Weekend Wanderings: Liverpool’s defensive woes, PSG travel to champions Monaco and Alex Neil returns to Carrow Road

With another round of midweek European football concluded, all eyes turn once more to domestic leagues where there are some attractive fixtures to look forward to.

Alasdair Hooper takes a look at the stories and narratives you should be keeping an eye on this weekend.

1) Will the real Liverpool defence please stand up?

Fresh from the defensive calamity that allowed Sevilla to come back from 3-0 down to draw 3-3, Liverpool face a real test of character at Anfield on Saturday evening against Chelsea.

With pointed fingers directed accusingly towards the Reds defenders (we’re looking at you in particular, Alberto Moreno) the likes of Eden Hazard and Alvaro Morata won’t be a welcome sight.

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However, in the league Jurgen Klopp’s side have enjoyed three victories on the bounce and they sit just three points behind Antonio Conte’s Blues.

So which Liverpool side are we likely to see – the one that blew Arsenal away or the one that leaked goals galore against Tottenham?

You can’t help but think that the performance of the Reds’ Jekyll and Hyde defence will be key.

2) The return of Alex Neil to Carrow Road

Despite taking Norwich up to the Premier League, Canaries fans often expressed their dissatisfaction regarding life under Alex Neil towards the end of his tenure.

Unsurprisingly the Scot was sacked in March 2017 with Norwich eighth in the table but was handed another opportunity in the Championship when he replaced Simon Grayson as manager of Preston North End.

With the 36-year-old in charge, the Deepdale side have impressed but have recently undergone a poor run of form, partly due to injury problems in the squad.

However, on Tuesday Preston picked up a much-needed win against Bristol City – in part thanks to a change in formation – and Neil returns to his old club who haven’t exactly hit the heights since he left.

Norwich currently sit 15th as performances under head coach Daniel Farke continue to fluctuate wildly.

Neil’s return could spark the Canaries’ players into action but he will want his Preston side to bring home all three points on Saturday afternoon.

3) Will Dortmund be looking for a new Bosz if they lose the Ruhr derby?

Borussia Dortmund’s season is unraveling dramatically and manager Peter Bosz – appointed from Ajax in the summer – is already on the brink.

Aside from their poor form in the Champions League, Dortmund’s domestic campaign started well enough but tactical problems and defensive fragility has led to them being found out.

To put this into some context, when Jupp Heynckes returned to Bayern Munich as manager, on October 9, Bosz’s team were top of the Bundesliga – now they are fifth.

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On Saturday afternoon Die Schwarzgelben host rivals Schalke in the Ruhr derby with the Gelsenkirchen side on the rise.

Young Schalke manager Domenico Tedesco – who is just 32 – is adapting well to life in his first campaign at the Veltins Arena with his side sitting second in the league.

He could yet put the final nail in Bosz’s coffin.

4) Can last season’s basket case close in on first place?

Last season will not live long in the memory of Valencia fans as they flirted at the wrong end of the La Liga table.

This season it’s all change at the Mestalla as impressive new manager Marcelino – and a rejuvenated Simone Zaza – have helped Valencia to second in the La Liga table.

Still yet to lose a game Los Che face their toughest test so far on Sunday as the only team above them pay them a visit – Barcelona.

Despite all the problems and talks of crisis at the start of the season Ernesto Valverde’s Barca have risen above it all and made a flying start to the LaLiga season.

This is set to be an absolutely brilliant watch.

5) Can last season’s Ligue 1 Champions keep out the most fearsome attack in Europe?

Paris Saint-Germain’s attack is a scary entity right now – just ask Celtic.

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Unsurprisingly their domestic form has been as impressive as their European form with 43 goals scored and nine conceded in the league thus far.

On Sunday night Unai Emery’s table-toppers travel to the side that thwarted their attempts last season for the Ligue 1 title – Monaco.

After a summer that saw the core of the their title-winning squad ripped apart – including Kylian Mbappe’s loan move to PSG – Leonardo Jardim’s side have recruited well and, though they are still trying to gel and rebuild, they remain a force to be reckoned with.

They sit second, six points behind PSG, and represent the toughest opposition to the side from the capital city.

We will see what Neymar and co have to say on Sunday.

You can Follow Alasdair Hooper at @adjhooper1992

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