Top Premier League storylines — Week 16

Getty Images
0 Comments

There’s no shortage of table drama this weekend in the Premier League.

[ MORE: Coutinho unsure about future ]

Many will have their eyes trained on derbies in London, Manchester, and Liverpool, but there’s a tilt with major implications for two of the early season’s underdog darlings as well.

Let’s get into it.

Manchester Derby Storyline 1: Can Pep shake mini-slump?

Manchester United vs. Man City — 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN (Watch online at NBCSports.com)

The end of Man City’s 22-match unbeaten season run isn’t a huge concern for Pep Guardiola, whose men had a B-side on the pitch for Wednesday’s 2-1 loss at desperate Shakhtar Donetsk. But Man City needed late drama to beat Southampton and West Ham, both at home, in its last two Premier League contests. The derby won’t see City stumble out of the gate, but — as silly as this might sound — Pep’s men could use a return to 90-minute form at Old Trafford.

Manchester Derby Storyline 2: Is Pogba absence a bridge too far?

Manchester United vs. Man City — 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN (Watch online at NBCSports.com)

Manchester United is is 7W-1D in the Premier League with Paul Pogba this season, and just 4W-1D-2L without him. Granted the schedule was tougher during Pogba’s absence with a thigh injury, but the Red Devils have also scored multiple goals in all but one of the matches in which he’s been in the Starting XI. Man City was able to rest a wealth of its stars on Wednesday in the UEFA Champions League, and Sunday’s derby is a tall United ask even at Old Trafford.

What’s Big Sam’s derby plan?

Liverpool vs. Everton — 9:15 a.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN (Watch online at NBCSports.com)

While Liverpool walloped Spartak Moscow to clinch a spot in the UEFA Champions League League knockout rounds, Everton boss Sam Allardyce could hand debuts to as many as eight youngsters when the already-eliminated Toffees meet Apollon Limassol in Cyprus. So we know Big Sam will have his top men rested and ready for the Merseyside Derby, but how will his leaky defense stop the Reds in his first true test as Everton boss?

Midnight for Cinderella at Turf Moor?

Burnley vs. Watford — 10 a.m. ET Saturday on NBC Sports Gold (Watch online at NBCSports.com)

Both Sean Dyche and Marco Silva are the leading candidates for manager of the year (with respect to Pep Guardiola’s big success with a much larger budget). Now the two overachieving managers meet at Turf Moor in what feels like a must win for either side’s unlikely Top Seven hopes. Burnley has a three-point lead on Watford, but both sides would be forgiven for noticing hard-charging Leicester City and Everton.