Talking Points

5 things to watch out for in this weekend’s Premier League matches

Aguero v Sanchez, Harry Redknapp under pressure and the returning Jermain Defoe comes up against Spurs.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Arsenal v Manchester City - Emirates Stadium Sergio Aguero and Alexis Sanchez. David Davies David Davies

1. Who is the league’s best player right now?

DIEGO COSTA MIGHT be the Premier League’s current top goalscorer but the two players who have arguably been most impressive this season will be on opposing sides when Manchester City host Arsenal at the Etihad on Sunday afternoon.

City striker Sergio Aguero was playing some of the best football of his career, scoring 14 goals in 15 league games, before knee ligament damage robbed the champions of the 26-year-old for just over a month.

He returned against Everton last Saturday and looks set to start against the Gunners, who will undoubtedly have a supremely-talented South American of their own in attack. With 18 goals and 9 assists in all competitions since arriving from Barcelona, the Chilean could hardly have settled into life in north London much better.

Both players scored when the teams played out a 2-2 draw back in September and that could well be the case again here.

Is time running out for Harry?

Numerous reports in the media this week have suggested that Harry Redknapp’s job is under real threat and he could be sacked by QPR if they fail to win at home to Manchester United.

That would seem quite harsh but after last week’s defeat to fellow strugglers Burnley, the Rs lie second from bottom with 19 points from 21 league outings. While he laughed off speculation surrounding his future this week, Redknapp will be feeling the pressure ahead of the meeting with a United side whose luck ran out against Southampton last time out.

Louis van Gaal’s 3-5-2 system didn’t work against the well-drilled Saints, while Angel Di Maria was poor and Radamel Falcao didn’t even make the bench. The on-loan Colombian, who has been told by his manager to prove himself, could replace Robin van Persie if he hasn’t recovered from a minor ankle injury picked up in that defeat.

3.   Sterling returns after his week off

Brendan Rodgers opted to excuse Raheem Sterling from his match-day squad for the trip to Sunderland last week and the young England international took the opportunity to sun himself in Jamaica for the week while his team-mates picked up a 1-0 win.

Having suggested that the winger could be “running on empty”, the Liverpool boss will be hoping the player is rejuvenated and ready to return for their second consecutive away fixture — this time against troubled Aston Villa.

The Midlanders are in a rut right now and Paul Lambert is considering handing new signing Carles Gil, who arrived from Valencia this week, his debut in a bid to freshen up his team — who have only managed 11 goals in 21 league outings this term.

4. Defoe’s debut record on the line against his old club

12 months after leaving Tottenham for the MLS, Jermain Defoe is back in England’s top flight after joining Sunderland from FC Toronto on Friday — with Jozy Altidore heading in the opposite direction.

At 32, the former England striker has not come cheap as the Black Cats will pay Defoe around £70,000-a-week for the next three-and-a-half years. They desperately need goals, however, he has proven himself at this level over the past 16 years.

Remarkably, Defoe has scored on every senior debut in his professional career (for West Ham, Bournemouth (on loan), Tottenham, Portsmouth and FC Toronto) so his record is on the line when he comes up against Spurs this weekend.

5. Chelsea first up as Swans begin life without Bony

Wilfried Bony’s €36m move to Man City was completed this week meaning Swansea have lost their main goalscorer. Garry Monk will have been planning without the Ivory Coast striker, currently on international duty at the African Cup of Nations, and Bafetimbi Gomis is the man most likely to benefit from his exit.

The Welsh outfit, currently ninth in the table, welcome league leaders Chelsea to the Liberty Stadium. Jose Mourinho’s side have a hectic schedule in the weeks ahead with a two-legged Capital One Cup semi-final against Liverpool, and the FA Cup fourth round (v Bradford) and a top of the table clash against Man City all before January is out.

Robbie Keane and Carlo Cudicini went to Carlow IT to get their coaching badges this week

‘Arry’s Transfer Window: Spurs chasing Italian striker Zaza, Lucas staying at Liverpool

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