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Dublin: 8 °C Sunday 24 June, 2018
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Derby day in Manchester and the Premier League talking points

England’s top flight returns after the recent international break.

Mourinho and Guardiola during their spells at Inter Milan and Barcelona.
Mourinho and Guardiola during their spells at Inter Milan and Barcelona.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

1 Mourinho and  Guardiola reaquainted

THEY MAY HAVE met many times before, but Saturday lunchtime sees the latest chapter of the ongoing managerial rivalry between Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola begin.

Arguably the two greatest coaches in the world, the pair face off at Old Trafford both armed with expensively-assembled squads in the most highly-anticipated Premier League game of the season so far.

We’re not even a month into the new campaign and the title was never won in September, but the two clubs have recorded three league wins from three so far (along with Chelsea) so someone’s 100% record will have to give.

United have had the upper handed in recent times —  winning two of the last three meetings and drawing the other. They have a clean bill of health, while City must plan without the suspended Sergio Aguero and captain Vincent Kompany, who hasn’t regained his full fitness.

2. Gunners could unleash new signings

Although he waited to the end of the transfer window to do his business, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger went some way to appease frustrated Gunners fans by sealing two big-money deals in the shape of Spanish forward Lucas Perez and German international defender Shkodran Mustafi.

Both of the recent acquisitions could be handed debuts at home to Southampton on Saturday afternoon as Wenger pits his wits against a fellow Frenchman in Saints manager Claude Puel.

Since going down to Liverpool on the opening weekend of the season, Arsenal have picked up four points while Southampton are still looking for their first league win.

3. Potters in need of a lift

Sitting rock bottom after the first three rounds of games, things have not gone as well as planned for Stoke City and they will be hoping for a change in fortunes as they welcome Tottenham to the Britannia on Saturday.

Mark Hughes managed to bring in a couple of reinforcements on deadline day as Dutch defender Bruno Indi Martins and Ivorian striker Wilfried Bony joined on loan deals and they could feature for the first time, while Shay Given continues to deputise for the injured Jack Butland in goal.

Spurs did some late business of their own with Moussa Sissoko and Georges-Kevin N’Koudou arriving from Newcastle and Marseille respectively. The two Frenchman have been named in the matchday squad by Mauricio Pochettino.

4. Red returns to Anfield as new main stand is unveiled

With work being done to upgrade part of Anfield, Liverpool played the first three of their matches away from home. However, the new main stand was officially unveiled on Friday ahead of the visit of Leicester City.

A third tier has been added to bring the overall capacity of the ground to 54,074 and the Premier League champions will be the first club to play at the stadium since its completion.

The Foxes spent a club record fee of €34 million on Algerian international Islam Slamani and the striker could be in line for his debut. Both clubs have had mixed starts and sit level on four points going into Saturday evening’s meeting.

Anfield Main Stand Opening - Liverpool Anfield's new main stand. Source: Peter Byrne

5. The return of David Luiz

One of the surprise deals of the past week was Chelsea’s last-minute move to bring David Luiz back to the club from Paris Saint-Germain.

Having sold the Brazilian defender two years ago, the Londoners paid €37m to secure his return, despite the fact that he isn’t necessarily the type of player you’d expect manager Antonio Conte to be interested in.

Ahead of Sunday’s away trip to Swansea, the Italian suggested Luiz he can thrive on his second spell in the Premier League after a couple of high profile mistakes the first time around.

David is 29, it’s a fantastic age for him to become one of the best defenders in the world,” said Conte. “I see great commitment from him. He wanted to play for Chelsea.

“This is a great opportunity for him and for us to improve. He has good characteristics to become one of the fantastic defenders in the world.”

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A brief history of Mourinho and Guardiola’s barbs down the years

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Ben Blake

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