Derby delight for fans as Premier League jolts back into action – talking points

Elsewhere, Roberto De Zerbi heads to Liverpool on his debut in the Brighton dugout while Brendan Rodgers seeks an overdue Leicester win.
Derby delight for fans as Premier League jolts back into action – talking points

By Andy Hampson, PA

The Premier League resumes this weekend with derbies in Manchester and north London and a number of other interesting fixtures.

Here, the PA news agency looks at some potential talking points.

Potential rustiness

It has been almost a month since the last full round of Premier League fixtures
It has been almost a month since the last full round of Premier League fixtures (Peter Byrne/PA)

After the postponement of the September 10th-12th round of fixtures, three more games the following week and a further pause for international football, it has been almost a month since some teams were last in action.

It will be intriguing to see how quickly sides get back up to speed and whether the break has benefited them or broken their momentum.

With an intense block of matches coming before the stoppage for the World Cup, it feels like the start of crucial phase of the season.

Manchester derby

United are starting to find their feet under Ten Hag
Manchester United are starting to find their feet under Erik ten Hag (David Davies/PA)

One headline fixture takes place at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday as Manchester United visit champions and rivals Manchester City.

With five wins and two draws from their seven outings and 23 goals – 11 from the prolific Erling Haaland – City have made an ominous start.

Yet they have needed to come from behind to secure points against Newcastle and Crystal Palace and shown signs of vulnerability a rejuvenated United could exploit.

United seem to have turned the corner since their dismal start under Erik ten Hag, with a promising central defensive partnership of Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez providing the base and the midfield seeming more balanced.

This will be City’s first test against one of the big six.

North London derby

Gabriel Jesus has been impressive for Arsenal
Gabriel Jesus has been impressive for Arsenal (Mike Egerton/PA)

There will also be plenty of focus on the Emirates Stadium on Saturday lunchtime as Arsenal take on Tottenham in a clash that could end with either side top of the table.

Arsenal have been highly impressive this term, with summer signing Gabriel Jesus sparkling in attack. The challenge for them now is to prove they can sustain their level of performance over a prolonged period.

Spurs have also made a positive start and last season’s star man Son Heung-min looks to be coming back into form. The downside to their good results is that manager Antonio Conte is being linked with Juventus again but the Italian has stressed his commitment.

New faces on the touchline

Roberto De Zerbi enters the Premier Leaague fray
Roberto De Zerbi enters the Premier League fray (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Roberto De Zerbi takes charge of his first game as Brighton manager as the Seagulls travel to Liverpool. It is a tough start for the Italian against a Reds side looking to kick-start their own campaign.

Meanwhile the man he replaced, Graham Potter, oversees his first Premier League match as Chelsea boss, taking the Blues to Crystal Palace. Potter will want to start to put his stamp on the side after things became unsettled under Thomas Tuchel.

Gary O’Neil has another chance to prove he is the man for the Bournemouth job as his caretaker spell continues with the visit of Brentford.

Pressure on Rodgers

Brendan Rodgers is enduring a tough time at Leicester
Brendan Rodgers is enduring a tough time at Leicester (John Walton/PA)

In other managerial matters, there is now considerable pressure on Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers. The Foxes have endured a miserable start with just one point from seven games and 5-2 and 6-2 thrashings at the hands of Brighton and Spurs respectively in their last two outings.

Coming after an unhappy summer, the mood at the King Power Stadium is sour and, despite FA Cup glory and two fifth-placed finishes, the Rodgers era seems to be running out of steam. Monday’s clash with promoted East Midlands rivals Nottingham Forest – who themselves have won just once – could be crucial.

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