Sport Soccer

Friday 30 September 2016

Premier League talking points

Published 02/10/2015 | 10:56

Will Liverpool have a Europa League hangover?
Will Liverpool have a Europa League hangover?

Press Association Sport's Declan Warrington takes a look at the main talking points in the Premier League this weekend.

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WILL THERE BE A EUROPA LEAGUE HANGOVER?

The Premier League has only two representatives in this season's Europa League: Liverpool and Tottenham. Both are presented with fine opportunities to prove the much-maligned competition need not disrupt a team's domestic ambitions - and both have big squads so can rotate to avoid fatigue. Spurs travel to Swansea while Liverpool are at Everton for the Merseyside derby and while both are difficult fixtures, Thursday's European exertions should not be a valid excuse for potential defeat.

IS THE RACE FOR THE TITLE A TWO OR THREE-HORSE RACE ?

The one potential antidote for Arsenal's appalling start to their Champions League campaign is domestic success. Arsene Wenger's team on Sunday host current leaders Manchester United - and while there is little doubt Manchester City are title favourites, United appear their most likely competitors. If Arsenal win they will go level with Louis van Gaal's team - but if they lose they will be six points behind them which, as Chelsea will learn, is a significant deficit at this stage of the season.

HOW GOOD ARE LEICESTER?

Claudio Ranieri's appointment as Leicester manager meant they were considered among the favourites for relegation. Winning their opening two league fixtures suggested they need not worry, but since then they have won only once in five. They travel to Norwich on Saturday and, should they lose, the hosts - and potentially others - will join them on 12 points. Leicester are in the group of teams simply happy to avoid relegation and will be hoping to stay clear of those at the bottom.

CAN CHELSEA FINALLY BUILD SOME MOMENTUM?

Jose Mourinho's team have secured some encouraging victories among some very uncharacteristic disappointing defeats. If they cannot shake this inconsistency soon, it will be damaging enough to mean that only a truly outstanding run will be capable of rescuing the campaign. After losing at Porto, they host Southampton. If the Blues struggle, their fans will fear the worst.

HAS THERE BEEN A SHIFT IN POWER ON MERSEYSIDE?

Liverpool's struggles and the pressure on boss Brendan Rodgers are no secret - and are not helped by the impressive start to the season made by Roberto Martinez's Everton. There is a suspicion that the Reds' decline, coupled with the improvement witnessed by a Ross Barkley-inspired Everton, has made Merseyside's traditional power the weaker of the two. Victory for Everton in the derby on Sunday will go some way to confirming that - and might even result in Rodgers being sacked.

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