The big news ahead of the Premier League matches this weekend is not about who will be playing but who won’t be taking part after Manchester United announced on Thursday that Cristiano Ronaldo had been dropped from the squad for Saturday’s visit to Chelsea after another display of petulance.
Ronaldo’s decision to walk down the touchline and down the tunnel on Wednesday night when it became clear he wasn’t going to get on as his side beat Tottenham 2-0.
The fact that United have been playing their best football without the Portuguese means that in terms of performance, Ronaldo probably won’t be missed at Stamford Bridge for what promises to be a thrilling match.
Chelsea have improved since the arrival of Graham Potter, while United are slowly finding their identity under Eric ten Hag.
Chelsea’s big issue for this game will be replacing Reece James, who is out with a knee injury that will see him miss the World Cup.
Saturday kicks off with Liverpool travelling to bottom-of-the-table Nottingham Forest seeking a third consecutive win, with the team aiming to get their season back on track after narrow triumphs against Manchester City and West Ham.
Manchester City travel to the south coast to face Brighton, who have continued the tradition of playing attractive football but failing to score the goals they deserve.
Wednesday was a chastening experience for Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford and Antonio Conte has to rally his players for another difficult match on Saturday when Newcastle United visit White Hart Lane.
Richarlison is still out for Tottenham, but Emerson is back after suspension to face a rival that has climbed up to sixth with 10 points from a possible 12.
Leicester City claimed their second win of the season when they beat Leeds United on Thursday and now visit Wolves, who sit just above them in 18th place.
Aston Villa’s horrible capitulation to Fulham on Thursday cost Steven Gerrard his job as a coach and no replacement will be in the dugout for Sunday’s home game against Brentford.
Expect visiting forward Ivan Toney to give problems to the Villa defense and a well-drilled Brentford will think they have an excellent chance to take advantage of a team that is currently in chaos.
Fulham’s win over Villa lifted them to ninth and Marco Silva’s side should be confident of taking something of their visit to Elland Road, where Leeds United are in trouble after a run of seven games without a win.
That has increased the pressure on coach Jesse Marsch, especially in the wake of Thursday’s defeat to Leicester, and much may depend on how his side’s defense deal with Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic.
League leaders Arsenal visit Southampton, who gained some breathing space with a midweek win at Bournemouth, while Arsenal beat PSV Eindhoven in a rearranged Europa League game.
The round of matches ends on Monday, with Bournemouth at home to take on West Ham.