After every week break for the FA Cup, the Premier league returns this weeked. Here is what to look at for…
How will Liverpool’s new-look defence fare towards Man Metropolis?
Virgil van Dijk handed his first take a look at at Liverpool with flying colors final week, scoring the profitable objective within the Reds’ FA Cup tie towards Everton. It was a debut to savour for the Dutchman in entrance of the Anfield crowd, however the go to of Manchester Metropolis on Sunday will provide a way more thorough examination of his credentials.
With 64 objectives already this season — 10 greater than Manchester United managed within the entirety of the earlier marketing campaign — Metropolis’s runaway lead on the prime of the Premier League has been powered by Pep Guardiola’s devastating attacking type. Liverpool will probably be keenly conscious of that truth, having been thrashed 5-Zero on the Etihad Stadium in September in the beginning of a run that noticed them choose up only one win in eight matches over all competitions.
Gabriel Jesus scored a brace that afternoon, however within the Brazilian’s harm absence a lot of the burden this weekend will fall on Sergio Aguero, who opened the scoring on the Etihad earlier than Sadio Mane’s controversial crimson card. Though the Argentine is now not assured a beginning spot beneath Guardiola, 19 objectives in 25 matches suggests he stays as potent as ever and the best risk to Jurgen Klopp’s aspect avenging September’s heavy defeat on Sunday.
Whereas most defenders would have sleepless nights making ready to face Aguero, Van Dijk instructions a powerful document towards the Metropolis striker. In three earlier conferences, Aguero hasn’t discovered the web as soon as, failing to muster a single try heading in the right direction in 90 minutes towards Southampton earlier within the season. With Van Dijk marshalling the defence, the Saints had been a aggressive prospect towards the highest six, and it required a 96th-minute winner from Raheem Sterling to ultimately get the higher of them in November.
Van Dijk’s performances towards imposing opposition undoubtedly performed a component in Liverpool’s resolution to spend £75 million on his providers, and Sunday’s conflict towards Metropolis is an opportunity for the centre-back to construct on a stable begin towards Everton. If he can preserve Aguero quiet as soon as extra, it could trace that Liverpool lastly have the muse on which to mount their very own title problem subsequent season.
Can Tosun resolve Everton’s scoring woes?
It’s now 5 video games and not using a victory for Everton in all competitions as Sam Allardyce’s honeymoon spell on Merseyside grinds to an abrupt halt. Of all of the errors in a haphazard method to the summer time switch window — which in the end price Ronald Koeman his job — failing to signal a striker to exchange Romelu Lukaku was the least forgivable. Having scored simply two objectives of their winless run, it was little shock to see the Toffees’ hierarchy rapidly sanction a £27m transfer for Turkish striker Cenk Tosun.
It’s probably Tosun will probably be thrown straight in towards Tottenham on Saturday, and Allardyce wants his new man to adapt rapidly to the Premier League to keep away from a seven-point hole to the underside three from shrinking any additional. Whereas Wayne Rooney has carried out higher than many anticipated on his return to Everton, scoring 11 objectives thus far, his current shows — significantly within the 2-Zero defeat to Manchester United — have strengthened the view that he’s now not able to main the road. That accountability now falls to Tosun.
The striker has a powerful pedigree, serving to fireplace Besiktas to back-to-back Turkish Tremendous Lig titles together with his direct type and deadly eye for objective. Displaying glorious motion off the ball, Tosun is powerful within the air and makes well-timed runs into the field. That’s precisely what Everton have been missing and, with Yannick Bolasie and Gylfi Sigurdsson offering the ammunition, they’ll head to Wembley to tackle Spurs with renewed confidence.
Stoke should cease Lingard
Everton might have been sorely lacking Lukaku this season, however the Manchester United striker arguably is not the largest concern for managerless Stoke after they journey to Outdated Trafford on Monday evening. As an alternative, Jesse Lingard is the participant they need to worry most, with the midfielder cementing his standing because the clutch particular person for Jose Mourinho’s aspect in current weeks.
The 25-year-old has scored seven occasions in his final 9 Premier League appearances, in comparison with 5 top-flight strikes in the remainder of his profession as an entire (60 appearances). A brace towards Arsenal earned an important victory in the beginning of December, whereas Lingard additionally bagged the winner at West Brom, rescued some extent towards Burnley and helped safe all three at Everton — to not point out his late objective in a 2-Zero win over Derby within the FA Cup to make sure United averted a replay in an already packed fixture listing.
There are few gamers in higher kind within the Premier League at current, and Gareth Southgate will probably be paying shut consideration as he ponders his England World Cup squad. Stoke would additionally do properly to maintain a cautious eye on Lingard — in any other case his penchant for late objectives might punish yet one more opponent.
Is Sanchez near the exit door at Arsenal?
Arsene Wenger’s workforce choice for Sunday’s journey to Bournemouth might reveal whether or not Alexis Sanchez will probably be staying at Arsenal this month or lastly finishing a protracted transfer to Manchester Metropolis. The ahead solely appeared as a second-half substitute in Wednesday’s League Cup semi-final towards Chelsea, hinting that Wenger is planning for a future with out certainly one of his star gamers.
West Brom within the final probability saloon
It’s 20 matches since West Brom final gained within the Premier League and eight since Alan Pardew changed Tony Pulis within the scorching seat. For the supervisor and his gamers, time is rapidly operating out — even Championship aspect Bristol Metropolis boast extra wins (four) towards top-flight opposition than the Baggies this season.
Maybe a 2-Zero victory over Exeter within the FA Cup — a primary in any competitors since August — will function the springboard for a renewed shot at survival when Brighton journey to The Hawthorns on Saturday.
Matthew Stanger covers European soccer for ESPN and is the editor of The Set Items. Twitter: @MatthewStanger