Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Football

Top two clash and Pellegrini under pressure – 5 Premier League talking points

The weekend’s headline fixture is a box-office clash on Sunday between the league’s top two clubs.

Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah in action as his team prepare to face Manchester City (Richard Sellers/PA)
Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah in action as his team prepare to face Manchester City (Richard Sellers/PA)

By PA Sport Staff

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, the PA news agency looks at the major talking points ahead of a busy weekend of football.

Pellegrini at a pinch point

bpanews_1b9b955d-68c0-4e44-a85b-c8c0e373f647_embedded245741591
West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini (Martin Rickett/PA)

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 Hammers’ 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 needs a big improvement on the performance which saw them lose at home to Newcastle last week. 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 Friday 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.

The top two collide

bpanews_1b9b955d-68c0-4e44-a85b-c8c0e373f647_embedded244317216
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp (left) and Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola (Martin Rickett/PA)

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 won at Liverpool since 2003, a victory which itself ended a 22-year wait for success 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 last month, whilst neither Liverpool or Chelsea managed to make them look unworthy of their unexpected ascent up the table.

All change at Arsenal?

bpanews_1b9b955d-68c0-4e44-a85b-c8c0e373f647_embedded248043882
Arsenal’s new captain, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Paul Harding/PA)

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.

PA

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph