Sunday 16 December 2018

Premier League talking points

An exciting weekend of top-flight action awaits.

Arsenal v Chelsea – Carabao Cup – Semi Final – Second Leg – Emirates Stadium
Arsenal v Chelsea – Carabao Cup – Semi Final – Second Leg – Emirates Stadium

By Press Association Sport staff

The January transfer window has come to an end leaving many with points to prove as the Premier League settles back down after the deadline day excitement.

Here, Press Association Sport picks over the weekend’s potential issues.

Conte’s troubles continue?

Brighton and Hove Albion v Chelsea – Premier League – AMEX Stadium

Not for the first time, trouble is brewing at Stamford Bridge. Reported tensions between title-winning manager Antonio Conte and the owners have been dismissed by the Italian, who has spoken of intention to see out at least the remaining 18 months of his deal. However, all does not appear well at Chelsea and Wednesday’s 3-0 walloping at home to Bournemouth set off alarms. Watford are looking to compound matters with their first win under manager Javi Gracia this Monday.

Can United respond?

Wednesday’s defeat at Tottenham was far more convincing than the 2-0 scoreline suggests as Manchester United were outplayed at Wembley. Jose Mourinho’s men return to action at home to a Huddersfield side that caused problems earlier in the season, with the Terriers securing a famous win to end the Red Devils’ unbeaten start to the Premier League campaign in October. United need to avoid a similar slip-up on Saturday, when respects will be paid to the victims of the Munich disaster ahead of the 60th anniversary.

Are Burnley able to stop City?

Mourinho effectively conceded the Premier League title to Manchester City on the eve of this weekend’s matches – and it is easy to see why given the 15-point gap. Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering men make the short trip to Turf Moor looking to rack up a 23rd win in just 26 league matches. Sean Dyche’s men are flying high in seventh but have endured a dip in form recently, failing to win in their last eight. That run may well extend on Saturday lunchtime.

Will Mahrez-less Leicester be outfoxed?

Riyad Mahrez hoped to be heading to Burnley this weekend as a City player. Instead, the Algerian remains at Leicester having been out-priced of deadline-day move to the Etihad Stadium. Claude Puel has done a fine job as Leicester boss but it will be interesting to see how he copes with the impact of a disgruntled player who has not trained since the possibility of an exit arose. Mahrez will, unsurprisingly, not play against Swansea on Saturday but the issue is sure to hang over the King Power Stadium, where the visitors are looking to capitalise on unrest and secure another valuable three points.

Hawthorns six-pointer

Few would have expected to see West Brom and Southampton in the bottom three at this stage of the season, but the misfiring sides are facing up to a relegation battle. Alan Pardew’s Baggies languish bottom of the standings while Southampton have failed to win in 12 top-flight matches – and have never gone 13 without a victory in the Premier League. Mauricio Pellegrino’s side are just three points better off that the Baggies in 18th. A huge game for both sides.

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