Five talking points ahead of the Premier League weekend Ollie Watkins injury Aston Villa
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Five talking points ahead of the Premier League weekend

Premier League weekend: Five talking points ahead of the weekend action, featuring David Moyes’ midfield issues and Aston Villa’s Ollie Watkins worry.

Battle of struggling sides who can’t hold leads

Burnley take on Brentford in the Premier League this weekend. a fixture between two teams with an unwelcome habit of snatching defeat when victory appears certain.

Brentford have dropped more points from winning positions than any other side in the Premier League this season, dropping a mammoth 28 points from such situations. From 18 leads the Bees have won just seven games, drawing five and losing six. It’s a concerning statistic for Thomas Frank, whose side is far from safe and dropped only 15 points from winning positions last season.

This weekend, Brentford face a team who have been similarly slack when leading. Vincent Kompany’s Burnley side are running out of time to preserve their Premier League status with a 10-point gap having emerged between them and safety. The Clarets blew a two-goal lead to draw with West Ham last time out, a crushing result that saw former Turf Moor favourite Danny Ings net a late equaliser.

One thing is for certain, whoever breaks the deadlock this weekend will be far from certain to win.

Kenilworth Road clash a real six-pointer

A catastrophic collapse left Luton reeling in midweek as The Hatters became the first Premier League team in two decades to lose after taking a three-goal lead. Only four teams in the division’s entire history had surrendered a three-goal lead to lose, with Luton becoming the unwanted fifth after a thrilling game at Bournemouth.

Luton would have climbed out of the bottom three with a win, but have another chance to do so in a huge showdown this weekend. Nottingham Forest, three points and a place above them in the table arrive at Kenilworth Road in a relegation six-pointer.

A win for Rob Edwards’ team will take them out of the drop zone, while Forest have the chance to put some much-needed breathing room between them and the bottom three.

Nuno Espirito Santo and Morgan Gibbs-White complained about VAR decisions in the wake of last week’s defeat to Brighton and, while Forest have certainly been on the wrong side of some bad decisions of late, this is the chance to ease their relegation concerns. With the looming threat of Premier League sanctions still hanging over the City Ground, every point counts.

Can Fulham end Spurs struggles?

Fulham host Tottenham in a London Derby at Craven Cottage and will be looking to end a wretched record against their capital neighbours.

The Cottagers have not beaten Spurs in the Premier League in over a decade and have one win from the last 16 league encounters. Their record at home makes for even worse reading, with seven straight losses to Spurs on home soil.

Marco Silva’s side will hope to end that run this weekend and can take heart from a League Cup win over Spurs – winning on penalties after a 1-1 draw – earlier this season. Fulham also boast a strong home record this season with only the Premier League’s top five and Newcastle having won more home games (8) this season.

Moyes must find midfield solution

Declan Rice’s evolution into one of the Premier League’s most complete midfielders has been accentuated at Arsenal, with West Ham acknowledging the former club captain was almost impossible to replace like-for-like last summer.

The Hammers instead invested the £105m fee in multiple midfielders, adding depth to the club’s engine room and varied attributes. Strong starts for Mohammed Kudus, James Ward-Prowse and Edson Alvarez indicated money well spent, but things have stalled of late.

Kudus has been utilised predominantly from the right and a forward line featuring the Ghanian, Jarrod Bowen and Lucas Paqueta has clicked impressively on occasion, though the removal of the latter and Kudus from the centre leaves West Ham short of dynamism and invention.

Ward-Prowse’s performance have dipped in recent weeks after moving to an advanced midfield role, while January recruit Kalvin Phillips has struggled.

Paqueta’s return to a central role helped West Ham thrash Freiburg 5-0 to reach the Europa League quarter-finals on Thursday. Creative options in prominent roles might just be the solution.

Watkins worry for Aston Villa

Aston Villa bounced back from their demoralising 4-0 defeat at home to top-four rivals Tottenham last weekend to produce a memorable European evening at Villa Park on Thursday.

Unai Emery’s side thrashed four-time European champions Ajax 4-0 to ease into the Europa Conference League quarter-finals, on an unforgettable night for the Midlands side. Villa are flying high in the Premier League table and will have real ambitions of silverware in this competition, with Emery’s team set to enter the last-eight draw as strong favourites for the trophy.

A brilliant evening was marred following a first-half injury to Ollie Watkins, however, who was substituted soon after opening the scoring. Watkins has 26 goal involvements in 28 league appearances this season and Villa will be concerned their leading scorer could be set for a spell out.

Jhon Duran has shown promise and scored after coming off the bench against Ajax, though a prolonged spell without Watkins would be a big blow to Villa’s top-four hopes. With John McGinn also missing against West Ham this weekend, Emery is without key personnel.

Read – Fantasy Premier League: The best chip strategies for the blank and double gameweeks

See more – Ranking the five favourites to win the 2024 Ballon d’Or

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