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


Dawson out to repeat Haaland heroics

The obvious subplot at Molineux centres on Hwang Hee-chan facing Son Heung-min in the Premier League for only the second time – in a game known as the Korean derby – but perhaps the most pivotal battle will rest on an unfashionable but excellent centre-back in Craig Dawson. Six weeks ago the 33-year-old, whose career kicked off in League Two with Rochdale, successfully tamed Erling Haaland in victory over Manchester City, leading Alan Shearer to praise his “faultless display” against the league’s top goalscorer. “It was all about concentration and keeping focused,” Dawson said at the time and he and his centre-back partners Toti Gomes and Max Kilman, the Wolves captain, will have to be on their guard again if they are to halt Son and co returning to winning ways. Ben Fisher

  • Wolves v Tottenham, Saturday 12.30pm (all times GMT)


Should Gunners be looking elsewhere to fire?

To set aside the wailing, gnashing of teeth and club statements that followed Arsenal’s defeat at Newcastle, a key problem was the lack of a top-level striker to take – and make – chances against a well-organised defence. Mikel Arteta’s continued faith in Eddie Nketiah is refreshing but perhaps betrays the Spaniard’s own lack of killer instinct. Nketiah is a hard worker yet cannot replicate Gabriel Jesus’s energy in leading the press, either. Significant summer cash was spent on Kai Havertz, who should have been shown red at St James’ Park for his lunge at Sean Longstaff, an incident apparently forgotten in Sunday’s screed against officialdom. Against Sevilla, Leandro Trossard looked a more adept false 9 than Havertz and money might have been better spent on a proven finisher, admittedly an increasingly rare species. January links with Ivan Toney make sense. Toney, after months of suspension, is likely to be rusty and won’t come cheap, but has the requisite skillset of pressing and finishing. John Brewin

  • Arsenal v Burnley, Saturday 3pm

Eddie Nketiah kisses the match ball as he celebrates scoring Arsenal’s third goal and completing his hat-trick against Sheffield United
Hard-working Eddie Nketiah was rewarded with a hat-trick against Sheffield United in October. Photograph: Tony O’Brien/Reuters


Palace face Everton in battle of counterattackers

Both of these sides were relatively thrifty in the summer transfer market – only promoted Luton spent less – so Roy Hodgson and Sean Dyche have had to find ways to keep collecting points. There are clear similarities in how these wily operators have gone about the task, not least in their blending of youth with experience. Hodgson has been critical of Palace’s emerging prospects at times this season but has called the injury absence of winger Jesurun Rak-Sakyi, Palace’s player of last month, a “huge blow”. Dyche is hoping Jarrad Branthwaite can shake off a knock; the 21-year-old centre-back has impressed this season among older heads in Everton’s defence. Both managers also seem to get better results without the ball – Palace won at Burnley with 32% possession, and at Old Trafford with 23%; Everton took a point from Brighton’s visit with just 20% of the ball and three from a trip to West Ham with 36%. Perhaps regrettably, one team will have to have more than 50% of possession at Selhurst Park. Niall McVeigh

  • Crystal Palace v Everton, Saturday 3pm


Pressure on Ten Hag after Copenhagen implosion

To be at Parken on Wednesday night was yet again to witness Manchester United’s ability to implode, when apparently cruising, as they were twice in control against Copenhagen at 2-0 and 3-2 up before losing 4-3. Whatever the injustice of Marcus Rashford’s red card, which came at 2-0, the vulnerability of Erik ten Hag’s team should give Luton hope. Especially as, last time out, they went so very close to beating Liverpool, leading until Luis Díaz’s late equaliser. The bottom line is that United and Ten Hag have to beat the relegation favourites or real questions over his managerial ability will start back up again. United should win but do not be too sure. Who knows with this side? Jamie Jackson

  • Manchester United v Luton Town, Saturday 3pm

Erik ten Hag looking suitably pensive
Erik ten Hag looking suitably pensive. Photograph: James Gill/Danehouse/Getty Images


Deja vu all over again for Howe at Bournemouth

When Eddie Howe returns to Bournemouth on Saturday for the second time as Newcastle manager he will bring with him a raft of familiar faces with Bournemouth connections, none more so than his longstanding right-hand man, Jason Tindall. Then there are his assistants Graeme Jones, Stephen Purches and Simon Weatherstone, plus the goalkeeper coach Shwan Jalal, part of the squad promoted to the Championship 10 years ago, and head of performance Dan Hodges. Andoni Iraola, however, is not so blessed with his own staff, with Iñigo Pérez, his assistant at Rayo Vallecano, refused a work permit. The fitness coach Pablo de la Torre, who also worked with Iraola at AEK Larnaca, is the only member of staff Iraola managed to bring with him from Spain. For Iraola, happy to play the underdog, it is just another obstacle to overcome. BF

  • Bournemouth v Newcastle, Saturday 5.30pm


Buoyant Villa close to equalling 1983 winning run

The last time Aston Villa failed to win a league match at home, Granit Xhaka anchored the Arsenal midfield to a dramatic 4-2 victory, Aaron Ramsdale was Mikel Arteta’s undoubted No 1 and Unai Emery handed Philippe Coutinho a final shot to impress. That defeat was their third consecutive loss in the league. That was February – it proved Coutinho’s last Villa start – and since then Emery’s side have become a formidable force at home, winning their past 12 league matches at Villa Park. “We found a really good rhythm,” Emery said. Only Manchester City and Atlético Madrid in Europe’s major leagues are on longer winning home runs (15 and 14 matches respectively) and Villa are a victory over Fulham from matching the 13-game winning streak set by their 1983 vintage, spearheaded by Peter Withe. BF

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  • Aston Villa v Fulham, Sunday 2pm

Peter Withe heads home Aston Villa’s second goal in their 2-0 victory over Everton at Villa Park in February 1983
Peter Withe heads home in Aston Villa’s 2-0 win over Everton in February 1983, towards the start of their 13-game winning run at Villa Park – a feat Unai Emery’s side are looking to emulate. Photograph: David Bagnall/Shutterstock


Blades offer hope before Brighton visit

Having been written off by some as relegation certainties before the end of October, Sheffield United showed signs of life in their 2-1 home win over Wolves. The league’s bottom club might fancy their chances of getting something from Sunday’s visit to a Brighton side without a win in five Premier League games, even if they did beat Ajax on Thursday evening. The Blades lacked the cutting edge of a consistent goalscorer when relegated in 2020-21, so Paul Heckingbottom will have been relieved to see his £18.5m summer signing Cameron Archer get on the scoresheet after six games without a goal. Brighton have the league’s standout young goal-getter in Evan Ferguson, with five this season. The Irish forward is first choice in the Premier League but a bit-part player in Europe, while Ansu Fati has started every Europa League game but has only featured as a Premier League substitute. It’s not hard to see Roberto De Zerbi’s logic, but surely getting Fati and Ferguson on the pitch together would remedy Brighton’s lack of bite. NMc


Klopp’s midfield needs defensive depth

The fundamental change to make Jürgen Klopp’s current team “Liverpool 2.0” is in midfield, and at Luton there were signs of implementation issues. Alexis Mac Allister’s passing proficiency has unclogged central areas but his lack of pace and defensive awareness was exposed in Tahith Chong’s breakaway goal. The departed Fabinho and Jordan Henderson were more adept defensive screens. Handed a fully fit squad, Klopp would have a surfeit of midfielders to call upon, and Curtis Jones is back after the suspension he received for his red card at Tottenham. Ryan Gravenberch was withdrawn in the chase for an equaliser at Luton, while Wataru Endo is yet to fulfil the promises Klopp made for him. Even Dominik Szoboszlai, a sure-fire hit, has admitted loneliness in his new life on Merseyside. Stefan Bajcetic, so impressive last season in anchoring midfield, may prove the key man but the teenager’s calf problem has prevented him from being able to replicate that impact. JB

  • Liverpool v Brentford, Sunday 2pm


Onus on West Ham’s Antonio to raise game

With no goal in any competition since 26 August, Michail Antonio has been making more of an impact with comments on The Footballer’s Football Podcast than on the pitch. Never shy of voicing his opinion, it seems the striker is not worried about ruffling feathers. But it goes two ways. Antonio’s recent performances for West Ham have been dire and he cannot complain if he is on the bench against Nottingham Forest. David Moyes, whose side have won one in seven league games, has alternatives. West Ham may look more fluid if Lucas Paquetá starts at No 10 on his return from suspension, Mohammed Kudus plays on the right and the versatile Jarrod Bowen moves up front. Bowen shone as a roving central striker during West Ham’s win over Arsenal in the Carabao Cup and he linked well with Kudus against Brentford last week. Antonio, who missed an open goal during the 3-2 defeat by Brentford, is under pressure to raise his level. Jacob Steinberg

  • West Ham v Nottingham Forest, Sunday 2pm

Michail Antonio finds it hard going against Ezri Konsa and the Aston Villa defence during the Hammers’ 4-1 defeat in October
Michail Antonio finds it hard going against Ezri Konsa and the Aston Villa defence during the Hammers’ 4-1 defeat in October. Photograph: Charlotte Wilson/Offside/Getty Images


Fit-again James must handle Doku and Grealish

Chelsea are a different side when Reece James is available. Fitness issues have held the defender back in the past two years and he endured more frustration after sustaining a hamstring injury in August. Yet the right-back is back from his latest layoff and will hope to build momentum after starting in Chelsea’s wins over Blackburn and Tottenham. Patience is key. James was vulnerable against Brennan Johnson during the early stages against Spurs. While the Chelsea captain would recover and finish the game on top, Johnson was substituted after Spurs went down to 10 men during the first half. There will be tougher tests, beginning with Manchester City’s visit to Stamford Bridge. The champions have enviable options on the left. Pep Guardiola was happy with Jack Grealish’s control against United last month but he will find it difficult to ignore Jérémy Doku’s electric dribbling. Doku, so direct on the ball, has been outstanding since joining City. It would be massive for James if he can handle the Belgian. JS

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