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Ferguson takes charge and Burnley return – 5 Premier League talking points
Southampton stand in the way of runaway leaders Mancester City while Leicester and Tottenham seek the right reponse to Wednesday’s wild finish.
There is a full schedule of Premier League fixtures to look forward to his weekend – something that has not been a given in recent weeks.
Here, the PA news agency picks out five of the interesting talking points.
Can Big Dunc rejuvenate Everton?
Ex-Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez’s appointment at Everton always looked an uncomfortable arrangement and it lasted less than seven months. The Spaniard was given his marching orders following last weekend’s shock 2-1 loss at embattled Norwich, with club great Duncan Ferguson again turned to to steady the ship as caretaker manager. The Scot did well during an unbeaten four-game temporary stint in December 2019 before Carlo Ancelotti took over and will be looking to give Aston Villa a bloody nose on Saturday lunchtime. If Benitez leaving was not enough, there is the small matter of Steven Gerrard managing his first game at Goodison Park and perhaps even a first start for another former Liverpool star, Philippe Coutinho.
Unstoppable City tackle Saints
Reigning champions Manchester City boast 56 points after 22 games, giving them an eye-watering 11-point cushion over second-placed Liverpool. Pep Guardiola’s men are on a 12-match winning run in the Premier League and few expect them to see their march to another title halted. City have lost just twice all season and they take on Southampton, who nearly came close to making it three losses when the sides met in September. A controversial overturned penalty denied Saints the shot at a memorable win at the Etihad Stadium and they will need to produce a similarly impressive performance to get anywhere near to a result on Saturday evening.
Burney play a match
Sean Dyche’s men are bottom of the Premier League ahead of Sunday’s trip to Arsenal – their first top-flight game since the 3-1 loss at Leeds on January 2. Burnley are five matches behind some sides due to the impact of Covid-19 on the schedule, as well as snow leading to the postponement of November’s game against Tottenham. The Clarets would love a positive result in their first match since Chris Wood joined relegation rivals Newcastle and take on an Arsenal side looking to bounce back from the Carabao Cup semi-final loss to Liverpool.
Shocked Foxes look to clip Seagulls’ wings
Those connected to Leicester will still be reeling from Wednesday’s loss to Tottenham. Brendan Rodgers’ men had a 2-1 lead deep in stoppage time, yet conspired to lose 3-2 in a frantic, remarkable conclusion. The Leicester boss bemoaned naivety and lost duels on a “hugely disappointing” night they will be desperate to bounce back from on Sunday. Brighton are the visitors to the King Power Stadium and are in the midst of a five-match uneaten run, which included Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with Chelsea. Impressive Albion boss Graham Potter will not be on the touchline after testing positive for Covid-19.
Conte hopes to give former club the blues
While Leicester nurse their wounds, Spurs will be hoping to kick on from their wild midweek comeback win. Antonio Conte’s reaction was exactly what you would expect from the livewire Italian, who led Chelsea to the Premier League title in 2017 and will want to exact revenge for the two-legged Carabao Cup semi-final defeat to Thomas Tuchel’s men earlier in the month. The German said his side need to “recharge the batteries” after blaming tiredness for their poor performance in the draw at Brighton, which extended their alarming recent run to two wins in their last nine top-flight outings.