Monday 5 December 2016

Premier League Talking Points

Published 19/08/2016 | 10:36

Antonio Conte's impact at Chelsea could become clearer when they face Watford
Antonio Conte's impact at Chelsea could become clearer when they face Watford

On only the second weekend of the 2016/17 Premier League season, the fixture list has already presented several talking points that could dictate much of the action.

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Here, Press Association Sport analyses five of the most interesting.

CAN HULL BUILD ON THEIR DEFEAT OF LEICESTER?

Managerless Hull may be a club in turmoil but they began the season impressively with their 2-1 defeat of defending champions Leicester. There was much to admire about the resilience and desire demonstrated by their thin squad. Regardless, they will rightly remain many observers' favourites for relegation, but if they can win again - this time at Swansea - they will be far more appealing to any potential manager, new player, or owner. Caretaker manager Mike Phelan may even earn the job full-time if he can lead them to the maximum six points so far available from the 40-plus they will try to achieve.

WHICH TITLE CHALLENGER'S SEASON WILL BEGIN WITH TWO LOSSES FROM TWO?

The high-risk, attacking style of play favoured by both Arsenal and Leicester makes a draw between them at the King Power Stadium on Saturday seem unlikely. Arsenal's 4-3 defeat by Liverpool on Sunday, a day after Leicester's 2-1 loss at Hull, means both will also be desperate to win. Another defeat for Arsenal would intensify the pressure manager Arsene Wenger is already facing. Patience in Leicester's Claudio Ranieri is greater, but if another loss follows last week's and that in the Community Shield by Manchester United, there will be even more convinced last season's title win was a one-off.

IS ANTONIO CONTE'S CHELSEA REVOLUTION TRULY UNDER WAY?

In Monday's 2-1 win over an under-strength West Ham, Chelsea appeared an improving, committed team ready to move on from the underachievement of the past season. Yet the reality is Diego Costa was fortunate to still be on the pitch when he scored their late winning goal. Monday's win could easily have been a disappointing draw, but its dramatic nature could further galvanise Conte's squad. Saturday's fixture at Watford could reveal much.

WILL THE TRIP TO TOTTENHAM LEAVE CRYSTAL PALACE'S ALAN PARDEW UNDER PRESSURE?

Boos could be heard among the Crystal Palace supporters at the final whistle of last week's 1-0 defeat by West Brom. Many who will not have forgotten their appalling league form throughout 2016 would have been concerned at their flat performance. Since then, Yannick Bolasie and Mile Jedinak, two players they were very fond of, have been sold. The long-serving Julian Speroni has also been marginalised. Should Palace not improve in a difficult-looking fixture at Tottenham, their patience in Pardew could be tested.

HOW WILL PEP GUARDIOLA'S NEW-LOOK MANCHESTER CITY FARE AGAINST HIS FORMER PLAYERS AT STOKE?

In Marc Muniesa, Bojan Krkic, Ibrahim Afellay and Xherdan Shaqiri, Stoke possess four players previously managed by Manchester City's Pep Guardiola. Bojan was sold by Barca while Guardiola was manager, as Shaqiri also was by Bayern Munich, and both are capable match-winners. Is it possible that between them, the four possess sufficient knowledge of the Spaniard to help Mark Hughes inspire an unlikely victory?

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