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

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

1) Fred and Sancho could provide key for Carrick

“Why are you playing Fred?” That’s the question Roy Keane wanted to ask while pinning Ole Gunnar Solskjær against a dressing room wall, and maybe Solskjær would have struggled to answer. But apparently Michael Carrick knows what Fred does well because the Brazilian was one of Manchester United’s best players in their midweek win at Villarreal, contributing intelligently to both of United’s goals and covering the left-hand side when in defensive mode. The question now is whether he will start against Chelsea, where containing Reece James should be an important part of the visitors’ game plan. Carrick also found uses for Donny van de Beek and Jadon Sancho when it had previously seemed United signed both without knowing why. Starting Sancho on the right may be the best way of exploiting the absence of Ben Chilwell. PD

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2) Dubravka back to bolster Newcastle’s confidence?

Bottom of the table and still without a win, Newcastle travel to the Emirates for Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off against an Arsenal team presumably wounded by their gubbing at the hands of Liverpool. Whether Eddie Howe will be in his technical area or frantically reassembling his hotel room trouser press while counting down his final hours in quarantine remains to be seen, but his presence will be immaterial unless his players iron out the defensive errors that led to them conceding three goals against Brentford last time out. There were visible signs of improvement from Newcastle as they played on the front foot during Howe’s first game in official charge, but the record books will show they scored three goals at home and still failed to win. Visibly uncomfortable as he tried to play the ball out from the back and at fault for Brentford’s opener, it would be no surprise to see Karl Darlow make way for the fit again Martin Dubravka in Newcastle’s goal. BG

3) Saints back Hassenhüttl for the long term

More than a quarter of Premier League clubs have sacked a manager already this season but Southampton know they have a good one. So even if on Saturday Liverpool turn out to be the team who dish out the Saints’ annual 9-0 defeat, and all following last week’s loss at Norwich, the club are unlikely to ditch Ralph Hassenhüttl, who is doing a good job in difficult constraints. Indeed, Saints have proved pesky to some of the big clubs already this season, earning draws with both Manchester clubs and also Chelsea (in the Carabao Cup). Mohamed Salisu has been terrific in their defence and will have to be on top form again if the Saints are to escape Anfield with a point, or at least their pride. PD

4) Hammers midfield an upgrade on PSG

Seeing off Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappé is one thing, but will Manchester City be able to subdue Michail Antonio? They will if they stop him from getting the ball, of course, but the problem for them is that West Ham have a better midfield than PSG had on Wednesday, so David Moyes can travel with the knowledge they can threaten City. But their chances of keeping City out have been damaged by the loss of Angelo Ogbonna, so Craig Dawson will have to be at his most wily to keep track of City’s many and elusive attackers. Another high-brow duel is on the cards at the Etihad. PD

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Michail Antonio (left) could cause Manchester City numerous problems. Photograph: Charlotte Wilson/Offside/Getty Images

5) Cantwell under scrutiny as Smith seeks revenge

Dean Smith might still be in charge of his beloved Aston Villa if they hadn’t snatched defeat from the jaws of victory by throwing away a two-goal lead in the final 10 minutes of their home game against Wolves in mid-October. This weekend he gets the chance to exact some manner of revenge as Norwich host Bruno Lage’s impressive side at Carrow Road. Looking for their third consecutive win going into Tuesday’s six-pointer against Newcastle, most Norwich fans would probably settle for a point to keep momentum going. Having spent the final two months of the Daniel Farke regime confined to the bench amid rumours of a falling-out with the club over his lack of application in training, Todd Cantwell started Smith’s first game only to be withdrawn at the interval after an ineffectual first-half performance. It will be intriguing to see what, if any, reaction the manager gets should the creative midfielder get another run-out. BG

6) Cornet and Moura go head-to-head

Antonio Conte described last week’s win over Leeds as “two different matches”. In the first half Tottenham were sluggish, inoffensive. In the second they transformed into a fierce, swashbuckling side that looked capable of overwhelming most opponents. The challenge is for them to play like that regularly for 90 minutes, starting at Turf Moor, where Burnley will be looking for the win that could lift Sean Dyche’s team out of the bottom three. Harry Kane may continue to mooch around, but, in Lucas Moura and Maxwel Cornet, this match could still feature two of the Premier League’s most exciting forwards on recent form. PD

7) Returning Douglas Luiz can show value to Villa

Aston Villa fans were understandably pleased to see pictures of Douglas Luiz back in training on Tuesday after a three-match absence with a hamstring injury, but will have been less impressed by Wednesday’s speculation that the Brazilian defensive midfielder and his representatives are angling for a move to Roma in January. Should Douglas Luiz return to action in the holding role at which he excels this weekend, Marvelous Nakamba looks likely to make way. And should Douglas Luiz agitate for a move to Serie A during the next transfer window he will be sorely missed at Villa Park. BG

8) Meslier set for a busy evening in Brighton

Brighton could welcome back Robert Sánchez following his suspension for a rash sending-off against Newcastle. But the better goalkeeper will be at the other end. It is not normal for a young goalkeeper to be as reliable as Ilan Meslier has become since joining Leeds, for whom, now aged 21, he has been a stalwart despite the ever changing cast of defenders in front of him and the singular pressure of playing for Leeds. With Marcelo Bielsa likely to be deprived of first-choice defenders again, and Brighton in need of a positive result after a couple of wasteful performances, Meslier is likely to get more chances to show his quality. PD

Illan Meslier makes a save against West Ham
Illan Meslier has impressed with his performances for Leeds. Photograph: Zac Goodwin/PA

9) Toney could come back to haunt Benítez

This might have been billed as a meeting between English football’s shrewdest spenders and the most reckless, if it were not for Everton’s cut-price recent hiring of Demarai Gray and Andros Townsend recently. Decent performances by that pair aside, Everton are in dreary form. Even with Dominic Calvert-Lewin still missing, they need to find a way to beat Brentford, who mustered just one point from their last five matches. If Everton fail to eke out their first win since September, Rafael Benítez will head into next weekend’s Merseyside derby under severe pressure. Especially if Ivan Toney, whom Benítez did not appreciate at Newcastle, demonstrates his scoring skills. PD

10) Ranieri set for triumphant Leicester return

Claudio Ranieri and Leicester will always have 2016. It was a wonderful, extraordinary season that neither has yet been able to recreate. Ranieri is on to his fifth club since being ousted by Leicester less than five years ago. He did not last long enough at Fulham to lead them out at the King Power so only now will he return with a team to the ground where he enjoyed his and Leicester greatest’s achievement. He is sure to get a fond welcome. But what reception awaits the hosts? Leicester were booed off after last week’s defeat by Chelsea, and Ayoze Pérez suggested during the week that the team have slipped into a negative spiral – unlike Watford, who will pitch up on the back of last week’s invigorating drubbing of Manchester United. Brendan Rodgers will be doing his utmost to ensure Leicester avoid another of the slow starts that have been a recurring problem for them recently, otherwise Ranieri could be celebrating at the King Power again. PD

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

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