Talking points: Chelsea without Silva, Spurs look to lay down marker


he Premier League returns this weekend after the final international break of the year, with the focus set to be solely on club football until the spring. 

Here, Standard Sport reporters look ahead to the weekend action and what you should be looking out for.

1. Thiago no show could cost Chelsea  

He’s had a transformative effect since his free move from Paris St Germain, with six clean sheets in his eight starts.  

To underline his importance, it’s worth remembering the last time Lampard rested him following an international break – the 3-3 draw with Southampton. At least there are no more internationals until next Spring to worry about. James Robson

( Thiago Silva hopes to prolong his Brazil career until the 2022 World Cup in Qatar / Getty Images )

2. Arsenal face tough Leeds trip after gruelling international break

As international breaks go, this has been a painful one for Arsenal. Mohamed Elneny and Sead Kolasinac tested positive for Covid-19, Willian sparked controversy when he was photographed in a restaurant in Dubai, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang spent the night stuck in an airport before playing 90 minutes for Gabon, Kieran Tierney played 300 minutes for Scotland in six days and Bukayo Saka chalked up 232 minutes for England in the same period. 

So what better way for Arsenal to ease themselves back in then with a trip to Leeds, a side renowned for their relentless pressing and all-action style. Sunday will be a true test of Mikel Arteta’s squad depth. Simon Collings

( Twitter/Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang )

3. Spurs aim to lay down a marker

Jose Mourinho has pointedly avoided the question of whether Tottenham are truly title contenders but a win over Manchester City on Saturday would lay down a marker for the rest of the Premier League and return Spurs to the top of the table ahead of a gruelling run of games. 

There is a sense that Mourinho is primed to take advantage of the unusual conditions this season and it is clear he will approach City with the same contain and counter set up which earned Spurs a 2-0 home win over Guardiola’s side last season. Dan Kilpatrick

Harry Kane revelling in life under Jose Mourinho

4. All eyes on Benrahma as he eyes first start

David Moyes sent Said Benrahma off to international duty telling him to “get some match practice [and] be ready”, adding that he would be watching keenly.

The former Brentford man, who is still awaiting his first West Ham start, managed an assist for Riyad Mahrez’s stunning goal against Zimbabwe during his only outing for Algeria during the break, and will be keen to kick on now he is back in London.

( West Ham United FC via Getty Images )

5. Problems mounting for struggling Mitrovic after sorry break

Scott Parker will again be faced with the task of getting Aleksandar Mitrovic back on track after a sorry international break for the Fulham striker.

Mitrovic, who is struggling for goals back in the Premier League and missed a penalty against Sheffield United earlier this season, saw his troubles deepen during the break as he missed the decisive spot kick in the Serbia vs Scotland Euro 2020 play-off which saw Steve Clarke’s side reach the finals next summer.

Parker has been working to ensure the Cottagers don’t solely rely on Mitrovic’s goals, but the west Londoners could still do with him chipping in. Jack Rosser

( Getty Images )

6. Neil Harris returns to Millwall

Harris, the club’s all-time leading goalscorer, enjoyed a four-and-a-half-year spell in charge, leading the Lions back into the Championship in 2017 and taking them to two FA Cup quarter-finals, before his departure in October last year.

The 43-year-old did a superb job at Cardiff in the second half of last season, while his Millwall successor, Gary Rowett, also excelled, but both will be looking to kick-start their current campaigns after the international break, having each won just one of their last five in the league. Malik Ouzia

( AFP via Getty Images )

7. New five substitutes rule comes into force in the EFL

EFL clubs have voted to allow five substitutes from this weekend, which will increase the pressure on the Premier League clubs to fall in line. The Premier League is the only major competition in Europe which does not allow teams to make five changes in a match. 

The new EFL regulations come into force when Coventry play Birmingham on Friday night and QPR manager Mark Warburton feels “common sense coming into play”. He said: “I felt very strongly that it favoured the bigger squads, the wealthier clubs, last season but now the overriding factor has to be the health and welfare of the players.” Simon Collings

( Getty Images )

8. Klopp’s problems have trebled  

Liverpool have answered all the questions about whether they could survive without Virgil Van Dijk – but their defensive woes have been trebled this month.  

First Trent Alexander-Arnold suffered a calf injury before the international break— now Joe Gomez is set to miss the majority of the season following a knee operation.

With Fabinho also side-lined in recent weeks it leaves the Premier League champions desperately short at the back. It is likely to prove the biggest test of their title credentials. James Robson

( Action Images via Reuters )

9. Fresh starts for Spurs and West Ham in WSL

November 19 is becoming a cursed day for Tottenham managers. On the anniversary of Mauricio Pochettino’s sacking, Spurs Women wielded the axe, dismissing joint-managers Karen Hills and Juan Carlos Amoros and replacing them with Rehanne Skinner. Spurs are second bottom of the WSL and winless this season and you wonder if the coup of signing Alex Morgan, who has barely played, was ultimately a distraction. 

On a hectic day of changes in the WSL, West Ham also sacked their manager Matt Beard after one win in seven games. Both clubs will now be hoping for fresh starts having failed to kick on. Dan Kilpatrick

( Getty Images )

10. Rooney keen to show why he should be new Derby boss

By now, Wayne Rooney is used to having all eyes on him. This weekend will be no different as the former England captain takes charge of his first game as a manager. Following the sacking of Phillip Cocu, Rooney has been placed in temporary charge of Derby alongside Liam Rosenior, Shay Given and former Rams youth coach Justin Walker. 

It is unclear how long the quartet will have to show off their credentials, with a takeover imminent, but Rooney is keen to make a mark. He is the current favourite for the job, along with ex Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez, and begins his stint with a trip to Bristol City on Saturday. Simon Collings

( Getty Images )

This weekend get a £10 free bet with Betfair, when you bet £10 on a Same Game Multi on the Premier League.

Terms: Min £10 Same Game Multi bet on any EPL match this Fri – Sun. Free bet valid for 72 hours, awarded at bet settlement. Excludes cashed out bets. T&Cs apply.

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