Top two clash and Pellegrini under pressure – 5 Premier League talking points
The Premier League continues this weekend before proceedings are paused to accommodate the last international break of 2019.
The weekend’s headline fixture is a box-office clash between the league’s top two clubs – Liverpool and Manchester City.
Here, PA News Agency looks at the major talking points ahead of a busy weekend of football.
Pellegrini at a pinch point
Manuel Pellegrini’s job could hang in the balance as his West Ham squad travel to Burnley in an attempt to claim their first victory since September. The Hammer’s last six games have failed to return a win, with their shock 2-0 victory over Manchester United the last time the club tasted success. They now sit 13th in the table and Pellegrini is surely reliant on a credible performance to remain in his role. Rivals Burnley are suffering a similar spell of poor form and could be Pellegrini’s best chance of grasping a victory for some time, with testing fixtures against both Tottenham and Chelsea looming.
Battle of the bottom two
The Premier League’s bottom two sides face each other on Saturday as Norwich host Watford. The latter are enduring a nightmare season so far, having failed to win any of their 11 matches played. The Canaries are faring little better since promotion from the Championship last year, with only two victories to their name this season. Quique Sanchez Flores’ floundering squad have perhaps their best opportunity thus far of securing a long-awaited win, and the Spanish manager’s future at the club looks to be in jeopardy if they do not seize it.
The top two collide
At the other end of the spectrum, table-toppers Liverpool host second-placed Manchester City on Sunday. Jurgen Klopp’s Reds are unbeaten this term, having suffered just the one stalemate against Manchester United in October. City are six points adrift at this point and are troubled by their lack of winning form on Anfield turf. Pep Guardiola’s squad haven’t defeated Liverpool at home since 2003, that victory itself the result of a 22-year wait for a change in fortunes at Anfield. City will be keen to turn those tables by inflicting a first loss of the season on the Champions League title holders.
United not to be underestimated
Sheffield United’s return to the Premier League has been a surprisingly smooth ride so far, with Chris Wilder’s team currently sixth in the table after suffering only three losses. Most notable is their away form, as the Blades remain unbeaten on the road this season. This weekend they travel to 11th-placed Tottenham, who are enduring a luckless spell that has seen them without a win for four league matches. United have taken the scalp of one big club already this season when defeating Arsenal in October, whilst neither Liverpool or Chelsea managed to make them look unworthy of their unexpected ascent up the table.
All change at Arsenal?
Arsenal have one less problem to concern themselves with as they head to Leicester on Saturday, with the furore surrounding ex-captain Granit Xhaka hopefully subsided. Gunners boss Unai Emery now faces another test in the form of an away fixture against Brendan Rodgers’ in-form Leicester. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has replaced Xhaka as captain, but the distraction of the incident cannot disguise Arsenal’s worrying form of late. Without a victory in three league matches, the Gunners are on the back foot as they head into the Foxes’ lair.