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Dublin: 2 °C Friday 19 January, 2018
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Which of the summer signings will prevail and the weekend's Premier League talking points

We’ve got the Manchester derby, Tim Sherwood battling to keep his job and a Leicester City striker outscoring everyone else.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Southampton v Leicester City - St Mary's Vardy celebrates scoring with Nathan Dyer last weekend. Source: Paul Harding

1. Vardy leading the way

THERE WERE MORE than a few raised eyebrows when Leicester City boss Claudio Ranieri mentioned Foxes striker Jamier Vardy and Brazilian star Neymar in the same breath during the week.

While it’s frankly a little silly to compare the 28-year-old recently-capped England international and one of the most talented players in the world, there is no arguing with with his statistics this season.

Vardy continues to sit top of the Premier League goalscoring charts, three ahead of next in line Sergio Aguero, after scoring twice against Southampton last weekend to make it nine goals from as many matches.

On top of that, the former Fleetwood Town hitman has either scored or assisted in 18 of the club’s last 19 goals, And he will be looking to continue that rich vein of form at home to Crystal Palace on Saturday.

2. Pressure mounting for Sherwood

“I’ll be checking over my shoulder to see if anyone is positioning themselves in the director’s box tomorrow,” joked Tim Sherwood when questioned about his future on Friday.

He may still have his sense of humour, but time appears to be running for the the Aston Villa boss.

The midlanders are without a Premier League win since Rudy Gestede’s header saw off Bournemouth on the opening day of the season and they have picked up zero points from their last five.

However, they entertain a Swansea side suffering a bit of a slump in form themselves — their last victory was against Manchester United back in August.

As a sidenote, the Ayew brothers, Andre and Jordan, could face each other for the first time in English football and there is some good news for Ireland as Ciaran Clark has returned to fitness.

3. Upturn in fortunes for Chelsea?

Jose Mourinho maintains the mood at Chelsea is improving as his players have taken responsibility for the club’s terrible start to the campaign.

A 2-0 win over Aston Villa last weekend was followed up with a decent point away to Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League on Tuesday and they will look to make it back-to-back victories for the first time this season at Upton Park on Saturday afternoon.

The Hammers, eight places above their London rivals in fourth and unbeaten in their last six, are unlikely to roll over but they do tend to struggle against the Blues.

Mourinho dropped Edan Hazard at Stamford Bridge last Saturday and publicly-criticised the Belgian’s defensive capabilities. The talented attacker returned to the starting line-up for the trip to Kiev and it will be interesting to see if starts in this one.

4. Clash of the big money buys

Soccer - Capital One Cup - Third Round - Manchester United v Ipswich Town - Old Trafford Source: Press Association

Three points separate leaders Manchester City and neighbours Manchester United ahead of Sunday’s derby (2pm).

United boss Louis van Gaal has played down his team’s chances ahead of the clash, claiming City are favourites.

However, Manuel Pellegrini is without the services of top goalscorer Sergio Aguero and the man with the most Premier League assists this season, David Silva, while captain Vincent Kompany hasn’t played in six weeks.

That said, Kevin de Bruyne has settled in remarkably well since his £54 million (€75m) move from Wolfsburg in the summer — chipping in with five goals and five assists in eight appearances.

Another recent arrival to English football, £36m (€50m) man Anthony Martial, scored his first Champions League goal in the draw with CSKA Moscow and will look to keep up his impressive start here.

5. Mixed news for Klopp as he seeks first win

After two draws from his first two matches at the helm, Jürgen Klopp welcomes Southampton to Anfield on Sunday afternoon.

Daniel Sturridge missed both of those games and remains a serious doubt with his knee injury. There is some good news, however, as Christian Benteke and Roberto Firmino are available again after making returns as second half substitutes against Rubin Kazan on Thursday night.

The Saints, level on points with Liverpool, are unbeaten on the road this season but the Reds have won all of the last three meetings between the clubs.

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Ben Blake

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