The latest round of Premier League fixtures promises to be a big one for both new managers and those under pressure.
Eddie Howe, Steven Gerrard and Dean Smith will take charge of their latest clubs for the first time, while Ole Gunnar Solskjaer fights to come back from another chastening loss and Antonio Conte attempts to stamp his authority on his Tottenham team.
Here, the PA news agency takes a look at some of the taking points surrounding he weekend’s games.
Ole on the brink?
Manchester United head for Watford on Saturday with manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s future a matter for concerted debate. The Norwegian has prepared for the game amid speculation that Leicester counterpart Brendan Rodgers is being lined up for his job with his side having won only one of its last six Premier League games, a run which includes comprehensive home defeats by arch-rivals Liverpool and Manchester City. Anything other than victory at Vicarage Road could prove the final straw.
Howe’s it going?
Eddie Howe will get his first taste of life in charge at Newcastle when Brentford arrive at St James’ Park for what already looks like a must-win encounter for the Magpies’ new head coach. Eleven league games have come and gone without a victory and a return of only five points has left them sitting in 19th place by virtue only of goal difference. Home clashes with the Bees, bottom-of-the-table Norwich and 18th-placed Burnley in three of their next four fixtures represent an opportunity, and one which they cannot afford to pass up.
Welcome to the jungle
Howe is not the only man taking to a different dug-out this weekend. New Aston Villa boss Steven Gerrard will send his side into battle at home to Brighton, while predecessor Dean Smith will swap Villa Park for Carrow Road when he launches his spell as Norwich boss against Southampton. But spare a thought for Ralph Hasenhuttl, who has had to prepare the Saints to face Smith’s new charges having also pitted his wits against him in his last game as Villa manager. He would happily settle for the same result, a 1-0 Southampton win.
Marcelo Bielsa could have been forgiven for groaning his way through the international break as Harry Kane helped himself to no fewer than seven goals to take his England tally to 48. The Tottenham frontman had found the back of the net only once in seven games in all competitions for his club before plundering a hat-trick in a 5-0 World Cup qualifier win over Albania and then going one better in a 10-0 demolition of minnows San Marino. Bielsa’s Leeds head for North London on Sunday, when they will hope Kane’s goal-rush has dried up.
Gunning for the Reds
Improving Arsenal face the biggest test of their resurgence since a 5-0 horror show at Manchester City in August when they head for Liverpool hoping to further dent the Reds’ title credentials. Mikel Arteta’s men are unbeaten in 10 games in all competitions since the debacle at the Etihad Stadium and sit just two points adrift of their fourth-placed hosts, who lost 3-2 at West Ham last time out. However, the opposition this weekend represents a significant step up in class.
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