It’s only the third round of the Premier League season, but the new campaign has already delivered some huge storylines – and that’s only set to continue this weekend.
Liverpool travel to Manchester United in the biggest game of the season yet, and one that could have huge consequences for both teams’ campaigns.
But there is no shortage of other blockbusters in the parks!
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LEEDS BOSS ‘DISAPPOINTED’ AS TUCHEL’S BAN IS SUSPENDED
Leeds United boss Jesse Marsch has said he would be ‘disappointed’ if Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel was on the sidelines for the game between the two sides despite the latter being sent off in the clash of the Blues against Tottenham.
Tuchel and Spurs boss Antonio Conte were both given their marching orders after the match as a post-match handshake exploded into a heated clash between the two.
The German was handed a A$60,000 fine and a one-match ban while Conte was hit with a $25,000 fine but wouldn’t have to step away from the dugout.
However, Tuchel’s ban has been suspended meaning he is free to take the touchline at Elland Road on Sunday night (AEST).
It’s a move that wouldn’t have gone down well with Marsch, as the American said Tuchel avoiding the penalty for his red card ‘didn’t feel right’.
“He won’t be here, will he?” Marsch said.
“Are they saying he could be on the bench? That doesn’t seem right, does it?
“If you get a red card, you’re out of the game. I would be disappointed if they allowed him to be on the bench.
“There is a simple rule in football. Whether it’s soccer or football, if you get a red card, you can’t play the next game.
UTD ON RED ALERT AHEAD OF CRUCIAL TEST
The start of the season has been completely chaotic for Manchester United. A mishmash transfer window; Cristiano Ronaldo’s transfer request; protests against owners and possible sale: Erik ten Hag walked into Old Trafford to find that the Theater of Dreams is more like an anti-personnel minefield.
Down the Premier League ladder for the first time since the inaugural season in 92-93. Four straight league defeats for the first time since 1979, and seven straight away defeats for the first time since 10 in a row in 1936.
It was meant to be the honeymoon phase for the new Dutch boss – Brighton and promoted Brentford were seen as relatively easy tests to open the season. Liverpool, it was predicted, would be their real reality check.
Instead, they’re at rock bottom. Defeat to Liverpool would be three in a row at Old Trafford against their bitter rivals for the first time ever – so maybe that’s not the bottom line Again.
Things aren’t rosy for the Reds either. Winless in their first two matches, star signing Darwin Nunez was shown a red card after a brain outburst and was suspended for that clash, not to mention injuries galore.
Is it too early to say that this game could define the seasons of both teams?
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Victory could inspire United to turn things around – as they did 30 years ago under Sir Alex Ferguson to win the first Premier League title. Defeat could send them to despair in the transfer window (although ten Hag could be grateful for anything that convinces the club to bring in some much-needed reinforcements).
Assuming City continue their imperious form on Monday morning against Newcastle (1.30am AEST), Liverpool could be up to seven points clear of the leaders before they even set foot at Old Trafford the following day. The pressure will be immense.
A historic win over their fiercest rivals could finally ignite their season. Defeat could prove disastrous.
It doesn’t get any bigger than that.
PORTUGAL’S NEXT BIG THING READY TO DEBUT
Wolves could debut ‘one of the best players in the world’ when they take on Tottenham in the first game of the third round of the new season.
Matheus Nunes, 23, became Wolverhampton’s record signing after joining from Sporting Lisbon for €45m plus up to €5m in bonuses, and he has been tipped to feature immediately for Bruno’s men Lage during their visit to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday night (9.30pm AEST).
Nunes starred for Sporting in their 2020-21 Portuguese league title win – their first in 19 years – and continued their superb rise last season in a stunning Champions League run.
Manchester City ended their continental dream in the round of 16, before City boss Pep Guardiola heaped praise on Nunes, calling him “one of the best players in the world”.
Nunes was then heavily linked with a move to Liverpool, West Ham or City – but Wolves used their strong Portuguese connections to sign what will be the 23rd player from that country to line up for Wolves since 2016.
As Nunes said: “I think the club itself (convinced me to come) and I also spoke to some of my teammates because I play with them for the national team.
“The coach too, he really wanted me and I wanted to play in the Premier League. I think it’s the right next step for me and I’m very happy to be here.
Meanwhile, Wolves midfielder Morgan Gibbs-White (22) will join Nottingham Forest as the promoted side continue their spending spree.
After losing to Leeds and drawing Fulham, Wolves need to find a spark – but Spurs could prove a brutal test, having crushed Southampton and then clinched a draw at Chelsea.
SLOW STARTS IN THE MOMENT OF SLIDING DOORS
Perhaps Southampton’s dismal start came as no surprise – but who expected Leicester to start the new season so badly?
Leicester sent two goals to Brentford in a draw and then four to Arsenal. Southampton cut four at Spurs and two more in a draw with Leeds. It’s the kind of horror defensive record from both sides that should make you sit up and take notice (and only Man Utd have also conceded six so far).
Could the Foxes even join the Saints in a relegation battle this season? Despite coach Brendan Rodgers’ desperate pleas for reinforcements, the team has only signed one player so far: third-choice keeper Alex Smithies.
What’s even more intriguing is that the two teams, after this weekend, will next face Manchester United and Chelsea in their next two league fixtures.
Leicester centre-back Wesley Fofana is one of the Blues’ top transfer targets, while Jamie Vardy has been linked with the Red Devils. After finishing eighth last season, Foxes fans would have little hope of matching this time around if they lost these two stars.
But the return of winger Harvey Barnes – a possible starter, Rodgers said – could allow the Foxes to move away from their 3-5-1-1 formation and return to Rodgers’ preferred 4-3-3 form. .
The Saints finished 15th last season and have won only once in their last 14 PL games (D3 L10). They haven’t won away in their last eight attempts since February. Romain Perraud, Tino Livramento and Theo Walcott are all out with long-term injury – big hits, all of them.
Things could very quickly turn very badly for the men of Ralph Hasenhuttl.