Talking points: Abramovich hits landmark, Nelson’s Arsenal chance


here is no let up in a hectic fixture list as the Premier League returns after the midweek European action. 

Here, Standard Sport’s team of football writers offer up 10 major talking points to ponder following the latest action…

999 and counting for for Roman

Roman Abramovich will celebrate his 1000th game in charge of Chelsea when they play Tottenham on Sunday. Since he bought the club in 2003, the Russian owner has changed the face of world football. The numbers are staggering. In 17 years, Chelsea have lifted every major honour – and, crucially, won more than any other English club over that period. 

That is a measure of Abramovich’s influence on the club and the game as a whole. Sheikh Mansour has had a similar effect at Manchester City – but he is still to conquer Europe. Abramovich has done that – and as his £220million summer spend proved – he’s still hungry for more. James Robson

Nelson primed for Wolves start after shining in Molde  

With Nicolas Pepe suspended, and Bukayo Saka and Willian injury doubts, Arsenal’s trip to Wolves on Sunday feels like the perfect time for Reiss Nelson to get his first Premier League start of the season. The 20-year-old has had to wait patiently for his chance, but after impressing against Molde on Thursday night in the Europa League, he deserves to start. 

Mikel Arteta has said he thinks things have finally clicked for the youngster and he is now ready for more minutes. That would be very timely for Arsenal, who go into this busy festive period needing all their players fit and firing. Simon Collings

( NTB/AFP via Getty Images )

Boca to pay tribute to legend Maradona

It is sure to be an emotional occasion on Sunday when Boca Juniors play for the first time since the death of Diego Maradona. The Argentina legend was a lifelong Boca fan and had a box at their famous La Bombonera stadium in Buenos Aires. 

Boca paid a poignant tribute to their greatest ever player on Wednesday when they turned off all the lights at La Bombonera but left Maradona’s box lit up in the darkness. Boca’s Copa Libertadores game against Internacional on Wednesday was postponed but they are due to return to action when they host Newell’s Old Boys this weekend. Simon Collings

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Parrott makes Millwall return

Millwall have been as dull as dishwater of late, grinding out four straight draws in the Championship, but their season might be livened up by Tottenham loanee Troy Parrott. The teenager returned from injury to start in the 1-1 draw with Reading on Wednesday and impressed, winning the free-kick for Jed Wallace’s goal. 

Parrott is already a Republic of Ireland international and considered the next big thing at Spurs and he will be aiming to build on a promising return against Birmingham on Saturday. Millwall could really use some inspiration – and goals. Dan Kilpatrick

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Batshuayi has to step up in Zaha absence

Crystal Palace brought Michy Batshuayi back to the club on loan from Chelsea in a bid to inject some more goals into the side. The Belgian fared well in south London during a loan spell at Selhurst Park in the second half of the 2018-19 season, but has struggled to get going this time around. 

Batshuayi has seen a couple of narrow offside decisions go against him but he has also been guilty of wasting good chances in front of goal. With Wilfried Zaha absent again against Newcastle on Friday night, Palace need him to step up. Jack Rosser

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Southampton’s European credentials to be tested

Southampton have proved one of the most entertaining watches this season. Their relentless pressing style under Ralph Hasenhuttl has thrust the Saints into the picture for the European places and saw them top the Premier League table for the first time in the their history earlier this month – just over a year since their 9-0 defeat by Leicester. 

Without Danny Ings who continues to recover from knee surgery, Southampton picked up a point at Wolves on Monday. This weekend, Manchester United will provide a stern test of their credentials to challenge the established order. Jack Rosser

Mourinho facing defensive decision

Tottenham’s visit to Stamford Bridge on Sunday is being billed as a meeting between title contenders and Jose Mourinho has a decision to make in defence after an injury to Toby Alderweireld. Davinson Sanchez is short of confidence and form, while Mourinho is unsure about trusting Japhet Tanganga at centre-half in the Premier League. 

That could mean a full debut for summer signing Joe Rodon, who is highly-rated but has played just ten minutes in the top-flight. Mourinho’s other option is to use Ben Davies as a centre-half, which has produced mixed results in Europe this season. Dan Kilpatrick

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Bowyer expecting a reaction from Charlton

Lee Bowyer made his feelings pretty clear after Charlton suffered their first defeat in nine League games at Burton Albion on Wednesday. “It was like we’d never played football before,” he said following an uncharacteristically lacklustre display from the Addicks. 

Charlton remain in the League One play-off places and Bowyer will want to see his side bounce back at Ipswich on Saturday as they bid to keep pace with the leaders. Bowyer hooked striker Omar Bogle after only 34 minutes against Burton and Chuks Aneke is likely to come into the team. Jack Rosser

Burnley could be perfect opponents for stuttering City  

Manchester City are in need of a pick-me-up and a home game against Burnley on Saturday looks like just the tonic. City side are on a six-match winning streak at home to Burnley in all competitions, with the past three encounters each ending 5-0. 

Their attack has stuttered this season in the Premier League and they have only scored 10 times in eight games so far. That is unheard of when it comes to a City team under Pep Guardiola and – with Sergio Aguero fit again – they will hope to start turning things around this weekend. Simon Collings

( AFP via Getty Images )

Don’t expect a classic at the Hawthorns

There is a basement battle at the Hawthorns on Saturday night when West Brom meet Sheffield United. They are the only two teams without a win in the Premier League and are in danger of being adrift if things do not improve in the run-up to Christmas. 

It is unlikely to be a goal-fest. West Brom have managed only six goals this season and three of those came in one match against Chelsea. Sheffield United, meanwhile, have managed just eight goals so far and are finding it hard going this season under Chris Wilder. James Robson 

This weekend get a £10 free bet with Betfair, when you bet £10 on a Same Game Multi on the Premier League.

Terms: Min £10 Same Game Multi bet on any EPL match this Fri- Sun. Free bet valid for 72 hours, awarded at bet settlement. Excludes cashed out bets. T&Cs apply.

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