1) Merseyside derby offers shape of things to come
Ten years to the day after their most recent win over Liverpool, Everton entertain the Premier League champions at Goodison Park in a top-flight fixture that is about as mouthwatering as they get under the current conditions. Despite the 7-2 defeat at Aston Villa, Liverpool go into the game as odds-on favourites against a side that, under the stewardship of Carlo Ancelotti, finally appear to have overcome their almost pathological inconsistency. Their white-hot winning streak of seven matches in all competitions since the season began will end at some point, but there are few compelling arguments that suggest it will do so against a team that have looked curiously out of sorts lately. We could learn a lot from this game, not least whether Everton are genuine title contenders in what is already shaping up to be a very peculiar season, and whether the extraordinary humiliation visited upon Liverpool by Villa was an aberration or an early indicator of a far greater malaise. BG
2) Saints will ask questions of Chelsea at both ends
Southampton have yet to get going this season but are precisely the kind of team who Chelsea will not want to face: organised, athletic and with the firepower to tax an extremely dodgy defence. In particular, Danny Ings and Che Adams can cause all sorts of problems for whichever centre-backs Frank Lampard sends out – most likely Thiago Silva and Kurt Zouma. Neither will appreciate being pressed in possession and neither has spent much time in the kind of man-to-man duels a genuine striking partnership will foist upon them. Chelsea have the attackers to damage any team, though, as Crystal Palace discovered. It will be interesting to see whether Lampard sticks with Tammy Abraham as a focal point and Timo Werner, Kai Havertz and Callum Hudson-Odoi roving behind, because with Mason Mount looking sharp and Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech now fit, he has as many options as he could possibly need. The skill is in picking which combination will work best against which opponent. DH
3) Partey time for Arsenal at the Etihad?
Arsenal had already made two big signings this summer but the addition of Thomas Partey feels different. While Willian offers experience and Gabriel Magalhães has vast potential, Partey is a 27-year-old operating at the peak of his powers, arriving from a club that have operated on a higher plane to Arsenal in recent years. He could be a gamechanger and Arteta will surely be tempted to start him at the Etihad. “We knew before we signed him that he is fit, he is very willing to start playing,” the manager said. There will be the temptation to draw conclusions if he plays but, given the praise heaped on Lucas Torreira soon after his arrival, instant adulation or condemnation must be avoided. But Partey is exactly the kind of elite player required for the test City will provide; if he and Arsenal can pass it, the signs their revival is gathering pace…