1. Tuanzebe looking to oust Maguire
It’s fair to say Harry Maguire hasn’t had the best of seasons so far, and his absence for United’s impressive 2-1 win away to PSG in the Champions League on Tuesday has only increased calls for the England centre-back to be dropped.
Axel Tuanzebe stepped in for the game in Paris and caught the eye with a superb performance that kept the French side’s glittering attack of Kylian Mbappe and Neymar quiet.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer proclaimed after the game that “we’ve got our form back”, but it will be interesting to see what the Norwegian does with his team selection for the visit of Chelsea on Saturday.
Maguire should be fit to return against the Blues, but Tuanzebe has surely deserved another chance – along with the rest of the side that produced heroics in the French capital.
2. Where will the shock be this time?
It seems like every week we’ve got a goal-filled surprise lurking somewhere in the Premier League - but trying to predict where is near-impossible.
The round before that, Aston Villa’s astonishing 7-2 victory against Liverpool was such an jaw-dropping result that it's already widely considered as one of the biggest shocks in the league’s history.
But where's the big shock coming from this week? You just know there will be one somewhere…
3. The Dean rises to the top
Aston Villa will sit alone on top of the Premier League table for the first time in nine years if they beat Leeds on Friday.
Dean Smith’s side have enjoyed a stunning start to the campaign, winning four league games in a row, including a stunning 7-2 triumph over reigning champions Liverpool.
It’s the first time since 1930 that they’ve started a season this strongly, but overcoming the Yorkshire club at Villa Park would see them start a season with five victories for the first time ever and match the club’s consecutive win record in the Premier League era.
This fixture was a Championship clash as recently as April 2019, when they drew 1-1 at Elland Road, but is now a meeting between two of the top flight’s form sides. How quickly things can change.
4. Liverpool begin league life without Van Dijk
Virgil van Dijk’s ACL injury was a huge blow to Liverpool’s hopes of retaining the Premier League title.
But Fabinho’s midweek display against Ajax in the Champions League was an encouraging start to life without the influential Dutchman.
The midfielder dropped back to help the Reds collect a clean sheet in their first game without Van Dijk, forming a new-look central defence alongside Joe Gomez.
Their fledgling partnership has plenty of promise and Jurgen Klopp is likely to be relieved that its first Premier League test comes against the top-flight’s bluntest attack.
Sheffield United have scored just two goals all season, picking up one point in five games, and the Reds will be looking for a strong showing – and another clean sheet – at Anfield to continue their adjustment to a Van Dijk-less existence.
5. Which West Ham will turn up?
One thing you can’t accuse David Moyes’ Hammers of is being boring. Their games recently have invariably involved a lot of goals – at both ends of the pitch.
West Ham are on a high going into their clash with Manchester City on Saturday, after mounting a comeback from 3-0 down against Spurs last weekend to draw 3-3 and continue their good form.
The visit of an out-of-sorts City could produce another upset, or a heavy defeat – who knows what Moyes' boys will produce this time. Get the popcorn out.
6. Unbeaten Everton face test of depth
Jordan Pickford’s reckless challenge cast a shadow over Everton’s 2-2 Merseyside derby draw with Liverpool last weekend, as it left Van Dijk with an ACL injury.
Nevertheless, the result continued a strong start to the season for the Toffees, leaving them unbeaten and top of the pile after five rounds.
The trip to Southampton on Sunday will be an intriguing test of Everton’s mettle though, as they are without injured trio Richarlison, James Rodriguez and Seamus Coleman.
Carlo Ancelotti faces a test of the depth of his squad against a Saints side that is behind only Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United for points accumulated since last November.
All three of the Toffees’ absentees have been influential so far, providing seven goals and seven assists between them. How they cope without such a threat will be a big indicator about the character of this side.
7. Partey time in the Premier League
Arsenal’s £40m deadline day signing Thomas Partey made waves on his Gunners debut on Thursday.
The Ghanaian midfielder started for Mikel Arteta’s side in a 2-1 win at Rapid Vienna, and earned plaudits for his performance.
Arteta praised the 27-year-old for “holding the midfield by himself in the second half when we were a little bit more open," while BT pundit Owen Hargreaves went as far as to say it was “one of the best debuts I’ve ever seen”.
Given the giddy excitement around the former Atletico Madrid man, he may well feature in the Premier League for the first time when Arsenal host Leicester on Sunday.
8. Bale unchained
Ok, he’s had his debut appearance off the bench. He’s had his ‘getting back into shape’ Europa League start.
Can we see Gareth Bale start in a Premier League game now, please Jose?
Of course, we understand that the flying Welshman needs to be protected as he gets back to full fitness. But it’d be great to see his name on a Premier League team sheet again after seven years when Spurs travel to Burnley.
He set up Spurs’ second goal in their win over LASK on Thursday, but it might not be enough to convince Mourinho.
After all, Spurs aren’t exactly lacking options in attack: Steven Bergwijn, Lucas Moura and Erik Lamela are also eyeing a spot alongside the high-flying duo of Harry Kane and Son Heung-min.
While you're here, why not subscribe to FourFourTwo? Just £9.99 every three months for 13 issues a year of the greatest football magazine in the world (opens in new tab)
Alasdair Mackenzie is a freelance journalist based in Rome, and a FourFourTwo contributor since 2015. When not pulling on the FFT shirt, he can be found at Reuters, The Times and the i. An Italophile since growing up on a diet of Football Italia on Channel 4, he now counts himself among thousands of fans sharing a passion for Ross County and Lazio.
Get the best features, fun and footballing frolics straight to your inbox every week.
Thank you for signing up to Four Four Two. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.