5 Things To Watch For In Week Six Of The English Premier League
We're only six weeks into the English Premier League season, but the action has already reached a high level.
In Manchester City, 2015 runners-up have by far been the best team, while United exited a drama-filled transfer window with their star goalkeeper in hand (also the most expensive 19-year-old in history).
Before the start of the season, Arsenal and Chelsea were the most hyped contenders, but they have suffered losses at the hands of their less-fancied London rivals, West Ham and Crystal Palace.
Overall, there have been more than enough storylines to go around, but this weekend, there are a handful of them worthy of special attention.
Here are five things to watch for this weekend at the Premier League:
1. Arsenal Searching For The Finisher
It may only be the sixth match of the Premier League season, but Arsene Wenger's team can deliver a death blow to Chelsea's chances of retaining their crown...IF they can beat the blues at Stamford Bridge this weekend.
Chelsea have lost three out of their five games so far and look a shadow of their former selves, with star names like Ivanovic, Fabregas and Hazard woefully under-performing. Arsenal have steadied the ship since their opening day wobble versus West Ham, without being spectacular.
It's obvious for Chelsea a win is needed very badly. I would argue if Arsenal can't beat this Chelsea team in their current mess, the pre-season talk of the Premier League trophy returning to North London is totally fanciful.
The pressure is on Chelsea to start to turn their season around on Saturday, but there's a chance for Arsenal to put a nail in the blues' coffin, while assuming the role of genuine title contenders themselves.
The pressure is on Wenger, just as much as it is on Mourinho to get a win on Saturday.
2. Mahrez Magic
Riyad Mahrez is a must-see attraction in the Premier League right now. Leicester City are second in the Premier League, and the creativity and invention of Mahrez has played a large part in thier super early-season form.
We've spent so much of the early part of this season talking about underperforming stars (Eden Hazard, I'm looking at you!), it's great to be able to watch Mahrez do his thing with such freedom and ease.
His touch is superb and his ability to shimmy past defenders is reminiscent of the old-school wingers of the past. This Leicester City team is exciting, and watching Mahrez play is a joy for neutral and midlands fans alike.
If he keeps playing like this, you can expect a protracted transfer saga with many suitors from across Europe trying to take the Algerian away from Claudio Ranieri's ranks in January. For now, Mahrez is making an early-season Stoke versus Leicester game much more appealing.
Thank him for that.
3. Roberto Martinez Returns To Swansea
They're two teams with identical records, but both are coming off the back of markedly different results. Everton disposed of reigning champions, Chelsea, with the aplomb of Roberto Martinez's early tenure at Goodison Park.
Swansea, the hipster favorite, saw their good start get a dose of reality, with a 1-0 defeat away to Watford. Both sides should have "top six" ambitions, so it's an intriguing clash of two sides fighting for a similar prize.
It was Roberto Martinez who laid the groundwork for the exciting Swansea we know today, but the blues boss will be looking to make another statement by beating his old side in South Wales this weekend.
4. Sherwood Returns To The Wishing Well
Last spring, Tim Sherwood found hope in back-to-back victories over local rival West Brom in the Premier League and in the quarter-final of the FA Cup. Beating West Brom was their spring board to safety.
It may be too early for panic at Villa Park, but last week's capitulation at Leicester hit the manager hard. “I aint never felt this bad, ever” was Sherwood's post-match reaction to his side's surrender of a 2-0 lead, in an eventual 3-2 defeat to the Foxes.
The only way for Timmy Tactics to feel immediately better is by getting a home win this weekend.
5. Steve McLaren's Face
Newcastle Manager Steve McLaren is a man who wears his feelings on his face. Apart from a smile as wide as the Tyne River after the Magpie's gutsy 0-0 draw at Old Trafford a few weeks ago, we haven't seen the McLaren grin too much lately.
McLaren described Monday night's miserable 2-0 defeat to West Ham United as “a wake-up call.” Newcastle is without a win so far, and while the season is still young, it won't take too long for Geordie natives to get restless.
Time for McLaren to turn that frown upside down, with a win at home this weekend against Watford.