After a 4-0 victory against Maccabi Tel Aviv reminded Jose Mourinho of what it feels like to win, the Chelsea manager has an important decision to make before facing Arsenal in the Premier League on Saturday.
Mourinho made six changes for the Group G Champions League game on Wednesday after Chelsea lost their third league game out of five at Everton last Saturday. Regular starters John Terry, Branislav Ivanovic, Nemanja Matic and Diego Costa were on the bench.
The commanding victory could boost confidence among the Chelsea ranks but Mourinho must decide whether to return his underperforming stars to the lineup, or keep faith with players such as Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Loic Remy, who impressed against Maccabi.
With Willian and Pedro Rodriguez expected to miss the Arsenal game through injury, Eden Hazard should keep his starting place, despite an unconfident performance against Maccabi where he missed a penalty after five minutes.
Here are some things to know ahead of this weekend’s Premier League fixtures:
VAN GAAL TAKES ON KOEMAN
Manchester United travel to Southampton on Sunday, where Louis van Gaal will renew his rivalry with Dutch counterpart Ronald Koeman.
Their fractious relationship stems from when Koeman was manager at Ajax and Van Gaal was appointed technical director.
Last season, Van Gaal’s United battled to a scarcely deserved 2-1 victory at St. Mary’s, before Koeman avenged the defeat with a 1-0 win at Old Trafford.
United head to the south of England in inconsistent form — an impressive 3-1 victory against fierce rival Liverpool at Old Trafford was followed by a 2-1 loss to PSV Eindhoven in the Champions League on Tuesday.
Captain Wayne Rooney missed both games with a hamstring problem and it’s unclear whether he will be available against Southampton.
MAN CITY WARY OF WEST HAM
Manchester City have five wins from its opening five games in the Premier League and is yet to concede a goal.
Manuel Pellegrini’s team is the early pacesetter atop the standings and the overwhelming favorite to beat West Ham on Saturday – although it knows the east London club is capable of upsets.
Manager Slaven Bilic has already masterminded West Ham to two surprise away victories against Arsenal and Liverpool – games it was widely expected to lose. It comfortably beat Newcastle 2-0 on Monday and will head to Manchester confident of springing another surprise.
West Ham could face a City side missing Sergio Aguero. The striker went off after 25 minutes with a right knee problem when his side beat Crystal Palace last weekend and missed Tuesday’s loss to Juventus in the Champions League.
LIVERPOOL MUST BEAT NORWICH
After two wins and a draw at Arsenal gave Liverpool a solid start to the Premier League season, Brendan Rodgers’ side hit reverse.
Arsenal have since lost 3-0 to West Ham at Anfield and 3-1 at fierce rival United. Rodgers has swiftly found himself back under the scrutiny he ended last season under.
He needs to arrest Liverpool’s slide urgently and left Martin Skrtel, Dejan Lovren, Nathaniel Clyne, Lucas Leiva, James Milner and striker Christian Benteke out of the squad to play Bordeaux in the Europa League so they are fresh to face Norwich on Sunday.
Rodgers wants Liverpool to return to the attacking style he is associated with.
“I think it is good I have an identity as a coach,” Rodgers said. “I am confident we can get back to playing that way and it is something I along with the staff are working very hard to reinforce.”
SWANSEA BATTLE RESURGENT EVERTON
Swansea and Everton have made impressive starts to the season with commanding wins against difficult teams.
Welsh side Swansea beat United 2-1 in August, and also held Chelsea to a 2-2 draw on the opening day of the season, while Everton beat Chelsea last weekend and also recorded a commanding 3-0 victory over Southampton in August.
The two sides meet at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday and victory for either would enforce a promising start to the season.
Elsewhere, Aston Villa host West Bromwich Albion, Bournemouth face Sunderland, Watford travel to Newcastle and Stoke play Leicester, while Tottenham meet London rival Crystal Palace.