Sport Soccer

Wednesday 21 August 2019

5 talking points ahead of the Premier League weekend

This weekend sees two London derbies on Sunday, before Liverpool host Merseyside rivals Everton.

Mark Hughes (Mark Kerton/PA Images)
Mark Hughes (Mark Kerton/PA Images)

By Jim van Wijk, Press Association Sport

Southampton boss Mark Hughes will be under the spotlight again when he looks to get his struggling side back on track against former club Manchester United.

Manchester City can look to lay down a marker with their title rivals all not in action until Sunday – which will see two London derbies, with Fulham boss Claudio Ranieri taking on former club Chelsea, before a Merseyside showdown.

Here, Press Association Sport takes a look at some of the Premier League’s main talking points ahead of matchday 14.

Will Red Devils turn up heat on Hughes?

When your side are scrapping for points at the wrong end of the table, having not won in the Premier League for nine games and just gone out of the Carabao Cup on penalties at Leicester, the spotlight is always likely to be very much on your own future. Hosting Manchester United therefore is probably not what the doctor ordered. Southampton boss Mark Hughes, though, insists talk of his position is very much “water off a ducks back” and he will meet the challenge of facing his old club head on. “It is an opportunity for us and is not one we should be apprehensive about,” he said.

Can City steal a march at the top?

Pep Guardiola’s side show little sign of taking their foot off the gas as the fixtures roll on towards Christmas. While their winning run came to an end with a 2-2 draw away to Lyon in their midweek Champions League tie, expect City to be firing on all cylinders from kick off when they tackle Bournemouth on Saturday. Another victory would move them five points clear before their rivals are back in action later this weekend.

More home comforts for Rafa?

The Magpies are on song again after making it three straight league wins when beating Burnley 2-1 away. Despite all of the off-field issues and supporter demonstrations, manager Rafael Benitez has again delivered results on the pitch. Another impressive performance against West Ham at St James’ Park, and Mike Ashley may well think about some spending in the January sales – well, maybe!

Derby delights

New Fulham boss Claudio Ranieri takes the short trip down to Stamford Bridge for the first of Sunday’s three Premier League derby fixtures, looking to put one over on his old club Chlesea. There will also be plenty of local bragging rights on the line up at Anfield when Liverpool host Everton. These are fixtures neither club wants to give any quarter in – players, fans and coaches alike.

Travel sick Gunners?

Despite the last-minute changes to travel plans ahead of their Europa League tie against Vorskla Poltava in the Ukraine, Arsenal kept their composure to run out 3-0 winners in Kiev. Head coach Unai Emery left many of his first-team squad back in London, so it remains to be seen how, if at all, the circumstances will impact on Sunday’s high-pressure north London derby against a Tottenham team very much on a high from their own midweek Champions League win over Inter Milan at Wembley.

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