Rampant Manchester United is eager to inflict more pain on Liverpool at Anfield as Arsenal aims to pull further clear of Manchester City in the Premier League title race this weekend. The Gunners are hot favorites to see off Bournemouth at the Emirates, while City faces a Newcastle team hoping to put the bitter disappointment of the League Cup final defeat behind it. Tottenham must quickly bounce back from an FA Cup exit to maintain its advantage over Newcastle and Liverpool in the race for a top-four finish.
Here are some of the key talking points ahead of the weekend's action in the English top-flight.
United's revenge mission. Liverpool won both Premier League matches against fierce rival United last season by an aggregate score of 9-0. However, the fortunes of both clubs have dramatically changed over the past 12 months.
Fresh from lifting the League Cup to end a six-year trophy drought, United's run of one defeat in 22 games has kept it in the hunt for a quadruple of trophies. But, with an 11-point gap behind league leader Arsenal, anything less than a first win at Anfield since 2016 for Erik ten Hag's team could signal the end of its title challenge. Liverpool, which lost against United at Old Trafford earlier this season, is in need of the points in its push to finish in the top four. Jurgen Klopp's squad has crept back into contention for a Champions League place thanks to a stretch of 10 points from the past four league games. But, in the middle of that run, the Reds' deficiencies were brutally exposed in a 5-2 home defeat to Real Madrid in the Champions League.
"I think Man United is the team in form in the moment, maybe together with Arsenal and City," Klopp said after a 2-0 win over Wolves on Wednesday. "If you face United at the weekend whichever result you've had before, either way you have to strike back or whatever, but now we have to use it for our general situation. We have to build on the performance and on the result and we try everything to do exactly that."
In-form Arsenal. Arsenal's bid for a first league title in 19 years looked to be on shaky ground last month when the club took just one point from three games, including a 3-1 home defeat to City. But Mikel Arteta's team has responded in style with three straight wins to carve out a five-point lead at the top of the standings.
"When you look at them every single day, you just feel how much they want it, how much they really want to produce what we ask them to do and how much they want to please our people," Arteta said after Everton was defeated 4-0 on Wednesday. "I had no doubts that we were going to turn things around in performances and results."
More of the same will be expected from Arsenal against a relegation-threatened Bournemouth team. City face a tougher test on paper with the visit of Newcastle, but there is little for last season's champion to fear in the Magpies' form of late. Newcastle has slipped outside the top four after winning just once in the Premier League in 2023 so far.
Sorry start to Spurs' big week. A big week for Tottenham got off to the worst possible start with defeat in its FA Cup fifth-round match against Championship team Sheffield United. Spurs, which has not won a trophy since 2008, has to overturn a 1-0 first-leg deficit when it hosts AC Milan in the Champions League round of 16 next week. But first, it has a tricky trip to Molineux to face a Wolves team also desperate for points to pull away from the relegation zone.
"Now, the FA Cup has gone. We have other chances, other competitions, other games," Spurs assistant boss Cristian Stellini, who has deputized for Antonio Conte while he recovers from gallbladder surgery, said. "This is soccer. You have to keep going and find again the same desire."
Saturday: Manchester City vs Newcastle, Arsenal vs Bournemouth, Aston Villa vs Crystal Palace, Brighton vs West Ham, Chelsea vs Leeds, Wolves vs Tottenham, Southampton vs Leicester
Sunday: Nottingham Forest vs Everton, Liverpool vs Manchester United
Monday: Brentford vs Fulham
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