Liverpool’s Premier League title credentials face a stiff test at a resurgent Tottenham on Saturday as the Reds aim to keep pace with relentless leaders Manchester City. Defending champions City have taken maximum points from their opening six games and can set a new club record should they extend that streak to seven at struggling Wolves. Liverpool lead the chasing pack, two points back, with Brighton, Tottenham, Arsenal and Aston Villa all within six points of the top. AFP Sport looks at three talking points ahead of the Premier League action this weekend.
Szoboszlai shines for new-look Liverpool
After years of going toe-to-toe with City for major honours, Liverpool slumped to fifth last season, prompting a full midfield rebuild during the transfer window.
The investment has paid immediate dividends, with seven consecutive wins in all competitions.
Dominik Szoboszlai has been the pick of four new midfielders and scored a sensational goal in Wednesday’s 3-1 League Cup victory over Leicester.
“Since the first minute of training, it was pretty impressive,” said Jurgen Klopp of the Hungarian’s adaptation after a 60 million pounds ($73 million) move from RB Leipzig.
“A very naturally confident boy. That helps and a super-hard worker and that’s what you see.”
But Klopp’s men will need to inflict Tottenham’s first league defeat under Ange Postecoglou to keep that fine run going.
The Australian has shrugged off the loss of Harry Kane to transform the mood at the north London giants.
Spurs are just two points behind Liverpool and claimed an impressive 2-2 draw away to Arsenal last weekend.
Challenging the top four
Brighton have made light of losing star players including Alexis Mac Allister and Moises Caicedo and sit third in the table with five wins from their opening six league games, including impressive victories over Manchester United and Newcastle.
Roberto De Zerbi’s men face another side with ambitions of breaking into the top four on Saturday in Aston Villa.
Transformed since Unai Emery took charge just under a year ago, Villa have won four of their past five league games to climb to sixth.
However, both clubs face the challenge of maintaining their Premier League challenge alongside the demands of competing in Europe.
After naming much-changed sides in midweek, both Brighton and Villa crashed out of the League Cup but in the long run that could prove a bonus.
Teething troubles for promoted trio
The bottom three are the same trio that were promoted just a few months ago, exposing the growing gulf between the top two tiers of English football.
Luton, Burnley and Sheffield United all have just one point on the board so far and Sheffield United suffered their worst-ever league defeat in an 8-0 thrashing by Newcastle last weekend.
The struggles of Everton, Wolves and Bournemouth have so far prevented the promoted clubs from being cut adrift.
But Everton appear to be finding their feet after back-to-back wins in the past week at Brentford and at Villa, in the League Cup.
If the Toffees win again when Luton visit Goodison on Saturday, it would further worsen the plight of the Hatters, playing in the English top flight for the first time in 31 years.
Saturday (1400 GMT unless stated)
Aston Villa v Brighton (1130), Bournemouth v Arsenal, Everton v Luton, Manchester United v Crystal Palace, Newcastle v Burnley, West Ham v Sheffield United, Wolves v Manchester City, Tottenham v Liverpool (1630)
Nottingham Forest v Brentford (1300)
Fulham v Chelsea (1900)