The international break is over at long last and fans of the Premier League are set to be enthralled again, but in every match, there are plenty of individual battles that take place.
So which are the ones worth keeping an eye out for? The Statesman has highlighted the five major individual battles that will take place this weekend:
Jordan Henderson vs Nemanja Matic (Liverpool vs Manchester United)
The big clash of the weekend sees English football’s most successful clubs go head-to-head on Saturday at Anfield.
And while it’s easy to extol the forwards both sides possess, this game will be won in the midfield.
Jose Mourinho is likely to employ a defensive formation and set up his team for a smash-and-grab. Crucial to that strategy will be United’s Serbian enforcer Nemanja Matic. Excellent so far, the hulking Matic faces a stiff test for he will be without regular partners Paul Pogba and Marouane Fellaini on Saturday.
Up against the Serbian will the Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson. The hardworking Englishman is their best midfielder and after an injury-riddled couple of seasons, will look to stamp his authority on the game from the off.
One has immense physical presence (Matic), while the other brings immense graft (Henderson). Whoever comes out on top will undoubtedly win the game for his respective side.
Gabriel Jesus vs Kurt Zouma (Manchester City vs Stoke City)
With Sergio Aguero injured, Gabriel Jesus will want to prove he can lead City’s attack on his own. The diminutive forward has already scored four times this season and the 20-year-old is good value to extend his tally against a Potters side that are quite vulnerable at the back.
Kurt Zouma, in Ryan Shawcross’ absence will have to step up the plate and the burly French defender will look to shackle the Citizens’ diminutive forward.
Stoke’s away record is quite poor but the fact that they stunned Arsenal and held United earlier in the season will give Zouma and Co. hope.
The 6’3 Zouma is up against a wily opponent who may not match him in terms of sheer physicality, but he may sore over Zouma with his prodigal work-rate and excellent finishing skills.
Richarlison de Andrade vs Hector Bellerin (Watford vs Arsenal)
Watford’s Brazilian import has emerged as the surprise package of the season and his goalscoring exploits (two in his last two games) make him the Hornets’ danger man.
Playing on the left-wing, the 20-year-old has wreaked havoc in recent weeks and at Vicarage Road will be backing himself to find the back of the net.
Up against is Arsenal’s resident speed demon, Hector Bellerin. The Spaniard has looked at ease in the right wing-back role but may have to curb his attacking instincts to track the Brazilian on the flank.
Jamie Vardy vs Ahmed El-Sayed Heghazi (Leicester City vs West Bromwich Albion)
Jamie Vardy has been cleared to play for Leicester and the news couldn’t have come at a better time for the 2015-16 Premier League champions, for their next opponents, West Brom, are renowned for their stingy defence.
Tony Pulis’s side doesn’t concede too many and their new signing Ahmed El-Sayed Heghazi has been a revelation in the heart of defence. The 26-year-old Egyptian has made the jump from the Egyptian Premier League to the Premier League seem like a breeze but he has his task cut out against Leicesters’ front-man.
Vardy already has five goals to his name and will look to fire once again as the Foxes bid to move up from their lowly position of 17th in the league table.
Ben Mee vs Javier Hernandez (Burnley vs West Ham United)
Burnley are flying high at the sixth place and a major factor towards their brilliant form has been their defence which has conceded just five goals.
Ben Mee has emerged as their defensive leader and the Clarets have coped remarkably well without their No.1 goalkeeper Tom Heaton too. Things are looking good for Sean Dyche’s men and they will look to extend their run in the top-half with a favourable run of fixtures ahead.
However, Saturday’s clash at Turf Moor has much more on the line for the struggling Hammers. They remain near the relegation zone and games like these are the ones they are expected to win.
Javier Hernandez aka Chicharito is their most potent goalscoring threat and the former Manchester Unite forward will look to pounce the moment the Burnley defence makes a mistake.