Another full week of Premier League matches has kicked off with a high-profile managerial departure.
In addition there are a number of questions which require an answer over the course of 10 fixtures in three days.
Here, the PA news agency looks at some of the issues over the coming days.
Life after Lampard
Chelsea Football Club has today parted company with Head Coach Frank Lampard.— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) January 25, 2021
Chelsea will host Wolves two days after former player Frank Lampard was sacked after 18 months in charge. Expected new boss Thomas Tuchel will find the margins are tight at Stamford Bridge as Lampard secured Champions League football and an FA Cup final in his maiden season with a reliance on youth and – despite taking seven points from the last 24 – the club are still only five points off the top four. The German’s reputation for being stand-offish and his apparent disputes with authority will not matter at Chelsea providing he gets results, especially if he can use his Bundesliga experience to get compatriots Timo Werner and Kai Havertz, £125million-worth of new signings, firing again.
Bruce needs to arrest decline
The next manager under pressure is Steve Bruce as Newcastle have been in steady decline (as opposed to the general malaise which has enveloped the club over the last few years) since October. Their form over the last eight matches (two draws, six defeats) is the worst in the league and they have scored just four goals in that period. Even defeat combined with wins for their rivals would still not drop them into the bottom three but Bruce has to stop the rot.
City generating title momentum
Manchester City are putting together one of those ominous runs which usually leads them to a title. They have accumulated 26 points from a possible 30 since losing to Tottenham in November. They have won the last 10 matches in all competitions, with just two of those games being by a single goal. It does not bode well for struggling West Brom, who have taken just eight points from the last 10 games. A City victory on Tuesday night at The Hawthorns would put them top of the table, remarkably for the first time this season, and would be another significant message to their rivals.
Top Toffees trio hold the key
Progress in the FA Cup was a welcome confidence boost for Everton and the time appears ripe to make a concerted effort to strike out for the top four, starting against third-placed Leicester who are only six points ahead. Dominic Calvert-Lewin is back among the goals after a 50-day drought, Richarlison too after only his second in 12 matches, while the key to it all may well be James Rodriguez’s return to form which helped them top the table in early October. With the Colombia international pulling the strings in front of a defence which has conceded just three in six league matches and Carlo Ancelotti’s vast experience, the Toffees are well placed.
Stick or twist for Klopp?
"After each game, you analyse it and you work with the positives and the negatives and we will do that this time, as well."— Liverpool FC (@LFC) January 24, 2021
Liverpool are stuck in a quandary. Their Premier League goalscoring drought currently stands at seven hours and 18 minutes but when they did open up in Sunday’s FA Cup tie at Manchester United – scoring twice – manager Jurgen Klopp admitted they forgot the defensive side of their game which has been so good (six conceded in their last 10 league matches). Spurs have scored eight in four matches since back-to-back defeats last month – one at Anfield – and victory would knock Liverpool out of the top four for the first time since October’s shock 7-2 defeat at Aston Villa.
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