Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Premier League talking points

Published 22/01/2016

Manchester United are back at Old Trafford this weekend
Manchester United are back at Old Trafford this weekend

More twists and turns are guaranteed this weekend as a new chapter in one of the tightest ever Barclays Premier League seasons unfolds.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at talking points at both ends of the table.

MORE TRAFFIC PROBLEMS AT OLD TRAFFORD?

Manchester United return to Old Trafford for the first time since under-fire manager Louis van Gaal suggested the thousands of fans who left before the end of the club's 1-0 FA Cup third round victory over Sheffield United - missing the decisive goal in the process - had perhaps done so in order to avoid heavy traffic. It was a view which was met with snorts of derision. Van Gaal, who admits he has been "bored" by some of his team's football this season, has a job on his hands to win over the critics. United head into their home clash with Southampton unbeaten in five outings in all competitions, but the number of empty seats as the game enters its final stages may provide another illustration of satisfaction levels.

PRECIOUS STONES

Everton defender John Stones could be forgiven for having more than just the showdown with relegation-threatened Swansea on his mind when he runs out at Goodison Park on Sunday. The England defender was courted assiduously, but ultimately unsuccessfully by Chelsea last summer as the Toffees managed to hang on to one of their most prized assets. However, the 21-year-old could find himself at the centre of yet another tug of love during the remaining days of the January transfer window with reports suggesting Chelsea are ready to offer £50million for his services in a bid to beat Manchester United to the punch.

YELLOW PERIL

Who will be the first Premier League player to reach 10 bookings for the season? Be sure to keep an eye on Carrow Road this weekend where the answer could emerge. Norwich's Alex Tettey collected his ninth league caution of the campaign at Stoke on January 13, drawing level with Newcastle counterpart Jack Colback who moved within one more yellow card of a two-game ban at Arsenal 11 days earlier. Tettey could well be the first to double figures - the Canaries kick off against Liverpool at 12.45pm on Saturday, while Colback is injured and misses Newcastle's 3pm game at Watford.

WIN, LOSE OR... WHAT'S THE OTHER OPTION?

Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce is a man who prides himself on making his teams difficult to beat. An ability to frustrate Premier League aristocrats, frequently picking up useful draws against the elite teams, was a feature of his lengthy and successful spell at Bolton. However, it is an ability which has to date largely eluded him during his spell on Wearside. Of the 15 games the Black Cats have played in all competitions under the 61-year-old, they have won five - a reasonable return - but have lost the remaining 10. Allardyce would prefer the theme of no draws to continue this weekend, but only if it means victory over Bournemouth in a fixture he admits Sunderland cannot afford to lose.

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph