a return following knee surgery in May. Greg Luer faces up-to 12-weeks out after going under the knife to repair damaged knee cartilage. Alex Bruce is healing much quicker than originally anticipated and the Tigers are hoping to have the full-back available again by late-November. Moses Odubajo is improving but won’t re-join the main group for another couple of months.
Middlesbrough – vs – Crystal Palace
"Everybody is ready to play, apart from James Husband and Grant Leadbitter," Karanka said on Thursday but the Boro boss forgot to mention Fabio da Silva who is still side-lined because of a knee injury. Cristhian Stuani and Gaston Ramirez will be assessed when they return from international duty [on Friday]: “I will check how the players are when they arrive, but the main thing is that both of them are not injured.” Leadbitter is targeting a return during this calendar year following surgery to cure a long-standing groin problem. "I think long, long, long," was Karanka’s response to questions on his captains return before adding: “I hope before Christmas." Victor Valdes, Marten de Roon and George Friend have all shaken off injuries and will be added to the squad which took a point from the Hawthorns in GW3. Loanee Calum Chambers arrives to bolster the back four.
Loic Remy "has a tear in his thigh” and because the area is notoriously slow to heal, the on-loan Chelsea striker has returned to Cobham for treatment and could miss up-to two months. Pardew hinted that Steve Mandanda will start keeping the fit-again Wayne Hennessey on the bench: "He played both games for France. Game time is important. I thought he was magnificent.” James McArthur and Yohan Cabaye face a late fitness test: "We're touch and go on a few players” but Palace will be able to call upon the services of new boy Mathieu Flamini who joined as a free agent on Thursday: "He's very fit, but whether he's up to game I'm not sure. He will travel." Jonathan Benteke – younger brother of Christian – will also be a part of the squad heading up to the Riverside.
Stoke City – vs – Tottenham Hotspur
Xherdan Shaqiri is close but Saturday will come too soon. His calf "responded well" to treatment but “he won't be ready." Glen Johnson has returned to first team training: "We fully anticipate that he should be OK now." Hughes says Egypt midfielder Ramadan Sobhi and US defender Geoff Cameron only returned to Stoke on Wednesday and he will make a late call on them. New signing Lee Grant could replace Jakob Haugaard on the bench who is struggling to shake off an ankle problem: "We will look and if he isn't OK then we have Lee who is more than capable of stepping up." Shay Given will continue to deputise for Jack Butland who will miss up-to 10 weeks following his second surgical procedure to remedy an ankle problem. Mame Diouf returned from representing his country with a slight injury and Hughes admits: "The likelihood is that he won't be available for this game,” which could open the door for Wilfried Bony who has impressed since arriving from City: "Even in training you can see his quality, his ability to move into good areas." Centre-back Bruno Martins Indi may take a week or two after being frozen out at Porto. Ibrahim Afellay suffered a setback in his recovery from a ruptured ACL, and as a consequence, could miss an additional three-months. Stephen Ireland on the other hand is healing well, although he awaits confirmation from a specialist to be able to step up his rehab after a double leg fracture.
Mauricio Pochettino confirms Hugo Lloris is ready and available: "He's in a good condition to travel." His return could force Michel Vorm back onto the bench despite an excellent performance against Liverpool last time out. Danny Rose sustained a hamstring injury on England duty "hopefully it's not too bad" so Ben Davies will start at left-back. Moussa Sissoko could make his debut if rumours of Erik Lamela dropping to the bench are to be believed. Mousa Dembele will serve the final game of his ban.
West Ham United – vs – Watford
Manuel Lanzini "is fully fit" and Slaven Bilic is expecting Dimitri Payet "to be ready to start the game" after sitting out of the last four matches due to a thigh strain. Those involved on international duty need to be assessed but "we needed this break to get back the injured players [which] most of them are now." Sofiane Feghouli has trained and might feature for the Under-23s on Friday evening, if confirmed, the best the winger could hope for is a place on the bench. Game week five is probably a more realistic target for Andy Carroll and Diafra Sakho could be back before the end of September. The departure of Enner Valencia left the Hammers a little lightweight in attack but Juventus forward Simone Zaza will help to plug the gap although he is short of match fitness. There is no definitive timeline on Andre Ayew but Bilic believes his record buy could be back within three months. Havard Nordveit and Winston Reid have shaken off minor knocks and will make the match-day squad. Aaron Cresswell is six weeks into his recovery from a knee ligament injury and the left-back is “on the right track” to recover by the end of November. “The main thing is that the knee is healing properly and that I don’t rush back and have to start again.” Arthur Masuaku and Alvaro Arbeloa have been signed as cover.
Walter Mazzarri could hand first starts to the likes of Daryl Janmaat, Roberto Pereyra, Adrian Mariappa and Kenedy who have all recently arrived at the club. Valon Behrami will be checked having played 90 minutes in the win over Portugal for Switzerland and Craig Cathcart faces a late test on his calf. If fit, then Younes Kaboul or Christian Kabasele could drop to the bench after a disappointing home loss to Arsenal in game week three. Ex-Marseille full-back Brice Dja Djedje was expected to be available after recovering from a foot injury, but the 25-year-old, has surprisingly been omitted from the Golden Boys 25-man squad.
Liverpool – vs – Leicester City
Ragnar Klavan will be assessed after he suffered bruising and a “rip around the knee” playing for Estonia, although it didn’t require stitches. Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip will be paired in the heart of defence as Mamadou Sakho works his way back to full fitness. Emre Can still has a "little issue with his ankle" and will miss the game, however, he re-joined the group on Friday and isn’t too far away. Sadio Mané "has trained completely normal" and is available. Young winger Sheyi Ojo remains out. Such is the importance of Philippe Coutinho to the Liverpool side, Jürgen Klopp made special arrangements for the Brazilian to be flown back from international duty as quickly as possible affording him extra time to recuperate.
"Fortunately, nobody was injured [on international duty],” Ranieri said ahead of the trip to Anfield. “They came back with a very good strength.” Kasper Schmeichel has been passed fit after going under the knife last week: "It was a very little operation. It was good and he’s ready to play." Jeffrey Schlupp [hamstring] is "very, very close to coming back" but won’t make it, similarly, Mendy [ankle] who "needs one more week." Slimani arrived back late on Thursday: "I didn’t see him yet [but] he’s available for Saturday. He could play."
Swansea City – vs – Chelsea
Borja Baston returned to full training but despite his early confidence, Guidolin revealed on Thursday that the former Atletico Madrid forward is struggling to shake off a thigh injury. He needs to ease back a little: "I hope to have him available for Sunday but I don’t know, I am not sure.” Sung-Yeung Ki and Jefferson Montero arrived back late, so they need to be checked. Swansea were unchanged for the trip to Leicester last time out but Guidolin may be tempted to look at other options after the defeat. Stephen Kingsley faces stiff competition from the fit-again Neil Taylor.
"We had our first training with all the players. I'm happy, I saw them in good fitness," said Antonio Conte during the build-up to Saturdays’ game. David Luiz and Marcos Alonso "have improved the squad" but neither is likely to start as they need “a bit of time to go into our philosophy." The back five should remain the same following their first shut out of the season against Burnley. "All the players are fit” with the exception of long-term absentees Kurt Zouma and Marco van Ginkel.
Sunderland – vs – Everton
David Moyes confirms the goalkeepers’ jersey is Jordan Pickford’s to lose following the recent arrival of Boavista stopper Mika on a two-year deal. “He played really well against Southampton and he needs to play well to keep his place." Victor Anichebe is "going to need a while" to get match fit. "He is not ready to play. We are going to give him plenty of time." But there was better news on the injury front as Lee Cattermole "returned to training" [although not likely to be involved] and Jan Kirchhoff played 90 minutes for the Under-23s on Tuesday. The German midfielder has been out since picking up a hamstring injury in Montpellier during pre-season, six weeks ago, but could be fast-tracked into the side with Fabio Borini missing: “We expect [him] to be out for three months, that is a rough guide,” said the Black Cats boss. “There is a chance it could be a bit quicker. [But] the abductor that came off the bone." Moyes may revert back to a 4-2-3-1 with Kirchhoff partnering Jack Rodwell in a deep lying holding role.
James McCarthy will miss around three weeks after surgery to address a minor groin problem. Seamus Coleman had no reaction following his involvement for Ireland this week and Ronald Koeman faces a tough decision on whether to recall the right-back or stick with Mason Holgate who has impressed since making his breakthrough. Goals for Belgium will give Romelu Lukaku "confidence" and after his "difficult" pre-season, Koeman believes he is returning to his best. No Darron Gibson but Tom Cleverley will train from Saturday and could make the match-day squad.