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Mauricio Pochettino

Premier League – five things to look out for this weekend

We’ve got another fine weekend of Premier League football to look forward to again, and whilst it may be the world’s wealthiest league, it’s all about the drama, emotion and history that makes the Barclays Premier League so special.

Prepare yourself for another weekend of pain, sacrifice and hard work, all in order to bring home another three points. Here are five things to look out for.

White Hart Pain

Tottenham are yet to register a win after three games and this week they take on Roberto Martinez’s Everton at White Hart Lane. Spurs have already lost four points from leading positions, having conceded late goals to both Stoke and Leicester in their last two games.

This season the aim is simple for Mauricio Pochettino, find a way to break into the top four, but in all honesty this Spurs squad looks thin on the ground and a shade of the team that qualified for the Champions League in 2009/10.

Back then Tottenham were building a really respectable side with star quality that included Luka Modric, Rafael Van Der Vaart and Gareth Bale, but looking around the current Spurs dressing room it’s difficult to find players that stand out.

Harry Kane was an absolute revelation last season and without him who knows where The Lily Whites may have finished, but the English international hasn’t hit the ground running so far and looks tired after competing in the U21’s finals.

The good news for Spurs fans is it appears support for Kane is being recruited in the form of Bayer Leverkusen forward Son Heung-Min. Chairman Daniel Levy is chasing the Korean who can play as both a striker and a winger with the fee believed to be in the region of £22 million.

This will probably signal the end of Tottenham’s interest in Saido Berahino as West Brom seem unwilling to sell.

Whatever happens between now and the end of the window Spurs have a lot of players on their books with points to prove, and the young Argentine manager will also have to convince the club he has them moving in the right direction, starting this weekend.

Hat-trick hero to zero?

Wayne Rooney might have silenced the critics in mid-week after scoring a hat-trick against Club Brugge, but no doubt they’ll be piping up again if he under performs against Swansea this weekend.

Rooney ended his goal drought and said “If I didn’t have a strong character, that may have affected me, but I know my quality,” It was the 29-year-old’s second European hat-trick the first of which came on his United debut against Fenerbache in 2004.

The England captain has come under huge criticism this season for his lack of goals and many expected Louis Van Gaal to sign a striker before the window closes. However, the Dutch manager has insisted he has no plans to sign a striker and has full faith in Rooney’s ability.

LVG has also stated he sees Belgian international Maruoane Fellaini as a striker and will utilise the former Everton man if need be as well as having Javier Hernandez back in his armoury.

You can’t help but feel though that United need a world class striker to replace Van Persie and offer competition as well as support for Rooney. The most recent man linked with United has been Everton’s Romelu Lukaku, he’d certainly fit the bill with his pace and power, but United would have to fork out at least £40 million.

Either way, despite Rooney’s heroics in mid-week, if United fail to score for a second week running in the Premier League the critics will be out in their droves and Reds fans will be begging Van Gaal to buy a striker. So watch this space.

The West Ham way?

The Hammers stunned every Premier League fan on the opening day with an impressive win against Arsenal, but if you scratch the surface you could argue that win was quite lucky, especially with Petr Cech making two errors during the game.

The reason I say this is because, after the match, I was sold into believing that West Ham looked a real force this year but home losses to Leicester and Bournemouth prove that isn’t the case.

West Ham on paper look stronger than ever, but after getting rid of Sam Allardyce the safety factor of their club has definitely left with him. Often criticised for playing unattractive football, at least under big Sam you know what you’re going to get week in week out, gritty performances and hard-earned points.

It certainly hasn’t been an ideal start for new manager Slaven Bilic, whose side crashed out of Europe in pre-season and are still yet to play the West Ham way, whatever that is?

He was brought in to lead this side up the table and, over the next few years, challenge for Champions League places as The Hammers ambitions soar with a move to the Olympic Stadium pending. However, an away trip to Liverpool this weekend will see them worrying more about relegation for the time being.

Sinclair and Defoe, but all of the woe

Aston Villa and Sunderland scored 11 goals between them in the Capital One Cup this week, Villa putting five past Notts County and Sunderland smashing six against Exeter, however it’s less impressive when you realise they also conceded six goals collectively against lower league opposition.

These two do battle at the weekend and you’d think this one got goals written all over it? So why is it my gut says the complete opposite. Villa in the Premier League have only notched two goals from the three games so far and Sunderland haven’t done much better.

In mid-week Scott Sinclair was the hat-trick hero, and the claret and blue side will hope he’s be in similar mood come the weekend. New striker Jordan Ayew is yet to get off the mark (unlike his brother at Swansea) and Rudy Gestede is still adjusting to life in the big time.

If Villa are to unlock doors, the key might be through young prospect Jack Grealish who was fantastic against County and is growing in confidence with every appearance.

Sunderland also had a hat-trick hero in Jermain Defoe, but you still have to question their ability to defend, after leaking three goals to the League 2 side.

Last time out in the Premier League The Black Cats picked up their first point of the season drawing to Swansea but they were outplayed in that match and were lucky to pick up a point, with Dick Advocaat admitting they needed to add to the squad before the deadline.

Whilst it’s too early to claim this as a relegation battle, these are two sides that have flirted with the drop in recent years and will be keen to pick up the win.

Europa curse?

It’s been well documented what a great two seasons Southampton have had, finishing eighth in 2013 and threatening to break into the top four last season under the guidance of Ronald Koeman.

Many thought The Saints would struggle last year after so many key players left, but it wasn’t the case and they recruited some fantastic players including Graziano Pelle and Sadio Mane.

However, a slow start to this campaign has got people already questioning if the biggest curse of all is affecting their performances. The Europa League. After losing to Danish champions FC Midtjylland last night at least regular Thursday night football won’t hinder them any further this season.

This weekend Southampton continue looking for their first Premier League win of the season and face Norwich City at home.

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