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Premier League: The key talking points this weekend

:Headline: Premier League: The key talking points this weekend:
Will Liverpool shore up their defence against Chelsea?
PA | 25d

Manchester City were forced to confront defensive frailties after defeat at Norwich, while Liverpool are coming to terms with continued away day woes.

After a week which has threatened to turn the Premier League’s established order on its head, the two pace-setters will hope that normal service is resumed this weekend.

In a programme which includes plenty of potentially pivotal action further down the table, the PA News Agency picks out five highlights:

Away day woes tarnish Liverpool’s title challenge

The absence of Alisson Becker is not helping Liverpool on their travels (Mike Egerton/PA)

They may be sitting pretty at the top of the Premier League but Liverpool still have a lot to prove before they can think about wresting the title from Manchester City. The Reds’ midweek defeat in Naples highlighted a significant flaw in their away form ahead of this weekend’s trip to Chelsea. Jurgen Klopp’s side have won just once on their last 12 trips to top-six rivals, and an immediate response is required to erase that record and maintain their 100 per cent record at Stamford Bridge.

Defensive issues call for clever City solutions

Nicolas Otamendi is Manchester City’s last line of defence (Martin Rickett/PA)

Last week’s stunning Premier League loss at Norwich inevitably highlighted Manchester City’s defensive woes. Watford are probably one of the sides they would prefer to welcome this weekend, but the modest threat posed by the Hornets does not hide City’s issues going forward – with Nicolas Otamendi their only fit senior centre-back, and Fernandinho likely to revert to the role in the interim. How Pep Guardiola manages the issue could have a crucial impact on the destiny of this season’s title.

Leicester intent on taking Tottenham’s top six stake

James Maddison is shooting Leicester towards the top six (Richard Sellers/PA)

Despite thumping Crystal Palace last weekend, Spurs’ late flop against Olympiacos in midweek was seen as illustrative of their failure to launch a sustained assault on silverware. Their trip to Leicester feels like a pivotal moment in the season for both clubs: for Spurs to get the win which re-ignites their title credentials, or for Brendan Rodgers’ men, inspired by the increasingly impressive James Maddison, to mount their own top six case – possibly at Mauricio Pochettino’s expense.

Pukki and co ready for Turf Moor test

Can Teemu Pukki do it on a wet and windy Saturday at Turf Moor? (Joe Giddens/PA)

After sinking the billionaire Premier League champions, nothing is more certain to bring a side back down to earth than a trip to Turf Moor. But in many ways, how Norwich approach their clash with Sean Dyche’s troops will be more indicative of their survival prospects this season. Currently the Canaries are singing and Teemu Pukki can do no wrong. But times change quickly in the top-flight, and Daniel Farke will be only too aware of the importance of building on last week’s staggering success.

Magpies hoping Carroll can sing same song on return

Andy Carroll is braced for his second Newcastle debut (Anthony Devlin/PA)

Since Andy Carroll swept out of Newcastle for £35million in January 2011 things have not gone entirely to plan. Carroll’s low points have overshadowed his highs, leaving Magpies fans fervently hoping he can recover some of that early career promise if, as expected, he makes his second Newcastle debut against Brighton on Saturday. Anything less, and the gamble on bringing him back may lead to embarrassment all round, not least for the still under-pressure Steve Bruce.

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Premier League Table
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Liverpool88002061424
2Manchester CityMan City85122791816
3Arsenal84311311215
4Leicester CityLeicester8422147714
5Chelsea84221814414
6Crystal Palace842288014
7Burnley8332119212
8West Ham UnitedWest Ham83321111012
9Tottenham HotspurSpurs83231412211
10Bournemouth83231313011
11Wolverhampton WanderersWolves82421111010
12Manchester UnitedMan Utd82339819
13Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd82337709
14Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton8233810-29
15Aston Villa8224131218
16Newcastle UnitedNewcastle8224513-88
17Southampton8215815-77
18Everton8215613-77
19Norwich CityNorwich82061021-116
20Watford8035420-163
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Serie A Table
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Juventus7610136719
2Inter Milan76011441018
3Atalanta BCAtalanta75111810816
4Napoli74121510513
5Roma73311210212
6Lazio7322136711
7CagliariCagliari7322107311
8Fiorentina73221210211
9Torino73131010010
10AC Milan730469-39
11Bologna72329909
12Hellas VeronaHellas Verona72326519
13Parma7304810-29
14Udinese721436-37
15SassuoloSassuolo62041112-16
16Lecce7205715-86
17Brescia620479-26
18SPALSPAL7205613-76
19Genoa7124815-75
20Sampdoria7106416-123
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