Premier League talking points
Published 01/02/2016 | 19:06
The Barclays Premier League returns with all 20 top-flight sides in action on either Tuesday or Wednesday night.
Here, Press Association Sport looks at talking points ahead of the round of fixtures.
THAT'S YOUR LOT
These games will be the first played after the closure of the transfer window. It remains to be seen how many new signings are on display and making debuts - but what is for sure is that whether clubs are battling for the title, a European spot or to avoid relegation, fans will know the opportunity for squad fine-tuning has now passed and the chances of objectives being achieved will rest with the players in place. For some, it might well be a sobering reality.
CITY - A NEW ERA
For title-chasing Manchester City, Tuesday's trip to strugglers Sunderland will also be their first match since the official confirmation of what had long been widely predicted - Pep Guardiola is to be their new manager from this summer. Of course, Manuel Pellegrini will remain in the dugout for the time being, but it will be interesting to see how the players perform knowing the change that is now definitely lying ahead - in a fixture City lost four times in a row before last season's victory at the Stadium of Light.
CHELSEA - A NEW ERA
Twenty-four hours before the announcement Pellegrini will be leaving City, news emerged on Sunday that there is to be a high-profile departure from Chelsea at the end of the season. Skipper John Terry heads into Wednesday's tricky-looking game at Watford with it now public knowledge this is to be his final term with the club. Supporters will be hoping a desire in the camp to ensure the defender goes out on some kind of high will bode well for the team's prospects over the remainder of what has been a fairly wretched 2015-16 so far.
WHAT TWISTS NEXT FOR THE TITLE RACE?
Chelsea did pull a fine result out of the bag in their last league game, triumphing 1-0 at Arsenal to leave the third-placed Gunners still level on points with second-placed Manchester City and three behind leaders Leicester. Arsene Wenger's men, following on from a home win in the FA Cup over Burnley, on Tuesday host a Southampton side who beat them 4-0 on Boxing Day. Meanwhile, Claudio Ranieri's Foxes, after a weekend off, will look to continue their scarcely believable league form at home to the thoroughly unpredictable Liverpool. What might unfold is anyone's guess...
ANY HOME COMFORT FOR VAN GAAL OR MARTINEZ?
Louis van Gaal's Manchester United and Roberto Martinez's Everton both had less-than-impressive home records compounded by losses in their last league fixtures. Both bounced back with away victories in the FA Cup over the last few days - and both return to top-flight action this week with matches back on their own turf amid a sense of considerable dissatisfaction among their respective fanbases. Van Gaal could do with a positive result and performance from his side in Tuesday's Old Trafford clash with Stoke, and very much the same applies to Martinez for the visit of Newcastle to Goodison Park on Wednesday.