Can Mourinho inspire Tottenham defence like he did with Dele? Man City low on confidence ahead of derby?
Everything you need to know about this weekend's Premier League action, all in one place.
Jump to: Has Jose Mourinho got a defence problem? | What now for Freddie Ljungberg? | How high is Manchester City's confidence? | 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
Has Jose Mourinho got a defence problem?
There is, of course, a big difference between a defensive manager and one who has good defences. Jose Mourinho has been the latter: in his two full seasons at Manchester United, they conceded the second fewest goals both times, and in his full campaigns of his second spell at Chelsea they conceded the fewest. But whatever he does to tighten up those back lines isn't working yet at Tottenham, where they have conceded two goals in each of his four games in charge, winning three but losing to Manchester United on Wednesday in a game which -- Dele Alli's stunning goal notwithstanding -- recalled the most insipid performances of his worst recent days.
Of course he didn't exactly inherit a watertight defence, a team who have kept one Premier League clean sheet all season and shipped seven to Bayern Munich in the Champions League. But he nonetheless needs to correct the problem as quickly as possible, and although time is required, he's also making some curious decisions such as persisting with 32-year-old Jan Vertonghen at left-back. In theory, Burnley, scorers of 21 goals in 15 games, will not be the most fearsome opponents, but a clean sheet would nonetheless be extremely welcome.
What now for Freddie Ljungberg?
As auditions go, one point from two games against teams in or near the relegation zone isn't the best. A constant hum in the background of all the talk about the Arsenal job is that Freddie Ljungberg is rated very highly in the Arsenal corridors of power and is thus a live candidate for the permanent job, but failure to beat both Norwich and Brighton hasn't exactly helped his chances.
His post-Brighton declaration that he had told his players "this is not Arsenal" does have a significant whiff of the Solskjaer approach, leaning heavily on some nebulous idea of the club's identity as a motivational tool. Perhaps it will work, but he now almost certainly knows he will need a win against West Ham on Monday to stand any chance of sticking around.
How high is Manchester City's confidence?
You can always read too much into these things, but it was pretty interesting that Rodri felt the need to comment on how emphatically Manchester City celebrated their win over Burnley on Tuesday. "After this victory we were really having a party in the dressing room," he said, "because we needed it to bring up the mentality and confidence of the team."
If nothing else, it displays what a fragile thing confidence can be, if even this City team can lose it after a few adverse results. So the question then becomes whether that victory over Burnley was enough to raise it back to the required levels to win the Manchester derby: in theory City should pulverise United, but if the self-belief in their dressing room is shaky, we could see a surprise.
Man to watch
Fred (Manchester United)
It's taken the better part of 18 months, but Fred is finally looking a little bit like the player Manchester United thought they were paying £47 million for last summer. The Brazil international was terrific against Tottenham on Wednesday night alongside Scott McTominay, whom Ole Gunnar Solskjaer described as "undroppable."
Getting the better of Spurs is one thing, given their struggles this season, but this weekend against Manchester City will be another matter entirely: against a team that wins games by controlling them from midfield, the roles of Fred and McTominay will be absolutely vital.
The game you're not planning to watch but should
Norwich City vs. Sheffield United
English football is littered with slightly unlikely rivalries, two teams that have no real business caring about each other excessively, but do anyway. One of those is Norwich City vs. Sheffield United, an enmity that stems from a curious affair in the Championship a couple of years ago when the Canaries turned up late to a game at Bramall Lane, which made Daniel Farke late to a prematch meeting.
Then, after some perceived time-wasting during the game, Chris Wilder sounded off quite emphatically, railing against the "disrespect" shown by Norwich and advising their bus driver to check the traffic reports more closely. Presumably his tantrum had a little to do with Norwich winning that game 1-0, but either way that episode lends this fixture a little extra edge.
Stats of the weekend
Information courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information group.
- Manchester United's Marcus Rashford has scored 12 goals in his past 13 games with club and country and has netted 16 goals from 34 Premier League matches under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
- All seven of Gabriel Jesus' goals for Manchester City this season have been scored away from home.
- Liverpool's Mohamed Salah has scored in all four of his Premier League appearances vs. Bournemouth, his only 100% record against a club.
- Liverpool's win over Everton saw them set a club record of 32 league matches unbeaten, surpassing the mark set in 1988.
- Alli has scored four goals (and assisted one more) in his four appearances since Jose Mourinho took over, as many as he scored in his previous 30 matches for Spurs.
- With 11 goals in 14 Premier League games, Chelsea's Tammy Abraham is the only player aged 22 or younger to register a double-digit goal tally in Europe's top five leagues so far this term.
The team that needs a bit of luck
The stakes are not exactly the highest, given that Crystal Palace face the rolling catastrophe that is Watford this weekend. But they may well have to do so with only one centre-back: Mamadou Sakho is suspended and Scott Dann and Gary Cahill injured, leaving James Tomkins to guide a stand-in through the game. They were fortunate in some respects to get away with it against Bournemouth, who played without much sense on Tuesday after Sakho's red, and even though they're playing the worst team in the division, they might need a little good fortune to get through this one.
One thing that will definitely happen
Liverpool will concede a goal
For all their thrilling, division-straddling brilliance, it must be of slight concern to Jurgen Klopp that his Liverpool side have kept only two clean sheets all season. Watford have kept three. Even when they destroyed Everton 5-2 on Wednesday night, they still found time to let in two careless goals, leading to exasperated cries in the crowd, Jurgen Klopp raging on the touchline and Virgil van Dijk declaring his dissatisfaction afterwards. They haven't lost a game yet and only two teams have conceded fewer goals, but this issue could come back to bite them at some stage.
Everton 1-3 Chelsea
Tottenham 2-1 Burnley
Watford 1-2 Crystal Palace
Bournemouth 1-3 Liverpool
Manchester City 4-0 Manchester United
Newcastle United 1-0 Southampton
Norwich City 2-2 Sheffield United
Aston Villa 1-2 Leicester City
Brighton 0-1 Wolves
West Ham 2-2 Arsenal