Premier League talking points: Man United crisis, Newcastle test, Spurs and Arsenal clash

We pick out the big issues ahead of this weekend's English top-flight fixtures

Brazilian midfielder Casemiro has struggled for form this season. AFP
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Manchester United reaching crisis point

At what point does an early season blip jump into a full-blown crisis? For Manchester United, that leap seems to be hurtling closer into view.

On Wednesday, United started their Champions League campaign with a 4-3 defeat at Bayern Munich, which was their third defeat on the spin and they currently sit 13th in the Premier League table.

On the pitch, there are concerns at both ends of the pitch.

Goalkeeper Andre Onana held his hands up after conceding a dreadful opening goal against Bayern. “I have to learn from it and be strong,” said the Cameroonian. “I have a lot to prove. My start in Manchester hasn't been so good, not how I want. This was one of my worst games.”

Andy Mitten reports from Munich on Manchester United's Champions League loss

Andy Mitten reports from Munich on Manchester United's Champions League loss

The defence has leaked 12 goals in four games, Casemiro's form in midfield has dropped off a cliff, while Bruno Fernades has yet to convince he is worthy of the captain's armband.

In attack, they desperately need £70 million striker Rasmus Hojlund to hit the ground running and take some of the goalscoring burden off of Marcus Rashford.

Away from the pitch, the Glazers seem determined not to sell the club, much to the fury of the fans, while Brazilian winger Antony has been given a leave of absence over assault allegations, while the shadow of Mason Greenwood's future is still hanging over Old Trafford.

On Saturday, they face a Burnley side managed by former Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany who would love nothing more than to add to his old rivals' woes.

Toffees stuck in limbo

While fingers linger over the panic button in the red half of Manchester, the crisis klaxon has been blaring loudly for quite a while in the blue section of Liverpool.

After narrowly escaping relegation the previous two season, Everton find themselves dancing in the drop zone once again with Sean Dyche's team having taken one point from a possible 15, scoring a dismal two goals.

Confidence is low and pressure is high ahead of their match against Brentford at the Gtech Community Stadium.

Much like United, Everton are a club in limbo ownership-wise, with Farhad Moshiri having agreed to sell his 94.1 per cent stake to American investment fund 777 Partners.

This should be being greeted with joy from fans who have long called for the end of Moshiri's reign but the potential new owners' reputation will hardly fill supporters with confidence.

Judging by the fan protests seen at German side Hertha Berlin and Standard Liege in Belgium – two clubs that 777 Partners have invested in – the fear is Everton are replacing one controversial regime with another.

Magpies hope to avoid Euro hangover

The first big test of how Newcastle United's players will react to the extra workload of Champions League football takes place at Bramall Lane this weekend.

The Magpies face Sheffield United – who are 17th in the table with just one point on the board – on the back of a draining goalless draw at AC Milan in their group stage opener on Tuesday.

Their fourth-place finish last season was secured without the burden of midweek European matches and they did not lose a game against any side in the bottom half of the table.

But while Paul Heckingbottom's team have lost four out five games so far, none of those have been by more than a goal, including matches against Manchester City and Tottenham.

“[It's a] contrast of a week in terms of the San Siro and Bramall Lane,” admitted Newcastle striker Callum Wilson. “We have to make sure the mentality is the same for both because you can't take anything for granted.”

Battle for North London bragging rights

An intriguing North London derby is set for Sunday between two teams who both have some early-season momentum having each taken 13 points from a possible 15.

Arsenal also enjoyed a memorable return to Champions League football on Wednesday after a six-year absence when they thrashed Dutch league leaders PSV Eindhoven 4-0 at Emirates Stadium.

Such was their dominance, Mikel Arteta was able to give starters Leandro Trossard, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Jesus and Declan Rice a rest well before the final whistle.

Tottenham, meanwhile, are still enjoying the Ange Postecoglou bounce with the Australian manager having seemingly reinvigorated the club since taking over in the summer.

Speaking at a fan forum this week, Spurs chairman Daniel Levy said of his new manager: “I just wanted somebody who understood our DNA, would play attacking football, that would give young players a chance, believe in the academy, would build a relationship with the fans and … Ange, I have to say, is a breath of fresh air.”

Luton strive to be taken seriously

Promoted Luton Town remain the only top-flight club still awaiting their first point of the new campaign, albeit having played a game less than 18 of the 19 other teams. The Hatters' opening home game against Burnley was postponed due to their Kenilworth Road ground not being up to Premier League standard.

They have scored just twice so far – the top-flight's joint-worst – and only two sides have conceded more than their total of 10 goals. After Luton's home defeat by West Ham, BBC pundit and former Spurs striker Garth Crooks said: “It's good to see Luton back in the big league once more, but I can't take them seriously, and see them down by Christmas.”

Manager Rob Edwards called the comments “disrespectful” adding that “it does hurt when you hear comments like that” and, after their 1-0 loss at Fulham, he admitted his team were still getting used to “the ruthless nature of this league”.

A home game on Saturday against a Wolves side that has lost four out of five gives them the perfect chance to show they can handle life in the Premier League.

Updated: September 22, 2023, 2:43 AM