Alasdair Hooper takes a look at some of this weekend’s big talking points in football…
The international break is over and we’re ready to get back into the swing of club football.
Managers are quaking in their boots, others are eager to carry on the momentum and players are ready to showcase their talents for new teams and clubs they couldn’t escape from.
So here are the top five things you should keep an eye out for this weekend
1) To be Frank…Palace are in a pickle
There are few games this weekend likely to be more important than the one at Turf Moor on Sunday.
Reports have suggested that Palace boss Frank de Boer – who has barely settled into his office chair after being appointed in June – has just one game to save his job.Embed from Getty Images
The Eagles have lost all three of their league games, are yet to score a goal and look lost as Sam Allardyce’s players are tasked with playing the ‘Ajax way’.
Will De Boer bring some pragmatism to his side or will we be saying goodbye to a new manager far sooner than we ever expected?
2) Pep’s orchestra or Klopp’s heavy metal?
After the international break the Premier League returns with a bang as heavyweights Manchester City and Liverpool face off at the Etihad.
Liverpool comfortably beat the flimsiest Arsenal side seen in years, in their previous outing, and have a habit of blowing away strong teams with their pace and intensity.
But the Reds defence isn’t exactly spectacular and with the attacking talent at Guardiola’s disposal, City could easily pick their way through.
This is going to be an interesting match-up.
3) Time for the Dons to push on – despite swimming drama
Swimming is often advertised as great for your health but Aberdeen’s Gary Mackay-Steven didn’t quite follow the script.
The midfielder had to be rescued from Glasgow’s River Kelvin by fire crews after he took his celebrations to a new level following the Dons’ 4-3 victory over Partick Thistle two weeks ago.
While Mackay-Steven’s story undoubtedly grabbed headlines it rather overshadowed the fact that Derek McInnes’ Aberdeen sit top of the Scottish Premiership – two points above Celtic.Embed from Getty Images
The Dons have comfortably been the best of the rest, as Celtic dominated the league in recent years, but their recruitment in the summer was smart and added depth.
Stevie May, Nicky Maynard and Mackay-Steven are just three solid additions to the squad but keeping manager McInnes after Sunderland’s approach was similarly vital.
Saturday’s trip to Hearts – at Murrayfield no less – will be a stern test. If they come through that with flying colours then they might give Celtic something to seriously worry about.
4) Can Dembele make his mark in the Derbi Barceloni?
Everyone loves a derby match and over in La Liga, Barcelona face rivals Espanyol in one of the most famous – the Barcelona derby.
Espanyol are no walkovers, following last season’s eighth-placed finish, and they are managed by former Watford boss Quique Sanchez Flores.
However, the main focus lies on Barcelona – who haven’t had the best of transfer windows – and new man Ousmane Dembele.
After losing Neymar, who was once the heir to Messi at the Nou Camp, Dembele has been chosen as the man to replace him.
On Saturday night he will get the opportunity to show the Barca faithful he can be the man to fill the Brazilian’s shoes.
The question is: will he?Embed from Getty Images
5) Will the rejuvenated Rossoneri pass their first big test?
While Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain took the major headlines during the summer transfer market, another team making waves was AC Milan.
The fallen Serie A giants – under fresh new ownership – bought almost an entire new team with the likes of Andre Silva, Hakan Calhanoglu and Leonardo Bonucci arriving at the San Siro among many others.
The Rossoneri have only faced Shkendija, Crotone and Cagliari this season who, no disrespect, are not the toughest opposition in the world.
This Sunday Vincenzo Montella’s team travel to the Italian capital to face Lazio who are fresh from adding former Manchester United winger Nani to their ranks.
Pass this test and AC Milan will go some way in proving they are a serious threat to Juventus for that Serie A title.
Follow Alasdair on Twitter at @adjhooper1992