We look ahead to the weekend's action and pinpoint a series of potential talking points.
Have Spurs spread their money wisely?Ahead of this weekend's North London Derby, it is impossible to suggest that Spurs have not re-invested the proceeds from the forthcoming Gareth Bale deal impressively. The array of attacking talent at Andre Villas-Boas' disposal now forces the club into a battle for the top three rather than four - if Spurs do miss out on the Champions League then the Portuguese may expect to be relieved of his duties. However, is there a danger that the club have over-invested on attackers? Etienne Capoue and Paulinho are exciting prospects, but was their £28million outlay necessary with Sandro and Moussa Dembele already on board? Spurs conceded 46 goals in the Premier League last season, the most in the top seven. They will welcome the return of Younes Kaboul after a season decimated by injury, but he must hit the ground running after such a long layoff. Sunday will be the first significant examination of the club's defence this season. If it stands up to the test, supporters will have confidence in their side's top four ambitions. The Emirates is a ground at which they have conceded 19 goals in their last four visits.
Martinez needs a victoryEverton supporters will have looked at their side's first three Premier League fixtures (Norwich, West Brom and Cardiff) and have been confident of a largely positive start to Roberto Martinez's reign. However, Martinez is still looking for his first league victory. They did lead at Carrow Road and were only thwarted by an inspired Ben Foster last weekend against the Baggies, but the fact remains that anything less than five points from the opening trio would be considered below par. For that target to be achieved, victory is necessary. The Goodison club gained a reputation for being slow starters during David Moyes' tenure, but only once did he fail to win any of his first league games of the season. With matches against Chelsea and Manchester City to come in the next few weeks, improvements in results, if not performance, is needed.
Can Sturridge continue his scoring run?Whilst there must be concerns about Liverpool's relative lack of incoming business this summer, one could argue that the club's most impressive business was done in January. The principle case in such an argument is the current goalscoring form of Daniel Sturridge, whose two League Cup goals in midweek took his impressive tally to nine in seven games. The secret to Sturridge's renaissance (and therefore England call up) stems from Rodgers' use of his forward. As the image below demonstrates, at Chelsea last season Sturridge was utilised predominantly on the right wing, where he failed to affect the game as he would like. At Anfield, the absence of Luis Suarez has allowed Sturridge to flourish as he has been able to operate in a more central role, and Liverpool have felt the benefits. Facing Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand may be a more strenuous task, but Sturridge's ability influence may be a deciding factor in Liverpool's potential success on Sunday.
More signs of Di Canio revolution needed"Adam Johnson has warned supporters that the Paolo Di Canio revolution won't turn Sunderland into an overnight success," reported one newspaper this week, but it was rather unnecessary advice in truth. The club's total of one point from their opening two games of the season is unlikely to get many fans carried away. Di Canio has now won two of his nine league games in charge. His predecessor Martin O'Neill won two of his last ten games, so if Di Canio is to avoid an unwanted parallel his side must win this weekend. In such a situation, Selhurst Park might just be the Premier League's most preferable away destination.
Moyes faces toughest testThe pressure on David Moyes on Monday night was alleviated by Manchester City's defeat to Cardiff on Monday. That result persuaded both Moyes and Jose Mourinho to effectively settle for a point at Old Trafford without losing ground on the third member of the supposed three-way battle for the title. Whilst being happy with a point at home to Chelsea is acceptable, doing so at Anfield would not be - Moyes and United must push for all three points. In doing so, Moyes must also look to change his recent record against such rivals. In his 11 years at Everton, the Scot won just three of his 22 Premier League Merseyside derbies. This Scottish manager will not have to occupy himself with perches, but knocking Liverpool off their current run of form would be quite the start.
Joe Hart would welcome a quiet afternoonAfter another high-profile error in defeat to Cardiff last weekend, Joe Hart will have been reassured by words from Roy Hodgson over his short-term international future: "I've got every faith in Joe Hart. When I took the job on I thought I had a top-class goalkeeper to work with and 16 months later I still think I've got a top-class goalkeeper to work with." Hart, it appears, should be more concerned about his place in the Manchester City side. Costel Pantilimon has still never started a league game, but a fixture at home to promoted Hull would be the perfect opportunity to blood in the backup option. It would be a surprise if Hart was dropped, but if the England goalkeeper does start he will be hopeful of a quiet afternoon and, more pertinently, a clean sheet. He will be hoping that serious danger is a rare occurrence on Saturday lunchtime.
Tiredness not an excuseSpeaking after Liverpool's extra-time victory over Notts County in midweek, Steven Gerrard offered a warning of fatigue: "That wasn't what we wanted. We're going away slightly disappointed," said Gerrard. "Yeah, we're in the draw and we're in the hat and obviously pleased to be through, but it was exactly what we didn't want really. One hundred and twenty minutes and a lot of players who are going to be starting on Sunday have played too much football. "There's no doubt about it, extra-time, playing that amount of minutes, is a bit of a blow to us. I think the game plan was to get the game won, done and dusted, and then try and rest a few for Sunday." That excuse is unlikely to fly whilst we're still in August, surely?
What Should I Be Betting On?Sky Bet offer a range of special bets for Soccer Saturday, and it is the 'first Premier League team to score at 3pm' market that could interest this weekend. Newcastle are the favourites at 9/2, but instead why not take the chance on West Ham at 5/1? They are favourites to win their home game against Stoke, and took just 13 minutes to take the lead against Cardiff on the opening day.
Courtesy of Opta...
124 - There have been more goals scored in Premier League meetings between Tottenham and Arsenal than any other fixture. Bonanza.- OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) August 30, 2013
1 - Newcastle have had only one shot on target so far this season; fewer than any other Premier League side. Dearth.- OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) August 30, 2013
4 - Steven Gerrard has scored four goals in his last six Premier League appearances against Manchester United. Music.- OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) August 30, 2013