Arsenal & Liverpool clash, Ipswich continue to surprise, Spaletti returns to Roma – Weekend Wanderings

In a weekend full of early top of the table clashes and important games for teams already feeling the heat, Alasdair Hooper has picked out the main fixtures and talking points to watch out for.

With the first international break of the season fast approaching, you get the sense this upcoming weekend will be crucial.

Despite the 2017/18 campaign still in its infancy, the pressure is starting to crank up already for a number of managers and players alike.

There are some key match-ups, both at the top and bottom of the footballing world, so here are five things you should keep an eye out for during this weekend’s action.

1) How do you solve a problem like defence?

This Sunday sees two of the Premier League big boys going head-to-head as Arsenal travel to Anfield to take on Liverpool.

While both sides have the attacking talent to make anyone jealous, unfortunately they also have defences leakier than a sieve.

The Gunners continue to field two left-backs in the centre of their back line, while Liverpool remain susceptible to set pieces – as they long for a certain Virgil van Dijk to leave the south coast.

Fans of games with plenty of goals should tune in. Fans of great defending should hide behind the sofa.

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2) 36 games to save their season!

It is perhaps too early to call it a relegation decider, but fans of West Ham and Newcastle are starting to worry already.

Magpies manager Rafa Benitez has publicly bemoaned the club’s transfer activity and the performance of his team last week against Huddersfield didn’t look up to Premier League standard.

Meanwhile West Ham have managed to ship seven goals in two league games. They’ll be without record signing Marko Arnautovic, following his decision to strike an opposition defender’s face, rather than focusing on striking the ball.

The two clubs meet on Saturday at St James’ Park for an already vital game.

3) Can Ipswich continue to defy all logic?

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Fans of the Tractor Boys were pessimistic before the season began, but the Suffolk side are currently riding high in the Championship.

Last weekend Mick McCarthy’s side beat Brentford 2-0, fielding a back four made up entirely of full-backs and with four out-and-out strikers on the pitch.

It’s often said balance is key to a successful side, but Ipswich have defied all that and, along with Cardiff, sit at the top of the league with 12 points from 12.

Shrewd transfer business is part of the reason behind the early success, particularly the signings of Rangers outcasts Joe Garner and Martyn Waghorn who already have seven goals between them.

On Saturday, Ipswich host pre-season favourites for promotion Fulham – can the victories keep on coming?

4) Can Harry cure poorly Crawley?

It came as a shock when former Liverpool and Leeds United winger Harry Kewell took over the managerial post at Crawley Town back in May. So far, it hasn’t been plain sailing.

Crawley, who currently sit bottom of League Two, are yet to register a point and have only scored twice in Kewell’s four games in charge.

So, who do the Sussex side have next? Table-topping Swindon Town away on Saturday. No pressure, Harry!

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5) Luciano Spalleti’s Roma return – three months after leaving

Inter Milan travel to the Italian capital to take on AS Roma at the Stadio Olimpico, in Saturday’s standout Serie A fixture.

Alongside the likes of Napoli and AC Milan, both Inter and Roma have hopes of challenging Juventus at the top of the table this season.

Inter recruited a new manager in the summer to help them in their quest – Luciano Spalleti.

It just so happens that Spalleti was coaching Roma this time last year, but left the Giallorossi in May by mutual consent after leading them to second place.

Roma, meanwhile, recruited the services of the impressive 47-year-old Eusebio Di Francesco – who made his name at Sassuolo.

Spalleti’s Olimpico return will certainly be a tasty encounter

You can follow Alasdair on Twitter @adjhooper1992

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