Can Rodgers expose Liverpool weaknesses? Is Man United vs. Newcastle the saddest game ever?
All you need to know about this weekend's Premier League action, all in one place.
THE WEEKEND'S BIG QUESTIONS
Can Rodgers expose Liverpool weaknesses?
Over the past week we have seen that Liverpool, despite their perfect league record, are not a perfect team. Last weekend, Sheffield United found success with a combination of pinning their full-backs into their own half and intense pressing, while in the Champions League FC Salzburg exposed a degree of fragility in almost coming from 3-0 behind at Anfield.
The question for everyone else is whether these were simply minor blips (which they got past in the end anyway), or actual weaknesses that some team will be able to exploit. Handily enough, they are facing one of the few teams in the Premier League that you would trust to exploit those weaknesses on Saturday: Leicester.
After coming so close to the title in 2013-14, Brendan Rodgers visits Anfield for the first time since leaving the club four years ago, when he was replaced by Jurgen Klopp. But that's just another reason why it's the game of the weekend and wouldn't be the biggest surprise if the Foxes came away with something.
Just how bad are things at Tottenham?
If you're a Spurs fan with an optimistic point of view, you could write off Tuesday's 7-2 evisceration by Bayern Munich as a freak result -- the sort of thing that happens occasionally, as every shot they took went in, etc., and so on. More realistic observers might think a scoreline like that had been coming, the cracks in the dam that have been appearing over the past nine months or so finally breaking and letting the water pour through.
Both could be true, but whatever the case, the next two games might be a more reliable gauge of where this Tottenham team are. Spurs travel to Brighton at the weekend, after which they face Aston Villa on the other side of the international break, before things start to get tricky again with a trip to Anfield. These are two entirely winnable games -- fixtures you would expect last season's version of Tottenham to deal with extremely easily -- so if they slip up in either of them, then we'll know there's a real problem in the ranks.
Will Pulisic even get on the bench for Chelsea?
Christian Pulisic has been the face of American soccer for a few years now, but that face has been looking increasingly glum as he seemingly slips further and further down the pecking order at Chelsea. The U.S. forward wasn't even on the bench for Chelsea's Champions League trip to Lille, an indication of how tough a task he has to get some meaningful time on the pitch.
Ahead of the game with Southampton on Sunday, one hope for Pulisic might be Frank Lampard's flexibility in approach: Lampard hasn't named the same team twice yet this season and has used four or five different formations. Instinctively that feels like a mistake, to complicate things too early, as the players are getting used to a new manager, but because he isn't wedded to a particular style or formation, there will be more options for Pulisic to force his way into Lampard's thinking. But then he'll need to take his chance when he gets it.
Must-have player: Sergio Aguero, Tier 1 forward
Aguero still leads the league in goals (8) and shots (27), despite coming off the bench last week against Everton. Manchester City are by far the biggest favourites this week, at home against Wolves, who have only one win in seven games, and had to play at Besiktas in the Europa League on Thursday.
Worth considering: Callum Wilson, Tier 2 forward
Wilson has scored in four straight games, and took six shots last week against West Ham. Bournemouth are underdogs at Arsenal, but Arsenal have already conceded 11 goals, and are sixth-worst in the league in terms of xG (expected goals) conceded.
Avoid at all costs: Jamie Vardy, Leicester City
Vardy was the only player in the league to score more than one goal last week, but that was against lowly Newcastle (and after Newcastle went down to 10 men). This week he's up against Liverpool, who have conceded only five goals in seven games -- tied with Vardy's own team for the best defensive record in the league.
STATS OF THE WEEKEND
Information provided by ESPN Stats & Information Group
- Liverpool are putting their 16-game Premier League winning streak on the line at home against Leicester City. Only Manchester City (18) have won more consecutive games in English top-flight history.
- Tottenham are winless in their past nine away games in the Premier League since beating Fulham 2-1 on Jan. 20. So the weekend trip to Brighton comes at the perfect time for Spurs, with the Seagulls having failed to win in each of their past eight league matches.
MAN TO WATCH
Brendan Rodgers. He's a little older now, a little more mature, less likely to give you a self-aggrandising line, and certainly a better manager than in his Liverpool days. But there's still a definite sense with Rodgers that he is not afraid of the limelight. If his team can pull off a surprise, you suspect Rodgers will enjoy being the centre of attention on Saturday.
THE GAME YOU'RE NOT PLANNING TO WATCH -- BUT SHOULD
Manchester City vs. Wolves. At first glance this looks like another walkover, one of those games where the big team scores early and kills it as a contest, so the rest of the clash essentially becomes like a cat toying with a worm it has just taken from the garden. But there could be hope for an upset here: Wolves are starting to show some form, winning two games in a row (admittedly against Watford and Thursday's mugging of Besiktas), and their modus operandi last season was doing well against the big boys. City are not unbeatable, as we've seen this season, so this is worth watching.
ONE THING THAT WILL DEFINITELY HAPPEN
Sparks will fly in midfield for Arsenal vs. Bournemouth. Colombian midfielder Jefferson Lerma has been a walking yellow card for a few years, collecting 12 of them in his debut season for Bournemouth, and he already has four of them this season. Only Luka Milivojevic has more in the Premier League, but level pegging on six with Lerma in the disciplinary stakes is Granit Xhaka, Arsenal's new captain and more importantly Lerma's opponent this weekend. We'll put the over/under on the first booking at around 20 minutes.
THE TEAMS THAT NEED A BIT OF LUCK
Luck is everything in sports. Get acquainted with ESPN's Luck Index as we pick out the team most desperate for good fortune amid a difficult run. Here are the big takeaways from the 2019 edition as explained by Gab Marcotti.
Newcastle United and Manchester United. If you're having trouble staying upbeat at the moment, it's not recommended that you watch Manchester United's visit to Newcastle on Sunday. This has the potential to be the saddest football match of all time, with two sides very much down on their luck facing each other.
If they were cartoon characters they would both be Old Gil from the Simpsons. Perhaps one of them will win to perk up their mood, but don't be surprised if it's just a sad 0-0 which makes nobody happy. If anyone deserves a little luck, it's these two.
Brighton 1-3 Tottenham
Burnley 2-0 Everton
Liverpool 3-2 Leicester
Norwich 2-2 Aston Villa
Watford 0-2 Sheffield United
West Ham 1-1 Crystal Palace
Southampton 1-3 Chelsea
Manchester City 4-1 Wolves
Arsenal 3-2 Bournemouth
Newcastle United 0-0 Manchester United