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Premier League: 10 things to look out for this weekend | Premier League

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1) Bruce has to galvanise Newcastle

It has been a tough opening four games for Newcastle, amassing one point and conceding 12 goals. Three-quarters of those concessions have come in the second half, a sign they cannot maintain their concentration for a full 90 minutes and that perhaps they need to be fitter. It is great to keep things tight in the opening half but it means very little when things fall apart after the break. Steve Bruce’s side need to keep their first-half rigidity for the whole match, whether that means a change of personnel or an improved training regime. Leeds are a team who operate at a relentless pace and their movement in the final third will cause the legs to weaken if they get on top of the opposition, potentially leaving Newcastle in for another very difficult night. WU

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2) Nuno with plenty to ponder

Thomas Tuchel is a fine coach, but his Champions League win was founded on basic principles: a side featuring three centre-backs, two holding midfielders and defensive wing-backs will be difficult to get at. But that is what Spurs must do on Sunday, the likely absence of Son Heung-min forcing a tactical rethink. A three-man defence can be vulnerable in the spaces between its wide centre-backs and wing-backs, so Nuno Espírito Santo may have been planning a 4-3-3, with either Steven Bergwijn or Lucas Moura on one side of Harry Kane and Bryan Gil on the other flank. With Bergwijn and Lucas both limping off against Rennes, he may instead deploy a 4-4-1-1 with Dele Alli behind Kane, in the knowledge that the partnership works and on the basis that two attackers are more difficult for three defenders to handle than one. With injury concerns mounting, Spurs will have to play well to avoid a second straight defeat. DH

3) Guardiola must get City rotation right

With the arrival of the Champions League group stage, squad rotation will become key for Pep Guardiola in the coming months. He has played the same starting XI for the past three league matches, a rarity for the Catalan coach. There is good reason to stick with the same team as they are playing well and scoring goals, while some are adapting to new roles within the setup. City do not have the easiest of Champions League groups to get through, so cannot coast with weakened sides into the knockout stages. John Stones, Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden and Kevin De Bruyne could all be in contention to face Southampton as they recover from a mix of injury and Euro 2020 exploits , so there is no shortage of quality available. Guardiola knows any tinkering needs to be carried out carefully to get the balance right in the relentless coming months. WU

Nathan Ake celebrates his mid-week goal.
Nathan Aké celebrates his midweek goal against RB Leipzig. Photograph: Matt McNulty/Manchester City FC/Getty Images

4) Sancho switch may help Wan-Bissaka

Aaron Wan-Bissaka let his side down in midweek so it will be interesting to see how he responds at the London Stadium. It is sometimes hard to believe he made it to youth team-level as a winger, although he’s better offensively than he thinks – he lacks finesse, but can drive forward with the ball. His crossing will become more effective as soon as he trusts himself to do it regularly. He has also been hindered by not having an attacker direclty in front of him – Mason Greenwood is a brilliant player, but because of his inclination to make straight for goal, he rarely threatens on the outside. Jadon Sancho was signed to solve this problem but with Marcus Rashford absent he has been put on the left and, as a result, opponents are still largely able to ignore United’s right flank. For that reason, it may make sense for Sancho and Greenwood to swap sides, so the former can stretch a West Ham defence that can be difficult to breach, with the latter attacking the box as usual. DH

5) Édouard and Palace to test Van Dijk

Virgil van Dijk has enjoyed a serene return from injury with Liverpool conceding only once in their four league games. That isn’t solely down to him – the entire team have started the season well and a relatively gentle start was aided by Reece James’s red card when Chelsea visited Anfield. Palace, though, should present a sterner test. After his double off the bench last time out, Odsonne Édouard will surely start and his physical presence and intelligent running pose a threat because, excellent though Van Dijk is, it is rare for anyone to return from a cruciate ligament injury and immediately be the same player – never mind one aged 30 and for whom pace was a significant asset. But it is not just Édouard to whom Liverpool must pay attention – the trickery and agility of Jordan Ayew and Wilfried Zaha will also be problematic, likewise the skill and stamina of Conor Gallagher breaking from midfield. This contest may be the most entertaining of the weekend. DH

6) Arsenal must be blunder-free at Burnley

When Arsenal visited Burnley in March, the afternoon came to encapsulate Mikel Arteta’s reign – or, if you prefer, offer a summation of the club’s past decade and a half. They led through Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and looked in complete control before a maddening mistake from Granit Xhaka let an unwitting Chris Wood square things up. It was a frustrating ride from there and Sean Dyche’s side are probably not the first opponents Arteta would have chosen as he seeks to build a degree of momentum on the back of last weekend’s face-saving victory over Norwich. Going one better this season and winning at Turf Moor will not prove anything – the way back for Arsenal will be long and tough – but Arteta will look for more encouraging signs from the new-look side that showed some potential against the Canaries. A blunder-free afternoon may be the minimum requirement but it would at least point a way forward from old woes. NA

Arsenal players in training on Thursday.
Arsenal players in training on Thursday. Photograph: Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC/Getty Images

7) Will Benítez stick with new formation?

Rafa Benítez’s change in formation from a back four to back three against Burnley did not work on Monday night, forcing the Spaniard to rejig and change the game’s dynamic. André Gomes came off the bench to add an extra man in central midfield and Everton took hold of the encounter as Burnley were overrun in the centre of the park. Benítez will be without Dominic Calvert-Lewin for a few more weeks, his absence being the key reason behind the change of formation. Benítez will be pleased that despite low spending in the window, he has sufficient strength in depth to provide options even without his main striker. Sticking with the same plan could allow the team to get used to a new style without their No 9, but Benítez might be better off ensuring he gets the best out of Demarai Gray and Andros Townsend, who have already proved their worth in wide positions. WU

8) A must-win already for Farke

Norwich have only played four games but it is not overly dramatic to suggest they are already in must-win territory. The grim statistics of their barren start to the season hide the fact that – in Liverpool, Manchester City, Leicester and Arsenal – they were dealt a fiendish early hand. Getting anything from that sequence of games might have been considered a bonus; the problem is that it heaps pressure on matches such as their home assignment against Watford on Saturday. The Hornets beat Daniel Farke’s side twice in the Championship last season but need an uptick themselves after losing three league games on the spin. Farke may give a debut to Mathias Normann, the Norwegian brought in to toughen up the midfield, as well as the former Liverpool defender Ozan Kabak. Norwich have looked stronger than the team that flopped two seasons ago; if they are to bear that out, though, they have to get started now. NA

Teemu Pukki after the defeat at Arsenal.
Teemu Pukki after the defeat at Arsenal. Photograph: Tony O’Brien/Reuters

9) Tricky Trincão can keep Wolves ticking

So far under Bruno Lage, Wolves have been an absolute pleasure to watch. Though Molineux has long been home to a coterie of lovely, creative footballers, it is only recently that they’ve been given licence to express themselves. In particular Francisco Trincão has been a revelation, a graceful mover, incisive runner and mesmeric dribbler. Signed on loan from Barcelona, Wolves have the option to make the move permanent for £25m next summer, a figure that currently looks a bargain. Nevertheless, his new team still required 355 minutes and 69 shots to open their league account for the season, profligacy that will lead to them finishing below less talented teams if not resolved. There is, though, hope that things will soon improve: Raúl Jiménez, still feeling his way back after a skull fracture last November, is visibly growing in sharpness. But Brentford, who have conceded only twice in four games, will make it difficult for them and him. DH

10) Brighton to gauge their progress

Leicester are an excellent example for Brighton. The clubs are similarly-sized and very well run; the Foxes, for their part, have proved in spectacular fashion that mid-table in the top flight need not be their ceiling. Brighton may not have matched Leicester’s ambitions yet but they are making steady progress under Graham Potter, and the early signs are that a top-half place is not beyond them. They have won three from four and the visit of Brendan Rodgers’s side presents an excellent opportunity to continue their early hot streak. It could also serve as a useful test of their potential to stake an interest in the European spots. Home form will be critical to their hopes of doing that: last season they won just four league games at the Amex, the first of which came in late January. Earning a second home win of the season on Sunday would suggest they are set fair to push on. NA

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The Groucho

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