xeniasports – London
The Premier League returns this weekend after a busy few days of European action.
Ahead of the 12th round of fixtures, the PA news agency picks out five of the main talking points.
Who will secure Manchester bragging rights?
It has been some time since Manchester United went into the derby ahead of Manchester City in the Premier League standings, yet it is those clad in red under the most pressure. United have won just one of their five home league matches this season and are reeling from being dumped into the Europa League, having blown their Champions League chances with Tuesday’s 3-2 defeat at RB Leipzig. Shambolic defending meant the comeback kings even found it too steep a mountain to climb and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will have to be vastly improved when Pep Guardiola leads City to Old Trafford.
Can be depleted Newcastle beat Baggies?
Steve Bruce’s men return to action for the first time since their space of positive coronavirus tests saw last Friday’s clash between Aston Villa and Newcastle postponed. It was the first Premier League match to be called off since football resumed amid the pandemic and the Magpies will still be without a string of players when they host struggling West Brom on Saturday. “We will be without a big chunk of players tomorrow that’s for sure,” Bruce said ahead of the visit of Slaven Bilic’s Baggies. “We’ve got enough to pick 11 to hopefully win the match.”
Can Blades end wretched run?
After making waves last season, Sheffield United have made unwanted history this time around. Chris Wilder’s men are the first team in Premier League history to have only managed a solitary point from their opening 11 matches of the season and are just the third team in English Football league history to have lost 10 or more of their first 11 matches. Wilder shares fellow Blades fans’ fears about their plight ahead of a tough-looking trip to Southampton, who head into the weekend just four points off the top after a stunning start to the campaign.
More Jose joy for Spurs?
“We’re not even in the race so we’re not a horse, we’re a pony,” Jose Mourinho – named November’s manager of the month – said after the goalless draw at former club Chelsea a fortnight ago. But while the Tottenham manager attempts to cool title talk, last weekend’s comfortable north London derby victory against Arsenal underlined their quality and sees them lead the way. Sunday’s trip south of the river to Crystal Palace looks a tough assignment given the hosts’ 5-1 win at West Brom last time out, but with Son Heung-min and Harry Kane firing in front of a solid structure things are looking up at Spurs.
Arsenal Gunner show signs of life?
The mood around nearby Arsenal could not contrast much more to that at Spurs. The hope that followed the November 1 win at Manchester United has been replaced by frustration, with pressure on Mikel Arteta building due to a shocking four-game winless run in the Premier League. Fresh from the humbling north London derby defeat – and midweek Europa League win at Dundalk – the Gunners host Burnley having lost their last three home league matches to Leicester, Aston Villa, and Wolves. There will be 2,000 fans in the stands at the Emirates Stadium and it will not take long for the anger to be made audible if things go awry on Sunday.