All eyes will be on Newcastle as it hosts Spurs


Struggling Newcastle finds itself in the unusual position of being the Premier League’s headline act at the start of its Saudi-led revolution this weekend.

So often consigned to the margins during decades of underachievement, all eyes will be on the club on Sunday when it hosts Tottenham in its first match since the controversial takeover that has Magpies fans dreaming of joining Europe football’s elite.

Manchester United must defy injury problems as it looks to get back on track at Leicester, while leader Chelsea cannot underestimate a Brentford team unfazed by big reputations.

A look at some of the talking points ahead of the weekend action:

Sky is the limit

Newcastle can suddenly look forward to a brighter future thanks to the blockbuster £305 million ($418 million) takeover driven by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which has taken an 80% stake in the club.

The departure of disliked former owner Mike Ashley and the vast financial resources provided by the Saudis could turn Newcastle into a major force in years to come.

But while it aims to emulate cash-rich Manchester City, for now it must focus on the fight for survival.

The only way is up for the Magpies, whose new owners arrive with the team languishing in the relegation zone, winless after their first seven league games.

Manager Steve Bruce is expected to make way for a high-profile replacement but Newcastle hinted at a stay of execution on Thursday when it said the beleaguered boss will handle media duties before the Spurs game.

After the adrenaline rush of Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Old Trafford, reality has started to bite for Manchester United.

Ronaldo’s goal spree at the start of his second spell with United following his move from Juventus papered over some cracks in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side that threaten to derail its bid for a first major trophy since 2017.

Hampered by inconsistent attacking play and defensive blunders, United has won just two of its past six games in all competitions.

Brentford test for Chelsea

Off the pitch, the financial gulf between European champions Chelsea and its west London neighbour Brentford is vast, but Saturday’s first league match between the clubs for 74 years could be a lot closer than it appears on paper.

While Chelsea can call on some of the most expensive players in Europe, its unheralded neighbour has returned to the top flight for the first time since 1947 thanks to the shrewd use of analytics in the transfer market and manager Thomas Frank’s tactics.

Chelsea’s hopes of retaining its narrow lead at the top of the table rest on matching Brentford’s intensity levels.

The fixtures:

Saturday: Watford v Liverpool, Aston Villa v Wolves, Leicester v Manchester United, Manchester City v Burnley, Norwich v Brighton, Southampton v Leeds, Brentford v Chelsea.

Sunday: Everton v West Ham, Newcastle v Tottenham.

Monday: Arsenal v Crystal Palace.

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