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HomeInnovationPremier League: 10 things to look out for this weekend

Premier League: 10 things to look out for this weekend


1) Liverpool have gap to bridge with City Over four seasons, there was a single Premier League point between them. This season there are 19 points between Manchester City and Liverpool. City still don’t have things their own way: Erling Haaland’s presence remains a double-edged sword.

Without Haaland’s goals, Arsenal would be on a title victory lap while with the Norwegian – an injury doubt for Saturday’s match – City have never quite hit the fluency shown when they were duking it out with Liverpool over those years. By contrast Jürgen Klopp’s problems run rather deeper than implanting a guaranteed goal-machine. Virgil van Dijk was criticised this week by the Dutch legends Ruud Gullit and Marco van Basten for his leadership style.

And even though Stefan Bajcetic is only 18, losing him for the season was a blow. Liverpool, though, retain significant danger, as Manchester United found out , and as Guardiola recognised after losing 1-0 at Anfield in October to a Mo Salah strike. John Brewin Manchester City v Liverpool, Saturday 12.

30pm 2) Havertz needs to kick on for Chelsea No one could mistake Kai Havertz for a donkey when he is playing football. The German forward with a fondness for nature is far too elegant for anyone to doubt his talent. The issue with Havertz is more one of consistency.

This is a player who has scored winning goals for Chelsea in the finals of the Champions League and Club World Cup. His place in history is already assured. But Havertz can do more in his role as a false nine.

At his best the 24-year-old offers flexible movement, unselfish running, intelligent link play and a threat in the box. But there are times when he drifts through games. It can be frustrating to watch.

It is time for Havertz to put a proper run together. He has scored in three consecutive games and needs to push on when Chelsea host Aston Villa. Jacob Steinberg Chelsea v Aston Villa, Saturday 5.

30pm The magic number: Kai Havertz has scored in his last three Chelsea appearances. Photograph: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP 3) Returning Jesus can fire title charge Gabriel Jesus has not started a Premier League game since 12 November, against Wolves, due to an injury picked up during the World Cup, and he has not scored since 1 October. The striker made two cameo appearances off the bench and lasted 45 minutes after starting in the Europa League against Sporting before the international break.

In his absence, Arsenal have continued to thrive but his presence down the middle for the remainder of the season could be integral to their title hopes. With Eddie Nketiah missing since the start of March through injury, it would be a timely boost to have a striker back. Jesus could be joined in the match-day squad against Leeds by Nketiah who is also nearing a return to full fitness.

With no other competitions to focus on, it is full steam ahead for the title and a confidence-boosting win over a struggling side would be ideal. Will Unwin Arsenal v Leeds, Saturday 3pm 4) Hodgson return puts heat on Rodgers A manager replacing his successor is a rarity, as are 75-year-old managers, but Roy Hodgson has always been a singular figure. Crystal Palace have pushed a panic button , with Hodgson failing to turn around Watford last season, although the veteran manager has familiarity with the surroundings of Selhurst Park and the Beckenham training facilities.

Palace enjoyed some exciting times under Patrick Vieira though came to miss the stability Hodgson and his assistant, Ray Lewington, had installed at the price of tedium. Their first assignment is a classic six-pointer against Leicester, where Brendan Rodgers is a manager losing his sheen. Where Vieira departed without a win in 2023, Leicester have won only two league matches, with the Leicester public increasingly unsure about Rodgers.

Should the Foxes lose in south London, they could drop into the bottom three. If Rodgers is removed, it is still unlikely he will be replaced by his even more unpopular predecessor, Claude Puel, although the Frenchman is currently a free agent. JB Crystal Palace v Leicester, Saturday 3pm 01:21 Roy Hodgson ‘never felt old enough to retire’ on Crystal Palace return – video 5) Howe eyes revenge – and McTominay Newcastle may have lost February’s League Cup final to Manchester United but revenge against the same opponent at St James’ Park on Sunday would be particularly sweet for Eddie Howe’s side.

While a home win would bolster Newcastle’s Champions League qualification hopes significantly, a key subplot of the match itself could involve central midfield. It is no secret that Howe would be extremely happy to prise Scott McTominay away from Old Trafford this summer and it will be interesting to see whether the 26-year-old Scotland midfielder – fresh from his midweek international heroics against Spain – is involved on Tyneside. Yet with Newcastle currently fifth and only three points behind their third-placed guests, home fans must trust any audition on McTominay’s part does not prove too compelling.

Louise Taylor Newcastle v Manchester United, Sunday 4. 30pm 6) Gibbs-White to step up against old club? After losing in injury time against Newcastle in their most recent fixture at the City Ground – their first home defeat in six months – Forest need to bounce back. They sit two points above the relegation zone, which puts Steve Cooper under pressure.

The head coach will not be worried about it, having felt similar at the start of the campaign when he looked to be on the brink. It is the start of an incredibly difficult April, that includes trips to Leeds, Aston Villa, Liverpool and Brentford, while they host Manchester United and Brighton. If Forest do not defeat Wolves they will be in a precarious position and need to get back to their best; their flow has been disrupted since the January recruitment, with Felipe and Keylor Navas arguably the only two to have made a truly positive impression.

Morgan Gibbs-White needs to affect games from the No 10 role, something he has struggled to do since Jonjo Shelvey came into the team and he will be desperate to show his best against his former club. WU Nottingham Forest v Wolves, Saturday 3pm skip past newsletter promotion Sign up to Football Daily Free daily newsletter Kick off your evenings with the Guardian’s take on the world of football Privacy Notice: Newsletters may contain info about charities, online ads, and content funded by outside parties. For more information see our Privacy Policy .

We use Google reCaptcha to protect our website and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply. after newsletter promotion 7) Amex clash of the upwardly mobile Brighton and Brentford continue to buck Premier League trends. Though their respective owners, Tony Bloom and Matthew Benham, are a long-severed alliance they might congratulate the other that their clubs continue to be on the rise.

Neither has been “found out”. As a battle between seventh and eighth, Saturday’s is a meeting between clubs with European ambitions for next season though Brighton have two games in hand on Brentford. When the teams met in October, two Ivan Toney goals won the game for Thomas Frank’s team in Roberto De Zerbi’s third game in charge.

It took Brighton six matches to win a game under an Italian, who has since become one of the hottest properties in European football, with an attacking style that confounds orthodoxy. Frank, with a more prosaic yet just as innovative approach, is not yet heavily linked to the likes of Juventus and Tottenham when he probably should be. JB Brighton v Brentford, Saturday 3pm Ivan Toney scored a brilliant backheel when Brentford beat Brighton back in October.

Photograph: Dylan Martinez/Reuters 8) Vinícius key to Fulham’s Plan B Aleksandr Mitrovic is Fulham’s top scorer in the league with 12, more than double that of any teammate. Due to his push on the referee Chris Kavanagh at Old Trafford, the striker will be missing for the foreseeable with the Football Association yet to decide his punishment because of the severity of the incident. This means Marco Silva needs a plan B for their upcoming games to continue the momentum he has built at the club this season.

The backup striker, Carlos Vinícius, has scored twice in 18 league appearances since joining on loan from Benfica, although he has started only five times. It has been a long time since the Brazilian was able to describe himself as prolific; he netted 19 in 39 for Benfica in 2019-20, so does have the capability to score consistently and he will be desperately hoping that a guaranteed run of starts might be the kickstart he needs in England. WU Bournemouth v Fulham, Saturday 3pm Richarlison denies leading Tottenham ‘mutiny’ against Antonio Conte Read more 9) Freeing up Rice key to survival battle Declan Rice spoke up for himself during the international break, hitting back at Graeme Souness for saying he does not do enough to be considered an elite midfielder.

Then he backed it up by scoring the opening goal when England beat Italy 2-1 in Naples: not a bad way to tilt the argument in his favour. The thing about Rice is he always looks for ways to improve. The West Ham midfielder’s tally of two league goals this season is slightly misleading: Rice’s main role is to shield his defence and he is playing in a struggling counter-attacking team.

But the 24-year-old will feel that he can do more to lift West Ham out of trouble. If David Moyes gives him more freedom to push forward then Rice needs to step up and provide more creativity when West Ham face Southampton in a vital clash at the London Stadium. JS West Ham v Southampton, Sunday 2pm 10) Spurs to change gear without Conte? Well that was quite the turbulent international break.

Tottenham have sacked a manager, appointed his mate as acting head coach, made contact with representatives of Julian Nagelsmann, seen their captain become England’s all-time leading goalscorer and their managing director of football hit with a worldwide ban by Fifa since they last appeared on the Premier League stage. And now players who were branded “selfish” by the departed Antonio Conte must, in the words of the banned Fabio Paratici, focus on securing Champions League qualification over the final 10 games of the season. Spurs could be out of the top four by the time they kick off at Everton yet also liberated by Conte’s removal, given reports of dressing room displeasure over the Italian’s acrimonious reign and his willingness to apportion blame elsewhere.

Players have not been exactly falling over themselves in a rush to pay tribute to their former manager and could shift the spotlight back on Conte’s overall performance with improvement at Goodison Park. Andy Hunter Everton v Tottenham, Monday 8pm Pos Team P GD Pts 1 Arsenal 28 40 69 2 Man City 27 42 61 3 Man Utd 26 6 50 4 Tottenham Hotspur 28 12 49 5 Newcastle 26 20 47 6 Liverpool 26 18 42 7 Brighton 25 15 42 8 Brentford 27 9 42 9 Fulham 27 1 39 10 Chelsea 27 1 38 11 Aston Villa 27 -4 38 12 Crystal Palace 28 -16 27 13 Wolverhampton 28 -19 27 14 Leeds 27 -9 26 15 Everton 28 -18 26 16 Nottm Forest 27 -27 26 17 Leicester 27 -9 25 18 West Ham 26 -10 24 19 AFC Bournemouth 27 -29 24 20 Southampton 28 -23 23.

From: theguardian

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