Weekend Wanderings: Chelsea v Manchester United, Aston Villa’s new era and Thierry Henry

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After the Nations League bonanza of football – and England’s blinding show in Seville – it is time to turn back to the league action. This weekend there are plenty of exciting games on offer. Alasdair Hooper discusses the fixtures you should be keeping your eye on.

1. Will Maurizio Sarri dish out more misery to returning Mourinho?

Take one glance at the Premier League and you will see three teams locked together at the top on 20 points.

The lesser-talked member of that trio is Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea side who have gone about their business relatively quietly.

However, someone making plenty of noise is Eden Hazard – who is arguably playing the best football of his career – and he will relish the chance to put on a show on Saturday considering who is visiting.

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Former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho brings his Manchester United side, who are still someway behind where they should be, to Stamford Bridge.

With the Red Devils yet to fully click into gear, getting a result would be a massive statement in terms of their progression.

But most people probably have an Eden Hazard masterclass down as the most likely outcome.

2. How will the Dean Smith and John Terry era kick off?

After Steve Bruce was ousted as Aston Villa manager by the board (and a cabbage), speculation was rife over the return of John Terry in an assistant manager capacity.

As it turned out the person to join the former Chelsea captain as the man in charge was not Thierry Henry (more on him later) but Dean Smith who hopped over from fellow Championship club Brentford.

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Smith has long received plenty of plaudits for his work and style of play in that division, and as a Villa fan himself, it seems a perfect fit.

But with Villa having plenty of off the field issues in recent times, all eyes will be keen to see how the new managerial team gets up and running.

Promotion is still the aim, but it will be a big challenge. Those parachute payments won’t last forever you know.

3. Will Barcelona correct their form to claim top spot in La Liga?

Three draws and one loss in the last four league games – hardly the form you would associate with a team like Barcelona.

However, despite their recent downturn, the Catalan team still sit second in La Liga and the team above them happen to be their opponents this Saturday.

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Sevilla go into the game as the in-form team thanks to four straight wins with former Girona manager Pablo Machin settling into the role as boss well.

Reigning champions Barcelona are just one point behind though and a solid performance, and a return to top spot, would do them a world of good in their quest to defend their league crown.

4. Is Thierry Henry cut out for management?

Former Arsenal man Thierry Henry looked, at one point, set for the Aston Villa job but things changed very quickly.

Instead the Frenchman has returned to his native country to begin his managerial career at Monaco following the departure of Leonardo Jardim.

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While Jardim enjoyed plenty of success at the club, this season has been a different story – although much of that is probably down to the fact that key members of his team have been sold off. The Ligue 1 side currently have just one win registered in the league this year, and sit inside the relegation zone.

Monaco is a club Henry knows well having started his professional career there but if the former striker is cut out for management he could do with results very quickly, starting this Saturday against Strasbourg.

5. Will Inter keep pace at the top with a win in the derby?

The Milan derby may have lost a little bit of its shine in recent years, thanks to the slight slump in fortunes of both clubs, but the game is always a spectacle in itself.

This Sunday, Inter and AC Milan go head to head once again with the Nerazzurri starting to return to something akin to their past glories thanks to a positive-looking transfer window in the summer.

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AC Milan continue to show glimpses of something under the management of Gennaro Gattuso but, while Inter currently sit third, the Rossoneri are tenth with three wins, three draws and a defeat recorded so far.

However, a Milan derby under the lights at the San Siro is sure to be an exciting affair and, considering the two bosses in the dugout, both teams are sure to go all out for the win.

Follow Alasdair on Twitter @adjhooper1992

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