The Premier League resumes this midweek on the back of some memorable FA Cup fourth-round ties.
Here, Press Association Sport picks out five of the main talking points ahead of this round of fixtures.
Cardiff play first game since Sala’s disappearance
The football world has been rocked by the disappearance of Cardiff striker Emiliano Sala. The 28-year-old and pilot David Ibbotson remain missing after their plane vanished over the English Channel on the way back from Nantes, where the frontman had returned to say goodbye to friends and team-mates just two days after completing a club-record move to Wales. A week on, a private search has been funded after the official search was called off last Thursday. Sala has not appeared for Cardiff but will forever be inextricably linked with the club, and the incident has left everyone connected distraught. The team will wear daffodils on the way to Tuesday’s game at Arsenal to honour the striker but will not don black armbands at the request of his family. Neil Warnock has questioned his future as City boss in the wake of the disappearance but believes the match will act as a much-needed distraction for his side.
Premier League title race pt.24
Just four points separate leaders Liverpool and reigning champions Manchester City as we approach match 24 of what is becoming a thrilling title race. Pep Guardiola’s men go first this midweek, giving them the chance to pile pressure on the Reds when they travel to embattled Newcastle on Tuesday evening. City can ill afford any slip up at St James’ Park ahead of Leicester’s visit to Anfield the following night. Jurgen Klopp will be sure to guard against complacency after Claude Puel’s Jekyll and Hyde side sprung a surprise against Guardiola a month ago.
Pochettino focuses on top-four tilt
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino dominated the agenda after crashing out of the FA Cup to Crystal Palace on Sunday a matter of days after losing the Carabao Cup semi-final to Chelsea. “Again, we’re going to have the debate whether a trophy will take the club to the next level,” he said after defeat at Selhurst Park. “I don’t agree with it. It only builds your ego. The most important thing for Tottenham right now is to always be in the top four.” Such comments have raised eyebrows and brought some criticism, along with comparisons to former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. Hardly the ideal backdrop to Wednesday’s home game against Watford.
Solskjaer goes for Premier League record
Pochettino’s approach to domestic cup competitions is sure to have alarmed admirers at Manchester United – a club synonymous with success and driven by silverware. The Argentinian has been the subject of long-standing interest from Old Trafford, where he was the standout favourite to replace Jose Mourinho this summer. But Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is now the bookmakers’ favourite, having shone in his role as caretaker manager. The Norwegian fans favourite has won eight successive matches in all competitions since taking over and Burnley’s visit to Old Trafford on Tuesday offers a decent-looking shot at a ninth. Furthermore, Solskjaer can become the first manager in Premier League history to begin his reign with seven-successive victories.
Kamara carnage adds to Fulham woes
“At the moment we are relegated – we can only improve,” Fulham manager Claudio Ranieri said ahead of Tuesday’s crunch clash with Brighton. The late 2-1 defeat to Tottenham last time out left the west London side an eye-watering seven points from safety. They are a defensive shambles and became the first team in Europe’s top five leagues to concede 50 goals, while in attack, issues have been compounded by Aboubakar Kamara. A divisive figure, the French forward has been suspended by the Cottagers pending an investigation following an incident at the club’s training ground last week. Oh, how Fulham could do with a positive result to change the mood.