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Premier League preview: Eight talking points ahead of the weekend’s action

Each week we preview the Premier League’s weekend action and discuss some of the division’s major talking points.

The headline fixture of the weekend will see the Premier League’s top two go head-to-head as Manchester City meet Liverpool, just one point separating the sides ahead of their showdown on Sunday.

 

Thomas Tuchel will hope Chelsea can solve their stuttering form at Southampton, whilst Burnley travel to face fellow strugglers Norwich with renewed hope of survival after a midweek win.

Elsewhere Arsenal and Tottenham will look to continue their challenges for Champions League football, whilst an Everton side in free fall host Manchester United.

Newcastle need to arrest worrying slump

Newcastle gave themselves breathing room from the relegation places with a nine-game unbeaten run, but three consecutive defeats have since had Eddie Howe’s side looking over their shoulder.

The Magpies were thrashed 5-1 at Tottenham last time out, a concerning performance that had similarities to the pre-Howe displays that left Newcastle mired in the bottom three.

Newcastle have a seven-point cushion from the Premier League’s relegation places at present, though have played a game more than Burnley who have a winnable fixture at Norwich this weekend.

Howe’s team face a Wolves side pushing for European football on Friday evening and another disappointing defeat, coupled with results elsewhere this weekend, could drag Newcastle back into a dogfight they thought they’d escaped from.

Everton far from ‘too good to go down’

‘Too good to go down’ is a phrase that has often been touted towards underperforming teams, with Everton the latest side labelled as such as the Toffees sit on the brink of disaster.

The club’s collapse at Burnley in midweek has left Frank Lampard’s side just one point above the drop zone, with few signs of a turnaround following a run of seven defeats in nine games under the current manager.

Lampard’s appointment is looking increasingly naive from the Everton board and you wonder whether Farhad Moshiri – maker of a wealth of poor decisions at Goodison Park – would have been better served with a more experienced and proven coach.

Time is running out for the free falling Toffees to escape an embarrassing relegation, as Manchester United arrive on Merseyside this weekend.

Arsenal can bounce back against shot-shy Seagulls

Mikel Arteta was damning in his assessment of Arsenal’s 3-0 loss at Crystal Palace on Monday evening, a defeat which contradicted their recent form and opened up the top four race.

“We weren’t at the races, especially in the first half,” Arteta said. “We were late to every ball, we were soft in the duels and we didn’t earn the right to play. We were sloppy on the ball and we didn’t have any dominance, any sequences of play where we could take some control of the game and we conceded two poor goals [before half-time]. Overall it’s unacceptable. We put our hands up, apologise, regroup.”

Arsenal will hope to regroup as Brighton visit the Emirates this weekend, a clash with represents a fine chance for the Gunners to rediscover their groove.

The Seagulls are without a win in seven and have scored just one goal across those fixtures, a positive start to the season unraveling as Graham Potter’s team struggle for results.

Arsenal will hope to take advantage and ease their anxiety, as an in-form Spurs pile the pressure on their North London rivals.

Tuchel will demand response from crumbling Chelsea

Thomas Tuchel did not hold back when assessing Chelsea’s recent form in midweek, the club’s 3-1 defeat to Real Madrid following a 4-1 home humbling by Brentford last weekend.

The manner of those defeats will have been of huge concern to Tuchel, who has seen his side lose the trademark defensive resilience that has defined their game under his reign.

Both Brentford and Real Madrid exposed the west Londoners in punishing fashion and the German has warned Chelsea they must improve if they are to avoid another defeat at Southampton this weekend.

Another poor performance, and loss, could see Chelsea dragged into a fascinating three-way London battle for Champions League qualification.

Kane can fire Tottenham into the top four

Antonio Conte has got Tottenham firing and the North Londoners are now in with a real chance of securing Champions League football.

No side has scored more than their 24 goals across their last eight Premier League games, whilst only Liverpool have earned more points in that time.

Harry Kane has been in outstanding form since his match-winning heroics at Manchester City in February, scoring seven goals and providing four assists across his last eight Premier League appearances.

Despite failing to get on the scoresheet he was central to the 5-1 thrashing of Newcastle last weekend, his all-round game having reached new levels over the past two seasons with arguably only Karim Benzema more complete among Europe’s leading centre-forwards.

Spurs have ground to make up to reach the top four, but an in-form Kane can be Conte’s trump card ahead of this weekend’s trip to an inconsistent Aston Villa.

Burnley back in with a chance

Just when the Clarets seemed to be gearing up for the Championship, a midweek win – in a six-pointer with Everton – has breathed new life into their survival campaign.

Burnley came from behind to capitalise on Everton’s vulnerability and close the gap on the 17th-place Toffees to just a single point, with Maxwel Cornet’s late winner a potentially crucial moment in his side’s season.

Sean Dyche’s team travel to face a Norwich side whose Premier League status is all but over and the trip to Carrow Road provides Burnley with a real chance to secure back-to-back wins.

Everton meet Manchester United in the early kick-off on Saturday and Burnley can move out of the relegation places if they better the Toffees result this weekend.

Buzzing Bees can hurt Hammers

Brentford secured arguably the result of the season with a 4-1 win at Chelsea last weekend, running riot at Stamford Bridge to beat their west London neighbours for the first time since 1939.

Three wins from four fixtures has alleviated the pressure of potential relegation and Brentford – with Christian Eriksen orchestrating the side in fine fettle – seem to be playing with both freedom and confidence.

Thomas Frank’s side take on another capital rival chasing European qualification this weekend in West Ham and could take advantage of the Hammer’s Europa League excursions on Thursday to earn another memorable win.

David Moyes will be keen not to place all his eggs in the Europa League basket during the run-in, though the looming quarter-final second leg with Lyon – poised at 1-1 following the first clash at the London Stadium this week – could be on Moyes’ mind this weekend.

All eyes on Etihad showdown

Both managers have played down the significance of this weekend’s clash on the destination of the Premier League title, but there’s no escaping that Manchester City and Liverpool feels huge.

Just one point separates the top two ahead of the clash, with the Reds having narrowed the gap on the leaders with a ten-game winning run.

An 11th for Jurgen Klopp and his side will hand them the title initiative, a potentially crucial swing of momentum given Liverpool have, on paper at least, the more challenging run-in.

Liverpool have not won at the Etihad since January 2018 and have won just one of the last eight meetings across all competitions, a trend the Premier League’s form team will be looking to change.

Manchester City will know three points will put them within real reach of a fourth title in five seasons and the stage is set for a classic contest between arguably world football’s two best sides.

It’s a fixture that rarely disappoints.

Read – Iconic Duos: Heskey and Owen – Liverpool’s ‘big man, small man’ combo that inspired a cup treble

Read Also – Darwin Nunez: Who is the Benfica striker Europe’s elite are set to battle it out for?

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