10 things to keep in mind this weekend

1) Kanté crucial in the crisis clash

Thomas Tuchel did not hold back in his praise for N’Golo Kanté at the end of last season. “He is our Mo Salah, our Van Dijk, our De Bruyne,” the Chelsea manager said. “He is Neymar, our Kylian Mbappé, he makes the difference.” Then came the warning. For Tuchel, the frustration was how often Kanté found himself in the treatment room. The France midfielder has struggled with minor strikes since 2019, and there have been times when he has lacked the dynamism of yesteryear. That said, there’s still nothing like seeing Kante when he’s in peak condition. Few midfielders can live with the 31-year-old when he is in the mood and he will be key to Chelsea’s chances of victory when they host Tottenham on Sunday. Spurs will start as slight favourites, but the balance of power could shift in Chelsea’s favor if Kanté beats Rodrigo Bentancur and Pierre-Emile Højbjerg. js

2) A tougher test for Brighton

With a win apiece on opening day, Brighton host Newcastle in one of the most high-profile clashes this weekend. Both clubs are upwardly mobile and run by men whose names could possibly form a two-way list when, at some point in the future, the Football Association chooses Gareth Southgate’s successor as England manager. Graham Potter produced a tactical masterclass to help his players beat Manchester United, but they will almost certainly face a much tougher test from a side that probably won’t make life as easy for them as their hosts at Old Trafford. Joelinton 2.0 already looks like a superior midfielder to both Scott McTominay and Fred, while Bruno Guimarães was one of last season’s signings. Expect a fascinating tactical battle between two teams harboring genuine European ambitions. BG

3) How will Villa respond to the meek opening?

After Aston Villa’s defeat at Bournemouth, Steven Gerrard understandably bristled a bit when asked if he knew Philippe Coutinho’s best position. Gerrard, of course, played alongside Coutinho for five years at Liverpool, before the midfielder left for Barcelona on a £142m deal, and has managed him since January. Coutinho shone in a few games last season, hence Villa’s desire to sign him permanently in the summer, but, predominantly stationed on the left flank, he slipped anonymously in his first game of the season. The Brazilian wasn’t the only one to be in a bad mood, Villa bland at best as they struggled to penetrate a makeshift defence, though he was comfortably chained by Ben Pearson, whose last league start came at Barnsley in January. There’s a phrase you never thought you’d see. BF

4) Bees, Red Devils and identity

“Another classic Brentford signing,” is how Thomas Frank described Mikkel Damsgaard, the Danish winger who arrived from Sampdoria this week. Frank and his club are so credited that even a casual viewer should understand exactly what he meant – few can rival them when it comes to recruiting high-potential, young talent who can fit right into their system, and it’s just an advantage that many happen to be Danes too. While we’re here, what is a classic Manchester United transfer? That’s much harder to answer given that his strategy in recent years has been akin to throwing mud at a wall; Marko Arnautovic will not join Damsgaard to make his debut this weekend after that move failed to materialize but, even with Erik ten Hag at the helm, it’s hard to discern exactly what United think he is. If they’re going to win at Brentford, it’s more likely due to individual brilliance than a triumph of identity. For the second weekend in a row, United face a club that is totally comfortable, clear and confident in its way of doing things: a failure similar to that against Brighton would be telling. N/A

5) Could Bournemouth catch a cold at City?

These teams have a couple of things in common: both posted 2-0 wins on opening day, both are urgently looking to bring in reinforcements before the transfer window closes. Bournemouth successfully signed Argentine centre-back Marcos Senesi in midweek and are even above Manchester City in the embryonic table, if only by virtue of alphabetical order. While City galloped to victory at West Ham last Sunday (while enjoying 77% possession), Bournemouth’s resourceful manager Scott Parker may still sense an opportunity at the Etihad. Pep Guardiola’s side are usually off to a slow start in the Premier League and the Cherries will be buoyed by Aston Villa’s one-sided sacking. Cut off the supply line to Erling Haaland and it could, a big maybe It is certain that it will be a productive afternoon for the visitors. LMc

6) Do the saints have a mojo to rediscover?

Last weekend’s rather dismal surrender to Tottenham means that Southampton have won just one of their last 13 Premier League games. His first goal aside, familiar defensive weaknesses were on display but little visible evidence that a summer overhaul of Ralph Hasenhüttl’s backroom squad has strengthened a group of players who sleepwalked through last season’s fourth quarter. With three games to go in that campaign, Hasenhüttl lamented his side’s lack of “energy and sometimes confidence”, but the fans who gather at St Mary’s will be hoping for better when he visits Leeds. With home capacity temporarily curtailed in a bid to prevent anti-social behaviour, another laughable performance from the home team will spark early relegation concerns among fans taking their seats. BG

Youri Tielemans from Leicester City is a transfer target for Arsenal. The two clubs meet at the Emirates on Saturday. Photograph: George Wood/Getty Images

7) Tielemans to send the Arsenal message?

It’s no secret that Arsenal would like more competition in midfield and it’s well documented, too, that Youri Tielemans tops the target list. But no deal has been struck with Leicester and instead the Belgian will start away on Saturday, with narrative writers already penning one of his trademark far-reaching flourishes. Leicester have had a curious summer, playing hard with the likes of Tielemans and Wesley Fofana and not getting any signings to date. They have some excellent players but it is starting to look a bit stale and the way they allowed Brentford to bounce back last weekend only increased the murmurs around Brendan Rodgers who could use a freshening up. Arsenal look in good health by their early-season standards and should win if they replicate their quick start at Selhurst Park, but if Tielemans teaches a lesson in midfield, perhaps he can convince them to meet Leicester’s price and make it some transfer dominoes fall. N/A

8) Top-notch action at City Ground

Nottingham Forest and West Ham had baptisms of fire on the opening day, with both finishing clearly second behind Newcastle and Manchester City respectively. Forest defeated six new recruits at St James’ Park and if he wants to do it, Steve Cooper has plenty more to fall back on against this weekend’s visitors. Speaking ahead of his first return to the City Ground since leaving seven years ago, Michail Antonio called the ground “a special place to play”. Considering that a sizeable contingent of Forest fans clicking the turnstiles this weekend will not have been born the last time their club hosted a Premier League game, the River Trent guarantees a particularly special and memorable atmosphere. on Sunday, whatever the outcome. BG

9) The era of the Coady-less Wolves begins

New formation, past the captain’s armband and new marquee signed in the building, everything is change in Molineux. For the first time in more than seven years, the Wolves will line up without Conor Coady on their books. Coady, who signed from Huddersfield in 2015, started 196 of Wolves’ last 199 league games; last Saturday’s loss was the first time in that period that he did not appear when he was available for selection, as Bruno Lage opted for a revamped central defence. Instead, Coady will start for Everton at Aston Villa after joining on loan with a view to a permanent move. Rúben Neves, who looks set to stay, will be named captain and Gonçalo Guedes, a £27.5m buy from Valencia who arrived for his first day with agent Jorge Mendes in tow, could make his debut when Wolves start life without Coady. . BF

10) Liverpool must step up against Palace

There will be personnel changes for Liverpool’s first game of the season at home – Thiago Alcântara is predictably sidelined with a hamstring injury sustained on opening day and Darwin Núñez polished his case to start when they face Fulham – but a change of attitude. It will be Jürgen Klopp’s priority against Crystal Palace. “The performance was a loss,” the Liverpool manager said after the 2-2 draw at Craven Cottage. “Lethargic” was the interpretation of Jordan Henderson. If there is pressure on Liverpool to rediscover their trademark form and intensity in just the second game of a new campaign, then it is pressure of their own making. The margin of error between title contenders has shrunk considerably in recent years, such are the standards of punishment they and Manchester City have created. Klopp’s demand for an immediate response must be answered when Patrick Vieira’s side visit on Monday. oh

Liverpool-Cristal Palace, Monday 8:00 p.m.

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