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August 10, 2022
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Harry Kane Tottenham importance grows; Mauricio Pochettino looms large at Man United – weekend talking points

The Premier League clubs face off one more time ahead of the international break as the FA Cup first round proper gets under way.

Here, Standard Sport reporters look ahead to the weekend action and what you should be looking out for.

1. Kane’s importance increasing for Spurs  

Harry Kane breezed to another milestone in Tottenham‘s win over Ludogorets on Thursday, reaching 200 Spurs goals on his 300th appearance for the club. Totting up landmarks is part of the reason Kane wants to play every available minute but Jose Mourinho is determined to be sensible with his game-time. At the moment, however, Spurs can scarcely do with him. Kane was rested in Belgium last week and they slipped to a dismal 1-0 defeat to Royal Antwerp, prompting his recall in Bulgaria.

His understudy, Carlos Vinicius, is promising but still getting up to speed. Kane is simply so good, it feels like he has to play in every important game and since he will never complain, Mourinho faces a tricky balancing act come the business end of the season. Kane’s form is remarkable but Spurs are already in danger of being over-reliant on him, which would be no good thing. Dan Kilpatrick

2. Spotlight on Martinez ahead of Arsenal return    

Arsenal fans were split in the summer over the sale of Emi Martinez. For some, the Argentina international should have been kept because his fine form on the run to FA Cup glory showed he should be the new No1 at Emirates Stadium. For others, Bernd Leno deserved to retain the shirt after two years of solid performances. Sunday could give fans a chance to settle the debate when Leno and Martinez go head-to-head when Aston Villa play Arsenal. Martinez has struggled recently, conceding seven goals in his last two games, but last season showed he loves the big stageSimon Collings

3. Pressure cranking up on Bilic at West Brom

After guiding West Brom out of the Championship, Slaven Bilic is yet to win in the Premier League and Monday’s 2-0 defeat to Fulham means his position is under real scrutiny. A heavy defeat against Tottenham on Sunday would leave the Albion board with a huge decision to make before the international break. West Brom held Chelsea to a 3-3 draw at the end of September but since then they have picked up just two points. There are concerns at board level over the start West Brom have made to the season and Bilic is under pressure. Jack Rosser

4. Big Phil record in Lampard’s sights

Chelsea have kept five clean sheets in a row for the first time since doing it under Carlo Ancelotti in 2010. Should they extend that to six against Sheffield United this weekend, Lampard will equal Luiz Felipe Scolari’s feat from 2008. Not that it did the Brazilian much good. He was out of work four months later as Roman Abramovich ruthlessly decided to call time on the World Cup-winning manager’s Stamford Bridge reign before he’d even completed a season in charge. Frank Lampard, though, is only just getting started at Chelsea and is establishing them as genuine title contendersJames Robson

5. Klopp facing big call after Jota treble in Europe

For so long, the Liverpool attack has picked itself. The front three of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane have terrorised defences for the past few seasons, but might it now be being broken up? It seems a bold statement, but Diogo Jota is making an strong case to replace Firmino. The 23-year-old has scored seven goals since his £41million move from Wolves in the summer, including six in his last four games. After his Champions League hat-trick against Atalanta in midweek too, surely he has to start against Manchester City on Sunday? Klopp has a big decision to make. Simon Collings

6. Fulham may have sorted long-term centre-back issue

It was pretty clear in the first few games of the season that if Fulham failed to strengthen at centre-back before the transfer window closed then they would be heading straight back to the Championship. They left it late to sign Joachim Andersen and Tosin Adarabioyo on deadline day but, in those two players, Scott Parker may have finally have a centre-back pairing that gives Fulham a chance of staying up. Andersen and Adarabioyo partnered each other for the first time and impressed as Fulham kept a clean sheet in Monday’s 2-0 win over West Brom. Another shutout at West Ham on Saturday would send them into the international break on a positive note after a tricky start. Simon Collings

7. Can Haller take his chance?

David Moyes has laid down a challenge to Sebastien Haller to grab his opportunity to impress and prove he’s worth the £45million club-record fee West Ham paid for him. The striker, who failed to register a touch in Liverpool’s penalty area last weekend, will lead the line in Michail Antonio’s absence against Fulham. Playing against a side you would expect West Ham to have more of the ball should suit Haller. With Antonio making a speedy recovery from his hamstring problem, Haller doesn’t have long to impress. Jack Rosser

FA Cup final rescheduled for August 1

8 FA Cup first-round tie going ahead after Government exemptions

FA Cup first-round ties will be played as planned this weekend after the Government granted non-League team dispensation for non-elite teams to play during lockdown. Ten clubs inside the M25 – Boreham Wood, Bromley, Charlton, Dagenham and Redbridge, Leyton Orient, Barnet, Hampton and Richmond, Cray Valley and Hayes and Yeading – are in action. AFC Wimbledon’s tie with Barrow has been postponed after a number of positive results for Covid-19 in the Dons squad. The other 39 first-round ties will be played behind closed doors, they will go straight to extra time with no replays, and losing teams will receive a share of prize money to lessen the financial impact of ties being played without fans. Simon Collings

( Getty Images )

9. Pochettino’s shadow looms over Solskjaer

Mauricio Pochettino has big admirers within Old Trafford – and the temptation to firm up long-standing interest in the Argentine will only intensify if Manchester United’s woeful form continues. A trip to Everton looks daunting for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as he tries to steer his way out of crisis. Goodison Park was where David Moyes’ United reign came to an end, while Solskjaer himself endured a 4-0 defeat there a year and a half ago. He can ill-afford a repeat with Pochettino waiting in the wings. James Robson

10. Intriguing clash of approaches in store when Hodgson faces Bielsa

Two different styles meet when veterans Roy Hodgson and Marcelo Bielsa face each other in the dugout at Selhurst Park this weekend. Newly-promoted Leeds are famed for their high-octane, suffocating approach under Bielsa, and will come up against the brute force of Hodgson’s Palace. Hodgson works relentlessly on shape and organisation in training, meaning Palace are one of the toughest sides to break down in the Premier League. It has served Hodgson well in his three years at the club, but the Premier League’s new boys have shown they can cause problems to every team in the divisionJack

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