The Premier League is back and ready to thrill again after a two-week international break.
Here, Football Paradise looks at some of the talking points ahead of the weekend’s fixtures.
Sanchez – sulk or shine?
Arsene Wenger welcomed the return of the Premier League by admitting Arsenal may be forced to sell Alexis Sanchez in January to avoid the Chilean leaving for free next summer. The theory had been that Sanchez, out of contract at the end of the season, would refuse to let his high standards drop with a World Cup to prepare for. But Chile suffered World Cup heartbreak in midweek when a 3-0 defeat to Brazil saw them miss out on a place in Russia next summer. If Sanchez is declared fit to play at Watford after his long-haul flight from South America, we will get the first indication of whether Sanchez remains committed to the Arsenal cause.
Cherries ripe for Kane
The last thing fragile Bournemouth would have wanted to see this weekend was Harry Kane striding out to play against them. Tottenham striker Kane heads into the Wembley clash with 13 goals in his last eight games for club and country and the Premier League player of the month award for September tucked away in his cabinet. History also suggests that Bournemouth are in for a tough afternoon as Kane has scored six goals in three Premier League games against the Cherries, including a hat-trick at the Vitality Stadium in October 2015. Only a brave man would bet against Kane extending that impressive scoring record further.
When Sergio Aguero broke a rib in a car accident in Amsterdam on September 28, it was feared that the Manchester City striker would be out of action for up to four weeks. Argentina’s national team doctor Donato Villani even suggested Aguero’s absence would last six weeks. But Aguero has made such a rapid recovery that City manager Pep Guardiola feels he could feature against Stoke on Saturday. That would come as a huge boost to the league leaders who avoided any problems during the international break while rivals were suffering – Marouane Fellaini (Manchester United), N’Golo Kante (Chelsea) and Sadio Mane (Liverpool) were all injured in playing for their countries.
Koeman needs seaside show
Everton boss Ronald Koeman was probably more grateful for the international break than anyone else – getting a rest from the media glare and negativity swirling around Goodison Park after poor performances against Apollon Limassol and Burnley. A 1-0 home defeat to Burnley left Everton only two points and two places above the relegation zone. That was certainly not in the script when Everton went on a summer spending spree and brought Wayne Rooney home to Goodison. Everton visit newly-promoted Brighton on Sunday and another defeat could leave Toffees’ fans in full meltdown mode and Koeman’s position looking even more vulnerable.
Clarets showing bottle
The sight of Burnley rubbing shoulders with the big boys has been one of the top-flight’s feel-good stories this season. Clarets boss Sean Dyche continues to get the maximum out of an honest bunch of players who entertain West Ham on Saturday enjoying the rarefied atmosphere of a top-six place. Burnley’s early form is even more impressive considering they have already drawn at Liverpool and Tottenham and won at Chelsea and Everton. Remaining in the top six might be beyond Burnley, but victory over the Hammers will take them to 15 points from eight games and boost hopes of avoiding a relegation battle this term.