Premier League: 10 things to look out for this weekend


1) Van Dijk too good to be rested by Liverpool

Troy Deeney, looking to get back into Watford’s starting lineup against Liverpool, may regret the candour that makes him such an engaging interviewee. For how can Javi Gracia pick him when the striker admitted in September: “I hate going up against [Virgil van Dijk]. He’s too big, too strong, too quick, too good on the ball, loves fighting, a good head of hair?” Van Dijk will go into Saturday’s game on the back of a particularly satisfying international break, capped by a spectacular goal for his country against Germany. His commanding presence should ensure Liverpool avoid being bullied the way they were during last season’s 3-3 draw, when their defence panicked every time Watford came at them. Jürgen Klopp might be tempted to rest one or two key players on Saturday before Wednesday’s high-stakes Champions League duel in Paris but he cannot afford to omit Van Dijk. Another player who excelled for his national side, Xherdan Shaqiri, is close to indispensable too – he has become Liverpool’s most creative midfielder.

2) Chelsea’s title hopes tested at Wembley

As if trying to beat Manchester City home and away isn’t a tall enough order, any Premier League sides harbouring serious title aspirations also need to avoid dropping points to each other. Manchester United finished best of the rest last season, 19 points off the pace after dropping 11 of them to other top-six sides. Of last season’s top five also-rans, Arsenal, Spurs and Manchester United have already lost to City this time around, while Liverpool managed a commendable draw. Chelsea don’t face the champions until early December, but come up against Spurs at Wembley in this weekend’s glamour game. The season is still relatively young and a trip to Wembley is obviously daunting, but with the champions in such imperious form this match already has the whiff of “must-win” about it, if Maurizio Sarri’s team are to prove capable of halting another serene title procession by City.

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