English Premier League drama looms: Arsenal faces Fulham test, Liverpool targets top four

Key talking points ahead of the weekend's action in the English top-flight:

Arsenal travels to Fulham in the latest test of the Gunners' Premier League title credentials as Manchester City aims to ramp up the pressure on Mikel Arteta’s team by winning at Crystal Palace. Liverpool is the in-form team in the race for a top-four finish ahead of its trip to Bournemouth after a historic 7-0 thrashing of Manchester United last weekend.

At the bottom of the standings, nine clubs are separated by just six points. Leicester and West Ham are among them and home games this weekend may be must-wins for Brendan Rodgers and David Moyes to keep their jobs.

Euro effect on title race

Dramatic late comebacks against Bournemouth and Aston Villa in recent weeks has kept Arsenal five points ahead of Man City in the title fight. The club has the extra complication of its trip to Craven Cottage on Sunday being sandwiched between two Europa League round of 16 matches against Sporting Lisbon. Arteta heavily rotated his squad during the group stages but named a strong starting lineup for a 2-2 first-leg tie in the Portuguese capital on Thursday. City has enjoyed a rare midweek off, but Pep Guardiola's team selection could also be impacted by Tuesday's Champions League round-of-16 second leg against RB Leipzig with the score finely balanced at 1-1.

Momentum with Liverpool

Liverpool's humiliation of Manchester United hauled Jurgen Klopp's team back into the running for a top four finish. The Reds can move into the Champions League places for a few hours at least should the club continue its upturn in-form away at Bournemouth in Saturday's early kickoff. But Liverpool's last meeting with the Cherries serves as a warning that one spectacular performance does not necessarily turn a season around. Bournemouth was annihilated 9-0 at Anfield in August, but Liverpool went on to win just one of its next four league games.

However, after a season of frustration, Liverpool does appear to be getting its act together in time to secure Champions League soccer for a seventh consecutive season. Five consecutive shutouts have been a big reason behind the club's recent Premier League run of 13 points from a possible 15. A new-look front three of Cody Gakpo, Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah then stole the show in spectacular fashion as all three scored twice against United.

"We saw what a positive result can do to the boys," Klopp said. "Now we have five days or so of time to prepare for Bournemouth. ...We have to make sure we are ready for that fight."

Tottenham remain in fourth for now but has failed to score in its past three games to crash out of the Champions League and FA Cup. Spurs need a positive result when it hosts Nottingham Forest, while Newcastle will hope to end a five-game winless run in the Premier League when Wolves visit St. James' Park.

Rodgers and Moyes in the firing line

In recent seasons, Rodgers and Moyes were nominated for manager of the year accolades after leading Leicester and West Ham into European competitions. Their credit in the bank has kept them in charge until now as all four clubs below the Foxes and Hammers in the standings have already sacked their managers at least once this season.

Leicester appeared to turn things around with four-goal wins over Villa and Tottenham last month, but four straight defeats, including an FA Cup defeat to second-tier Blackburn, has put Rodgers back in the firing line. On Saturday, his team faces a rejuvenated Chelsea, which is fresh from sealing a place in the Champions League quarterfinals.

Moyes has reportedly already saved his job twice by securing home wins against Everton and Nottingham Forest, but a 4-0 thrashing by Brighton has put the former Manchester United boss on the brink once more. Anything other than three points at the London Stadium against Villa could finally see the axe fall.

Saturday: Bournemouth vs Liverpool, Everton vs Brentford, Leeds vs Brighton, Leicester vs Chelsea, Tottenham vs Nottingham Forest, Crystal Palace vs Manchester City
Sunday: Fulham vs Arsenal, Manchester United vs Southampton, West Ham vs Aston Villa, Newcastle vs Wolves


© Agence France-Presse

Next story loading loading..

Discover Our Publications