1) Video games that ought to have been held final week
The Premier League mustn’t have postponed final weekend’s fixtures. If persons are working, it’s incorrect to confiscate their recreation, and that’s earlier than we contemplate followers who’d taken break day or paid for transport as a way to watch their group. Furthermore, there are households counting on football-related revenue to pay payments and eat meals who had their proper to earn eliminated with out warning, whereas cricket, rugby union and – amongst others – polo had the self-confidence to proceed. Soccer is named the folks’s sport as a result of it was began for the folks by the folks – individuals who sought a little bit of weekend enjoyable to flee the drudgery of normal life and overlook their place within the order of issues, only for a couple of hours. The fits who’ve expropriated it since would do nicely to keep in mind that. Daniel Harris
2) Will Forest bounce again from embarrassment?
Having allowed Bournemouth to return from two targets behind to beat them, Nottingham Forest face one other fellow newcomer in Fulham as they try to halt a run of three consecutive defeats, the newest of which was greeted by uncommon however audible sound of booing from the Metropolis Floor stands. Regardless of taking part in with out an out-and-out striker, Forest scored twice within the first half in opposition to Bournemouth however proved totally unable to deal with Gary O’Neil’s half-time swap to a again three, when he changed left-back Jordan Zemura with the extra attack-minded wing-back Ryan Fredericks. Having had an additional week on the coaching floor to place issues proper and get a greater concept of what constitutes his finest XI, Steve Cooper might be anticipating a response from his group in what must be an entertaining sport between two attacking groups. With three of their following 4 video games away from dwelling, current proof suggests a failure to get one might be a supply of fear for all involved heading into the worldwide break. Barry Glendenning
3) A potential Villa keeper conundrum
5 years in the past Filip Marschall hadn’t even worn a pair of goalkeeping gloves however, if accidents don’t abate as Steven Gerrard anticipates by the point Southampton go to Villa Park on Friday, then the 19-year-old may begin between the sticks. Marschall joined Villa in 2018 from Cambridge Metropolis, for whom he performed as a defender till the age of 13. Emi Martínez missed coaching on Thursday owing to sickness and Robin Olsen due to a knee drawback, whereas Jed Steer is a long-term absentee with an achilles damage. Gerrard hopes Martínez might be slot in time. Marschall was a part of Gerrard’s squad on Villa’s pre-season journey to Australia and lately signed a brand new long-term contract, however the teenager who was on mortgage within the sixth tier with Gateshead City final season may end the weekend with a Premier League debut to his title. “He’s ready to be prepared,” Gerrard mentioned. Ben Fisher
4) Costa to be let off Wolves’ leash?
The bar has been set. Wolves introduced the signing of Diego Costa till the top of the season with an excellent video of the chiselled striker conserving three snarling wolves, James, Alice and Grey, shackled and now Bruno Lage should ponder whether or not to let the 33-year-old off the leash. That clip has gone viral and Costa might be hoping to hit the bottom working on his return to England, his final look coming for Chelsea within the 2017 FA Cup remaining defeat by Arsenal. Costa is working to a tailor-made coaching programme and mentioned he required “two or three weeks to get in form”, however Lage should be tempted to throw him in in opposition to Manchester Metropolis. “If I had ever doubted my potential, I wouldn’t have accepted this problem,” Costa mentioned this week. “I can carry one thing to the desk.” BF
5) The very best of requirements for Metropolis
Selecting holes in Manchester Metropolis and discovering fault with Pep Guardiola is a silly factor to do, given the previous have gained three of the final 4 league titles and the latter is an all-time nice supervisor if he retires tomorrow or by no means claims one other trophy. However the feeling persists that Metropolis may and must be even higher than they’re, not simply in defence – a weak level in all Guardiola groups – however in assault. It could be that Leroy Sané and Raheem Sterling needed to be let go, however the reality stays that with out them, Metropolis lack stability and pace. In fact, they’re sensible at compensating, whether or not by way of the rhythm of their passing or means to conjure a aim out of nothing, however any group prepared to remain slim and defend with self-discipline and aggression has an opportunity at irritating them – particularly if, like Wolves, in addition they have tempo on the counter. DHa
6) Howe urges Newcastle gamers to goal larger
It took Newcastle till 30 November final yr to succeed in the seven-point mark. After solely six video games they’ve arrived there this season, however have solely gained as soon as – in opposition to Nottingham Forest at St James’ Park – and Eddie Howe will not be overjoyed. “I’m not pleased, I need extra factors,” mentioned Newcastle’s supervisor earlier than giving his squad an apparently stern speaking to about the necessity to obtain and keep constantly excessive requirements. Regardless of the doubtless, injury-enforced, absence of two key inventive gamers in Allan Saint-Maximin and Bruno Guimarães, he might be notably eager to beat Bournemouth at dwelling on Saturday. Admiration for Howe on Tyneside at the moment is aware of few bounds, however the supervisor is conscious that Newcastle’s Saudi Arabian homeowners have spent greater than £200m on new gamers in lower than a yr and can really feel entitled to see that funding translated into wins. Small marvel Howe is doing all the pieces in his energy to make sure his facet don’t stumble in opposition to the group he led to a few promotions in six years, however who’re nonetheless with out a everlasting supervisor. Louise Taylor
7) Bees to check Arsenal sturdiness
Brentford Group Stadium will summon tough reminiscences for Arsenal, who suffered a chastening defeat there on the opening evening of final season, even when it got here with Covid-related caveats. Mikel Arteta’s facet are a unique proposition now however the Bees really feel extra snug as a longtime top-flight unit, too, so the margins on Sunday lunchtime are more likely to be high quality. It is going to be a take a look at for Arsenal’s means to bounce again after the marginally harsh 3-1 defeat at Previous Trafford a fortnight beforehand, which ended their profitable begin however didn’t have an effect on their standing as league leaders. Victory this time would guarantee they end this weekend high of the pile and that may be helpful given any pretensions at a title bid might be examined completely within the subsequent dwelling conferences with Spurs and Liverpool. Arsenal are about to see their sturdiness scrutinised and would really feel nicely set in the event that they depart west London with three factors. Nick Ames
8) Conte wants larger stability from Bissouma
Antonio Conte intends to rotate his personnel for the go to of Leicester – after the mentally and bodily draining Champions League defeat at Sporting on Tuesday – but it surely doesn’t sound as if he is able to name upon Yves Bissouma. It felt like a coup when Spurs took Bissouma from Brighton for £25m over the summer season; right here was a participant that would add a brand new dimension in midfield, working with the ball, breaking the traces and creating probabilities. However it’s not easy to play in the course of Conte’s 3-4-3 formation and the decision to date on Bissouma, to cite the supervisor, is that he’s “struggling a bit with the tactical side. With the ball he’s actually good; defensively he has to pay extra consideration.” It goes an extended solution to clarify why Bissouma has began solely as soon as and totalled 121 minutes in all competitions. He wants time to adapt. David Hytner
9) Time working out for Rodgers?
Brendan Rodgers is a wonderful coach – in the event you’re undecided, simply ask him – but it surely could be that he’s working out of street at Leicester, who sit backside of the desk with one level from six video games, and journey to unbeaten, third-placed Tottenham this weekend. The malaise will not be all his fault, as his board gave him little scope to strengthen this summer season, citing FFP rules and floor enhancements as the explanation. However it’s laborious to to not marvel if the pandemic was additionally influential, diminished journey which means diminished duty-free revenue for the King Energy group – a line the membership would by no means communicate in public, as a result of who’s going to excuse a parsimonious billionaire throughout a value of dwelling disaster? Rodgers, although, should additionally justify any funds allowed to him, which is to say it’s time for him to coax or pressure tunes out of Patson Daka and Boubakary Soumaré, gamers purchased amid fanfare final summer season however who’ve contributed little since. DHa
10) The significance of Calvert-Lewin
Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s standing as Harry Kane’s understudy seemed safe within the England hierarchy 14 months in the past when he changed the captain within the Euro 2020 quarter-final win over Ukraine. He has not performed for the nation since, and this week noticed Brentford’s in-form Ivan Toney named in Gareth Southgate’s squad for England’s remaining internationals earlier than the World Cup. Qatar now seems a distant hope for the 25-year-old, who has been restricted to simply 18 appearances for Everton since profitable his final cap because of toe, thigh and knee accidents. Frank Lampard has been determined for Calvert-Lewin’s presence all season and, regardless of signing Neal Maupay, claimed the centre-forward’s return diminished the necessity to add one other striker within the switch window. Targets stay a significant issue for a group with out a Premier League win this season however, having resumed coaching in the course of the enforced break, Calvert-Lewin ought to quickly have alternative to repay his supervisor’s religion and maybe ship a late message to Southgate. Andy Hunter