Anthony Gordon celebrates a Premier League goal for Newcastle.
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Premier League: Eight talking points ahead of the weekend

Once again we preview the Premier League action and discuss some of the division’s major talking points, featuring Arsenal’s simmering rivalry with Newcastle, Oliver Glasner, and the key to Nottingham Forest’s survival hopes.

Awoniyi key to Forest’s survival hopes

Nottingham Forest remain uncomfortably close to the drop zone despite beating West Ham last weekend, with just four points separating Nuno Espirito Santo’s side from the bottom three. With the threat of punishment for breaching Profit and Sustainability Rules looming, Forest badly need a run of results to put some breathing room between them and the relegation places.

A trip to face Midlands rivals Aston Villa is hardly the sort of fixture to relish, with The Villans boasting a fine home record and chasing Champions League qualification.

However, the return of Taiwo Awoniyi offers hope for Forest and the Nigerian has scored twice in four appearances since returning from groin surgery. The forward’s goal against West Ham last weekend was an example of his quality, as he turned sharply inside the box and fired home.

The 26-year-old has scored 16 goals in 28 starts since signing for Forest, averaging a goal every 147 minutes in the Premier League. For context, that’s a better record than Ollie Watkins (170) and Dominic Solanke (153) have managed during career-best campaigns this term. Forest need to keep him fit and firing.

Everton need a repeat of ruthless Brighton beating

Everton edged out of the relegation places on goal difference on Monday night, with a home draw against Crystal Palace moving the Toffees above Luton. Sean Dyche’s side remain mired in trouble, however, and are eight games without a win since beating Burnley in December.

Last season, a struggling Everton side produced one of the results of the campaign with a 5-1 thrashing of Brighton at the Amex Stadium, a result few saw coming and one claimed with just 22.3% of the possession.

 

Everton ruthlessly punished Brighton on the counter-attack with Dwight McNeil and Abdoulaye Doucoure each scoring twice and the Toffees need another big result to kickstart a run to survival.

The initial bounce that followed the 10-point sanction from the Premier League has slowed and a lack of goals has been problematic. No team in the division has greater underperformed their xG in the Premier League this season.

Hojlund hoping to continue hot streak

Rasmus Hojlund has found his feet in the Premier League with the Dane’s purple patch having propelled the improvement of Manchester United. Erik ten Hag’s team have won four consecutive Premier League games to close the gap on the top four, while Hojlund has scored in six straight league appearances.

After taking 15 games to open his account in the Premier League, the 21-year-old’s scoring streak has been well-timed. He’s the youngest player in the league’s history to score in six consecutive games, while only Ruud van Nistelrooy has ever managed a longer run for Manchester United (eight games in 2001/02 and 10 games in 2003).

Jamie Vardy holds the Premier League record for consecutive games with a goal (11) and Hojlund – up to 13 for the season in all competitions and confident – will hope to edge closer to that milestone against Fulham this weekend.

Can Jeremy Doku refind form against Bournemouth?

Jeremy Doku’s debut season at Manchester City has shown flashes of real promise, with an electric performance against Bournemouth in November underlining his potential. The winger scored once and provided four assists in the 6-1 win, in a devastating display from the summer signing.

Doku’s first season with the Premier League champions has been marred by inconsistency, however, with the Belgian criticised for an ineffective showing in the 1-1 draw with Chelsea this month.

 

The 21-year-old provided five goal involvements in 90 minutes of action against Bournemouth, at an average of one every 18 minutes. Across the remainder of the season, he has averaged a goal or assist every 502.5 minutes of action.

Rawness is expected from a young player in his maiden campaign in English football, but City will hope Doku can refind his end product this weekend.

What will Oliver Glasner bring to Crystal Palace?

There’s been a change at Crystal Palace with Olivier Glasner appointed as the club’s new head coach. A slump in results and Roy Hodgson’s ill health have led to a new direction, one which will excite the Eagles given Glasner’s record at previous clubs.

“The philosophy is easy; it is scoring goals,” Glasner said ahead of facing Burnley this weekend.

“As I tell the players, this is why we started playing football. No one went on the pitch when they were young to defend. We should never forget this.

“The fans want to see us fighting and playing together to score a goal. Then, of course, we think about how we defend, whether a high press or a low block, but the philosophy is about scoring goals.”

 

The Austrian has forged a fine reputation in German football during spells at Wolfsburg and Eintracht Frankfurt, leading the former to Champions League qualification and the latter to European success. Glasner’s Frankfurt side beat Rangers on penalties to win the Europa League in 2021/22, a run to continental glory that makes the 49-year-old an exciting addition at Selhurst Park.

Simmering Premier League rivalry resumes

Arsenal’s recent clashes with Newcastle have threatened to spill over into bad blood, with ramifications for both teams at the top of the table having heated up their encounters.

It began when Newcastle dealt a crushing blow to Arsenal’s top-four hopes during the 2021/22 run-in and continued into last season as the teams challenged for the title and Champions League football respectively.

Their last meeting at the Emirates saw Arsenal infuriated with time-wasting tactics from the visitors, who battled to a goalless draw in north London.

Arsenal exacted revenge with a comfortable win at St James’ Park in the return, only for controversy to circle again this season as Anthony Gordon scored a contentious winner for Newcastle at the same venue in November.

With plenty on the line once again this weekend, don’t be surprised to see emotions boil over both on the pitch and the touchline.

Can counter-kings find a route past a deep defence?

Wolves have excelled on the counter-attack this season with the speed and movement of Pedro Neto, Hwang Hee-chan and Matheus Cunha thriving.

Recent wins at Chelsea and Tottenham have seen Wolves exploit space in behind, but Gary O’Neil’s team will face a different challenge against Sheffield United this weekend.

Chris Wilder’s side are shipping goals at a rapid rate, setting unwanted history after last weekend’s 5-0 defeat to Brighton. Mason Holgate’s inexcusable red card contributed to the Blades being battered, in the process becoming the first top-flight team in history to concede 5+ goals in three consecutive home matches in all competitions.

 

Sheffield United will be expected to pack their backline at Molineux in a safety-first approach, and Wolves will be required to pick the lock of a deep-lying defence. After the summer sales of Ruben Neves and Matheus Nunes, do Wolves have an option to do so?

West Ham to join the managerial carousel?

David Moyes is a man under pressure at West Ham, with the fan’s groans growing louder after a winless run. He defiantly defended his position after losing at Nottingham Forest last weekend, but a manager who has divided opinions is beginning to lose the faith of some.

West Ham face Brentford in a London Derby on Monday night, on a run of six games without a win and three consecutive defeats. Having threatened to challenge for Europe again, the Hammers are in danger of going backwards.

Moyes’ exit before the season’s end would represent a surprise, while desired candidates could be hesitant to arrive mid-season. However, in a summer where several leading managers appear available, will West Ham risk a new direction?

 

Read – Fantasy Premier League: The best players to get on a free hit in GW26

See more – Showboaters: Five of the Premier League’s great entertainers

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