Everything you need to know about this weekend's Premier League action, all in one place.
The weekend's big questions
Will Frank Lampard further prove his chops by beating Pep Guardiola?
Even the people who thought Lampard would do well at Chelsea this season must be surprised at just how well he's doing. Lampard has galvanised a set of young players, freed Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic, handled the one new arrival Christian Pulisic perfectly, and as a result goes into this Saturday's game against Manchester City a point ahead of Guardiola's team in the Premier League table.
Even so, you would expect City to eventually overhaul them, but what if Chelsea win this weekend? It's perfectly possible given their form and the disappearance of City's aura after their three defeats so far this term. Lampard will presumably say that the three points are the important thing and any personal glory is secondary, but if he manages to outmanoeuvre Guardiola it will be another sign that he is the real thing as a manager.
Will Jose Mourinho have an instant impact?
With Mourinho, the concern isn't the short-term. The short-term is usually pretty good. He has either equalled or bettered a new club's previous league finish in the first full season of every job he has taken since Porto. It's the long-term that's the problem, and in his last few positions the earth has been firmly scorched after his departure.
Tottenham should worry about the long-term. For now their priority is to rescue this train wreck of a season, starting at West Ham on Saturday, ideal opponents given that Manuel Pellegrini's side last won a game in the middle of September. The question is whether Mourinho will have been able to inject new life into a tired squad after working with them for only three days. Spurs need rapid impact, but will it be instant?
How much will Jurgen Klopp rotate against Crystal Palace?
After the break, the madness begins for Liverpool. Saturday's trip to Crystal Palace marks the start of a ludicrous run in which they will play 15 games in 49 days, the sort of stretch that could scupper even the most commanding position in any title race. It's the reason why caution must be applied to any notion that Liverpool have the Premier League title in the bag already.
Klopp will presumably be satisfied if Liverpool reach Jan. 11 alive, but to do that he will have to employ some pretty hefty rotation to his side, so his team selections over the next six weeks will be fascinating, starting with this game. When he gives his full-backs a breather will be particularly interesting: Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson are essentially Liverpool's biggest attacking threats but don't really have any specialist senior back-up, so Klopp will have to do all he can to ensure they don't become exhausted or just get injured. You suspect James Milner will be getting plenty of action down either flank in the coming weeks.
Man to watch
It's a fun game to run through the Tottenham squad and try to predict who will flourish and who might be worried at the arrival of Mourinho. Harry Winks doesn't quite fit the profile of a Mourinho defensive midfielder, and Davinson Sanchez probably can't count on a regular spot given how Mourinho targeted him as Ajax's main weakness in the 2017 Europa League final.
But the new man could be good news for Christian Eriksen. The Dane's desire to leave the club essentially became Pochettino's primary excuse for their ropey start to the season. The relationship between the two was pretty bad, but could a new manager mean a new start for Eriksen?
The game you're not planning to watch but should
Arsenal vs. Southampton
Frankly, there are better ways to spend your Saturday, because this should probably be renamed "The Infinite Sadness Derby," but it's a game that could be grimly intriguing. These are two teams who have gathered a grand total of three points from the last available 24, and who would have been well-advised to spend the international break lying in a cool room with a damp towel on their foreheads. Both Unai Emery and Ralph Hasenhuttl could easily have been sacked already, but their respective positions could be in genuine danger if this one goes badly for either.
Stats of the weekend
Information courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information group.
- Manchester City have lost back-to-back games only twice in the Premier League under Guardiola, most recently to Crystal Palace and Leicester City in December 2018. Chelsea will look to do it to Guardiola again with City coming off a 3-1 loss to Liverpool before the international break.
- Mourinho won his first Premier League game in each of his three stints in England's top flight (two with Chelsea, one with Manchester United) and has 11 wins in all competitions against Saturday's opponent West Ham -- tied for his third most against any club.
- Liverpool's Sadio Mane is looking to become the third player in club history to score in five consecutive Premier League matches against a single opponent, after Michael Owen vs. Newcastle United and Luis Suárez against Norwich City
Kieran Darcy has some tips for the weekend action.
Must-have player: Sergio Aguero, Tier 1 forward
Worth considering: John McGinn, Tier 2 midfielder
McGinn has taken more shots than any other midfielder in the league, scored three goals for Scotland during the international break, and will be at home against Newcastle.
Avoid at all costs: Roberto Firmino, Tier 1 forward
Firmino hasn't scored a goal in the Premier League or Champions League since Liverpool's win at Chelsea on Sept. 22.
The team that needs a bit of luck
Bad luck comes in many different forms, and for Aston Villa before the international break it was the fixture list. They had to face Manchester City, Liverpool then the derby against Wolves: two games they could never be expected to win and one where anything could happen. They lost all three, ruining any momentum they might've gained from victories in their two previous games, so they might think they deserve a little fortune when they face Newcastle this weekend.
One thing that will definitely happen
Nobody will be surprised if Manchester United lose
There was a time when Manchester United losing a game would be a notable event, particularly to a newly-promoted team. But those days are long gone, and while it might be a bit of a stretch to say Sheffield United are favourites when the two sides meet at Bramall Lane on Sunday, it would barely even register as a mild surprise, never mind a shock, if Chris Wilder's side prevails.
The Blades are fifth in the table, the only game they've lost since the middle of September was due to Liverpool's lucky goal a few weeks ago and they simply look like a terrifically assured outfit. The same can't, to say the least, be said of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men.
West Ham 1-3 Tottenham Hotspur
Watford 1-1 Burnley
Arsenal 1-0 Southampton
Bournemouth 2-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Brighton 1-3 Leicester City
Crystal Palace 0-3 Liverpool
Everton 3-1 Norwich City
Manchester City 2-2 Chelsea
Sheffield United 2-1 Manchester United