Arsenal's new attack and other talking points ahead of Premier League weekend

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Sead Kolasinac and Mesut Ozil.

The new Premier League season continues with Manchester City, Liverpool and Manchester United among the clubs looking to build on strong starts.

Here, PA looks at the key talking points as the action gets under way.

A renewed Arsenal attack?

Arsenal’s first home game of the season could see them aided by some fresh faces and the return of familiar ones. Gunners boss Unai Emery has confirmed that Mesut Ozil and Sead Kolasinac are both ready to return to action after an attempted car-jacking in London that meant they missed the first weekend due to security concerns.

Emery’s offensive options are further strengthened by summer signings Nicolas Pepe and Gabriel Martinelli, and he could also unleash Brazilian centre-back David Luiz for the first time since acquiring him from Chelsea. After defeating Newcastle in an uncharacteristically strong opening display, last season’s fifth-placed finishers host Burnley at home and can approach the fixture with confidence having beaten the Clarets 3-1 in both league encounters last season.

Lampard’s floundering fortunes

Frank Lampard

Frank Lampard has endured a less-than-ideal start to his first season as Chelsea boss. His squad suffered a resounding 4-0 defeat by Manchester United in their opening fixture, followed by a Super Cup final loss on penalties to Liverpool. This time Chelsea line up against Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester, and Lampard will be hoping his squad can produce a result that will silence the critics and swerve a hat-trick of defeats.

Forced to turn to academy graduates due to a transfer ban, Lampard could once again include 20-year-old midfielder Mason Mount, while hoping Tammy Abraham, 21, is not crestfallen after his Super Cup final penalty was blocked. The striker has since received racist abuse via social media.

Business as usual for Manchester City?

City

Manchester City looked as dominant as ever when trouncing West Ham in a 5-0 victory at the London Stadium. A hat-trick from Raheem Sterling, a 25th-minute strike by Gabriel Jesus and a penalty from Sergio Aguero left the Hammers entirely out of contention.

This weekend provides stiffer competition, however, as Pep Guardiola’s side take on Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham at the Etihad Stadium. Having omitted key goal scorer Aguero and the established Bernardo Silva from last weekend’s starting XI, it will be telling to see if they are reinstated as City move up a gear in their bid to win a third consecutive title.

Manchester United wary of Wolves

Wolves

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United hit their stride in the season opener by putting four goals past Chelsea, who failed to respond. Their trip to Molineux to face Wolves may prove a tougher test, however, as United were unable to get the better of Nuno Espirito Santo’s side last term.

Able to rattle several top-flight sides last season, Wolves have proved that it is unwise to underestimate their squad. While Solskjaer will be hoping to maintain their winning momentum, Wolves will be looking to collect three points after drawing their opening fixture with Leicester and are unlikely to fold as easily as Chelsea did.

Championship heroes on home turf

All three newly promoted sides will play in front of a home crowd for the first time this term. The opening weekend produced mixed fortunes for the debutants, with only Sheffield United emerging with a point having drawn against Bournemouth.

Now fans will see their teams perform on home turf for the first time since their successful Championship campaigns, a factor the trio are surely hoping will aid them in securing their first Premier League wins since promotion.  Norwich host Newcastle and Sheffield United take on Crystal Palace, while play-off winners Aston Villa face Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth.

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Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino claims team selection is not linked to contract situations

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Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino insists the contract situations of his players are not affecting his team selection.

Pochettino raised eyebrows for the opening game of the season last week when he left Christian Eriksen on the bench and did not include Jan Vertonghen in his matchday squad against Aston Villa.

Eriksen’s future is the subject of intense speculation – and Pochettino has said he does not know whether the Dane will be here after the European transfer window shuts in September – after he expressed a desire to leave while Vertonghen is in the final year of his contract.

Pochettino revealed that Eriksen, who came on and changed the game in a 3-1 win over Villa, is still struggling with fitness following summer surgery and said Vertonghen’s surprise omission was a tactical decision.

The Argentinian insists politics do not come into play and there are no personal issues.

“For me, it is the same if a player has a year or five years,” he said. “The selection is not because of the length of the contract, it is about the performance.

“I will take the decision based on the performance, not the contract or personal situations.

“My point is to help and support all the players until they decide to take a different way in their career. And show respect to all.

“One thing is my decision but that human relationship cannot be based on if you play or not play.

“I am happy with all the players. My personal relationship is good with all the players. It was a football decision.

“Of course it is painful when a player is out of the squad but that is a football decision.

“Sometimes you are confused in general that the players when they play are so happy and the coaching staff are the best coaching staff in the world, then if you decide that they don’t play, or are on the bench, or are out of the squad, you are the worst person in the world.

“It’s not like this. My decision is always is always in trying to be professional. The club pays me to take professional decisions. Of course I add my quality, like a human being, because I love to manage the team in this way.

“One thing is being fit, another is whether is going to be included in the starting XI or the squad.”

Both players are in contention for a daunting early-season trip to Manchester City, who have won their last 15 Premier League games.

Deadline day Giovani Lo Celso, who has been in the country just over a week, could also be in the squad, though Pochettino has confirmed he will not start.

“We need to assess him,” Pochettino said. “A lot of things have happened in his life now.

“He arrived with no pre-season, of course he is trying to adapt himself, his physical condition, tactically, settle in a new country in a new philosophy and it is not easy.

“I can tell you he won’t be in the starting XI, but if he is going to be involved or not we need to assess today. We need to see how he is and see the balance on the bench.”

Pochettino was the first manager to beat City boss Pep Guardiola in this country back in 2016 and Spurs were also the last side to inflict defeat on City when they won their Champions League quarter-final first leg in April.

Nothing will be decided at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday evening, but it will give a good insight into where Spurs are at.

“I am so happy to compete against him again,” Pochettino added. “That is fantastic. One season more to have the chance to compete against a team like City and Pep is one of the best of the best managers in the world.

“That means we are in the same race and that’s so important for myself.”

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Man City boss Pep Guardiola claims Raheem Sterling can reach another level

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Pep Guardiola claims Raheem Sterling can still reach yet another level.

Sterling is now firmly established as one of the Premier League’s most influential players after two outstanding seasons for Manchester City.

Yet, despite Sterling continuing in much the same vein with a season-opening hat-trick against West Ham last week, Guardiola is still expecting more of the 24-year-old.

Asked if Sterling is now the best player in the competition, Guardiola said: “There are many, he is one of them. Look at the top six teams and you will find many, many players.

“The Premier League is incredible. We are surrounded by incredibly good players. We have many.

“I didn’t watch all the other games but he’s playing so good from the beginning, in terms of being clinical, but we want more.

“Everybody wants more, he wants more. It was just the first game of the Premier League season.”

Champions City looked comfortable as they opened their latest title defence with a 5-0 win over the Hammers last weekend.

This Saturday could present a tougher test, however, as another potential title challenger in Tottenham visit the Etihad Stadium.

Spurs have happy memories of the ground having beaten City in last season’s Champions League quarter-finals en route to the final.

Guardiola said: “Since I came here to England every season they were a real contender.

“The first season finished second and the last two seasons we won (in the Premier League) but always they were there, always they were tough games.

“I spoke many times about how good Tottenham are. It’s the second best team in Europe. For me that’s enough.”

Guardiola has close to a fully-fit squad for the game and has warned that all players will need to be at their best to earn a place in the side.

Record signing Rodri made a comfortable debut at the London Stadium but he is under pressure for his place this weekend as Fernandinho is now back to match fitness.

Guardiola said: “He has to play better, him and everybody. That’s why we come here to train, to see what we can do better.

“I think Rodri has potential. He is a young player, he is tall, he is so smart and thinking about what happened but he is new.

“There are many things to see what we want to do, and what we didn’t do, in the recent past. He’s smart and he will get it. Like everyone, he can do better.

“If everybody is fit then some players don’t play, even though they deserve to. The quality of the team is good. Tomorrow will be the same. We have to think what is best about our team to beat our opponent.”

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