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Can Chelsea make a statement against Liverpool? 8 things to look out for in the Premier League this weekend

Chelsea
(Image credit: PA)

Will Havertz make his mark against Liverpool?

Chelsea got off to a winning but unconvincing start to the new campaign, beating Brighton 3-1 despite delivering a sub-par performance. Much is expected of Kai Havertz this season, but the German was anonymous at the Amex on Monday night.

Havertz is one of the most talented young players in Europe, so there's no need to overreact to a quiet showing on his Chelsea debut. Even so, Frank Lampard will be hoping for more from his £75m man when Liverpool come to town on Sunday.

This is a chance for Chelsea to demonstrate their title credentials. Topping the table this term will probably be a bridge too far, but the Blues' summer splurge demands that they at least get closer to the top two.

Sunday's result will not definitively rule them in or out of the title race. Yet Liverpool showed vulnerabilities in their 4-3 victory over Leeds last time out, and Chelsea know that defeating the champions would make the rest of the league sit up and take notice. If Havertz announces himself in the process, all the better.

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Have Manchester City tightened up defensively?

Ederson won the Golden Glove last season after keeping more clean sheets than any other goalkeeper. Manchester City conceded fewer goals than any other team but Liverpool.

Yet it was clear throughout 2019/20 that City's defence was their Achilles heel. Pep Guardiola will hope that the signing of Nathan Ake tightens up the backline, but it's far from certain that the former Bournemouth man will make his first-choice starting XI. 

Defending is not just about the back four. Last season the intensity of City's pressing dropped, and they became more vulnerable to opposition counter-attacks. A clash with Wolves on Monday will provide an immediate test of City's defensive aptitude. 

Nathan Ake

(Image credit: PA)

Aubameyang out to celebrate Arsenal extension

After months of speculation and links with other clubs, Arsenal ended a long-running saga by offering a lucrative new contract to their star player, despite concerns about his age. Gunners fans celebrated and predicted that the good times were just around the corner.

"#WeveGotOzil - and he's not going anywhere," Arsenal tweeted after the German signed a new three-and-a-half year deal in 2018. You can say that last part again.

In fairness to the north Londoners, tying Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang down until 2023 looks a better bet. The Gabonese forward shows no signs of slowing down, and his exit this summer would have significantly set back Mikel Arteta's rebuild.

With West Ham on the brink of chaos - a welcome dose of continuity in these uncertain times - Aubameyang will be out to mark his extension with a goal or three. 

Manchester United's thrilling attack meets Palace's stubborn defence

Manchester United kick-start their season against Crystal Palace, with much excitement about the return of their exciting attack. Bruno Fernandes was a transformative figure following his January arrival, while Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood ended last season strongly.

Donny van de Beek has joined the party and could be handed his debut on Saturday. Marcus Rashford will surely start following his 22-goal campaign last time out, leaving Palace with plenty of questions to answer.

And they might just answer them. Roy Hodgson has been there and done it two times over, and Palace looked solid in their opening-day victory over Southampton. They also won this fixture last season, triumphing 2-1 at Old Trafford 13 months ago.

The Eagles will have no qualms about sitting deep and packing men behind the ball. United will have to be patient if they're to start the season with three points.

Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford

(Image credit: PA)

Can Leeds and Everton build on positive opening-day performances?

Leeds may have suffered defeat on the opening weekend, but they gave Liverpool a scare - and not many teams have been able to say that after trips to Anfield over the last few years.

A home game against Fulham is a different assignment entirely, with Leeds likely to dominate possession. Scott Parker's men looked short on quality in their loss to Arsenal last weekend, so a comfortable home win could be on the cards. This is Marcelo Bielsa's Leeds, though, so anything is possible.

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Everton were even more impressive in their 1-0 win over Tottenham. That was their first away victory over a big-six side since 2013, and Carlo Ancelotti will hope it was the start of a challenge for the European places.

Like Leeds, Everton will have to solve different puzzles when they welcome West Brom to Goodison Park this weekend. The Baggies were brushed aside by Leicester last time out and could suffer a similar fate here.

Mourinho looking for Bale-out at Tottenham 

Gareth Bale is the name on everyone's lips around N17. The Welshman is reportedly keen on a return to Tottenham before the transfer window closes next month, and a deal is seemingly more doable than it seemed a few weeks ago.

For now, Jose Mourinho has more pressing concerns - in more ways than one. The Tottenham boss bemoaned his side's lack of closing-down in the loss to Everton, and a similarly lethargic showing on Sunday will surely be punished by Southampton.

Mourinho was brought in to get results and win trophies. Although he's been in the job for less than a year, the pressure could start to build if Spurs suffer a second successive setback at St Mary's.

Jose Mourinho

(Image credit: PA)

Claret-and-blue brothers Aston Villa and Burnley eyeing good starts

Aston Villa and Burnley are preparing to take to the field for the first time this season. 

Villa are buoyed by the news that Jack Grealish has signed a new deal with his boyhood club, and further optimism can be drawn from their transfer activity. Ollie Watkins is an exciting addition from Brentford, while Emiliano Martinez will come straight in as the new No.1 - although perhaps not in time for Monday's meeting with Sheffield United.

Burnley make their bow at the King Power Stadium, where Leicester will be looking to make it six points from six. It's been a quieter summer at Turf Moor, but it's testament to the Clarets' staying power - and Sean Dyche's expert management - that few have tipped them for the drop.

Clash of styles at St James' Park as Newcastle host Brighton

This was a strange fixture last season, with Brighton seeming to regard the ball as their private property and Newcastle not really minding much. In the end the spoils were shared, with the Seagulls too passive in possession and the Magpies too passive without it.

Steve Bruce's side may be a little more proactive after their confidence-boosting 2-0 defeat of West Ham last weekend. They too have done some smart business in the transfer market, allaying fears that the failed Saudi takeover could see the parsimonious Mike Ashley develop even shallower pockets.

Brighton played well in defeat by Chelsea but will want to get points on the board as soon as possible. This game might not look like a standout but it could be an interesting watch on Sunday afternoon.

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