Premier League questions: Raheem Sterling Pep's most potent weapon?
By Pete Hall
Last Updated: 20/08/16 9:33am
The opening round of Premier League matches threw up more questions than answers, whetting the appetite for more.
Manchester United kicked off the second weekend with a 2-0 Friday Night Football win over Southampton and the thrills and spills continue on Saturday, with Manchester City travelling to Stoke - a side who have beaten Pep Guardiola's men twice in the last four meetings.
Super Sunday offers up a Wear-Tees derby to get the day's action started, with both sides looking for their first victory, before West Ham's first league game in their new home against Bournemouth completes the action.
We take a look at nine questions that could be answered over the weekend...
Raheem Sterling to continue improvement under Pep? (Stoke v Manchester City - Saturday, 12.30pm, Sky Sports 1 HD)
It seems Joe Hart's position is not up for debate, so the next biggest talking point is the early form of Raheem Sterling, and how Guardiola seems to accommodate the England international.
Guardiola demands his wide players to do three things - stay out wide, win possession high up the pitch and attack quickly - and Sterling has delivered, defying the circling critics in the process.
Only one City player regained possession more than Sterling in City's opener against Sunderland and their emphatic Champions League qualification success at Dinamo Bucharest - both games in which Sterling played in his preferred wide position on the right.
Kevin De Bruyne was moved centrally - not his preferred position - David Silva was deployed in a deeper role - not his preferred role - allowing Sterling to take prominence in attack. Has this summer's scapegoat won the heart of his new boss already? Saturday's early kick-off may give us a better idea.
Are Liverpool the new entertainers? (Burnley v Liverpool - Saturday, 3pm)
16 shots at goal at the Emirates is not to be sniffed at, regardless of how vulnerable the Arsenal backline looked, but Liverpool's defending last Sunday left much to be desired.
Alberto Moreno continued to look a little too cavalier at full-back, Dejan Lovren still looks a little erratic, while Ragnar Klavan, who certainly impressed on debut, remains raw.
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In contrast, their dynamic forward players are capable of blowing anyone away in the blink of an eye. Philippe Coutinho has hit the ground running, Sadio Mane offers blistering pace of the flank, Roberto Firmino has enjoyed a fruitful pre-season while Adam Lallana is producing the goods - three key passes and an assist at the Emirates.
The pace is furious, ingenuity right up there and goals are flying in for all angles - Burnley could be in for a torrid afternoon in their first home clash of the season.
Will Erik Lamela continue to be centre of attention? (Tottenham v Crystal Palace - Saturday, 3pm)
Roma fans rioted when he left, but Erik Lamela has been a slow burner at Tottenham. However, after finishing last season as an integral part of the side, Lamela proved again how crucial he is with the equaliser at Everton last week.
The Argentina international has had a hand in a goal in each of his last seven appearances, but it is that added desire - typified by his bravery in heading in at Goodison Park - that has pleased fans most.
Mauricio Pochettino has kept the faith with the majority of the side that performed so admirably last campaign, and patience has been key to Lamela's development especially.
Palace are reeling from the blow of losing Yannick Bolasie, so could be there for the taking at White Hart Lane, and Lamela's form could be a vital component to earning that first win.
Can the Tigers continue to defy the critics? (Swansea v Hull - Saturday, 3pm)
Most pundits and Mystic Meg impersonators have predicted doom and gloom for Hull this season, with a wafer-thin squad hotly-tipped for the drop.
Zero major signings and no permanent manager appointed, it was looking ominous ahead of a meeting with champions Leicester. However, the Tigers did not look out of their depth, and deserved their win. Key players will have to stay fit, but there is still talent there.
Continuity is said to breed success, and this team has played together more than most in the top flight. In contrast, Swansea's new signings could take time to settle, so another Hull win may not be such a surprise this time around
Can Koeman outdo Pulis at his own game? (West Brom v Everton - Saturday, 3pm)
One thing is almost certainly this season - Everton will be more difficult to beat. Roberto Martinez's neglect of defensive duties was ultimately his undoing, but Ronald Koeman is not of the same ilk.
While there is still licence for much creativity and attacking vigour, Koeman's 3-5-2 is particularly rigid, and looks set to implement that system on a permanent basis at Goodison Park.
First and foremost, that makes his side tougher to break down, which is perfect away from home, but Koeman has his work cut out to beat a master at his own game.
Three shots on target and 39% possession and a 1-0 win - classic Tony Pulis - but Koeman will be out do just that against Pulis' West Brom side on Saturday, making for a fascinating tussle.
Eden Hazard to continue his resurgence on difficult ground for Blues? (Watford v Chelsea - Saturday, 3pm)
Only one Chelsea player has scored for Chelsea in their three Premier League visits to Vicarage Road - Saloman Kalou - but a rejuvenated Eden Hazard will be doing his level best to better that statistic on Saturday.
While Gary Neville expressed concerns of Hazard's tendency to fade as a game wears on, Hazard's improvement is certainly marked, and his overall heightened enthusiasm palpable.
Sashaying through vigourous challenges with great balance is what Hazard does best, and in a particularly defensive set-up, one moment of brilliance is what may be needed against a Watford side keen to make an impression on their new boss.
The Belgium international has scored five goals in his last six matches, after going goalless in the previous 29 - the corner has been turned.
Can Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy show the Gunners what they are missing? (Leicester v Arsenal - Saturday, 5.30)
Leicester are on a 19-game winless run against Arsenal in the Premier League (D6 L13) and lost both games last season. The Foxes' run is the joint-longest active sequence of winless matches in a Premier League fixture along with Newcastle's against Manchester City.
Yet, there is added incentive to finally taste that winning feeling against the Gunners at the King Power. Not one, but two players have opted to stay at Leicester, when it seemed both Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez were destined for the Emirates in the summer.
The season opener did not go to plan for the Foxes last week at Hull, but this Arsenal side are there for the taking, with a mounting injury list bordering on crisis.
Vardy was uncharacteristically quiet at the KCOM Stadium - touching the ball just 20 times and completing only seven passes - while Mahrez drifted in and out of the game.
Nonetheless, Arsenal's inexperienced backline were torn apart at will by Liverpool on Sunday, and Vardy and Mahrez will be out to inflict more damage at the King Power, piling pressure on Arsene Wenger in the process.
Jermain Defoe to reach pantheon of goalscorers against local rivals? (Sunderland v Middlesbrough - Sunday, 1.30pm, live on Sky Sports 1 HD)
Jermain Defoe needs one more goal to become outright 10th in the all-time Premier League goalscoring charts (144 currently), and is looking in fine fettle once more.
Defoe's goals pretty much single-handedly kept Sunderland in the division last season - and he is already up and running with a typical poacher's strike against Manchester City, having only touched the ball 12 times in the match.
Middesbrough have a poacher of their own in Alvaro Negredo, netting a goal on his debut with even less touches than Defoe, but the veteran England international thrives on such better than most.
David Moyes has improved a previously thin-looking squad with some fresh faces, with Adnan Januzaj set to give them some additional threat.
But it is likely that it will be Defoe again who will be key to Sunderland's survival hopes, and more goals on Saturday could get give Black Cats' fans an early season boost.
Will a European hangover be detrimental to the Hammers' London Stadium bow? (West Ham v Bournemouth - Sunday, 4pm, Sky Sports 1 HD)
We have had the first match, the first "official" match, and now West Ham's new London Stadium home will host its first Premier League clash in the Super Sunday encounter against Bournemouth.
Yet, the injuries are mounting, and the games are not relenting. The Hammers' season started back in July, and despite an inflated squad, the personnel department is looking stretched.
A trip to Romania in midweek will not have helped depopulate the treatment room, and Bilic will have to do his level best to ensure all of his squad is utilised.
Some astute signings have made that task easier, but having to contend with so many games could work in Bournemouth's favour, as they will be looking for improvement after a meek showing against Manchester United last time out.