Premier League W2W4: Can Man City bounce back? Tottenham desperately need win
Ahead of each round of fixtures in the Premier League, W2W4 looks at the main storylines to keep an eye on.
1. Manchester City face a different test
It was amusing that, a day after Liverpool's schooling of Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League prompted some to conclude the French champions couldn't cut it in Europe because their domestic league was too easy, the English champions were beaten by Lyon. Manchester City weren't actually that bad and Pep Guardiola might turn this into a positive, using the defeat as a cautionary tale against the dangers of coasting, but his team face a different test on Saturday.
You may recall last season that City faced Cardiff in the FA Cup: some of their players definitely remember, and have the bruises to prove it after Neil Warnock's side took a rather physical approach to things. Left-back Joe Bennett was sent off, and there could have been others. Cardiff, looking for their first Premier League win when they meet again this weekend, probably won't divert too far from that approach again.
The task for City will be to see if they can regroup and refocus after a surprising result left them bottom of Group F after the opener.
2. Brighton trip looking crucial now for Spurs
At the start of the season, a trip to Brighton probably didn't look a huge fixture for Tottenham. It does now. Having lost three-straight games for the first time since the Tim Sherwood era, the whiff of trouble is in the air for Mauricio Pochettino's men. You can't call it a crisis just yet, but it doesn't take a colossal leap to think the squad -- the key members of which have pretty much been the same as they were in 2015 -- might not be responding quite as well to Pochettino. If that's the case, it could lead to longer-term problems than just a bad start to the season.
Romantic as it seems, these fine players haven't stuck around purely because of a deep love for the club and supporters. They're there because they play good football, and the lure of winning something with a team that (as they might perceive it) has been constructed rather than bought is a strong one. But if the football goes and with it the prospect of those trophies, Spurs don't look quite so attractive.
The nightmare scenario is things start to unravel this season, and their key players quickly start casting around for alternatives. The contracts for Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld and Mousa Dembele all expire next summer and Christian Eriksen's the summer after that. Should they lose patience, the core of the team is gone and they more or less have to start again: a tricky business when funds are limited. Would the rest want to stick around in those circumstances?
That is a worst case, though. The next four games -- Brighton, Huddersfield, Cardiff and West Ham -- are all winnable. With victory at Brighton, things could start trending in the other direction quickly.
3. Newcastle have an opponent they should think they can beat
Whether or not you thought Rafa Benitez's tactics in Newcastle's recent games against Chelsea and Manchester City represented necessary pragmatism or needless defeatism, what's certainly true is that they now at least have a game they aren't expected to get hammered in. Wilfried Zaha and 10 others (or Crystal Palace as they're officially known) have had a patchy start to the season, and the trip to Selhurst Park represents Newcastle's best chance for three points so far.
But this is the down side of opting for "damage limitation" exercises against the big boys: the pressure that then puts upon the "easier" games, like this one, increases. The mood is already pretty low in the north-east with just one point from the first five matches. Fail to collect three points here and it will sink even further. Much more, and it will be too far to recover.
4. Burnley really, really need a win
Understandably, Sean Dyche has been looking on the bright side of Burnley's abysmal start to the season. "We are back to being the sort of Burnley everyone supposes of us," he said. "This underdog that has got to punch above its weight -- we have historically done this. We have got to do that again."
No kidding. The Clarets, without a single point to their name so far, have started a league season in worse fashion before, but that was in 1927-28, when they lost all their opening five games. There are no straightforward games when you're at the bottom of the league, but that's particularly true against Bournemouth: Eddie Howe's men begin the weekend in fifth place, having cut swathes through the opening month of the campaign. If Burnley don't respond to their rediscovered underdog status quickly, they'll find themselves in a relegation battle.
5. Will Fabinho start for Liverpool?
Liverpool fans were treated to an unusual sight at the end of their Champions League win over PSG: Fabinho. Not that it has ultimately mattered for Jurgen Klopp's side, their record spotless so far, but it is slightly strange that it took so long for the Brazilian midfielder to feature, even if Klopp is easing him in.
Saturday's game against Southampton would appear to be the perfect chance to start the £40 million summer signing: the team are in form, they're at home, the opposition "gentle." Liverpool are already pretty good, and they're not even at full-strength yet. All the best to Mark Hughes and his boys.