Richard Buxton: Reds’ front trio ready to rumble
Our columnist looks at the five biggest clashes as the EPL kicks off this weekend
Perception meets reality at the Brentford Community Stadium in the English Premier League's big kick-off tomorrow morning (Singapore time).
The Bees are back in the top flight after 74 years on a bedrock of astute, data-orientated recruitment. We will soon know if that will be enough for Thomas Frank's side to stay up.
His counterpart Mikel Arteta, meanwhile, has spent heavily in the wake of the Gunners' failure to qualify for Europe for the first time since 1994/95.
Ben White's £50 million (S$94m) arrival from Brighton & Hove Albion should provide some defensive steel in the long term. But Brentford's free-scoring striker Ivan Toney will relish taking them on.
|MANCHESTER UNITED||LEEDS UNITED|
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's crowning EPL moment last season was a bittersweet one as the Red Devils trounced Leeds 6-2 in an emphatic pre-Christmas display played out inside a cavernous Old Trafford.
With fans returning this weekend, Solskjaer's side will be eyeing an encore of that showing.
A 4-0 thrashing of Everton in their final pre-season friendly, coupled with excitement around the high-profile captures of Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho, sees confidence at sky-high levels for the 20-time English champions.
Having taken points off United along with four of their top-six peers during the second half of last season, Leeds are unlikely to surrender easily.
But they will be without defender Diego Llorente, who will miss the opening fornight.
This season, Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel will face sterner tests than his formative months at Stamford Bridge.
But it is unlikely to come against a team that have lost by an 11-2 aggregate in their last four visits.
The Eagles face great uncertainty with Patrick Vieira still largely unproven as a manager and inheriting a squad in dire need of an upgrade.
Romelu Lukaku's protracted return to the Blues rules him out of tomorrow's meeting with Palace, which offers a crumb of comfort for the visitors.
Early indications show that Timo Werner has not responded to the news of his direct replacement's arrival with anything that suggests he will be vying for Tuchel's affections this term.
Deja vu appears to have hit Anfield even before a ball is kicked.
Andy Robertson faces several weeks out with ankle ligament damage while Curtis Jones misses the clash with Norwich City due to concussion.
Virgil van Dijk's long-awaited return from injury at least provides the Reds with the defensive stability to withstand a potential onslaught from new Canaries striker Josh Sargent.
Juergen Klopp's side also have more than enough to inflict a routine defeat on their returning hosts, with the trident of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah looking sharp in pre-season.
Firmino scored a brace in a 3-1 win over Osasuna on Monday, while Mane has also bagged three goals in five friendlies.
|TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR||MANCHESTER CITY|
Success seemingly causes more problems for Pep Guardiola as he seeks to build on a third EPL title in four seasons.
Recalibrating an already stellar midfield to accommodate record signing Jack Grealish is just one headache for the Manchester City manager, albeit alleviated by Phil Foden and Kevin de Bruyne's absences.
The other dilemma could potentially be staring Guardiola in the face, quite literally, as his side prepare for this weekend's showcase encounter.
Harry Kane's likely inclusion for Tottenham will expose both their overall inadequacies and City's shortcomings since parting ways with Sergio Aguero.
An inspired display from the England captain against his prospective new employers will give Nuno Espirito Santo a much-needed opening-day win, which might also turn out to be Kane's parting gift.
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