Premier League Talking Points

22 December 2017

The Premier League wraps up for Christmas on Saturday, when 18 of the division's 20 sides are in action.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at some of the key issues for debate.

Will Hughes get the (Santa) sack?

With Paul Clement gone, Mark Hughes is now the Premier League boss peering most nervously over the edge. The Stoke boss has railed against the notion that the game against West Brom is a zero sum game of win or be sacked.

But should the Potters slip into the relegation zone the notoriously patient Peter Coates could be forced to act. On the other hand victory, and a performance which suggests a positive direction of travel, could pull him back from the brink.

Either way, this is unlikely to be the Welshman's most relaxing festive period.

City staying top of the tree

Pep Guardiola's side are guaranteed to be English football's Christmas number ones, meaning only the margin of their lead needs to be settled. They are overwhelming favourites to sweep aside Bournemouth on home turf - a result which would leave them with 55 points at the halfway point of the season. Their closest rivals - geographically and mathematically - Manchester United are already 11 points shy meaning any further slip-up at Leicester could usher in the widely-expected procession.

Can Spurs get back to their old (s)elves?

Having entered the season among the likeliest title contenders, things have gone badly off script for Tottenham since the high of beating Real Madrid in the Champions League.

A 4-1 defeat by City last time out spoke both of the gulf that currently exists between the pace-setters and the chasing pack and Mauricio Pochettino will have been stung by the thrashing.

Their opponents, Burnley, are a point and a place above Spurs going into the match and a tricky afternoon at Turf Moor should be a good test of how resilient the visitors really are.

Swans out to prove they're no turkeys

The entire bottom half of the table is separated by just nine points, but it is Swansea who prop up the pile. Clement has already paid for their precarious position with his job, less than a year after taking it on in similar straits.

Beloved player Leon Britton has inherited managerial responsibilities on an interim capacity and if the stakes are high for his first assignment. A Crystal Palace side who spent the early part of the season occupying the basement position are heading to the Liberty Stadium and if the hosts can somehow conjure three points they could find themselves off bottom as they tuck into Christmas lunch.

More joy for the three wise men?

The 2017/18 season has seen a boardroom trend towards the British old guard, with Sam Allardyce, Roy Hodgson and David Moyes all answering SOS calls from sides in trouble. Everton have gone from directionless to upwardly mobile under Allardyce, Hodgson is getting a tune out of a Crystal Palace side who only turned out bum notes for Frank de Boer and Moyes has picked up seven points from the last nine at West Ham. If they can keep the momentum up, it could strike another blow in the battle to keep homegrown coaches alive in the top flight. If Alan Pardew can somehow reinvigorate West Brom, he may even become the fourth wise man.

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