Entertainment, Sports

The key talking points ahead of this weekend’s Premier League fixtures

The Premier League returns this weekend following some exciting midweek action in the FA Cup.

Here, the PA news agency picks out five of the main talking points heading into gameweek 28.

Marsch makes his Leeds bow

An alarming recent run has led Leeds to drop like a stone and the club to take the difficult decision to end popular Marcelo Bielsa’s highly successful three-and-a-half-year spell in charge. The fact the club spoke immediately about a permanent tribute to the Argentinian underlines just how much the 66-year-old meant around Elland Road, where he ended the club’s long wait for a Premier League return. But the focus now is on injecting new life into their survival hopes, with newly-appointed boss Jesse Marsch heading to Leicester on Saturday lunchtime for his first match in charge. Until recently manager of RB Leipzig, the highly-rated American coach has big shoes to fill at a club that have lost their last four Premier League matches.

Dean Smith looks to suck former club Bees into mire

The teams in relegation danger have concertinaed in recent weeks due to fluctuations in form and the fact games in hand have finally been played. Just eight points separate bottom-placed Norwich and Newcastle in 14th as the season enters the home straight. Dean Smith’s Canaries are in the most precarious position and have lost three straight league matches, including last Friday’s meek performance at Southampton where they were fortunate to escape with a 2-0 defeat. Saturday sees Smith host former club Brentford, who are in need of a victory themselves having seen a fine start to the season peter out. Thomas Frank’s Bees are 15th and seven points better off than Norwich ahead of the Carrow Road six-pointer.

Title-chasing Liverpool host West Ham

West Ham have enjoyed quite the season, entering March fifth in the Premier League and with Europa League knockout football to look forward to. In truth, the Hammers have done well to maintain that momentum given their squad is paper thin in places and Wednesday’s 3-1 FA Cup loss against a heavily-rotated Southampton side should set off alarm bells. David Moyes’ already-stretched group will be tested for the rest of the month as the last-16 matches against Sevilla come between key league matches, with an unenviable trip to Liverpool lying in wait on Saturday evening. Jurgen Klopp’s men are in fine form right now and the newly-crowned Carabao Cup champions are breathing down Manchester City’s neck.

United look for another City shock

Manchester United have found themselves in the uncomfortable position of looking enviously at the success achieved by neighbours Manchester City since Sir Alex Ferguson retired. They have won four Premier League titles since the Scot bowed out as champion in 2013, with the Red Devils failing to muster a sustained title challenge since and in midst of a relative trophy drought stretching back to 2017. United have, though, had a knack of winning at the Etihad Stadium in recent years, including last season’s 2-0 triumph against the eventual champions. Interim manager Ralf Rangnick will attempt to replicate that feat on Sunday, knowing victory in the 187th Manchester derby would provide a massive boost in their top-four charge. City lost 3-2 to Tottenham in their last home game but the bookmakers, unsurprisingly, do not expect another loss given Pep Guardiola’s men boast a 19-point cushion over their city rivals.

Helter-skelter Spurs host Toffees

Antonio Conte's Tottenham host Everton
Antonio Conte’s Tottenham host Everton (Zac Goodwin/PA)

Antonio Conte has been through the ringer since that thrilling 3-2 triumph at the Etihad Stadium on February 19. Just days later the Italian suggested he could leave after Tottenham lost 1-0 at Burnley, only for the side to regroup and romp to a 4-0 win at Leeds. But things were not back on track for long as Spurs limped out of the FA Cup at Championship side Middlesbrough on Tuesday, losing 1-0 in extra time to end their hopes of silverware for the season. The recent pattern of results would suggest Tottenham will be celebrating victory against Everton on Monday evening but it is hard to tell what Conte’s side will throw together game to game. Frank Lampard’s relegation-threatened side are perilously close to the drop zone and could even start Monday’s match inside it depending on results elsewhere.

Previous ArticleNext Article

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.