Tottenham spoilt for choice as Frank Lampard seeks Chelsea balance: 10 talking points ahead of weekend action

James Robson, Dan Kilpatrick, Simon Collings, Jack Rosser
·7 min read
Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty I
Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty I

With the latest international break now firmly in the rearview mirror, this weekend offers another feast of club football in the Premier League and across the continent.

Manchester United vs Chelsea, Arsenal vs Leicester, West Ham vs Manchester City and Burnley vs Tottenham are among the standout fixtures in the English top-flight, while in Spain there is the small matter of the latest Clasico clash between fierce rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid at Camp Nou.

There is also plenty of intriguing action in the Championship, with Watford attempting to end Bournemouth's unbeaten start to the new campaign and further underline their own promotion credentials.

Here, Standard Sport's football reporters run through 10 major talking points ahead of the weekend's action...

How will Zaha respond to Hodgson criticism?

(PA)
(PA)

Having made no secret of his desire to leave Crystal Palace over the summer, Wilfried Zaha continues to face questions over his commitment to the club.

The 27-year-old started the season on fire, scoring and captaining Palace in wins over Southampton and Manchester United, but Roy Hodgson called him out for his largely peripheral display in last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Brighton.

Hodgson said Zaha “has got more to give” and, now the transfer window has closed, Palace need him back to his best when they bid to get back to winning ways against Fulham at Selhurst Park on Saturday. Jack Rosser

Mourinho spoilt for choice for Burnley trip

(Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)
(Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)

Not so long ago, Jose Mourinho complained bitterly at having no strikers, but the Tottenham manager is spoilt for choice in attack ahead of Monday's trip to struggling Burnley.

It will be tempting to hand Gareth Bale a first League start of his second spell after the Welshman completed an hour against LASK on Thursday, while Brazilians Carlos Vinicius and Lucas Moura made a case for inclusion against the Austrians.

Mourinho afterwards said Vinicius could play in tandem with Harry Kane, who was unused sub on Thursday for the first time since an FA Cup win over Rochdale in February 2018.

With Heung-min Son, Steven Bergwijn and Erik Lamela also in the mix and Spurs having scored 19 goals in their past four matches, rarely can Mourinho have had a squad so flush with in-form forwards. Dan Kilpatrick

All eyes on Vardy's fitness ahead of Arsenal clash

(Pool via REUTERS)
(Pool via REUTERS)

Jamie Vardy has a good return against most clubs in the Premier League, but Arsenal are one of his favourite opponents.

The Leicester striker is one of four players to score at least 10 top-flight goals against the Gunners, along with Wayne Rooney (12), Robbie Fowler and Harry Kane (both 10).

The 33-year-old has been struggling with a calf injury ahead of Sunday’s game at Emirates Stadium but Brendan Rodgers said he was due to train on Friday.

Leicester will be desperate for Vardy to be fit, while Arsenal will breathe a sigh of relief if he is not. Simon Collings

Fulham face a long season unless Mitrovic starts scoring

(Pool via REUTERS)
(Pool via REUTERS)

Scott Parker has said there is no “magic formula” for Fulham to climb up the table - but Aleksandar Mitrovic back in form would sure help.

Mitrovic has managed just two goals for Fulham this season, both in a 4-3 defeat to Leeds, and looks a shadow of the player who was the top scorer in the Championship last season.

The Serb had a nightmare afternoon in last weekend’s 1-1 draw at Sheffield United, missing a penalty, wasting two other good chances and then conceding a late penalty to cost the Cottagers their first win of the season.

If Fulham are to survive, you suspect they will need Mitrovic firing again. Jack Rosser

How will Everton fare without Richarlison and Rodriguez?

(POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
(POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Thanks to a fractional VAR offside decision against Sadio Mane in a highly controversial Merseyside derby last weekend, Everton sit top of the Premier League after five games.

But with Richarlison suspended after his red card against Liverpool and star man James Rodriguez potentially missing through injury, Sunday's trip to Southampton should be a good test of their credentials.

There are doubts over whether Everton can stay the course under Carlo Ancelotti, especially given Jordan Pickford has become a liability. But win without Richarlison and Rodriguez this weekend and they will be top going into November.

However, it is worth noting that Ancelotti said on Friday that Rodriguez could be fit to face the Saints after all. Jack Rosser

Koeman and Zidane under pressure ahead of El Clasico

(Pool via REUTERS)
(Pool via REUTERS)

Barcelona and Real Madrid meet at Camp Nou on Saturday with both clubs on the edge of a full-blown crisis.

Real have suffered shock back-to-back defeats against Cadiz and Shakhtar Donetsk to pile pressure on Zinedine Zidane, who admits his side are desperately short of confidence.

Barcelona beat Ferencvaros 5-1 in the Champions League to ease some of the heat on Ronald Koeman, but the Catalans are down in ninth in La Liga.

The spending capabilities of the Spanish giants has significantly reduced because of the Covid-19 pandemic - but the expectations of their fans and respective hierarchies has not. Losing manager beware. James Robson

Moyes searching for balance against City

(AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

David Moyes' biggest challenge is to strike the right balance in his team's approach against Manchester City on Saturday.

West Ham produced an historic comeback by fighting fire with fire in Sunday's 3-3 draw at Tottenham and they were also successful when going for the jugular in the wins over West Ham and Wolves.

But overcommit against Pep Guardiola's side and they will surely be picked off. Key to striking that balance will be midfield duo Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek, who are growing as a pair with every match and increasingly look capable of making an impact against even the best opponents.

If Rice and Soucek can take control of the game against the might of City's midfield, West Ham have a chance of avoiding a 10th straight defeat to their opponents. Dan Kilpatrick

Liverpool learning what life is like without Van Dijk

(AP)
(AP)

When the news broke that Virgil van Dijk could miss the rest of this season with a knee injury, it sent shockwaves across Merseyside.

Van Dijk has been a rock at the back ever since he joined Liverpool, but now Jurgen Klopp’s side have to get used to life without him.

They just about coped in Europe against Ajax in midweek and Saturday’s home game against Sheffield United should be another chance for them to build confidence.

In Van Dijk’s absence, Joe Gomez is going to have to step up, but he should receive support from Fabinho and fellow centre-back Joel Matip. Simon Collings

Lampard needs to strike the right balance

(Pool via REUTERS)
(Pool via REUTERS)

A rare clean sheet in Tuesday’s goalless draw with Sevilla was welcomed by Frank Lampard given Chelsea’s defensive meltdown against Southampton last weekend.

But where Chelsea tightened up at the back, the thrilling forward play we have seen this season had to make way in a mature Champions League display. The question now is how soon Lampard can find the right balance.

His new-look side is learning to play a new system and, when concentrating on keeping the opposition out, they lose too much as an attacking prospect. Against Sevilla they created little apart from some quick breakaways and the odd set-piece. James Robson

Watford out to end Bournemouth’s unbeaten start

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Bournemouth are one of only two Championship teams who remain unbeaten this season. But standing in their way next is a Watford side who have made a decent start themselves under new head coach Vladimir Ivic.

The Hornets have made their best ever start to a Championship season in the Pozzo era, conceding just two goals in six games to sit third in the table.

Bournemouth are one place below them in fourth and the two relegated clubs look set to be in the automatic promotion mix come the end of the season. Simon Collings

This weekend get a £10 free bet with Betfair, when you bet £10 on a Same Game Multi on the Premier League.

Terms: Min £10 Same Game Multi bet on any EPL match this Fri - Sun. Free bet valid for 72 hours, awarded at bet settlement. Excludes cashed out bets. T&Cs apply.