London, Oct 15 (IANS) The Premier League is back in action this weekend with a familiar face coming back to the competition in the Watford dugout, while Steve Bruce faces what could be his swansong at Newcastle.
Claudio Ranieri makes his return to the Premier League when Watford entertain Liverpool in the first game of the weekend. The veteran Italian, who famously led Leicester City to the title in 2016, replaces Xisco Munoz, who was sacked just seven games into this season after leading Watford to promotion, and could hardly have been handed a tougher debut.
Liverpool are second in the table after their thrilling draw against Manchester City a fortnight ago and Ranieri will have to rely on creating the team spirit that worked so well for him in the past in order to get off to a winning start.
Although the Newcastle United fans are clearly delighted at the club’s Saudi takeover and the big-money investment it promises, it’s less easy to gauge the feelings in the club’s dressing room, reports Xinhua.
Steve Bruce now looks likely to remain in the dugout for Sunday’s game at home to Tottenham after he had been expected to be sacked during the week, but this looks as if it will be his last game in charge.
Meanwhile, the Newcastle players must also be nervous about their futures at the club given the promise of a host of new signings in January and next summer, and despite the euphoria in the stands, those doubts are not helpful as they look for their first win of the season.
Burnley are also looking for their first three-point haul of the campaign, but they will struggle to find it on their visit to Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium. Expect Burnley to sit deep and hope to take advantage of Man City’s lack of a specialist striker, which could be even more noticeable after it was revealed that Spain international Ferran Torres will be out for a month with a broken bone in his foot.
Manchester United are without central defenders Harry Maguire and Raphael Varane for their visit to Leicester City, although Marcus Rashford could be able to play some part in a game where coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs both a win and a good performance to ease the pressure after recent disappointing displays.
Aston Villa and Wolves can be expected to produce a feisty Midlands derby on Saturday afternoon, while Norwich continue to look for their first win when they entertain a Brighton side that could theoretically go top if they win and results elsewhere favour them.
Southampton are another team without a win in their first seven games and they face Leeds United, who got their first victory two weeks ago. Leeds are without the injured Patrick Bamford, while Raphinha is unlikely to play after a late return from international duty with Brazil.
Saturday’s last game is a fascinating southwest London derby between Brentford and league leaders Chelsea in the first league meeting between the two teams since 1947.
Brentford have only lost one game so far in their debut Premier League season and look fearless, while Chelsea will be boosted by N’Golo Kante’s return to the side and the improved form of Timo Werner in attack.
Everton are enjoying life under Rafa Benitez and although they will be without Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin for the visit of West Ham, the likes of Anthony Gordon, Andros Townsend and Demarai Gray will ask questions of the visitors’ defense in what promises to be a balanced game.
On Monday, Arsenal aim to stretch their unbeaten run to five games when they entertain Crystal Palace, who are coached by Gunners legend Patrick Vieira.