Dave Tindall picks out what to keep on eye on this weekend, with Sadio Mane going back to his former club while Arsenal are looking to break a 10-year winless run.
From Saint to winner
Last season, Liverpool raced into a 2-0 lead in their Premier League match at St Mary’s before a former thorn in their side smashed in two second-half goals to give Southampton a dramatic come-from-behind 3-2 win. The same player had also given Saints a first-minute lead in the Capital One Cup tie in December (the Reds hit six in reply) and headed in a late equaliser to deny Liverpool victory at Anfield in the first meeting that season.
That man was Sadio Mane. No wonder Jurgen Klopp wanted to sign him. Of course, it wasn’t just those four goals that persuaded the German although they helped. No, the man from Senegal was the perfect fit for Klopp’s idea of an energetic, all-action, fluid frontline and the reality has matched the theory.
Mane is the Reds’ top scorer in the Premier League this season with six and having not over-exerted himself in the international break (Senegal played last Saturday), he should be raring to go again. Will he celebrate if he fires one in against his former team? It’s a question we could well get an answer to.
Form v History
Arsenal have taken 23 points from their last 27 in the Premier League after a stuttering start. Manchester United have managed just nine from a possible 24 after opening with three wins.
In terms of current form, there is only one winner in Saturday lunchtime’s showdown at Old Trafford. And yet, history suggests a very different outcome. United have won six, drawn three and lost just one of their last 10 Premier League games against the Gunners and Arsenal haven’t won at United in 10 years.
In addition, Jose Mourinho has never lost a Premier League match against Arsene Wenger, winning six and drawing the other five. So which should we trust more – history or current form? The bookies slightly favour United but have they got it wrong?
Time to Mann up
Leicester have been playing like Mannequins in away games for most of the season and Jamie Vardy’s domestic goal count has stood still since September. But at least he suddenly came to life by netting for England in their 2-2 draw with Spain in midweek.
Vardy celebrated his first goal in 15 games by doing the craze that’s sweeping the nation and Foxes fans will hope they’ll be exchanging tweets tagged #mannequinchallenge if their No. 9 finds the net and wheels it out again at Watford on Saturday.
The Hornets were made to look like dummies when losing 6-1 at Liverpool before the international break but are six points above Leicester in the table right now. Vardy was exceptional last season but after his Mann-of-the-man match display against Spain, can he continue to convince us that he isn’t just a passing fad?
Vote of confidence for American?
It doesn’t rank alongside Donald Trump’s amazing ascension to the White House but there were still some eyebrows raised when Swansea decided to make Bob Bradley the first American to manage in the Premier League.
Forget about building a wall to keep out Mexicans, Bradley is still worrying about assembling one to stop free-kicks. It’s been a poor start so far. In fact, failure to beat Everton at Goodison on Saturday would make him Swansea’s first Premier League manager to not win any of his first five games in charge.
The Swans have just five points this season and are second bottom. After making a series of good appointments, have they got it very wrong this time? Is it Armageddon or, like Trump, shall we at least give him a chance?
Light at the end of the tunnel?
A left-field thinking philosopher could probably convince me that it’s possible for both teams to lose when Sunderland host Hull at the Stadium of Light this weekend.
The hosts are still rock bottom despite beating Bournemouth last time while the visitors have taken just four points since starting with two wins. If there is a loser on Saturday (all in all, I probably don’t buy into the theory that both will), their fans will surely think we probably are in deep sh*t if we’re getting beat by that lot.
Both teams have managed just two first-half goals this season so it may take a while for either side to know their fate. Looking at it from a positive point of view, given that both sides banked three points last time out a win for either would make it two-in-a-row and cause a surge in belief. Does either have it in them? Or is this destined to be a low-scoring, low-key bore-draw?
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