FIVE THINGS TO LOOK OUT FOR THIS WEEKEND: Parallel worlds collide as Steven Gerrard and Graham Potter finally cross paths while Dean Smith makes history with Norwich City
- The Premier League returns to action this weekend after the international break
- Parallel worlds collide as Steven Gerrard and Graham Potter go head-to-head
- Dean Smith makes history as he takes on Southampton again, but with Norwich
- Digital-focused Eddie Howe will miss his Newcastle debut as he has Covid
The international break is over and makes way for the Premier League as all 20 clubs gear up to begin their winter assault strongly this weekend.
In the space of two weeks, three clubs have appointed new managers, with Eddie Howe, Steven Gerrard and Dean Smith arriving at Newcastle, Aston Villa and Norwich respectively.
Here, Sportsmail’s DAN MATTHEWS looks ahead to five things to keep an eye on ahead of this weekend’s round of matches.
The Premier League returns to action this weekend with plenty of things to look forward to
1) Parallel worlds collide at Villa Park as Steven Gerrard returns to the top flight to find Graham Potter in the other dugout.
One built his armoury in the shadows of Scandinavia, the other played in the spotlight before hopping straight into the inferno of Rangers.
Now they meet as two of the most promising young coaches in the country. And two of the favourites to be the next England manager, surely?
Parallel worlds collide as Steven Gerrard (L) and Graham Potter (R) go head-to-head
2) Those professional irritants at Arsenal fan channel AFTV must be close to packing it in.
Not much to scream about these days: Arsenal are eight games unbeaten and Mikel Arteta’s side have gone three away matches without conceding a goal.
Not since 2005 have they managed four on the spin. Mind you, it’s been seven years since Liverpool scored fewer than three against Arsenal at Anfield.
Arsenal will look to continue their fine form and are currently eight games unbeaten
3) After nearly 500 days, Eddie Howe is back in a Premier League dugout.
His training sessions at Newcastle have been converted into ‘digital format’. Let’s hope ‘winning.doc’ wasn’t lost on a dodgy USB. Newcastle are none from 11.
One slice of optimism? Burnley and Norwich both picked up a first win against Brentford before the break.
He will have to watch from afar on Saturday, though, as he has tested positive for Covid. Assistant head coaches Jason Tindall and Graeme Jones will now lead the team as they go in search of their first win of the season.
4) A record-breaking day for Dean Smith.
Never before has a Premier League manager faced the same team (Southampton) in consecutive games in the same season — but with different clubs (Aston Villa and now Norwich).
Dean Smith makes history this weekend as he faces the same rival in successive weeks, but with different clubs in the same season
5) For nearly a decade, tension and bitterness rumbled between Rafael Benitez and Sam Allardyce.
Very soon they could be bedfellows. Benitez takes Everton to Manchester City tomorrow looking to end a run of five Premier League matches without a win.
The last time they went six came in January 2018. The manager back then? You guessed it.