Belfast Telegraph

Premier League talking points

After a full round of fixtures in midweek, the Premier League continues at the weekend with another intriguing set of games.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at some talking points.

City looking to prolong winning run against West Ham

Manchester City, the league leaders by eight points, have surprisingly found the going tougher in recent games, needing late winners to see off Huddersfield and Southampton. But after 12th successive league wins, few would expect their winning sequence to come to an end as they host struggling West Ham. David Moyes is still waiting for his first win since taking charge of the Hammers and, after slipping into the bottom three following a hammering at Everton on Wednesday, the odds do not look good for the Londoners this weekend.

Return of Big Sam

Sam Allardyce said he was retiring when he left Crystal Palace at the end of last season but it never seemed likely to last. Such is his standing in the game he was being linked with other jobs within weeks and, not surprisingly, he is now back in the Premier League as he takes charge of Everton. He was clearly not the Toffees' first choice but so serious did their situation become in the month after sacking Ronald Koeman that he now seems a good fit. His mere presence seemed to lift them to a convincing win in midweek and Huddersfield need to be wary at Goodison Park.

How high can Burnley go?

Burnley have edged Tottenham out of the top six, for the time being at least, and while people will expect their bubble to burst sooner or later, it is tempting to wonder how high they can go under Sean Dyche. Victory at Leicester on Saturday - a fixture that should hold no fear given the Clarets' improvement away from home this term - would see them put even more pressure on the established clubs around them. These are heady times at Turf Moor.

Benitez returns to Chelsea

A fortnight after renewing his rivalry with Jose Mourinho, Rafael Benitez faces another reminder of his past as he takes his Newcastle side to Chelsea. It will be his first game at Stamford Bridge since the his brief spell as interim manager there in 2013, which ended with triumph in the Europa League. Despite that success, he could still get a mixed reception with tensions dating back to his time as Liverpool manager still prevalent.

Hughes under pressure

There have been a few fallers in the managerial sack race lately and attention is now focusing on who the next casualty might be. Mark Hughes, for the first time since taking charge of Stoke in 2013, is now starting to come under pressure. In some ways he could be considered a victim of his own success having guided the Potters to three successive ninth-placed finishes from 2014-16. Supporters are certainly expecting more than a battle against relegation, which Stoke are in danger of slipping into having won only four of their 14 games.

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