1) Newcastle travel to Anfield without much hope …
Newcastle don’t have much of a record at Anfield. They’ve not won there since Steve Watson knocked Roy Evans’s side out of the League Cup in 1995; they’ve not tasted league victory there since Andrew Cole and Robert Lee secured a 2-0 win in 1994. It’s been mainly defeats ever since, though they did get a point three years ago against a starting XI featuring Alberto Moreno, Connor Randall and Kevin Stewart. The Magpies won’t be flying down the A1 with too much hope in their hearts, then. Liverpool are on a 13-match Premier League winning run, and Mo Salah and Sadio Mané have had their feet up during the international break.
2) … but their manager may have a workable plan
But here’s a sliver of historical hope for the Toon! Steve Bruce has masterminded six wins from 24 over Liverpool during his managerial career, not a bad return for a journeyman usually working with modest resources. His 25% success rate might not sound super-promising, but look at it this way: a one-in-four shout is a big improvement on the bookies’ odds of 14-1. It’s also exactly the same win ratio against the Reds achieved by a certain Rafa Benítez, and nobody would be writing off one of his sides completely. Some straw-clutching? Perhaps … but then no one thought Bruce’s Birmingham would win at Anfield in 2004 either, and look what happened there.
3) Attack remains best form of defence for Norwich
Manchester City’s visit to Carrow Road has the potential to make England 5-3 Kosovo feel like a study in catenaccio and the odds on another thriller can only have shortened in light of the Canaries’ injury woes. Christoph Zimmermann has joined Timm Klose on the sidelines while doubts over Grant Hanley’s fitness, leave them worryingly thin at centre-back. Max Aarons, the outstanding right-back, also looks likely to miss out after injuring his ankle on England Under-21 duty and the only blessing might be that defending hardly seems Norwich’s priority at the best of times. Matches such as Saturday’s assume free-hit status for Daniel Farke’s side and the expectation is that they will look to exploit any City weaknesses – occasionally suggested by Brighton a fortnight ago – by playing their usual front-footed game. The danger is that they risk the kind of hiding they took at Liverpool, and a team can only take so many if they are to retain their sparkle. Perhaps Farke might have looked to tighten things up given a clean bill of health; in the event Norwich probably have no choice but to pour forward again.
4) The first six-pointer of the season?
Is it too early for a relegation six-pointer? Hell, it’s never too early for a relegation six-pointer. Both Brighton and Burnley flew out of the traps on the opening day with three-goal wins, but since then it’s been a bit of a struggle. Six matches between them have produced two points and three goals. The Clarets can point to a few caveats: they fought hard at Arsenal, nearly ground out a win at Wolves, and nobody gets much from Liverpool right now. The Seagulls by comparison couldn’t be expected to get anything at Manchester City, it’s true, but a supine loss at home to a stuttering Southampton was more of a worry. This might not be a classic – three of the last four matches between these sides have ended 0-0, 0-0 and 1-0 – so remember to thank us for tempting fate when it ends 3-3.
5) Davies running out of chances at Everton?
Everton splashed out more than £115m this summer, signing three midfielders – André Gomes, Jean-Philippe Gbamin and Fabian Delph – and while new faces have undoubtedly helped reinvigorate his squad, it has created something of a roadblock for Tom Davies. Since 7 February the Liverpudlian, who joined the club as an 11-year-old, has played more minutes for the England Under-21s than he has Everton. On the face of it, the £30m sale of Idrissa Gueye to PSG seemed to play into Davies’s hands while Gbamin, a £25m recruit from Mainz, is expected to be out until November with a thigh injury. First-team chances have remained hard to come by, with Morgan Schneiderlin’s renaissance pushing him further down the pecking order. Another home-grown midfielder, Kieran Dowell, and the full-back Jonjoe Kenny departed on loan in search of game time and perhaps Davies will soon have to follow suit.