Premier League

Premier League storylines to watch out for: Gameweek 9

Henry Burt
Conte, Casemiro and Rodgers are in focus
Conte, Casemiro and Rodgers are in focus / Eddie Keogh/Getty Images, Visionhaus/Getty Images, Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images
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The Premier League is back and would you believe it, we're actually getting a full round of fixtures this weekend.

Some sides haven't played a league match for the better part of a month due to fixture postponements and the international break, and it will be interesting to see which teams are able to get back up to speed the quickest.

We've picked out an intriguing storyline to follow from each game this weekend as we eagerly await the arrival of gameweek 9.


1. Schrodinger's Spurs continue to confound

Tottenham Hotspur v Leicester City - Premier League
Harry Kane and Son Heung-min will need to be at their best against Arsenal. / Sebastian Frej/MB Media/GettyImages

Like the footballing equivalent to #TheDress, nobody can really figure out what this Spurs team is supposed to be. They look bad, yet they're unbeaten in the league. They look defensive, yet they've scored 18 goals in 7 games.

With the north London derby looming this weekend, Antonio Conte's side will need to be at their very best to keep their unbeaten record intact. Arsenal have come flying out of the traps this season and look like contenders for the first time in years, leaving Spurs absolutely no room for errors on Saturday.


2. All eyes on De Zerbi as post-Potter era begins at Brighton

Moises Caicedo, Leandro Trossard
Can De Zerbi pick up where Graham Potter left off at Brighton? / Bryn Lennon/GettyImages

Brighton have gone about replacing Graham Potter in the most Brighton way possible, eschewing bigger names to land the signature of former Sassuolo and Shakhtar Donetsk boss Roberto De Zerbi.

The Seagulls no doubt expect big things from the Italian, but they may need to be patient before he starts delivering results; they face Liverpool at Anfield this weekend, representing a real baptism of fire for the new gaffer. No pressure, Rob.


3. Can Drawcastle United beat high-flying Fulham?

Alexander Isak
Newcastle need Alexander Isak to start turning draws into wins / James Gill - Danehouse/GettyImages

If you went back in time to one year ago and told a Newcastle fan they'd be mid-table in 12 months' time, they'd probably think you were referring to the Championship. Today, those same fans could be forgiven for feeling a little underwhelmed by 10th place in the league - especially as they haven't won since the opening day of the season.

Up next for Eddie Howe's side are a resurgent Fulham who find themselves in 6th place going into this fixture. Can Newcastle start turning draws into wins and climbing the table? Or can Marco Silva's side claim another scalp in their fairytale start to the campaign?


4. New-look Everton aim to continue unbeaten run

Conor Coady, James Tarkowski
Conor Coady and James Tarkowski have formed a solid defensive partnership at Everton / Visionhaus/GettyImages

Everton are unbeaten in their last five league matches, something we haven't had to write for a while. After picking up their first win of the campaign against West Ham, Frank Lampard's side will be keen to deliver another solid display when they travel to Southampton on Saturday.

The Saints have looked impressive at times this season but still remain frustratingly inconsistent. Having lost three of their last five games, the Toffees will be confident they can keep their impressive run going against Ralph Hassenhuttl's side.


5. Potter looks to cast his spell on Chelsea

Graham Potter, Jorginho - Soccer Midfielder - Born 1991
Chelsea hope Potter can help them climb the table after a disappointing start / Visionhaus/GettyImages

As a manager, joining a new club mid-season is never easy. Of course, it helps if the stars align to give you a month on the training ground before playing your first Premier League match.

England has had two monarchs and two Prime Ministers since Chelsea last played a league game, giving Graham Potter ample time to work with his new players and devise a strategy to turn their season around. They travel to Selhurst Park to play a Crystal Palace side suffering its own growing pains right now. Can either side come away victorious?


6. Toney looks to show Southgate what he's missing

Ivan Toney
Toney has five goals for Brentford so far this campaign / Marc Atkins/GettyImages

The last international break before a World Cup is an opportunity for managers to experiment, potentially unearthing a hidden gem worthy of inclusion in their squad. Or, if you're Gareth Southgate, it's an opportunity to make Harry Kane play 180 minutes on paper ankles.

Ivan Toney had been expected to make his England debut over the break, but the Brentford striker must now work hard to keep impressing and show Southgate why he should be on the plane to Qatar. The Bees face Bournemouth this weekend, and Toney must be licking his lips at the prospect of facing one of the league's leakiest defences.


7. Can anyone win the goal drought derby?

Michail Antonio
West Ham need striker Michail Antonio to start showing some end product / Visionhaus/GettyImages

Sky Sports have reserved the 17:30 kick-off this Saturday for the highly-anticipated meeting of West Ham and Wolves - two sides who have scored three league goals apiece so far this season and currently sit 18th and 17th respectively.

With both sides expected to challenge for Europe going into the season, managers David Moyes and Bruno Lage will each be praying that their side finds the end product that has eluded them thus far and grabs a crucial win.


8. Casemiro's time to shine?

Casemiro
Casemiro's defensive acumen could be key against Man City / Michael Regan/GettyImages

Casemiro has been eased into life at Manchester United, with manager Erik ten Hag reluctant to break up the surprisingly successful pivot of Scott McTominay and Christian Eriksen. With the Manchester derby up next, it could be the Brazilian's time to shine.

United can expect to spend a lot of Sunday's game without the ball, setting the stage perfectly for a Champions League-winning midfielder to sit in front of the back four and mop up danger. Could Casemiro make the difference?


9. Can Leeds see off injury-stricken Villa?

Ivan Toney, Luis Sinisterra
Leeds were decidedly second-best against Brentford / Tom Dulat/GettyImages

After a bright start to the campaign, Jesse Marsch's new-look Leeds United go into the weekend's fixtures with just one win in their last five matches. However, the Whites will be licking their lips at the prospect of facing a heavily depleted Aston Villa on Sunday.

Steven Gerrard's side will be without Matty Cash, Lucas Digne and Boubacar Kamara for their trip to Elland Road, while centre-back Diego Carlos remains absent. Villa are unbeaten in their last two games, but will need their whole squad to be on top of their game for this one.


10. Brendan Rodgers' last chance (again)?

Brendan Rodgers
Brendan Rodgers' Leicester City future is dangling by a thread / Ryan Pierse/GettyImages

Few people expected Brendan Rodgers to survive the international break after a 6-2 drubbing by Spurs in Leicester's last game. Though the Foxes boss came out of that defeat unscathed, another defeat against Nottingham Forest would surely be the end for the 49-year-old.

Forest boss Steve Cooper is also under pressure, with his side sitting in 19th after four defeats in their last five games. Can either of these two sides pull themselves out of the doldrums with a win and a solid performance on Monday?


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