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Other SportsFive talking points as the Premier League returns this weekend

Five talking points as the Premier League returns this weekend

The Premier League returns this weekend following the final international break of 2023. There are some mouthwatering games – most notably Manchester City v Liverpool and Everton v Manchester United – to look forward to.

Away from the matches that see Manchester and Merseyside go head to head, there are some other compelling storylines to ponder ahead of matchday 13 in the Premier League.

Here are five…

Goal-shy Burnley need someone to shine

Burnley blazed a trail through the Championship last season, scoring 87 goals on their way to winning the title with 101 points.

It’s been a very different tale this season, however, with Vincent Kompany’s expansive football providing more chances for the opposition than his own team.

The Clarets have managed just nine goals so far and sit rooted to the foot of the Premier League table with four points and seemingly destined for a swift return to the second tier.

Everton’s 10-point penalty has seen the Merseysiders dragged into the mire, but Burnley cannot rely on others if they wish to get out of trouble.

Their cause is not helped by leading scorer Lyle Foster taking an indefinite break from the game to receive treatment for mental health issues. The South African has three league goals this season but, without him, Burnley need someone else to step up, starting this weekend against West Ham.

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Wolves wary of not-so-deadly duo

Burnley’s attacking woes have been replicated by Fulham. Marco Silva’s men have managed just 10 league goals this season, a record that means they are struggling to repeat last term’s enterprising football.

Two of their under-performers will need no introduction to the Wolves followers at Craven Cottage. Raul Jimenez and Adama Traore both starred for the Black Country club before making the move to the banks of the Thames. Jimenez was never prolific at Molineux although a record of 40 goals in 135 games in all competitions is not too shabby. He would certainly relish that sort of return at the minute given he has just one goal to his name this season.

If Jimenez is struggling, Traore is faring even worse. The one-time Barcelona winger has accumulated just 40 minutes of league action in four appearances off the bench.

Wolves under Gary O’Neill have shown plenty of resilience this season and their former duo ought not to cause any sleepless nights but reunions can throw up some unpleasant surprises…

Chance for Spurs to show top-four credentials

The post-Harry Kane era started off with a bang at Tottenham with some fans even talking of a title tilt under the impressive Ange Postecoglou.

A 10-game unbeaten start came crashing down against Chelsea but the chaotic nature of that 4-1 home defeat – the two red cards, the numerous VAR reviews and Chelsea’s late goal burst – meant Spurs were cut some slack. The careless 2-1 defeat at Wolves, with the home side scoring twice in injury time, felt altogether a lot more ‘Spursey’.

Postecoglou would not have picked an upwardly mobile Aston Villa as their next opponents but it gives them the perfect chance to get back on track and, while Tottenham are not (and never were) title contenders, a Champions League finish is a realistic target. Beating Villa will show they mean business.

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Ramsdale to return – for now

Much has been said and written about Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta’s decision to drop Aaron Ramsdale for David Raya. And just when you think it’s calmed down, Ramsdale’s dad goes on a podcast and it all starts again!

Ramsdale will be in goal – his first Premier League start since September 3 – when Arsenal visit Brentford on Saturday with Raya prevented from playing against his parent club. The former Bournemouth and Sheffield United man will get the chance he craves to impress and give Arteta a selection headache.

Providing he plays well, all eyes will be on the Gunners boss when Lens visit the Emirates in the Champions League on Wednesday night.

Brighton hoping to emerge from the forest in Nottingham

Rewind two months and Brighton had just beaten Bournemouth 3-1 to register third Premier League win on the trot following impressive victories against Newcastle and Manchester United, Roberto De Zerbi was being talked about as the next Real Madrid boss and everything in the Seagulls’ garden was rosy.

Since that point, De Zerbi’s men have continued to excel in Europe with back-to-back Europa League wins over Ajax, but their league form has nosedived.

A 6-1 pasting at Aston Villa started the trend and was followed by home draws against Liverpool, Fulham and Sheffield United, a defeat at Manchester City and another draw at Everton.

It’s most certainly not a crisis but Brighton will look at Saturday’s trip to Nottingham Forest as a chance to get back on track.

Jon Fisher
Jon Fisher
Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.
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