After an international window filled with plenty of drama, the Premier League is back.
With a month-and-a-half left before the English top flight breaks again for the FIFA World Cup in November, it’s shaping up as a make-or-break block of games.
Players will look to stake a last-minute claim for a World Cup place as owners eye up the World Cup break as an opportune time to bring in a new manager, if they deem it necessary.
But before that happens, a bumper week of action awaits!
Foxsports.com.au looks at the most intriguing storylines in the latest edition of PL Late Mail!
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HAALAND’S CHEEKY SHOT AT UNITED AS RED DEVILS SET TO TURN TO FAMILIAR FACE
Erling Haaland’s decision to join City made him public enemy No. 1 among the red side of Manchester, but a recent revelation has dialled up the anger even more.
Manchester City play host to United on Sunday night in the first derby of the season as Pep Guardiola’s side look to keep up the pressure on league-leaders Arsenal while the Red Devils look to cause an almighty upset.
Haaland moved to the Etihad this summer and has been a goalscoring machine since joining, with 11 goals in seven games.
But his decision to join City was by no means a foregone conclusion, as a documentary titled ‘Haaland: The Big Decision’ revealed.
City topped a seven-club shortlist which included a who’s who of European heavyweights such as Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich when it came to Haaland’s next club.
However, Manchester United — one of the most historic and biggest clubs in the game — failed to make the cut in yet another sign of how far it has fallen in recent times.
One man who will do his utmost to steal the headlines from Haaland is United’s Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Portuguese superstar is in line for his first club start in seven weeks as Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial both face a race against time to be fit for the Manchester derby.
Neither Rashford or Martial has fully trained this week and Ronaldo, fresh off appearances for Portugal in the recent international break, appears likely to be called upon.
The 37-year-old has just one goal for the Red Devils this season: a penalty in a 2-0 Europa League win against Moldovan outfit Sheriff Tiraspol.
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LIVERPOOL ACE HAS EIGHT GAMES TO SHINE AMID THREAT OF ULTIMATE SNUB
Liverpool star Trent Alexander-Arnold’s poor start to the season has set him so far back he’s now the fourth-choice right-back in the England set-up.
England boss Gareth Southgate selected Reece James and Kyle Walker ahead of Alexander-Arnold for the Three Lions’ UEFA Nations League fixtures against Italy and Germany, despite the 23-year-old being in the squad.
And Southgate’s recent comments could have Alexander-Arnold fearing for his place in England’s 26-man squad to Qatar, as he believes Newcastle right back Kieran Trippier’s “all-round game is ahead” of the Liverpool ace.
Alexander-Arnold has eight league games to prove he deserves to make the final squad.
But if he doesn’t, former England international Gabriel Agbonlahor believes Alexander-Arnold must take a drastic step.
“If I was Trent, I would retire from international duty if I don’t get in the World Cup squad,” Agbonlahor told talkSPORT.
“I would retire until a new manager took charge of England. 100 per cent.
“What’s the point going away on these international breaks? You can stay with your club, rest and prepare yourself for Liverpool.
“For Southgate to come out and say Trippier is all-round better than Trent, I think that’s an insult.”
Liverpool face Brighton at Anfield and plenty of eyes will be watching how Alexander-Arnold responds.
You can bet that one set of eyes will belong to Southgate.
ARSENAL FACE ULTIMATE TEST TO PROVE THEY ARE CONTENDER MATERIAL
It was a North London derby that all but sealed Arsenal’s fate late last season.
The Gunners went down 3-0 to a rampant Tottenham Hotspur outfit in May last year as their season fizzled out in embarrassing fashion.
But now, Mikel Arteta’s side are flying high at the top of the Premier League after seven games with 18 points.
Yet Spurs are breathing down their rivals’ necks and are just one point shy of Arsenal.
The Gunners have won six and lost just one, but the defeat came against Manchester United.
They faltered during their first big test so Arteta must prove his side are contenders, not pretenders.
As for Tottenham, Antonio Conte looks set to be without star winger Dejan Kulusevski due to a suspected hamstring injury.
Kulusevski has been a revelation on the right wing for Spurs this season, but Conte can call upon Richarlison and Heung-Min Son to fill the void left behind by the Swede should be miss the derby.
Son scored in South Korea’s fixtures against Costa Rica and Cameroon, while Richarlison smashed in three goals against Ghana and Tunisia.
LEICESTER CHAIRMAN JETS IN AS PRESSURE MOUNTS ON RODGERS
If Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers thought he was under pressure, he better think again.
Foxes chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha, better known as ‘Top’, will be present for Leicester’s crucial clash against Nottingham Forest.
‘Top’ hasn’t been at a Leicester match since a 2-1 loss to Southampton on August 20 due to business commitments in Thailand, but Rodgers’ side haven’t fared much better since and are rooted to the bottom of the ladder.
However, Leicester’s fixtures to date have included games against Arsenal, Manchester United, Tottenham and Chelsea
Although Rodgers appears to have the backing of the chairman, a home crowd against Forest could turn against the Welshman in an instant with the Reds take an early lead.
Should Rodgers keep the naysayers at bay with a win against Forest, the mood could turn more positive as Leicester face Bournemouth, Crystal Palace, Leeds and Wolves in the coming weeks.