Newcastle head coach Steve Bruce and Watford counterpart Claudio Ranieri will find themselves in the limelight as the Premier League returns this weekend.
For many, Bruce will be a surprise guest at the Magpies’ takeover party on Sunday, while Ranieri will launch a fourth stint in English football during a round of fixtures in which the league’s South American contingent could be used sparingly.
Here, the PA news agency takes a look at some of the weekend’s talking points.
Few expected Bruce to remain as Newcastle’s head coach after Amanda Staveley’s Saudi-backed consortium completed its takeover at St James’ Park last Thursday, and speculation has been rife since as to who might replace him. However, the club have said he will take charge of his 1,000th game as a manager when Tottenham head for Tyneside on Sunday.
Cristiano Ronaldo was not a happy man as he headed straight down the tunnel after his last outing for Manchester United, a 1-1 draw with Everton at Old Trafford in which he was used only as a second-half substitute. Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has insisted the 36-year-old’s workload will have to be carefully managed, but a man who has scored five goals in his first six appearances since his return responded by heading off on international duty and helping himself to a hat-trick in a 5-0 World Cup qualifier demolition of Luxembourg ahead of Saturday’s trip to Leicester.
Cutting it fine
International demands could prove costly for Premier League clubs this weekend, with the latest round of World Cup qualifiers in South America taking place on Thursday night and into the early hours of Friday morning. Liverpool’s Alisson Becker and Fabinho will miss the Watford game, while Manchester City pair Ederson and Gabriel Jesus, Tottenham’s Davinson Sanchez, Cristian Romero, Emerson Royal and Giovani Lo Celso, Manchester United duo Fred and Edinson Cavani, Emi Martinez and Douglas Luiz of Aston Villa, Chelsea’s Thiago Silva, Leeds frontman Raphinha, Everton defender Yerry Mina and Newcastle’s Miguel Almiron all face a race against time to make themselves available to play for their respective clubs.
The one and Toney
If Romelu Lukaku’s form for Chelsea since his summer return has come as little surprise, the way Brentford’s Ivan Toney has taken to top-flight football has proved hugely impressive. The two could go head-to-head at the Brentford Community Stadium on Saturday evening, with former Northampton, Newcastle and Peterborough striker Toney having already suggested he is more than ready to make the step up from the Sky Bet Championship – although that will be put to the test by the early leaders, who have conceded only three goals to date.
Into the Hornets’ nest
Claudio Ranieri will forever be remembered as the man who guided Leicester to the Premier League title against all the odds in 2016. The much-travelled 69-year-old Italian will renew his acquaintance with English football when Liverpool arrive at Vicarage Road for his first game at the helm after Xisco Munoz became the seventh manager to be sacked by the club in five years.
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