Erling Haaland of Man City scores in the Premier League against Liverpool.
Man City striker Erling Haaland scores against Liverpool in the Premier League.
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Premier League weekend: Eight talking points

Premier League weekend: Eight talking points ahead of the weekend action, featuring a clash between the top two, a Champions League shootout, and a shambolic Sheffield United side.

Manchester United nearing unwanted history

Manchester United’s disappointing campaign reached another low after Derby defeat last weekend, with the Red Devils downed at Manchester City despite taking the lead at the Etihad. Erik ten Hag’s team have now lost 11 games in the Premier League this season, just one short of their most-ever in a Premier League campaign (12) set in 2013/14 and 2021/22.

United have also lost eight home games in all competitions and it has been 50 years since the club last lost nine times at Old Trafford in a single campaign. This weekend’s visitors, Everton, have a poor record at the venue, however, winning one of their last 30 visits. Sean Dyche’s side are also on the longest winless run in the Premier League (10 games).

However, the Toffees – despite the biggest xG underperformance in the division this season – will be hopeful of creating enough chances to trouble Ten Hag’s team. Manchester United have conceded an average of 21 shots across their last seven fixtures in all competitions.

Ferguson fortunes encourage transfer caution

Evan Ferguson’s first season in the Premier League saw the teenager touted as a Β£100m footballer last summer, with the Ireland international linked with big-money moves to Chelsea, Manchester United and Tottenham.

The 19-year-old equalled Wayne Rooney’s record for Premier League goals scored by a teenager in a calendar year, with a first top-flight hat-trick against Newcastle in early September suggesting his was a star on an unstoppable upward trajectory.

But things have slowed for Ferguson since. He has just six goals in 32 games this season and has failed to score since November, with his confidence clearly down. Fortunately, at Brighton, he is in an environment where young players are trusted and afforded patience, a luxury not quite as common at England’s elite.

Ferguson may well develop into a forward worth Β£100m, with his raw attributes and instincts around goal certainly having hallmarks of the very best. He is, however, still learning his trade and might just feel he is in the best place to do so, after some steep lessons learned in a stuttering second season.

Shambolic Sheffield United sinking fast

It’s been a record-breaking return to the Premier League for Sheffield United, though not for the reasons the Blades fans would have hoped before a ball had been kicked.

Monday’s humbling at home to Arsenal continued the club’s woeful recent form, which now reads three consecutive defeats without scoring and 12 goals conceded. Chris Wilder’s team have also become the first top-flight team ever to concede 5+ goals in four consecutive home games in all competitions.

Sheffield United have shipped a whopping 72 goals in the league this season, have a -50 goal difference, and have suffered more 5+ goal defeats in a single season than any other side in Premier League history.

Given there are still 11 games to go, things could still get worse. Bournemouth’s forward line will be licking their lips at facing the Blades this weekend.

Concentration concern for Crystal Palace?

Oliver Glasner’s second game in charge of Crystal Palace ended in defeat at Tottenham last weekend, as the Eagles conceded three goals inside the final 13 minutes to lose. Having taken the lead through Eberechi Eze’s free-kick, Palace were unable to hold onto that advantage with late goals conceded once again.

Palace have now conceded 20 goals in the final 15 minutes of games this season, the highest figure in the division and 42.5% of their total goals conceded. Are concentration issues to blame? Or are the Eagles simply struggling in the absence of key defensive figures Cheick DoucourΓ© and Marc Guehi?

Glasner needs his team to remain focused for an entire 90 minutes to move clear of trouble, ahead of a clash with 18th-placed Luton this weekend. The Hatters, in contrast, have thrived in the final stages with only the top three having scored more goals in the last 15 minutes this season.

A win for Luton would move them within five points of Palace, with a game in hand. Plenty is riding on this one.

Arsenal must up pressure with Brentford win

Arsenal are flying right now with the Gunners the form team in Europe since the turn of the new year. Mikel Arteta’s side thrashed Sheffield United 6-0 on Monday night to continue their perfect Premier League record in 2024, a run that has seen the north Londoners win seven straight games and score 31 goals.

Arsenal also boast the division’s best defence, conceding just three goals in that run and limiting opposition sides to an xG of just 2.12.

The club’s combination of free-scoring forward line and watertight defence have propelled them back into title contention and Arsenal can move top of the table with a win over Brentford on Saturday evening.

Brentford are in poor form and have lost 10 of their last 13 league games, conceding 2+ goals in seven of their last nine. The form book would suggest a win for Arsenal and a climb into first place, upping the pressure on title rivals Liverpool and Manchester City, who face each other on Sunday.

Champions League shootout at Villa Park

There is a huge Sunday showdown between top-four rivals Aston Villa and Tottenham this weekend, as the Champions League contenders clash at Villa Park.

Unai Emery’s side hold fourth place at the moment after a fantastic season to date and can take a huge stride towards Europe’s elite with victory this weekend.

Villa can extend their advantage over Spurs to eight points with a win, albeit having played a game more, and hold the upper hand in recent meetings between the sides, having won each of the last three encounters.

Spurs, meanwhile, can take control of their fate with three points and could be boosted by the returns of Pedro Porro and Richarlison. The latter has already returned to training after making an ahead-of-schedule recovery from a knee problem.

This game might get overshadowed by events occurring later in the day, but this is not one to miss.

Klopp vs Guardiola: The Last Dance

It’s been the managerial rivalry of the modern era but Premier League fans will watch Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola go head-to-head for the last time this weekend.

Liverpool and Manchester City have produced some classic contests in recent seasons, two teams who have competed for trophies, set records, and pushed each other to new heights. It’s a rivalry which has increased in animosity, as the best do when stakes are raised and objectives are shared.

This weekend’s blockbuster is one where those stakes are significant, as the division’s top two meet at Anfield, with just a point between them. With Arsenal also in the mix of the tightest title race for a decade, there’s plenty on the line.

Legends are not always appreciated until after they’re gone and games between Klopp’s Liverpool and Guardiola’s Manchester City will be etched into the Premier League’s folklore, rivalry, respect and all.

For the final time, drink it in.

Poch pressure rising

Mauricio Pochettino put it mildly when he said he did not feel the love from the Chelsea fans following last weekend’s draw with Brentford, a clash played to the backdrop of audible calls for his exit.

The anti-Pochettino and anti-Todd Boehly chants came in large numbers, while calls for former manager Jose Mourinho could also be heard from the terraces. Pochettino knows he is facing an uphill battle to convince the Chelsea fans and it is a fight he is losing right now.

Any signs of progression are limited and while things are not quite as bad as last season, a jump from 12th to 11th is hardly the return envisaged after another Β£400m+ spend in the summer.

Newcastle are the visitors on Monday evening, having not won at Stamford Bridge since a brilliant brace from Papiss Cisse earned the Magpies three points in 2012.

Should that change, the calls for change will become deafening.

 

Read –Β Fantasy Premier League: Five transfers to target for GW28

See more –Β Five managers set to dominate the summer headlines

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