Weekend Wanderings: Arsenal v Liverpool, Tony Pulis returns to Stoke and can Celtic close the gap on leaders Hearts?

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After another week of cup action there are a host of fixtures ready for pundits and fans to get their teeth into this weekend. With plenty of story lines for you to keep your eyes on, here are the fixtures highlighted by Alasdair Hooper in this very domestic-based Weekend Wanderings.

1. Will Arsenal come unstuck against a Premier League giant?

As impressive as Arsenal’s results have been in the Premier League – despite their winning run coming to an end against Crystal Palace – there is one big question about Unai Emery’s team.

Despite their wins, they have come against largely inferior opposition.

Right at the start of the season Arsenal had to contend with a difficult beginning as they played Manchester City and Chelsea in their first two games and lost them both.

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This Saturday the Gunners will have to face Liverpool, one of the real favourites for the title this season, in a real test of their credentials.

They will also have to do so with a real issue at left back thanks to the injuries to Nacho Monreal and Sead Kolasinac.

Whether it is Granit Xhaka or Stephan Lichtsteiner at left back you have to think Mohamed Salah would fancy his chances.

2. Can Celtic close the gap on leaders Hearts?

After a more than fiery Edinburgh derby in midweek things don’t get any easier for surprise Scottish Premiership leaders Hearts.

Less than a week after losing 3-0 in the Scottish League Cup to Celtic, Craig Levein’s men must again face the defending champions.

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After a relatively difficult start to the season there is a sense that Brendan Rodgers’ side is starting to click into gear.

The Hoops have won their last four league games and a win here would reduce Hearts’ lead at the top by just one point.

3. Can Tony Pulis steal the show on his return to Stoke?

Tony Pulis was the man to take Stoke City up to the Premier League most recently before he helped establish themselves as a top flight side.

However, with everyone’s favourite baseball hat-wearing head coach now in charge at Middlesbrough and Stoke having slipped down into the Championship – all eyes will be on Pulis as he return to his old stomping ground.

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Boro are currently flying in third place – two points off top spot – while Stoke are ‘languishing’ in 13th, even though they are only seven points behind their weekend opponents.

In this ridiculously close league a win can make the world of change.

4. Are Arsenal Women simply too good this season?

Six games in, six wins and 31 goals scored – Arsenal have been phenomenal in the WSL this season.

With a ridiculous goal difference of +28 at this stage of the season, life under manager Joe Montemurro could not be going better right now.

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This Sunday the Gunners take will take on Birmingham who have done incredibly well themselves to be lying third.

But the question to ask is, can Arsenal actually be stopped by anyone this year?

5. Can Vicky Jepson build something at Liverpool Women?

Following the summer of upheaval at Liverpool, and the sudden departure of manager Neil Redfearn, the Reds finally have some direction after Vicky Jepson was appointed boss before last weekend.

As someone who has been at the club for some time she now has an opportunity to really build something and the players seem on board.

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This Sunday Liverpool face the challenging task of going to Manchester City, who currently sit second in the league.

A victory here would do Liverpool and Jepson the world of good in their quest for points and the subsequent growth.

Follow Alasdair on Twitter @adjhooper1992

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