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Handball chaos and a tactical battle for the ages: 8 things to look out for in the Premier League this weekend

VAR, Premier League
(Image credit: PA)

GOALS!

Stating the obvious, perhaps. But the start to the 2020/21 Premier League campaign has seen a deluge of goals raining in from every angle and through every means possible.

There have already been 103 of them in just 28 games, averaging 3.67 per league fixture. That's a long way above the usual standard.

Plus, let’s not forget that round two was the highest scoring weekend in Premier League history with 44 goals in 10 matches.

Could this weekend surpass that? Probably not, but with penalties being handed out for fun, you just never know…

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More VAR handball drama

VAR

(Image credit: PA)

Speaking of which, we can only hope that we get through this weekend’s Premier League fixtures without an existential crisis sparked by more handball penalties.

The last-gasp spot kick awarded to Newcastle against Tottenham last weekend prompted more than a few “game is gone” reactions, with Eric Dier apparently completely unaware of what was going on when he felt the ball strike his arm.

We also saw Manchester United clinch victory over Brighton after the full-time whistle had been blown, because a handball had been spotted.

Although we normally have a "more the merrier" philosophy when it comes to goals, it would be nice to get through a weekend without the new handball rule being the major talking point.

What next in the Dele Alli saga?

Spurs’ hammering of Maccabi Haifa in the Europa League playoffs on Thursday might have marked a turning point in the midfielder’s difficult start to the season.

Alli hasn’t featured in the Premier League since being hooked at half-time in the opening day defeat to Everton, but he came off the bench to win and score a stoppage-time penalty in the 7-2 victory over the Israelis.

After a week in which a loan bid from PSG was reportedly rejected, it will be interesting to see how many - if any - minutes Jose Mourinho hands to the 24-year-old when the Portuguese faces his former employers Manchester United on Sunday.

Can Calvert-Lewin be stopped?

Dominic Calvert-Lewin

(Image credit: PA)

Any Fantasy Premier League managers who still don’t have the Everton striker in their team are missing a trick.

The 23-year-old has started the season in sensational form and scored his second hat-trick of the campaign in the midweek League Cup victory over West Ham.

With five goals in his opening three games, and new signing James Rodriguez settling in nicely behind him, the England striker will surely provide a stern test for the Brighton backline on Saturday.

Debutants shore up Chelsea defence

You don’t need a degree in football analysis (is that a thing?) to work out where Chelsea’s biggest issue lies.

The chaotic defending of last season has continued into the new one, and Thiago Silva’s debut last weekend didn’t exactly help matters as he made a costly error leading to a goal in the bonkers 3-3 draw with West Brom, in which the Blues had to fight back from a 3-0 half time deficit.

Chelsea have already made three errors directly leading to goals in the Premier League this season, but they are hoping some new faces can help stem the flow when they face Crystal Palace in the Saturday lunchtime kick-off.

Goalkeeper Edouard Mendy and left-back Ben Chilwell are both available to make their league debuts for Frank Lampard’s side after featuring midweek against Tottenham in the League Cup. Whether that will be enough to stop Wilfried Zaha and co. is another question.

Dazzling debuts

Ruben Dias

(Image credit: PA)

The summer transfer window is now in its twilight, but there are several new arrivals to keep tabs on this weekend.

The big signing this week was Manchester City’s £62 million capture of Benfica defender Ruben Dias on a six-year deal, and Pep Guardiola will be hoping the Portugal international can tighten things up at Leeds after watching his side ship five goals in defeat to Leicester last time out.

West Ham have brought in Czech Republic international right-back Vladimir Coufal from Slavia Prague for £5.4m, while there have been a couple of intriguing loan moves.

Ross Barkley has joined Aston Villa from Chelsea for the season as he looks to re-energise his career, while Ademola Lookman has returned to England with Fulham, a year after leaving Everton for RB Leipzig in a £22.5m deal.

The battle of the brains

Leeds vs Man City should be a terrific watch. Two of modern football’s most influential coaches, Marcelo Bielsa and Pep Guardiola, go head-to-head for the first time in the Premier League when City travel to Elland Road on Saturday.

Goals are to be expected; Pep’s side conceded five in defeat to Leicester last time out, while Leeds’ first three matches have yielded 15 goals.

Whether you’re a fan of tactical battles or free-flowing football, this fixture promises to have something for everyone.

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