MANCHESTER, United Kingdom, Feb 3, 2023 (BSS/AFP) - The clock is ticking
for Chelsea manager Graham Potter to turn unprecedented spending into
results, starting against Fulham on Friday, as new Everton manager Sean Dyche
prepares for a baptism of fire against Premier League leaders Arsenal.
Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool travel to face struggling Wolves, desperate to pull
themselves out of a slump that has left them playing catch-up, while
Tottenham host champions Manchester City.
AFP Sport takes a look at some of the key talking points ahead of the weekend
action in the English top flight.
British-record signing Enzo Fernandez could make his debut at Stamford Bridge
in the west London derby after completing a 121 million euro ($132 million,
œ107 million) move from Benfica.
Mykhailo Mudryk is also in line for his first start since joining from
Shakhtar Donetsk in a blockbuster January transfer window for the club for a
fee that could rise to 100 million euros.
Chelsea's overall spend in their first season under new ownership fronted by
LA Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly has now surpassed œ500 million but the Blues
are languishing in 10th in the Premier League table, 10 points off the top
Potter admits he has a challenge on his hands to keep all his stars happy as
he tries to turn Chelsea's fortunes around.
"We have to create an environment where there's healthy competition and they
can push each other," Potter said on Thursday. "There's going to be
frustration at times because only 11 can play.
"But we've got a lot of important games and we need to improve our results so
it's about playing, supporting the team and being ready to play."
Marco Silva's Fulham beat Chelsea for the first time since 2006 when the
sides met last month at Craven Cottage and are above their illustrious
neighbours in the table.
Another victory for the white half of west London would secure a first-ever
league double over Chelsea in a single season.
Dyche's daunting debut
The contrast in mood between Arsenal and Everton fans could hardly be starker
ahead of their meeting at Goodison Park on Saturday.
Arsenal are on course for a first league title since 2003/04 with the luxury
of a five-point lead over Manchester City and a game in hand.
The Gunners will be hoping their January business is enough to get them over
the line despite missing out on their top two targets -- Mudryk and
Brighton's Moises Caicedo.
Jorginho's arrival from Chelsea this week adds depth and an old head to Mikel
Arteta's young squad while Leandro Trossard boosts his attacking options.
Everton were the only Premier League club not to make a January signing and
former Burnley boss Sean Dyche knows he has a mountain to climb.
The Toffees' 69-year stay in the English top flight is at severe risk and
further protests from supporters against the club's board are planned for
after the match.
"There's a big challenge ahead but one I'm ready for and want to take on,"
Dyche told Everton TV. "We want to change the shape of this club going
forwards, remodel it in our style, but remodel it in a way we can win."
Guardiola's Cancelo culture
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola showed his ruthless streak as Joao
Cancelo was allowed to move on loan to Bayern Munich this week.
The Portuguese full-back was an important figure in City's title wins over
the past two seasons but his departure is further evidence that Guardiola is
trying to spark a reaction from his squad.
He questioned whether his side had the hunger to hunt down Arsenal despite a
dramatic comeback from 2-0 down to beat Tottenham 4-2 last month.
Now Guardiola has gambled, knowing that his daring call on Cancelo leaves him
short on full-back options for the rest of the season.
City might be eight points behind the leaders before Sunday's game against
Spurs, who could be without manager Antonio Conte after he underwent surgery
to remove his gallbladder, but they have title-winning nous and enviable
strength in depth.
Fixtures (all times GMT)
Chelsea v Fulham (2000)
Everton v Arsenal (1230), Aston Villa v Leicester, Brentford v Southampton,
Brighton v Bournemouth, Man Utd v Crystal Palace, Wolves v Liverpool (all
1500), Newcastle v West Ham (1730)
Nottingham Forest v Leeds (1400), Tottenham v Man City (1630)