5 big talking points in the Premier League this weekend

Can Parker change Fulham’s fortunes?

Fulham first-team coach Scott Parker has been appointed caretaker manager
Fulham first-team coach Scott Parker has been appointed caretaker manager (Mark Kerton/PA)

A 2-0 loss at St Mary’s proved the final straw for Fulham, who wielded the axe on Claudio Ranieri after the Italian had mustered 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.

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 is a trip to former club Chelsea, who will be looking to end a testing week with another win.

PSEUDONEWS Claudio Ranieri’s fate was sealed when he claimed he’d ‘won Premier League title’, Fulham reveal

Brendan’s back in the Premier League

With Claude Puel’s departure 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, however, given the way that the Northern Irishman left the club he grew up supporting on the brink of a ‘treble treble’.

The former Liverpool boss is unlikely to be welcome at Parkhead any time soon, so attention now turns to getting the Foxes up the table – starting with a trip to 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 his new side are at.

SEE ALSO Why Brendan Rodgers needs his shiny new Leicester project like human beings need oxygen

Man City and Liverpool’s ding-dong battle

Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola will be under the spotlight again this weekend
Jurgen Klopp, left, and Pep Guardiola will be under the spotlight again this weekend (Martin Rickett/PA)

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, and few would expect anything other than a comfortable win against 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’re 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

Mauricio Pochettino's side have lost twice in the last week
Mauricio Pochettino’s side have lost twice in the last week (Nick Potts/PA)

What a difference a week makes. Talk of a title tilt has quietened after back-to-back defeats against Burnley and Chelsea, meaning Tottenham will be using Saturday’s north London derby to strengthen their grip on third place instead.

Harry Kane avoided punishment following an out-of-character incident with Cesar Azpilicueta in midweek, and Spurs will need their star to move on quickly.

Having entered last weekend within five points of the summit, Tottenham could see their gap over Arsenal cut to just 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.

Solskjaer’s success to continue?

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s chances of getting the Manchester United job on a permanent basis grow by the day, with the 1999 treble hero having 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 injury woes at Selhurt 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.

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