Premier League: 10 things to watch out for this weekend

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The city’s chance to taste the best place

The good news for Manchester City is that Liverpool’s 3-1 defeat at Arsenal last Sunday and their early kick-off on Saturday mean Pep Guardiola’s side have the chance to reach the top of the Premier League for the first time since September, for a a few years. hours at least. The bad news for Liverpool and the other title contenders is that City are looking back at their best, with everyone fit and enthusiastic. City have recorded eleven wins and one draw from their last twelve games in all competitions. Sean Dyche and Everton, who arrive at the Etihad in the relegation zone, could be in for a torrid 90 minutes. Jamie Jackson

Which Fulham will show up?

Fulham’s form has dipped again. They are winless in the Premier League since beating Arsenal on New Year’s Eve and suffered the deflation of dropping out of both cups last month. The semi-final heartbreak against Liverpool in the Carabao Cup was a blow and when fans turned their noses up at the high ticket prices for the FA Cup tie against Newcastle, it gave the impression of a club in danger of losing its way. However, Fulham are still capable of playing intelligent and attractive football under Marco Silva. Last week they took a 2-0 lead against Burnley, with their match management letting them down, but there is a chance of improvement against Bournemouth. It remains difficult to know which Fulham will appear. Jacob Steinberg

Burnley braced for a response from Liverpool

Liverpool’s performance at Arsenal will have caused Jurgen Klopp more problems than a result that marginally tilted the title race in Manchester City’s favour. There can be no repeat at home for a Burnley side languishing second from bottom with two away wins to their name all season. To that end, Darwin Núñez’s availability should boost Liverpool’s confidence in producing an immediate response. The criticism of Klopp’s decision to bench Núñez at the Emirates was strange considering the striker had hobbled away from Anfield four days earlier with his foot in a protective boot. However, his absence from the starting line-up in Liverpool’s two Premier League defeats this season underlines the importance of the unpredictable but ruthless striker. Burnley will brace for a backlash. Andy Hunter

Luton looking for heady heights of 15th

Luton have lost one of their last six and are out of the relegation zone, which is a remarkable achievement. They welcome the bottom of the league on Saturday; a win would take them to 23 points with 15 games remaining to secure a further 17 points against the traditional survival benchmark of 40. If all goes well, Rob Edwards’ side could even be on the 15th at the end of the weekend place, which would be a glorious boost to boost morale in a tough series of matches. This is a tight group of players who are in top form, but the next four games are against Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City (in the FA Cup) and Aston Villa, meaning a win is essential to stay afloat. In what will be a tumultuous end to the season, with other clubs awaiting points deductions, beating rivals at home will be crucial and Luton know it. Will win

Will Son and Richarlison stay on the same page?

Everyone knows how highly Ange Postecoglou rates Son Heung-min. The Tottenham manager never misses the opportunity to praise the player he named captain and is delighted to have him back after the Asian Cup; Son reported to the training field on Thursday after South Korea’s shock semi-final defeat to Jordan. Will Postecoglou start him in the home game against Brighton on Saturday? The better question regarding Son’s return is whether he can pick up where he left off with Richarlison. The latter felt his season – and Spurs career – turn around when Postecoglou played him in ninth against Newcastle in December, moving Son back to the left wing. It was the reason for Richarlison to start a run of nine goals in ten games. Son, who had been in good form for Spurs before his departure for the Asian Cup, had helped ignite Richarlison’s purple patch by scoring the first of his two goals against Newcastle. David Hytner

Hwang returns to support Wolves

As the saying goes, one man’s loss is another man’s gain. For Hwang Hee-chan, there is personal disappointment over South Korea’s shock exit from the Asian Cup, but Wolves will welcome the forward with open arms. Hwang returned to England on Wednesday and reported for training with his Wolves teammates on Thursday. If things were not going well already – Wolves are six points behind Manchester United in sixth place after the win over Chelsea – the return of Hwang, who has already scored 10 league goals this season, will only strengthen the revitalized attack. Matheus Cunha, who scored a hat-trick last time out, Pedro Neto and Pablo Sarabia and an in-form Wolves side led by an impressive leader in Gary O’Neil have another chance to bare their teeth against Brentford. Ben Visser

Forest’s Sels wants to prove his point

The Matz Sels derby takes place on Saturday evening, a match that few expected they would ever experience. The Belgian spent two seasons at Newcastle, the second on loan at Anderlecht, but made just nine appearances in their Championship promotion campaign in 2016/17 as he failed to convince Rafa Benítez he was better than the former Forest goalkeeper Karl Darlow. . Since leaving St James’ Park, Sels has had a steady performance in Strasbourg, but decided a breakthrough in the Premier League was too good to turn down. Amid the chaos of Forest’s goalkeeping department, Sels was immediately installed as number 1 against Bournemouth and looked stable enough compared to the disappointing Matt Turner and Odysseas Vlachodimos. It may help that his home debut comes against a team that thought he was incapable of being first choice. With a little extra incentive you can go much further in football. WU

Can West Ham fill the creativity gap?

West Ham is struggling without Lucas Paquetá. They haven’t won since December 28 and their attacking output has dried up with the Brazilian out with a calf injury. They lack Paquetá’s skill and eye for a pass, but David Moyes must find a way to cope without his key striker. He still has Jarrod Bowen and Mohammed Kudus, two strikers who have already hurt Arsenal this season. He could make more use of Maxwel Cornet and Michail Antonio has a chance of returning from a knee injury when Arsenal visit the London Stadium. Not all is lost, even though Paquetá is expected to be out for at least another week. JS

Crucial game for Villa in top-four race

Even if the results on Saturday are not easy, the fact that Aston Villa is quietly hoping that Manchester City and Liverpool make a mistake is a sign that Unai Emery’s side are sticking with it. This time last year, Villa were mid-table, an unbeaten January in the league seeing them out of relegation trouble. For all the murmurs about Villa as title contenders in the new year, securing a place in the Champions League would be an extraordinary achievement in itself. That’s why Villa’s game at home against Manchester United feels important. A win would give United an eleven-point lead, a healthy buffer even with fourteen games to play. Defeat and United, one of their biggest rivals for a place in the top four, are five points behind them. B.F

Hodgson and Pochettino face off

The top two meet at Selhurst Park on Monday evening, but not in terms of league position but rather in terms of the bookmakers’ odds on the next Premier League manager to get the boot. It’s not a particularly fun race to be in and one win won’t solve all the problems faced by Roy Hodgson (first) or Mauricio Pochettino (second). Despite the ongoing rumors of Palace looking for a suitable replacement for Hodgson, Palace are unbeaten in their past three home games, winning two, while Chelsea have lost five of their past six away games. Michael Olise’s absence will make things more difficult for Palace, but there is still some hope that their manager can make a statement with the win and allow Pochettino to move into first place in the sack race. WU









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