Premier League: Test for Liverpool defense, City-target Paqueta faces Guardiola's team

IANS Photo

IANS Photo

London, September 15 (IANS): Wolverhampton and Liverpool will kick off the Premier League's fifth round of matches on Saturday at lunchtime, presenting a potential challenge for Liverpool's defense.

With Virgil van Dijk suspended and Ibrahima Konate sidelined due to injury, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip might form the central defense for Jurgen Klopp's team. Facing a Wolverhampton attack spearheaded by the formidable Sasa Kalajdzic, and with European competitions resuming next week, Liverpool's top-four aspirations will be put to the test.

West Ham's Lucas Paqueta nearly transferred to Manchester City this summer, but an FA investigation into betting irregularities halted the move.

Instead, Paqueta will face Man City, who welcomes back Pep Guardiola after his back surgery. Both teams have had promising starts: City boasts four victories in four matches, even without key players like Jack Grealish, Kevin de Bruyne, and John Stones, while West Ham has secured 10 points from 12.

Tottenham and Sheffield United have experienced different season starts. Tottenham, under the attacking strategy of new coach Ange Postecoglou, has netted 11 goals in four matches, placing them second in the league.

Sheffield United, on the other hand, has found the transition from the Championship to the Premier League challenging, amassing just one point from four games. If Tottenham's James Maddison and Heung Min-Son deliver strong performances, Sheffield might face another tough match.

Manchester United anticipate a challenging home match against Brighton, who might be missing teenage striker Evan Ferguson due to a knee issue. Manchester United's injury woes are more severe, with key players like Luke Shaw, Raphael Varane, and Lisandro Martinez out.

Additionally, winger Antony is on a 'leave of absence' following assault allegations, and Jaden Sancho is training separately due to disciplinary reasons.

Newcastle's lacklustre start this season puts pressure on coach Eddie Howe to deliver better results, especially with their upcoming Champions League matches against heavyweights like Paris Saint Germain, AC Milan, and Borussia Dortmund.

Aston Villa aim to recover from their recent 3-0 loss to Liverpool, but key players Pau Torres and Youri Tielemans need to step up against a sturdy Crystal Palace team anchored by England midfielder Eberechi Eze.

Fulham welcome Joao Palhinha back after his last-minute transfer to Bayern Munich fell through. As Fulham's midfield anchor, Palhinha's presence is crucial, especially given the team's defensive vulnerabilities this season. However, facing a Luton side still chasing their season's first point might not be the most daunting challenge.

Chelsea, still seeking a more potent attack, will visit Bournemouth on Sunday. They could leverage the speed of Raheem Sterling and Nicolas Jackson, with the latter's failed Bournemouth transfer in January potentially adding an extra layer of intrigue to the match.

Everton's recent takeover announcement might be overshadowed by their upcoming match against Arsenal. Coach Sean Dyche will be relying on goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, who recently showcased his skills against Sheffield United, and powerful striker Beto to secure a positive result.

The week's fixtures conclude on Monday with Nottingham Forest facing a Burnley team that has suffered three consecutive losses since their Premier League return.