Premier League preview: Can Liverpool return to winning ways? Will City rotate heavily for derby?

Can Liverpool get back on track after losing two games in a row? Will Pep Guardiola rotate his City side heavily for the Manchester derby? Here's what we are watching out for in the Premier League this weekend.

JUMP TO: Who is Jose Mourinho kidding? | What's Pep's derby plan? | Man to watch | Game to watch | Team that needs a bit of luck | One thing that will happen | Predictions


Will Liverpool get back on the winning horse?

This season was shaping up to be a Roman procession for Liverpool. A few weeks ago they were in with a realistic chance of not just winning the title, but doing so undefeated, and winning the Treble, and breaking Manchester City's points record. Only one of those feats is available to them now, although we should probably pause for a moment and extensively qualify that "only." Liverpool are going to win their first league title in 30 years, so while all the other stuff would have been nice, it was nothing compared to their ultimate prize.

Liverpool have now lost three of their last four games across three competitions, something that hasn't happened to them since January 2017. It's not a wobble yet, and we're weeks away from their form actually being a concern, but in order to close off this season in the fine style they deserve, they could do with getting back into the winning habit as soon as possible -- starting with Bournemouth's visit to Anfield on Saturday.

Who is Jose Mourinho kidding?

We don't really know what Jose Mourinho is saying to his Tottenham players behind closed doors. Maybe it's all positive reinforcement, slaps on the back and staring deep into their eyes to call them tigers who can do anything. If it is that, it's in stark contrast to his public pronouncements, which seem entirely designed to give the impression that his Spurs players are weak and useless, unable to perform their roles as professional athletes or keep up with a mildly strenuous schedule.

Mourinho said after Spurs were knocked out of the FA Cup by Norwich on penalties this week that it simply wasn't possible for his players to compete in both their Premier League game against Burnley on Saturday and the Champions League encounter with RB Leipzig on Tuesday. If he sticks to that, then expect the kids to run out at Turf Moor, because giving up on the second leg of a European tie when you're only 1-0 down from the first game would be a sackable offence.

But that's if you accept his premise. His players probably are tired, but he's gone beyond telling us they're tired. He's also basically suggesting they're no good, not up to it, physically incapable. If nothing else, what impact will talk like that have on team morale? Who knows? Perhaps telling everyone that your players can't cope and wishing the season was already over is the reason they've now lost four straight games in three competitions.

Will Pep Guardiola pick a shadow side for the Manchester derby?

"Premier League, we cannot win," Pep Guardiola said after Manchester City's victory over Sheffield Wednesday in the cup this week. "We can win the FA Cup or Champions League. [This game] was a final. We knew that. We talked a lot about this game."

Sitting a massive 22 points behind Liverpool, the Premier League now amounts to just a series of high-profile training sessions for Guardiola. The purpose of the league is to ensure his team stays fit and sharp for the cup games, and that applies to even the Manchester derby. So after the exertions of this week, with injury problems and with that second leg against Real Madrid in the Champions League looming on the horizon, how many changes will Guardiola make for the visit of Manchester United on Sunday? Phil Foden should get a game, but which other fringe players will come in?


Billy Gilmour

People can get a little too giddy when it comes to young players, so after Gilmour's excellent performance against Liverpool in the FA Cup this week, it was easy for Chelsea fans to get carried away about his undoubted talent. But he might just have to repeat that this weekend, as a spate of injuries in Chelsea's midfield will almost certainly mean he has to step in against Everton, with Jorginho suspended and both N'Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic struggling with injuries. Frank Lampard has clearly not been afraid to throw kids in, even if that has broadly been by necessity rather than design this season. He could have to place his faith in another one against Everton.


Southampton v Newcastle

Football doesn't make sense, Part 2,377. Newcastle are the lowest-scoring team in the Premier League, managing just 24 goals from their 28 games thus far; Newcastle are also the FA Cup's top-scoring team, having found the net 11 times in five games. Sure, all of those goals in the latter category have come against lower-league teams, but it must still be a frustration for their fans that they can score when they like in the cup but can't hit a barn door in the league. If nothing else, their game Saturday against Southampton, a team reeling from that unexpected defeat to West Ham, should be interesting to see if Newcastle can translate that cup scoring into the Premier League.


David Moyes' West Ham

On what do you judge West Ham's chances against Arsenal this weekend? On their recent form, which saw them beat Southampton last week for their first Premier League victory since Moyes' first game in charge? Or Moyes' historically awful record away at "big four" teams, where he has never won with any of the four Premier League clubs he has managed? They might end up needing to be a little fortunate at the Emirates, for if they get nothing from this run of tough games against the Gunners, Wolves, Chelsea and Tottenham, relegation could beckon.


Raul Jimenez will do something good

Because he usually does. Wolves' striker has 13 goals and six assists to his name this season, meaning only Jamie Vardy and Mohamed Salah have made more direct contributions to goals than the Mexican. There's plenty to love about this Wolves team, but Jimenez is one of their primary attractions. Against a Brighton team who haven't won a game of any description in 2020, he, Diogo Jota, Adama Traore and Pedro Neto could all run riot.


Liverpool 2-0 Bournemouth
Arsenal 3-1 West Ham United
Sheffield United 2-0 Norwich City
Southampton 1-0 Newcastle United
Wolverhampton Wanderers 3-0 Brighton & Hove Albion
Crystal Palace 1-1 Watford
Burnley 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur
Chelsea 2-2 Everton
Manchester United 1-3 Manchester City