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Premier League: Weekend talking points

Published 14/10/2016

Bob Bradley takes charge of Swansea for the first time on Saturday
Bob Bradley takes charge of Swansea for the first time on Saturday

The Premier League returns from the international break this weekend and a number of clubs will look to kick-start their season.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at five talking points ahead of the latest round of fixtures.

WILL ROONEY BE BENCHED AGAIN?

The Wayne Rooney saga has dominated the back pages in recent weeks following his slump in form. Having been dropped by Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho prior to the international break, the most recent episode saw the 30-year-old jeered by disgruntled fans at Wembley when he was introduced during England's 2-0 win over Malta. This led to interim England manager Gareth Southgate making the bold decision to drop Rooney to the bench for the goalless draw against Slovenia. Although former United players Bryan Robson and Dwight Yorke have leapt to the defence of England's all-time leading goalscorer, another absence from the starting line-up in one of English football's most fierce fixtures between Manchester United and Liverpool on Monday could determine Rooney's future for club and country.

IS CONTE UNDER PRESSURE?

Antonio Conte has enjoyed a mixed start to his first season in English football, winning his opening three games before a lacklustre 2-2 draw at Swansea. Defeats against fellow title contenders Liverpool and Arsenal followed. But a change in formation led to one of Chelsea's most assured displays of the campaign as the Blues claimed a 2-0 win at Hull before the international break. Earlier this week, the west London club announced a significant kit deal with Nike, but the deal was overshadowed by news that several bookmakers had suspended betting on Conte leaving Stamford Bridge just three months after taking over as head coach. Last season's failure was always going to see Russian billionaire owner Roman Abramovich demand an instant response, but with Chelsea currently five points behind leaders Manchester City, a defeat against Premier League champions Leicester on Saturday may increase unexpected pressure on the Italian.

HOW WILL BRADLEY FARE ON HIS PREMIER LEAGUE DEBUT?

Newly-appointed Swansea boss Bob Bradley faces a baptism of fire on his introduction to English football's top flight when he takes his side to in-form Arsenal on Saturday. Having built a reputation in the United States, Norway and, most recently, France, Bradley - the first American to manage in the Premier League - succeeded Italian Francesco Guidolin in south Wales following a torrid start to the season. Billed as a meticulous tactician, Bradley has been tasked with getting Swansea out of a potential relegation battle. The Swans are winless in six games since their opening-day victory over Burnley, suffering five defeats during that spell. But trips to the Emirates have brought success for the Swans in recent years as they travel with a four-match unbeaten run, winning three and drawing one. Last season, Swansea ended the Gunners' title hopes with a 2-1 win, but a repeat of that result will be a huge ask for the American.

CAN WEST HAM REDISCOVER THEIR FORM?

Moving from Upton Park to the London Stadium was supposed to begin a revolution for West Ham. Qualification to the Europa League and a seventh-placed finish in the Premier League last season brought lofty expectations for Slaven Bilic's side following his impressive first season. But an early play-off round exit in the Europa League and a dismal start to the league campaign has seen West Ham drop into the relegation zone having taken just four points from their opening eight games. The two-week international break could be a blessing in disguise if the Hammers can claim a first win in six games at Crystal Palace on Saturday. Defeat, however, could see Bilic become the next manager to lose his job in the Premier League.

WILL PHELAN'S APPOINTMENT KICK-START HULL'S SEASON?

Despite a lack of summer transfer activity, the departure of Steve Bruce and the ongoing search for a new owner, newly-promoted Hull began life brightly under then-caretaker manager Mike Phelan with victories over reigning champions Leicester and Swansea. But the Tigers have only taken one point since and uncertainty over the manager's role seemed to have affected the club both on and off the pitch. Hull eventually appointed Phelan as their new head coach on Thursday ahead of Hull's visit to Bournemouth this weekend and the East Yorkshire club will look to get their season back on track with a win.

Press Association

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