Five key Premier League talking points ahead of this weekend

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Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal FC - Premier League

There is no respite for Premier League clubs as they prepare to do battle just days after their midweek fixtures.

Here, we pick out five of the main talking points ahead of this weekend’s games.

City and Liverpool continue to battle it out

Just a point separates the top two as the most intriguing title battle in many a year enters the final 10 matches of the season.

Reigning champions Manchester City have the chance to temporarily topple Liverpool on Saturday afternoon, when few would expect anything other than a comfortable win at a Bournemouth side that have struggled so badly against the Premier League’s big boys.

Jurgen Klopp’s men face a far tougher assignment if they are to keep the title race in their hands and local rivals Everton would love nothing more than to give the Reds a bloody nose at Goodison Park on Sunday.

Spurs look for north London derby boost

What a difference a week makes. Talk of a title tilt could become a battle for a top-four finish if Tottenham do not use the north London derby to bounce back from defeats at Burnley and Chelsea.

Harry Kane avoided punishment following an out-of-character incident with Cesar Azpilicueta in midweek and Spurs will need their star turn firing on all cylinders on Saturday lunchtime. Having entered last weekend within five points of the summit, Tottenham could remarkably see their gap over Arsenal cut to a point at Wembley.

Unai Emery’s side have won four of their last five matches and are looking to inflict a destabilising first home north London derby defeat on Pochettino.

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Solskjaer’s success to continue?

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s chances of getting the Manchester United job on a permanent basis grow by the day. The 1999 treble hero has overseen a remarkable turnaround on the field and behind the scenes since succeeding Jose Mourinho in December.

The caretaker manager’s fine run continued with a 3-1 win at Crystal Palace on Wednesday, when Romelu Lukaku grabbed his chance to shine by netting a brace. United made light of a glut of injury problems at Selhurst Park to rack up a club record eighth successive away win and extend their unbeaten Premier League run to 11 matches.

Another win looks likely this weekend when Old Trafford welcomes struggling Southampton, although Ralph Hasenhuttl oversaw a timely win against relegation rivals Fulham on Wednesday.

Can Parker change Fulham’s fortunes?

That 2-0 loss at St Mary’s proved the final straw for Fulham, who wielded the axe on Claudio Ranieri after mustering a mere three wins in 16 league matches. Disapproval from the stands has been compounded by bemusement within the Craven Cottage dressing room, meaning Slavisa Jokanovic’s replacement exits with the side all but certain of relegation.

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An eye-watering 10 points from safety with only 10 matches remaining, last season’s play-off winners have appointed former midfielder Scott Parker as caretaker manager in a bid to bring a modicum of positivity back to the ailing side. Rather tellingly, owner Shahid Khan said: “Scott’s immediate assignment is merely to help us stabilise, grow and rediscover ourselves as a football club.”

Parker’s first challenge sees him head to former club Chelsea, who will be looking to end a testing week with another win.

Brendan back in the Premier League

With Claude Puel’s departure – belatedly – sealed, Leicester wasted little time bringing Brendan Rodgers back to the Premier League. The abrupt manner of the 46-year-old’s departure from Celtic has ruffled feathers given the way the Northern Irishman left the club he grew up supporting on the brink of the ‘treble treble’.

Leicester City v Brighton & Hove Albion - Premier League

The former Liverpool boss is unlikely to be welcome at Parkhead any time soon, so now attention turns to getting the Foxes up the table. A Jekyll and Hyde side capable of beating the best and floundering against mediocre opposition, Rodgers’ first match sees him face old club Watford this Sunday.

With Leicester five points off seventh heading into the match, this will give him a good indication of where the side are at.

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