Top 5 Premier League storylines: Tests, new boys, the Manchester Derby
The Premier League returns Saturday with a bang, opening a weekend of fixtures with the Manchester Derby at 7:30 a.m. EDT Saturday on NBCSN.
While that will be the fixture getting most of the headlines this week, there’s a lot to like about the 10-match docket.
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We’ve got upstarts versus upstarts, slow starting big boys against slow starting hopefuls, and Chelsea looking to win its fourth-straight match under Antonio Conte.
Will all of those make the cut of our Top Five weekend story lines? Read on...
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Who gets the first bragging rights: Pep or Jose?
Manchester United vs. Manchester City -- 7:30 a.m. EDT Saturday (NBCSN)
No need to delay the inevitable banter between Manchester supporters any more, Pep Guardiola guides his first-place City against his fellow unbeaten Mancunians (the ones who wear red). City won’t have Sergio Aguero against United’s newly-restored back line, but there’s a question on the other side’s attack, too: Will Marcus Rashford get a start over Anthony Martial?
Early tests for inconsistent Reds and Foxes
Liverpool vs. Leicester City -- 12:30 p.m. EDT Saturday (NBCSN)
The reigning champs get the late match spotlight in a visit to Anfield to face Jurgen Klopp’s Reds. While Leicester scooped up its first win against Swansea two weeks ago, Liverpool has had a string of uneven performances. There’s the thrilling 4-3 win over Arsenal, the shocking bumble against Burnley, and a draw against Spurs. What will see on Saturday?
Will Arsenal’s new boys impress?
Arsenal vs. Southampton -- 10 a.m. EDT Saturday (NBCSN)
Saints boss Claude Puel will coach against one his former coaches, as Arsene Wenger led the AS Monaco side for a part of Puel’s 17-year career at Stade Louis II. But it’ll be more about new faces at the Emirates, as Lucas Perez and Shkodran Mustafi may debut for the Gunners, though we’ll be deprived of a look at Saints’ record signing Sofiane Boufal. The Moroccan may need up to a month to be ready to play.
Surprise vs. Surprise at Turf Moor
Burnley vs. Hull City -- 10 a.m. EDT Saturday (PL ExtraTime)
Hull City entered the season as relegation favorites, but could be a quarter of the way to 40 points with a win at Turf Moor on Saturday. The Tigers face Sean Dyche and his gritty Clarets, who boast an impressive win over Liverpool and solid attacking talents in Andre Gray and Steven Defour.
Will the real Spurs and Potters please stand up?
Stoke City vs. Tottenham Hotspur -- 10 a.m. EDT Saturday (CNBC)
There’s little doubt Stoke is better than their first three matches indicate, but that means little when the club’s aim is to reach as high up the table as possible. Geoff Cameron and company will hope to the Britannia a real problem for Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs, themselves a bit woozy out of the gates. Harry Kane has yet to score this season, but perhaps a buoyed Christian Eriksen can set him up to break the duck.
Also this weekend in the Premier League
West Ham United vs. Watford -- 10 a.m. EDT Saturday
Bournemouth vs. West Brom -- 10 a.m. EDT Saturday
Middlesbrough vs. Crystal Palace -- 10 a.m. EDT Saturday
Swansea City vs. Chelsea -- 11 a.m. EDT Sunday
Sunderland vs. Everton -- 3 p.m. EDT Monday