1) Kanté is important in the conflict of genocide
Thomas Tuchel didn’t have enough praise for N’Golo Kanté at the end of last season. “He’s our Mo Salah, our Van Dijk, our De Bruyne,” the Chelsea manager said. “He’s Neymar, Kylian Mbappé is ours – he makes a difference.” Then came the warning. For Tuchel, the frustration was that Kanté found himself in the treatment room several times. The France midfielder has struggled with minor injuries since 2019, and there were times when he lacked his old dynamism. That said, there’s still nothing like watching Kanté when he’s in peak condition. Few midfielders can live with the 31-year-old when he is on fire and he will be key to Chelsea’s chances of success when they host Tottenham on Sunday. Spurs will start as slight favourites, but the balance of power could tip back in Chelsea’s favor if Kanté beats Rodrigo Bentancur and Pierre-Emile Højbjerg. JS
2) A tougher test for Brighton
With an opening day win, Brighton host Newcastle in one of this weekend’s standout fixtures. Both clubs are upwardly mobile and managed by men whose names could arguably form a shortlist of two when, at some point in the future, the Football Association selects Gareth Southgate’s successor as England manager. Graham Potter produced a tactical masterclass to help his players avoid Manchester United, but they will almost certainly face a sterner test from a team unlikely to make life as easy for them as the hosts at Old Trafford. face it. Joelinton 2.0 already looks a more capable midfielder than Scott McTominay or Fred, while Bruno Guimarães was one of last season’s signings. Expect an exciting tactical battle from two teams that have real European goals. BG
3) How will Villa respond to the full opening?
After Aston Villa’s defeat at Bournemouth, Steven Gerrard gave a little insight when asked if he knew Philippe Coutinho’s best position. Gerrard, of course, played with Coutinho at Liverpool for five years before the midfielder moved to Barcelona in a £142million deal, and has been managing him since January. Coutinho shone in some games last season – so much so that Villa wanted to sign him permanently in the summer – but, deployed mainly on the left, he spent his first match of the season anonymously. The Brazilian wasn’t alone in the off-colour, Villa were lackluster at best as they struggled to break into a temporary defence, although he was comfortably linked by Ben Pearson, whose last league start came in January. arrived at Barnsley. There’s a sentence you never thought you’d see. BF
4) Bees, Red Devils and identity
“Another classic signing for Brentford,” was how Thomas Frank described Mikkel Damsgaard, the Danish winger who arrived from Sampdoria this week. It’s a credit to Frank and his club that even a casual fan should understand exactly what he means: few can compete with them when it comes to bringing in young, high-potential talent who can deliver flawlessly. their system, and it’s just a bonus that many people become Danish too. While we’re at it, what’s a classic Manchester United signing? Since their strategy in recent years has been like throwing mud at a wall, it is much more difficult to answer; Marko Arnautovic won’t join Damsgaard on his debut this week after that move fell through but, even with Erik ten Hag at the helm, it’s hard to know exactly what United are thinking. If they win at Brentford it will be more about personal brilliance than an identity win. For the second weekend in a row, United face a club who are completely comfortable, clear and confident in their way of going about things: a similar defeat against Brighton will be telling. I DON’T
5) Can Bournemouth City Cool?
These sides have a few things in common: both recorded 2-0 victories on the opening day, both are urgently looking to bring in reinforcements before the transfer window closes. Bournemouth successfully signed Argentine centre-back Marcos Senesi in midweek and are above Manchester City in the league table, if only in alphabetical order. While City won at West Ham last Sunday (with 77% possession), Bournemouth’s talented manager, Scott Parker, may still sense an opportunity at the Etihad. Pep Guardiola’s side usually start slowly in the Premier League and the Cherry will be decorated with a one-sided dismissal of Aston Villa. Cut the supply line to Erling Haaland and maybe – big duty of course – just for the guests to have a productive afternoon. LMc
6) Do the Saints have a mojo to rediscover?
Last weekend’s utterly disappointing defeat to Tottenham meant Southampton have won just one of their last 13 Premier League outings. Apart from their early goal, there were familiar defensive frailties on display, but there was little evidence that Ralph Hasenhüttl’s summer overhaul of his back-to-back squad has revitalized a group of players who were sleepwalking in the last quarter of last season. With three games to go in that campaign, Hasenhüttl has lamented his side’s lack of “energy and sometimes belief”, but fans at St Mary’s will expect better when they visit Leeds. With the home capacity temporarily reduced in an attempt to prevent anti-social behaviour, another dangerous show by the home side will prompt fears of an early withdrawal among those fans who take their seats. BG
7) Tielemans to send a message to Arsenal?
It’s no secret that Arsenal want more competition in midfield and it’s well documented, with Youri Tielemans leading the list of targets. But no deal has been agreed with Leicester and instead the Belgian will start on Saturday, with the report writers already promoting one of his trademark long-range moves. Leicester have had a curious summer, playing hardball on the likes of Tielemans and Wesley Fofana while failing to make a breakthrough to date. They have some great players, but he’s starting to look a little weak and the way they let Brentford recover last weekend only added to the hype surrounding Brendan Rodgers, who could do innovative things. Arsenal are looking in poor health by their standards at the start of the season and should win if they can repeat their fast start at Selhurst Park, but if Tielemans teaches a mediocre lesson perhaps he will convince them to match Leicester’s price and a few knock down the replacement dominoes. I DON’T
8) Top-flight action again in City Hall
Nottingham Forest and West Ham had baptisms of fire on the opening day, with both finishing second best to Newcastle and Manchester City respectively. Forest blooded six new recruits at St James’ Park and, if he is to do so, Steve Cooper has plenty more to call upon against this weekend’s visitors. Speaking ahead of his first return to the City Ground seven years ago, Michail Antonio described the ground as “a special place to play”. A special and memorable atmosphere is guaranteed by the River Trent on Sunday, as a large number of Forest fans who will be hitting the turnstiles this weekend will not have been born the last time their club hosted the Premier League, whatever the result. maybe BG
9) The Coady-less Wolves era begins
A new formation, the captain’s armband passed and a new brand signed in the building, they all changed at Molineux. For the first time in over seven years, Wolves will line up without Conor Coady on their books. Coady, who signed from Huddersfield in 2015, has started 196 of Wolves’ last 199 league matches – last Saturday’s defeat was the first time in that period he has not been named when available for selection as Bruno Lage chose a new central defense. Instead, Coady will start for Everton at Aston Villa after joining on loan with a view to a permanent move. Rúben Neves, who looks set to stay, is set to be named captain and Gonçalo Guedes, a £27.5m signing from Valencia who arrived on his first day with agent Jorge Mendes, could start as Wolves begins life without Coady. BF
10) Liverpool should play against Palace
There will be changes in personnel for Liverpool’s first home game of the season – Thiago Alcântara is out for the foreseeable future with a leg injury on the opening day and Darwin Núñez has cleared his case to come on against Fulham. kick off – but a change of attitude will be key for Jürgen Klopp against Crystal Palace. “The performance was a failure,” said the Liverpool manager after the 2-2 draw at Craven Cottage. “Lethargic” was Jordan Henderson’s catch. If there is any pressure on Liverpool to rediscover their trademark form and intensity in just the second game of a new campaign, then it is the pressure of their own making. The margin of error among the title contenders has fallen dramatically in recent years, as have the punishing standards they and Manchester City have created. Klopp’s demand for an immediate response should be answered when Patrick Vieira’s side visit on Monday. AH