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Dublin: 16 °C Sunday 27 May, 2018

Want-away Sanchez back for Liverpool showdown and the Premier League talking points

An impressive-looking Everton travel to Stamford Bridge, while Manchester United and Huddersfield look to keep up their 100% records.

Sanchez could return for for the Gunners.
Sanchez could return for for the Gunners.
Image: Nick Potts

1. Alexis could provide timely boost

MANY EXPECTED ALEXIS Sanchez to be one of the first players out the door at Arsenal this summer. The Chilean didn’t look at all happy during the second half of last season and, with just one year remaining on his contract, it was thought that the Gunners would cut their losses by cashing in.

However, Arsene Wenger has since insisted that the club will not be selling their biggest asset at any price and, less than a week out from deadline day, he’s still an Arsenal player. Sanchez has missed the first two Premier League matches of the new campaign — the reason given was an abdominal pain — but he is available for Sunday’s trip to Anfield.

The North Londoners could do with a boost after losing out to Stoke last Saturday, while the Reds, who qualified for the Champions League in midweek, are still unbeaten with four points from their opening two league fixtures.

2. Toffees should test the champions

Having sold their prized asset Romelu Lukaku to Manchester United in July, Everton went about putting that money to use by bringing in a string of new signings. Gylfi Sigurdsson (£45m), Jordan Pickford (£25 million), Davy Klaassen (£23.6m), Michael Keane (£30m) and Sandro Ramirez (£5.2m) have all arrived, while prodigal son Wayne Rooney returned 13 years after departing the club.

And the signs have been promising so far. The win over Stoke was followed up by a respectable draw against Manchester City — with Rooney on target in both games — and the Toffees clinched qualification for the Europa League by seeing off Hajduk Split on Thursday.

Ronald Koeman takes his side to Stamford Bridge on Sunday, where the current champions await. Chelsea bounced back from defeat to Burnley by overcoming city rivals Tottenham at Wembley last time out and they will again by without their suspended captain Gary Cahill.

3. Can United continue their fine start?

Back-to-back 4-0 wins have Manchester United fans dreaming of their glory days, and although they’ve undoubtedly enjoyed an encouraging start, it’s important to remember that the victories came against West Ham and Swansea, who have amassed one point between them.

Jose Mourinho does have an embarrassment of talent at his disposal and yesterday’s news that Zlatan Ibrahimovic has returned only adds to the options. There also appears to be more balance to the team now with the addition of Nemanja Matic in that holding midfield role seemingly giving the attacking players more freedom.

United don’t play a club who finished in last season’s top six until their clash with Liverpool on 14 October, so Mourinho will surely be hoping to put away those lesser teams over the coming weeks –something they struggled to do during his first campaign in charge — starting with Leicester City at Old Trafford on Saturday evening.

4. Huddersfield the surprise package so far

Alongside Man United and West Brom as one of three clubs with their 100% record still intact sit newly-promoted Huddersfield Town.

Having earned a place in the Premier League via the play-offs, the Terriers returned to England’s top flight for the first time in 45 years. But instead of taking time to adapt to life among the big boys, David Wagner’s side have been outstanding.

Huddersfield Town v Newcastle United - Premier League - John Smith's Stadium Huddersfield Town's Aaron Mooy. Source: PA Wire/PA Images

After the 3-0 dismantling of Crystal Palace, Huddersfield claimed three points over Newcastle thanks to a wonderful strike from Australian international Aaron Mooy — the ex-Man City midfielder who put in a man-of-the-match display.

At 3pm on Saturday, they host Southampton at John Smith’s Stadium. The Saints have fared okay under Mauricio Pellegrino — with won win and a draw — so they should prove difficult opponents.

5. Hammers and Magpies look to get off the mark

The summer signings of Javier Hernandez, Pablo Zabaleta, Marko Arnautovic and Joe Hart were generally well-received by West Ham fans but the new recruits haven’t been able to prevent a difficult start for the Londoners.

A 4-0 drubbing by Man United was followed up with the 3-2 loss at the hands of Southampton. There was one positive note as Hernandez bagged his first league goals for the club, but record transfer Arnautovic received a red card thanks to a foolish elbow on Jack Stephens.

Latest opponents Newcastle have problems of their own right. Also on zero points, the Geordies had captain Jonjo Shelvey sent off for a stamp against Spurs and manager Rafael Benitez clearly isn’t happy with how their recruitment has gone during this window.

It’s very early days, but both clubs will be desperate to pick up their first points of the campaign on Saturday.

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Ben Blake

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