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Five talking points from the weekend action

| 08.01.2018

Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea feature

The FA Cup third round is one of the highlights of the season and this weekend’s matches didn’t disappoint.

We lost a couple of Premier League sides, while many more will need a replay to make their claim for the fourth round.

There was a notable debut and a sacking too this weekend, while things reached a whole new level of Arsenal-ness for Arsene Wenger.

Here, the Coral News Team rounds-up the headlines…

The ins and outs at Anfield

Philippe Coutinho is off to Barcelona, but in Virgil van Dijk, Liverpool might have found a crucial piece of the puzzle.

The Dutchman made his debut in Friday night’s Merseyside derby against Everton, and looked completely at home at Anfield.

A confident display was capped with the winning goal late on. The Reds will mourn Coutinho’s magic, but they arguably have players to cope with his loss, while Van Dijk should ensure they’re a far more balanced side from here on in.

Yet more joy for Jesse and Jose

While the overall vibe around Manchester United isn’t fantastic, Jesse Lingard is in scintillating form right now.

The 25-year-old hit his 11th goal of the campaign with a stunning long-range strike to put the Red Devils ahead versus Derby County on Friday.

It was his fifth goal from his last six games, and Lingard is turning into one of Jose Mourinho’s few consistent performers.  And at his current rate, the forward is making a huge claim to start for England at the World Cup.

Arsenal may have reached peak Arsenal

Arsenal fans will not be in a good mood after their dismal 4-2 hounding away at Nottingham Forest.

The FA Cup holders fell at the first hurdle, and never looked like getting past the Championship side. Boss Arsene Wenger could only watch from the stands as he began a three-game ban.

It wasn’t the Frenchman’s strongest XI, but it was a poor result, an even worse performance, and adds pressure for their Carabao Cup clash with Chelsea on Wednesday night.

Stoke finally sack Hughes – but who comes in?

There weren’t too many Premier League exits over the weekend, but Stoke City were one of the few.

And their 2-1 loss to Coventry City proved to be the death knell for Mark Hughes.

There’s no doubt that Sparky had lost his way with the Potters, but who do Stoke turn to? There aren’t too many obvious candidates.

Who really wants a replay?

Not Chelsea or Bournemouth, that’s for sure.

The Blues couldn’t get past Norwich City on Sunday, while the Cherries had to fight back to claim a 2-2 draw against Wigan Athletic.

Chelsea could do without the additional fixture as they look to strengthen their hold in the top four. It means Antonio Conte’s men still have six games to play this month, including the two-legged Carabao Cup semi-final against Arsenal.

As for Bournemouth, they need to focus all their resources on their relegation battle, and not a trip to the North-West. The Wigan replay comes three days before a huge clash for Eddie Howe’s men against fellow strugglers West Ham United.

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Richard Marsh