Nine Premier League fixtures will take place this weekend after the majority of clubs have battled through their recent Covid-19 issues.
Here, the PA news agency takes a look at some of the key talking points before this round of matches with important clashes at both ends of the table.
Chelsea travel to the Etihad for a lunchtime kick-off on Saturday already trailing Manchester City by 10 points. When Thomas Tuchel first arrived in England, he got the better of Pep Guardiola in three crunch games at the end of the 2020-21 season, one being the Champions League final, but did lose to the champions in September. Now would be the perfect time to rediscover his winning formula versus the Spaniard.
At the other end of the table Newcastle, fresh from an embarrassing FA Cup exit to Cambridge, will hope new signing Chris Wood can fire them to a crucial win over relegation rivals Watford. The 19th-placed Magpies and their new owners have weakened another struggler in the form of Burnley by prizing away a player who has been the Clarets’ top goalscorer in each of the last four campaigns. Wood should make his debut against Watford, who have lost seven in a row but are still outside of the bottom three.
🚨 We can confirm that our Premier League fixture at home to Leicester City on Saturday 15th January has been postponed.— Burnley FC (@BurnleyOfficial) January 14, 2022
More information to follow. pic.twitter.com/RQ6SYwEA9u
Leicester’s Covid-19 and injury problems have been well documented over the last month and it has resulted in Brendan Rodgers’ side playing only twice in the Premier League during that period. The Foxes have been involved in four separate postponements and a fifth has been added to the equation after Burnley’s request to call off this weekend’s match between the sides was granted. The Clarets will now have played only 17 of their scheduled 22 top-flight matches, leaving both clubs playing catch-up during the coming months.
Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa were knocked out of the FA Cup last weekend by Manchester United in spite of a dominant display at Old Trafford. A 1-0 loss felt harsh on the former England captain’s side, who have a shot at some type of redemption seven days later. The arrival of Philippe Coutinho on loan hands Villa a boost and the Brazilian has a good record against United in recent times, scoring in his last appearance against the Red Devils for parent club Barcelona and also in 2016 for Liverpool.
The reality of Antonio Conte’s task at Tottenham has been laid bare of late. A 3-0 aggregate defeat to Chelsea in the Carabao Cup semi-finals followed a harder than expected FA Cup victory over third-tier Morecambe and dropped points at Southampton. With Son Heung-min still injured, the visit of Arsenal is the last thing Spurs would have wanted, especially after the Gunners showed fine resolve to earn a 0-0 draw with 10 men at Liverpool on Thursday.