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Can Emery get the better of former club Arsenal? – Premier League talking points

Aston Villa manager Unai Emery sends his side into battle with former employers Arsenal on Saturday (David Davies/PA)
Aston Villa manager Unai Emery sends his side into battle with former employers Arsenal on Saturday (David Davies/PA)

The latest round of Premier League fixtures brings the respective battles at both ends of the table into sharp focus.

Leaders Arsenal go head-to-head with surprise package Aston Villa and reigning champions Manchester City attempt to end a rare barren period at the top, while, towards the foot, Nottingham Forest boss Steve Cooper finds himself in the limelight for the wrong reasons.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at some of the talking points surrounding the weekend’s games.

Familiar face

Unai Emery spent 18 months in charge at Arsenal
Unai Emery spent 18 months in charge at Arsenal (Adam Davy/PA)

Mikel Arteta may not be pitch-side at Aston Villa on Saturday as he serves a touchline ban, but another Spaniard who is well known to Arsenal will be. Unai Emery was in charge at the Emirates Stadium between May 2018 and November 2019, when the Gunners dispensed with his services after a disappointing run of results. Emery returned to England in October last year and has since guided Villa into the top three, just four points adrift of his former employers at the top of the table and a genuine threat on home soil.

Timing is everything

When Luton secured their promotion to the Premier League via last season’s Sky Bet Championship play-off final, their fans were able to dream of the days when English football’s aristocrats would head for Kenilworth Road. They could be forgiven for watching through their fingers when Manchester City make the trip on Sunday. City, for the first time in seven years, have not won in four league games, but the Hatters have managed only two top-flight victories all season. Few will give the hosts much chance of improving on that statistic this weekend.

Away the lads

Newcastle travel to Tottenham on Sunday desperately searching for form away from St James’ Park. The Magpies, who won eight times on the road last season as they surged to a fourth-place finish, have collected three points away from Tyneside only once in seven attempts so far this season, courtesy of an 8-0 drubbing of Sheffield United. Spurs have lost their last three games on their own pitch to Chelsea, Aston Villa and West Ham. Something seemingly has to give.

Everton back in business

Everton’s response to the 10-point penalty which has left them fighting for their top-flight lives has been hugely impressive. Thursday night’s 3-0 victory over Newcastle – their fourth in six league outings – lifted them out of the bottom three and proved the perfect preparation for Chelsea’s visit to Goodison Park on Sunday. The Blues currently lie in 10th place with 19 points, one fewer than the total the Toffees would have had but for their punishment.

Cooper over a barrel?

Nottingham Forest boss Steve Cooper is under pressure after four successive league defeats
Nottingham Forest boss Steve Cooper is under pressure after four successive league defeats (Zac Goodwin/PA)

Spare a thought for Nottingham Forest boss Steve Cooper. He has bullishly played down suggestions he could be out of a job if Forest lose a fifth successive league game when they head for Wolves on Saturday. The Welshman guided the club back into the Premier League at the end of the 2021-22 campaign and kept them there last season with four points to spare, the same margin they currently enjoy over the bottom three.