By Ssekamatte Allan Mabiriizi Simonsen
How to best utilise their entire squads without losing a competitive edge through rotation will be the modus operandi for half a dozen managers when the fourth round of the Premier League gets underway this weekend.
Leaders Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer bungled his lines while trying to make use of all five substitutions during Tuesday’s Champions League rubber at Young Boys of Berne. No excuses will be tolerated when the record champions defend their precarious lead at West Ham on Sunday.
The Red Devils go into the game at the London Olympic Stadium keenly aware of the good work undertaken by former manager David Moyes, who has followed up last season’s sixth place finish with an unbeaten start to this campaign. With Hammers top scorer Michail Antonio missing through suspension, cameras are to be zoomed squarely on returning United legend Cristiano Ronaldo, who maintained his blistering reincarnation with the goal in Tuesday’s 1-2 reverse.
The visitors have the advantage of two extra days of recuperation as West Ham played at Dynamo Zagreb on Thursday.
European champions Chelsea supremo Thomas Tuchel will have one eye on Wednesday’s Carabao Cup fixture against Aston Villa when he names his line up to face Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday. Nuno Espirito Santos’ brilliant start to his Spurs career saw him win three EPL games on the trot, but he faces an injury crisis early in his North London career. Eric Dier, Son Heuing Min, Lucas Moura and Steve Bergwijn are all injury doubts whereas Japhet Tanganga misses thanks to the red card he picked up in the team’s 0-3 loss to Crystal Palace.
Santo’s work has been further complicated by the absence of South American trio Giovanni Lo Celso, Davinson Sanchez and Cristian Romero; all of who are isolating in Croatia after featuring for their nations in World Cup qualifiers for red-listed countries. In their absence, young Welshman Joe Rondon will be handed the onerous task of stopping Chelsea’s red-hot, a goal a game, £97m front man Romelu Lukaku, who underlined his fine fettle by grabbing the winner against Zenit St Petersburg.
Depending on results elsewhere, champions Manchester City can take sole possession of table leadership when they welcome Ralph Hasenhuttl’s unpredictable Saints to Etihad Stadium. Pep Guardiola’s trailblazers showcased their strength in depth with six different scorers in dismantling German upstarts RB Leipzig 6-3.
Southampton will particularly be. wary of returning creative pair Kevin de Bruyne and Phil Foden. 2020 titlists Liverpool will meanwhile try to eradicate the lapses in concentration that saw them trail 1-2 to AC Milan, before second half goals from Mohammed Salah and Jordan Henderson got them out of jail.
Newcastle Utd v Leeds United
Liverpool v Crystal Palace,
Manchester City v Southampton, Norwich City v Watford,
Aston Villa v Everton
Wolves v Brentford
Burnley v Arsenal
Brighton Hove v Leicester City,
West Ham v Man United,
Spurs v Chelsea