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5 key talking points ahead of this weekend’s Premier League fixtures

How will Kevin de Bruyne’s absence affect Manchester City?

The second weekend of the Premier League season is upon us, with the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea looking to maintain their impressive starts.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at five talking points from the weekend’s fixtures.

How will Kevin de Bruyne’s absence affect Manchester City?

The news that De Bruyne will be out for three months with a knee injury is a major blow for the defending champions, who benefited from the Belgian providing 16 assists and creating 106 chances last season as they cruised to the title. However, if there is any squad which can cope with such a loss it is that of Pep Guardiola, who can call on the likes of Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva and perhaps Phil Foden to fill the gap.

What is going on with Paul Pogba at Manchester United?

Pogba impressed in United’s opening game of the season against Leicester, opening the scoring with a slow-motion penalty and also captaining the side in the 2-1 victory. However, Pogba’s post-match interview fuelled questions about how happy he was at Old Trafford, with the Frenchman saying: “There are things that I cannot say otherwise I will get fined.” Unsurprisingly manager Jose Mourinho insisted in his pre-match press conference that he has never been happier with the World Cup winner, but how long that lasts remains to be seen.

Will the truce between Neil Warnock and Rafa Benitez last?

The feud between the pair dates back to 2007, when Benitez played a weakened Liverpool team at Fulham on the penultimate weekend of the season ahead of the Champions League final. Fulham won 1-0 and the Cottagers’ victory helped relegate Warnock’s Sheffield United, sparking a war of words, and even the threat of legal action, between the two men. Warnock insists that is now “water under the bridge” but any controversy on Saturday could spark another fallout.

Will Unai Emery’s baptism of fire continue?

Arsenal’s new manager could be forgiven for giving the Premier League fixture computer a good kicking after being handed a home game with champions Manchester City and then a London derby away to Chelsea for his first two league matches since replacing Arsene Wenger. However, there were encouraging signs against City and Gunners fans will surely exercise enough patience to give their new boss some breathing space.

Can Alvaro Morata find the net?

Morata scored eight goals in eight competitive appearances at the start of last season, but his form has dipped alarmingly since and the 25-year-old has just one Premier League goal in 15 appearances in the competition in 2018. Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri admits Morata needs to gain confidence and at this stage the Spain international would take a goal which bobbled in off his shin to take a step in the right direction.

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