Five Issues In The Premier League This Weekend
After the year’s last international break, seven weeks of unbroken Premier League football begin this weekend stretching through December and up to the FA Cup third round in early January.
s Manchester City are eight points clear at the summit and in danger of disappearing over the horizon.
Their closest challengers, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and defending champions Chelsea, are separated by a single point.
Three points off the top four, both Liverpool and Arsenal — who host derby rivals Tottenham in the weekend’s stand-out fixture — risk being cut adrift.
David Moyes takes charge of West Ham United for the first time at Watford, whose own manager, Marco Silva, is reported to have been approached by managerless Everton.
AFP Sport picks out five pressing issues in the Premier League this weekend:
Can Arsenal turn the north London tide?
Tottenham finished above Arsenal for the first time since 1995 last season and have not tasted defeat against their arch rivals in the league in over three years.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side have continued to shine this season, notably in their recent Champions League victory over Real Madrid, and sit four points above Arsenal in the table.
But Spurs have not won at the Emirates Stadium since November 2010 and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes home advantage could give his team the edge.
“I think Tottenham are a good side, but we have the quality to win this game and that’s what we want to show,” he said.
“At home we have been very strong and our home strength will certainly be vital to decide where we finish at the end of the season.”
Will Sergio Aguero start for Man City?
Manchester City’s 3-1 win over Arsenal prior to the international window suggested it may take an act of God to derail Guardiola’s swashbuckling side.
There was concern for City’s fans after striker Sergio Aguero was reported to have fainted at half-time of Argentina’s friendly against Nigeria in Russia on Tuesday.
But City said Aguero, who recently became the club’s all-time leading scorer, had merely suffered a dizzy spell and he declared himself “set to go” on Thursday after undergoing tests.
Should Pep Guardiola decide to err on the side of caution, Gabriel Jesus could take Aguero’s place up front at Leicester City.
Will Chelsea make a happy return to The Hawthorns?
When Chelsea last played at The Hawthorns, home of West Bromwich Albion, the stadium found itself staging a title party after Michy Batshuayi’s late goal made Antonio Conte’s side champions.
Six months on from that game, Chelsea are one of several leading teams who have been left in Manchester City’s wake.
However, Alvaro Morata’s second-half header brought them an impressive 1-0 win over Manchester United on their most recent outing and they are now just a point off second place.
Can Man United get back in the groove?
Neck-and-neck with Manchester City at the end of September, Manchester United have fallen off the pace after a 0-0 draw at Liverpool and successive away defeats against Huddersfield Town and Chelsea.
But their injury situation appears to be improving, with Marouane Fellaini and Michael Carrick fit again and Phil Jones set to be available despite an injury scare with England.
There are also reports Paul Pogba and long-term absentee Zlatan Ibrahimovic could be on the bench for Saturday’s home game against Newcastle United, which would give Jose Mourinho’s side a major lift.
“I’m determined to return better and stronger than before,” Ibrahimovic said in a promotional interview with Volvo.
“That is my goal and it will happen. There are no other options.”
Is David Moyes the man to save West Ham?
A return of two wins from 11 games having left West Ham United in the relegation zone, the club’s owners took decisive action last week by sacking manager Slaven Bilic.
The man they chose to replace him, David Moyes, was not an obvious choice, having been relegated with Sunderland last season.
“My ambition at the moment is only short-term,” said Moyes. “I have to win games and get us away from the wrong end of the table. The squad is good enough.”
Saturday (1500 GMT unless otherwise stated):
Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur (1230 GMT), Bournemouth v Huddersfield Town, Burnley v Swansea City, Crystal Palace v Everton, Leicester City v Manchester City, Liverpool v Southampton, Manchester United v Newcastle United (1730 GMT), West Bromwich Albion v Chelsea
Sunday (1600 GMT):
Watford v West Ham United
Monday (2000 GMT):
Brighton and Hove Albion v Stoke City