Weekend wanderings: Manchester United and Tottenham face off at Old Trafford, West Ham indicate a change in attitude and pressure mounts on Montella

As the frenzied football season rolls on we are often left wandering what else could possibly happen.

Leicester City have a new manager – an unexpected arrival in Claude Puel – and Everton dismissed their boss at the start of the week.

Teams that were seen to be unstoppable ended up faltering unexpectedly as football storylines took all manner of twists and turns.

So what should you keep your eyes on during this weekend’s action?

Find out as we round up five major talking points in an article that is hopefully far more organised than a live Carabao Cup Twitter draw…

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1. Who will bounce back at Old Trafford?

Two of the Premier League’s most impressive sides meet at Old Trafford on Saturday – but neither are enjoying a perfect run right now.

Though they progressed to the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup, Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United will be looking to respond following the shock defeat dished out by Huddersfield last weekend.

On the other hand, Tottenham gained all manner of plaudits for the way they dismantled Liverpool last Sunday – only for it all to come crashing back down to earth as they were dumped out of the cup by a struggling West Ham team.

Both sides will be searching for a win to banish those unpleasant memories in arguably the biggest game of the weekend.


2. Will the Hammers knuckle down?

In perhaps the most improbable result of the Carabao Cup, downtrodden West Ham somehow managed to rally against all the odds to battle back from 2-0 down to win 3-2 against Spurs.

In doing so it handed beleaguered boss Slaven Bilic some much needed respite.

But was it merely a short-term response or did it signify a more meaningful change in attitude, something the team has sorely missed of late?

On Saturday we might find out as Bilic takes his team to face another far more troubled team in Crystal Palace.

Despite the remarkable win against Chelsea that victory remains the only points the Eagles have secured this season.

Furthermore Roy Hodgson’s team were humiliatingly knocked out of the Carabao Cup courtesy of a 4-1 defeat to Bristol City – meaning the Championship side have beaten more Premier League teams this season than Palace have. Ouch.

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3. What does life after Losa hold?

It seemed as if it was coming but, on Wednesday, Arsenal Women parted company with manager Pedro Martinez Losa after three years at the helm.

The Spaniard managed to guide the team to the 2016 FA Cup and the 2015 Continental Cup but, in terms of league position, three consecutive third-placed finishes were not good enough for a club used to so much success.

Three games into the current WSL season the Gunners lie sixth after picking up just four points – despite heavy investment in playing staff in the summer.

Assistant coach Ismael Garcia has been placed in temporary charge with the team travelling to Everton on Sunday.


4. Can La Liga’s surprise packages continue their amazing start?

When glancing at the upper tier of the La Liga table one name stands out – Leganes.

They sit in fifth place; just two points behind fourth-placed Atletico Madrid, one place above Villarreal and three places above Sevilla.

After just clinching survival last year, in their first ever La Liga campaign, many thought ‘second season syndrome’ would take hold at the tiny club based in the outskirts of Madrid.

From what we have seen so far there is no chance of that happening as the team’s amazing start – five wins, two draws and two losses – has them battling in the European spots.

With a squad boasting the likes of former Liverpool flop Nabil El Zhar and Watford loanee Nordin Amrabat, Leganes face some stern opposition on Saturday as they travel to a Sevilla team aiming to leapfrog them.

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5. The final nail in the coffin for Montella?

You can draw a lot of similarities between AC Milan and Everton – a raft of new signings brought in during the summer that are yet to click as everyone hoped.

Following the Chinese takeover of the Serie A giants it was hoped the Rossoneri would be battling for the Champions League places but instead they sit eighth, with nine points separating them and Lazio in fourth.

Much like the now-sacked Ronald Koeman, pressure has been mounting on Vincenzo Montella whose team is underperforming – though not quite at the level of the Toffees who occupy the relegation places.

On Saturday Milan host the reigning champions Juventus at the San Siro.

Should they go toe to toe with Massimilano Allegri’s side Montella may live to fight another day.

If they suffer a humiliating loss, then the writing will be on the wall.

Follow Alasdair on Twitter at @adjhooper1992

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