Premier League talking points: Emery’s Arsenal exit, United’s test, humble Mourinho and the Rice-ico

Luke Brown, Ben Burrows, Lawrence Ostlere, Harry Latham-Coyle, Jack Rathborn
Some of the names on Premier League lips this weekend: Getty

1) Emery, Ljungberg and Todd Canwell’s left foot

The big story at Carrow Road is of course whether Todd Cantwell will be fit to start, with Daniel Farke suggesting the in-form midfielder should be available after training on Thursday. There is the small matter of life after Unai Emery, too, following the Spaniard’s sacking and the instalment of Freddie Ljungberg as interim manager. Ljungberg is not thought to be in contention for the job but all caretakers can force themselves into the conversation with a winning run, and victory on Sunday would be the perfect start. Stifling Cantwell will go some way to completing the job. LO

2) Jesus can rise in Aguero’s absence

Manchester City will be without Sergio Aguero for their visit to Newcastle, with the striker sidelined for a few weeks with a thigh issue. This opens an opportunity for Gabriel Jesus, who has impressed whenever called upon this season, but may now get an extended run in the side to press for a full-time starting role. With Aguero unlikely to be fit for the Manchester Derby, Jesus will be hoping to tune up against Newcastle, whose solid defensive structure has already frustrated Tottenham this season. HLC

3) West Ham braced for another hard afternoon

It’s the Declan Rice-ico at Stamford Bridge on Saturday as the West Ham midfielder returns to his old stomping ground but this one figures to be more about his under-fire manager than anything else. Manuel Pellegrini needs a result in the worst way and could probably do without going to one of the country’s in-form teams to get it. Chelsea come in fresh from their hairem scarem draw with Valencia in midweek with Frank Lampard still looking for that fine balance between a solid defence and a prolific attack. Both departments should be too strong for the Hammers though, who have looked way off it for some time. BB

4) Will Mourinho give youth a chance?

The humble José Mourinho promised many things when he made his way humbly into Tottenham’s media room for his exceedingly humble first press conference. But perhaps most interesting was his solemn vow to develop Tottenham’s youngsters. Mourinho does not have the best reputation for playing youngsters and it will be interesting to see who he selects at left-back for Tottenham’s home match against Bournemouth, given the long-term injury suffered by Ben Davies. On one hand he has 29-year-old Danny Rose, who was at fault for Olympiacos’ opening goal on Tuesday night and has been underwhelming all season. On the other he has Ryan Sessegnon, one of the country’s most exciting young players who is still waiting on his first Tottenham start. So who’s it going to be? LB

5) Scrap at the bottom has serious consequences

How Southampton may rue their failure to put away a hopeless Arsenal last weekend come the pointy end of the season, missing out on a win they rather needed. Watford will commiserate knowingly – Quique Sanchez Flores’ side were similarly wasteful against a below-par Arsenal in September. A battle of the Premier League’s basement clubs, Watford will be keen to hoist themselves off the bottom. It’ll be gritty and perhaps a little bit grim, but this might be the most consequential fixture of the weekend. HLC

6) Wolves stutter into weekend with Nuno doubt

Wolves were strutting across the pitch at the quarry in Braga on Thursday contemplating where next on their way to extending their Europa League adventure.But despite securing their last 32 place in a 3-3 draw, the Portuguese side exposed issues at the back for Nuno’s side. Seven Wolves players inside the box stood idly as Paulinho prodded home before a poor clearance at a corner allowed Fransergio to head home unmarked and salvage a point. It spoilt a fine evening for Nuno, who will be frantically drilling his side ahead of the visit of Sheffield United, who will also pose a legitimate threat inside the box with their willing runners – as displayed on countless occasions last weekend against Manchester United. It promises to be an excellent test in its own right, while speculation linking Nuno with the vacant manager’s job at Arsenal coats this one with even more intrigue. JR

Nuno Espirito Santo directs from the touchline at Braga (Getty)

7) Potter looks to turn Brighton's Anfield history

Chris Hughton’s iteration of Brighton always struggled at Anfield, receiving a couple of humiliations over the years, but with Graham Potter at the helm, Brighton seem like a different proposition. Their football is far more adventurous and their ability to go toe-to-toe with the bigger clubs has been a notable improvement. Potter signed a new contract this week as Brighton looked to ward of potential suitors higher up the table. It is a tall order, but having beaten Spurs in October, can he finally reverse Brighton's fortunes at fortress Anfield? LO

8) Leicester the team Everton hoped to be

In many ways, Leicester have become the club Everton thought they could be, competing with the Premier League’s biggest fish after some canny recruitment and a shrewd managerial appointment. While the Foxes fly high in second after five consecutive wins, Everton languish just two places outside of the relegation zone, and with Marco Silva increasingly under pressure. If Leicester extend their winning run, Silva will be in real strife. He does not look a manager capable of transforming the Merseyside club into a side like Leicester – and you therefore wonder quite why he is still in charge… HLC

9) Villa sense a giant-killing at Old Trafford

Aston Villa have been predictable this season in the sense that, broadly speaking, they have beaten the bad teams and lost to the good ones. The big question on Sunday is which one are Manchester United? Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s position has seemed fragile for some time now and the accumulation of recent disappointments – defeat by Bournemouth, a draw with Sheffield United, and a young line-up losing at Astana this week – is only adding to the weight on the Norwegian’s shoulders. Villa are yet to learn the knack of giant-killing this season but there are few better places to start than the Theatre of Dreams. LO

10) Palace must find way to arrest quiet slide

Hailed as a great success story in the infancy of the Premier League season, Crystal Palace are quietly on a particularly poor run, taking just one point from a murderous succession of fixtures against the Premier League’s top-four and fellow strugglers Arsenal. Roy Hodgson’s side are thus being dragged down the table, and need to get back on track, but a trip to Turf Moor is a tricky proposition. Burnley could end the weekend fifth if results go their way, and come into this game having dismissed both West Ham and Watford 3-0 in their last two Premier League fixtures. HLC

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