Who’s the bigger club? Which striker will score more goals? What if the two teams swapped managers?

The concept is simple – every week we’ll pick some talking points, our fan community will argue their case and then you get to vote for who you think won the discussion.

The fixtures up for debate this week are:

  • Aston Villa v Everton
  • Brentford v Manchester United
  • Chelsea v Tottenham
  • Arsenal v Leicester
  • Southampton v Leeds

Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard face each other in the dugout for the first time, but who has shown the most potential as a manager?

Villa: Richard Sutherland, The Villa Park Podcastexternal-link

Supporters in pubs up and down the country have constantly debated who was the better player and now the debate rages on as to who is the better manager.

For me there is only one winner: Steven Gerrard.

He cut his teeth in management with the Liverpool academy before heading north of the border to Rangers, one of the highest pressure jobs in football. He not only stopped Celtic from winning 10 in a row by claiming the Scottish Premiership title, his team went unbeaten all season.

He steadied a ship at Villa that was only heading one way – down. This season will be hugely different and I truly believe that in Gerrard we have a manager with the potential to become one of the greats.

Meanwhile, Frank Lampard has been hugely unconvincing. Ultimately, he failed at Derby after being heavily backed. He was extremely lucky to get a huge opportunity at Chelsea which ended in failure following poor signings when their transfer embargo was lifted and now, after scraping to safety last season, sadly, for Lampard and Everton I predict a season of real difficulty, and I don’t see him lasting beyond Christmas.

For Gerrard on the other hand, while the pressure will be on at Villa, I have full confidence that he will thrive under it.

Everton: Briony Bragg, This Fan Girlexternal-link

Let’s start by talking about Gary Neville, who laughs himself at his own managerial efforts in Valencia.

I saw a tweet this weekend that Gerrard’s win rate equals his, but Gerrard isn’t constantly taking stick from the media or isn’t believed to be the first up for the sack either. It’s always Lampard, and it’s getting pretty boring.

With one of the highest recent net spends in Europe, Villa couldn’t even put a decent opening performance in against newly-promoted Bournemouth, and Gerrard’s expensive mate from Liverpool was anonymous.

Everton on the other hand, though defeated, suffered through injury against Chelsea – with a gaping hole in front of goal where Dominic Calvert-Lewin should have been. Lampard’s progress is clear to see though, with new signing Tarkowski highly impressing.

Lampard has picked a club up who were on the floor last season, incredibly near relegation. He’s won the fans’ backing. The existing problems on the pitch aren’t at his door, they’re at the behest of a steady decline at the hands of the boardroom. Toffees can see what he’s doing behind closed doors and positivity is beckoning.

Gerrard on the other hand – he better hope his relationship with Villa fans doesn’t start to echo that of his former Spanish manager at Everton.

Who’ll win their next major trophy first, Arsenal or Leicester?

Arsenal and Leicester players celebrate
Arsenal’s last trophy came in 2020 when they lifted the FA Cup, while Leicester won the competition in 2021

Arsenal: Charlene Smith, AFTVexternal-link

Leicester City winning a major trophy before Arsenal… I cannot see that happening (but I guess we did not see them winning the league in 2015-16 season).

I give Brendan Rodgers credit, I think he is a great manager, however, Mikel Arteta is a tactical genius with a plan for winning things.

The board is backing Arteta every step of the way and believing in him. As we can see, Arsenal are strengthening and so are other teams. When we compare this to Leicester City it seems Leicester are more on a decline than strengthening phase at this present moment.

They have sold club legend Kasper Schmeichel, Wesley Fofana appears to want a move away from the club and a few of their other key players are being linked with moves.

The Foxes have not bought any players in this transfer window, it does not seem their ambitions are to win anything. If I was a Leicester fan I would be concerned.

At Arsenal, we have a winning mentality, we want more from our club and are striving to achieve this. This season we are going to do something special, we are going to win something!

Leicester: Sam Holloway, LeicesterFanTVexternal-link

Honestly, I can see Leicester winning the next trophy.

Arsenal have developed themselves over the last couple of seasons into a consistent team, but with Leicester having no other competitions to focus on other than the Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup, I think we will win one first and it could be this year.

If we keep hold of the team we have, I can see us going all the way in the League Cup or FA Cup again, whereas Arsenal are probably more focused on competing for a top-four spot and they have European commitments. That means, I think we have the front running.

Don’t get me wrong, Arsenal could have a great season, but personally I think they will do nothing. A top-six finish, maybe a semi-final in one of the competitions, but I’m backing the boys in blue to win another major trophy.

More isn’t always best in some cases, and I think it might help us that we focus more on the players we have.

Christian Eriksen joined Manchester United in the summer, but should he have stayed at Brentford?

Christian Eriksen
Since Eriksen’s return to the Premier League in February, only Kevin De Bruyne (45) and Martin Odegaard (38) have created more chances than his 33

Brentford: Ian Westbrook, Beesottedexternal-link

Yes of course he should!

Christian Eriksen had the chance to become a legend at Brentford, where he would have been the main man and had weekly guaranteed playing time ahead of Denmark’s World Cup campaign.

But football doesn’t work like that.

Before Eriksen joined the Bees, he was rumoured to be signing a six-month contract with an option for a further year. But that option wasn’t there when he arrived, so the deal instantly felt short-term.

It is fair to say, though, that Eriksen has done nothing wrong.

The deal was mutually beneficial – he proved his fitness at the top level after his cardiac arrest and regained his international place as a result, well before his aim of playing in Qatar.

He also played a big part in keeping Brentford up, although he wasn’t the only reason for our survival.

Having become a free agent on 1 July, he was perfectly entitled to join another club and it was almost inevitable his return would come early in the season.

It was a treat to watch him play for us, but we were obviously disappointed that he didn’t re-sign, and as a result, he could receive a mixed reception from fans on Saturday.

Manchester Utd: Sam Peoples, United Peoples TVexternal-link

Christian Eriksen came to Manchester United because the ambition in him is still burning brightly and that’s why he turned down the chance to stay at Brentford.

Nobody would have begrudged him staying in London. He was settled, playing in the Premier League, his family were around him and after everything that has happened, it was a stable environment. It’s just he wasn’t ready for that.

Eriksen has come to United to test himself at the highest level and that ambition is what makes him a very good signing for Erik ten Hag. He hasn’t just come to be a passenger at United, like so many signings over the last few years – he has backed himself to be good enough for the elite level and now he wants to show it, especially before the World Cup.

Brentford wouldn’t have been able to match the ambition of Eriksen. It just remains to be seen whether United can, but with Erik ten Hag at the helm, it feels as though they are heading in the right direction.

Have Southampton or Leeds been more successful during the Premier League era?

Leeds in the Champions League and Southampton and Europa League
Leeds have featured in the Champions League and Southampton the Europa League, but neither have played in Europe for some time

Southampton: Ray Hunt, In That Numberexternal-link

Both Southampton and Leeds have had very similar paths since the Premier League’s inception back in 1992. Both have had brief forays in Europe, both have faced relegation to the third tier. They’ve both gone through upwards of 20 managers. They’ve faced financial uncertainties and entered administration just two years apart. From re-joining the top flight, their similarities have continued with both Ralph Hasenhuttl and Jesse Marsch amongst the favourites for the first sacking.

However, this is an easy one. Saints have spent a total of 23 seasons in the top flight versus Leeds’ 14. It took Leeds 16 seasons to get back, whereas Saints spent a mere seven seasons and enjoyed back-to-back promotions in the process.

While Leeds remained listless in their Championship funk, Saints were relishing successful spells under Mauricio Pochettino and Ronald Koeman, travelling to the San Siro and reaching a League Cup final.

You also have to account for the amount of money spent. Leeds have easily breached the £200m mark while Saints have been nowhere near that, making superstars on a shoestring budget. Leeds are also considered to be in the top half of Premier League wealth, reaching far above Saints. And what do they have to show for it?

Saints have played more, won more, gained more points and scored more goals. The decision is clear.

Leeds: Jess Furness, Her Game Tooexternal-link

Ask any non-Leeds or Southampton fan this question and you’ll get the same answer – Leeds.

Under David O’Leary and Eddie Gray in 1998-2002, we did not finish outside the top five in the Premier League. We also made it to the semi-finals of the Uefa Cup and Champions League. Can Southampton say that they’ve ever competed in the Champions League? No.

They spent most of the first ten years of the Premier League fighting relegation. We can’t relate. We spent seven of those years in the top five, with our highest finish in third place – something that Southampton have never achieved, with their highest finish being sixth place.

Our overall level of quality in our years spent in the Premier League is also far superior. They might have just finished above us last season but I have no doubt that we will finish far above them this season, thanks to our exciting new signings.

Will Chelsea or Spurs finish higher in the Premier League this season?

Thomas Tuchel and Antonio Conte
Tuchel won the league title in France twice, while Conte has four league wins in Italy and one in England

Chelsea: Ross Mooring, Chelsea Fancastexternal-link

In the past twenty-six years, Chelsea have finished above Spurs in the Premier League on all but three occasions.

First, in 2012 when the Blues won their first Champions League title and eliminated Tottenham from a place in the following season’s competition in the process. Then in 2016 when the team finished nowhere but denied the North London club a first league title since the 1960s through a late Eden Hazard equaliser in a famously bad tempered 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge. And then, most recently, five years ago in Antonio Conte’s final season at Chelsea. The Blues “only” managed an FA Cup win that year.

That Antonio Conte is in the opposing dugout in his first full season at Spurs is the only reason our rivals could possibly finish above Chelsea. Tottenham have bought well and Conte is the master at drilling his teams into effective units. With Harry Kane and Son Heung-min in attack they could conceivably outscore the Blues this year.

But this is Spurs we’re talking about and Chelsea have the better defence, a must when it comes to consistency in the league.

In more ways than one, Chelsea are behind Tottenham in both preparation and new signings at the moment, with the Blues far from finished in the transfer market. Combine that with a more hectic schedule given European commitments and a larger percentage of first-team players likely heading to the World Cup later this year and it could be close at times, but ultimately I think only one of the two teams can win the title, and therefore finish ahead of the other. And that team is Chelsea.

Spurs: Anna Howells, Spurs XYexternal-link

I believe I can confidently argue that Spurs will finish above Chelsea this season.

Let’s look at form and when Antonio Conte was hired, we were 10 points behind Chelsea and finished the season three points behind. If that form was extrapolated for a full season we would have finished ahead of Chelsea.

Conte not only improved our performance, but has strengthened and enhanced the squad. Rodrigo Bentancur and Dejan Kulusevski effortlessly slotted into the starting line-up and continued to impress in the opening game of the season. I have high hopes that the summer signings (Ivan Perisic,Yves Bissouma, Richarlison and Clement Lenglet) will follow suit.

In addition to the depth of his squad, Conte has had the benefit of a full pre-season, which was demanding to say the least. We’re already seeing some benefits, like names on the score sheet other than Son Heung-min and Harry Kane.

Meanwhile at Chelsea, there’s significant turmoil post Abramovich, with senior board and staff members gone. Senior players (Rudiger, Christensen, Lukaku), have left and their replacements will need time to bed in.

There are no guarantees in football of course, but my feeling is, things will swing in Tottenham’s favour.

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