How will Liverpool cope without Fabinho? How will Arsenal react to Emery's sacking?
Everything you need to know about this weekend's Premier League action, all in one place.
Jump to: How will Arsenal react? | How will Chelsea cope without Abraham? | Man to watch | Game not to miss | Stats of the weekend | Team that needs a bit of luck | One thing that will definitely happen | Predictions
The weekend's big questions
How will Liverpool cope without Fabinho, their first big test?
While an eight-point lead at this stage of the season certainly seems pretty commanding, there are any number of things that could go wrong and lead to Liverpool not winning their first title in 30 years.
One of them is key injuries: They have a strong squad, but if the wrong players are struck down for a significant period of time, the team could suffer. Virgil van Dijk is one, Andy Robertson another, but the one they have to worry about right now is Fabinho.
The Brazilian is the solid core around which this season's success has been built, but hearts sank on Wednesday when he limped out of their Champions League draw against Napoli with an ankle problem. Jurgen Klopp described the prospect of losing Fabinho as "massive" and admitted "I don't want to say what I expect," about the severity of the problem.
Fabinho will certainly be missing for the visit of Brighton. Graham Potter's side aren't the most fearsome of opponents, but if Liverpool can get through it without Fabinho, then one of the hurdles to them retaining their healthy lead in the Premier League will have been negotiated.
What impact will the sacking of Emery have on Arsenal?
It was tough not to feel a little sorry for Unai Emery as he watched his side slump to a 2-1 defeat against Eintracht Frankfurt in an emptying stadium on Thursday. He should have been yanked out of there long ago, for everyone's sake, so the news of Emery's sacking on Friday morning was very much a case of better late than never. It's not just that they have gone seven games without a win, their worst run in 27 years, more that everyone could see it coming and it was never going to improve under him.
But will it under Freddie Ljungberg, in place for their trip to Norwich on Sunday? This is still a very decent set of players, particularly going forward, which was why the club's failure to make a change was so frustrating: Emery was making them less than the sum of their parts, and even though Ljungberg will only have a couple of days to prepare them, he should benefit from simply not being the man he's replaced.
How will Chelsea adapt without Abraham?
If Tammy Abraham has to miss Saturday's game against West Ham with the hip knock that forced him out of the Valencia game, it will be interesting to see how Chelsea adapt. The chances are that Olivier Giroud will come in, but he has barely played this season and hasn't scored for Chelsea yet, though he has four in six for France. More to the point, he operates in a different manner from Abraham, which could have a significant impact on the side that Frank Lampard picks.
With someone like Giroud, it's best to pick an attacking line of three behind him to best capitalise on his hold-up skills, which would probably mean Mason Mount and a couple of wingers. But he would then have to drop one of Mateo Kovacic, N'Golo Kante or Jorginho, none of whom deserve to be on the bench on current form. One small change in personnel could lead to plenty of other questions for Lampard.
Man to watch
David Martin has enjoyed a pretty decent career. He isn't a household name and would not exactly cause a stir walking through the Westfield Shopping Centre near West Ham's London Stadium, but having started out as a youngster at Wimbledon, he signed for Liverpool (although he never played) and went on to have a perfectly respectable few years at MK Dons and Millwall. He also has a sentimental attachment to West Ham, being the son of club legend Alvin Martin.
When he signed for the club in the summer as their third-string goalkeeper, he probably didn't think he would actually get to play at any stage, but Roberto, the man ahead of him in the pecking order, has been so calamitously bad that Manuel Pellegrini really has no choice but to give Martin a go now. A game against Chelsea would usually be the deepest of deep ends to be thrown into, but Martin surely cannot be any worse than Roberto and the avoidance of humiliation at Stamford Bridge might just save Pellegrini's job. For now.
The game you're not planning to watch but should
Wolves vs. Sheffield United
A game on a sleepy Sunday afternoon when there are a few more high-profile fixtures not only on that day but also at that time: This one will probably be down your list of potential ways to pass the hours. But not so fast. The game holds some interest simply because it is between a couple of teams who have recently both won promotion from the Championship and found a way of more or less immediately succeeding in the top flight.
The sides have enough similarities to be worthy of comparison but enough differences to make it a diverse contest. Plus it's a fixture between sides who, in their own ways, play exciting football. This one could be a case study for aspiring Premier League teams to watch and learn.
Stats of the weekend
Information courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information group.
- Newcastle's Miguel Almiron has had more shots without scoring than any other Premier League player this season (22).
- Man City's Gabriel Jesus has scored seven goals in his past eight Premier League starts.
- Chelsea play their 250th Premier League London derby. The Blues have won more such games (128) than any other side in the competition's history.
- If Liverpool avoid defeat against Brighton, it would see them equal their all-time longest unbeaten run in top-flight history (31).
- Tottenham have won all four of their Premier League home games against Bournemouth by an aggregate score of 13-0.
- Only Norwich (three) and Watford (four) have scored fewer away goals than Arsenal (five).
- Aston Villa's Jack Grealish has carried the ball farther than any other Premier League player this season (3441 metres). He's created 17 chances after carrying the ball (moving the ball five or more metres), more than any other player in the competition.
The team that needs a bit of luckEverton
It's one step forward, one massive push back about 50 yards for Everton at the moment. A win over Southampton was followed by defeat at home to Norwich, the recriminations long and loud and leaving Marco Silva dancing on a pinhead, trying to keep his job. That's the bad news.
The really bad news is that Everton's next three fixtures are against Leicester, Liverpool and Chelsea, with Manchester United and Arsenal (plus Leicester again, in the Carabao Cup) to come after that.
A team playing as badly as Everton won't survive that sort of run without a little fortune, which they will be praying for when they visit the King Power Stadium on Sunday.
One thing that will definitely happen
Southampton vs. Watford will be unrelentingly grim
The point of football matches is that they're watched. Whether it's in person, on TV or on the internet, the game there to be observed. If there is nobody there to observe, has it actually happened? But the authorities might want to make an exception for this one, a match that promises to be so unrelentingly grim that watching it simply cannot be advised by anyone sensible.
Instead, the whole business should probably take place behind closed doors, with an independent observer present to note down the score and (if there are any) scorers, report the result and update the league table accordingly. That's it. Allowing the public to witness this depressing spectacle is simply not socially responsible.
Newcastle United 1-2 Manchester City
Tottenham 2-0 Bournemouth
Liverpool 4-1 Brighton
Chelsea 4-0 West Ham
Burnley 0-1 Crystal Palace
Southampton 0-0 Watford
Wolves 2-2 Sheffield United
Norwich 1-3 Arsenal
Manchester United 2-0 Aston Villa
Leicester 3-0 Everton