Liverpool can fire a warning to their Premier League rivals by avenging last season’s thrashing at Tottenham when they return to Wembley for an acid test of their title credentials.
Jurgen Klopp’s side are being hailed as contenders to win their first English title since 1990 after making a perfect start to the season.
The Reds sit on top of the table thanks to four successive victories.
But the scrappy nature of their wins over Crystal Palace and Leicester – highlighted by Mohamed Salah’s subdued displays and a howler from goalkeeper Alisson – suggest Liverpool are still not the finished article.
Against that backdrop, this weekend’s showdown with Tottenham is the perfect opportunity to make a statement in their first clash with one of the ‘big six’ this season.
Liverpool’s visit had been ear-marked as Tottenham’s first game in their rebuilt White Hart Lane stadium after over a year in exile.
But instead safety concerns that delayed the opening of the new arena mean Klopp’s side will head back to Tottenham’s temporary Wembley home for the first time since their mauling last term.
Trips to Tottenham have been landmark affairs for Klopp in his three-year reign with the Reds.
Klopp’s first game as Liverpool boss was a 0-0 draw at White Hart Lane in October 2015.
Two years later, the 4-1 defeat at Wembley last October provoked such an angry response from the German that his stunned side never looked back, embarking on a sustained spell of excellence that took them to the Champions League final.
It was a brutal defeat that exposed Liverpool’s habit of flopping on enemy territory – they won only 10 of the 30 points available against their top-six rivals last season, losing at Manchester City, Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester United.
Crucially, Klopp has overhauled his defence since that chastening afternoon at Wembley, with only one of the back five from the game – Joe Gomez – starting all four matches so far this season.
And Gomez is now playing in the centre of Liverpool’s defence, rather than on the right, with the ice-cool Virgil van Dijk providing a steadying influence alongside him.
Mourinho faces Watford test as he searches for Man Utd mojo
Jose Mourinho takes his Manchester United side to high-flying Watford on Saturday knowing they cannot afford another slip-up if they are to stay on the coattails of the Premier League pacesetters.
A 2-0 victory against struggling Burnley followed by an international break has taken the heat off the Portuguese manager as he tries to inject momentum into a stuttering start to the season.
Defeat at Watford – who have won all four of their games – would leave United nine points off the lead and their title ambitions in tatters midway through September.
Mourinho’s tasks in solving a rift with World Cup-winning midfielder Paul Pogba and his side’s defensive frailties have not gone away in the international break, even if some of his stars showed the richness of the resources at his disposal with their countries.
Romelu Lukaku continued a fine start to his season by netting three times for Belgium and Marcus Rashford scored twice for England, against Spain and Switzerland.
Rashford has struggled for time on the pitch at United this season with Mourinho able to pick from a clutch of attacking options including Lukaku, Alexis Sanchez, Anthony Martial and Juan Mata.
But the United boss will be spared the difficult decision of whether to play Rashford over the next few weeks, with the 20-year-old starting a three-game ban against Watford following a red card in the Burnley match.
Aubameyang, Lacazette double act offers hope for Arsenal
Unai Emery is set to unleash Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang at Newcastle on Saturday as the Arsenal manager looks to maintain his side’s free-scoring revival.
The Premier League season may be only a few weeks old, but Emery is beginning to get his feet under the table at the Emirates Stadium after succeeding Arsene Wenger.
The Gunners began with defeats against Manchester City and Chelsea before getting the better of West Ham and then Cardiff.
The first two fixtures saw Emery begin with Gabon star Aubameyang as his starting striker and French forward Lacazette come on in the second half, at the expense of a midfielder.
It was a similar story against West Ham in Arsenal’s third match.
Lacazette came on for Alex Iwobi at half-time but with a much more tangible result: Arsenal looked far more potent with the Frenchman on the pitch and went on to seal a 3-1 victory – Emery’s first as Gunners boss.
Both forwards started in the 3-2 win at Cardiff before the international break, forming a lively double act to grab their first goals of the season.
Lacazette’s 81st-minute strike proved decisive in Arsenal’s second victory under Emery.
So will the pair continue at St James’ Park on Saturday?
Emery, who played Lacazette as the main striker and pushed Aubameyang to the left at Cardiff, is unlikely to go fully retro with a 4-4-2 formation but gave no indication that he intended to bench one of his superstar forwards.
“I am very happy with the last two victories in the Premier League and also with the performances,” he said when asked if both might start.
“I want to push every player to be okay to help the team if for one minute, 30 minutes or half time or 90 minutes.”