The games keep coming thick and fast across the Premier League, with another full slate of matches coming up this weekend.
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Matchweek 29 sees plenty of derby games take center stage, while all eyes will remain on Liverpool and Manchester City as just one point separates them at the top of the table.
Below are a look at the top five storylines ahead of this weekend.
Arsenal have Tottenham in their sights – (Saturday, 7:30 a.m. ET: Tottenham v. Arsenal – NBCSN [STREAM])
Arsenal have clawed their way back into the top four in recent weeks and a win against Tottenham at Wembley on Saturday will see them move just one point behind Spurs in the table. Unai Emery smells blood in the water.
“We have been speaking about the opportunity [to finish above Tottenham],” Emery said. “Each match is giving us the opportunity to win three points. There were 10 points between us and Tottenham two weeks ago and now it is four points.”
Arsenal have taken care of business emphatically against the teams they should beat in recent weeks, while Spurs have suffered back-to-back defeats this week and some are questioning whether Harry Kane‘s return to fitness has disrupted their balance in recent games. Regardless of that debate, Kane loves playing against Arsenal and the balance of power in north London has shifted over to Tottenham since Mauricio Pochettino has been in charge. That said, Emery’s men beat Spurs 4-2 in the PL earlier this season and Spurs won at Arsenal in the League Cup, so there is little between these teams. No motivation will be needed for either manager in this one, as a sellout crowd at Wembley will kick off the weekend.
Liverpool must avoid derby upset at Everton – (Sunday, 11:15 a.m. ET: Everton v. Liverpool – NBCSN [STREAM])
Jurgen Klopp has described Sunday’s Merseyside derby as a “World Cup final” for Everton and he’s not wrong. The Toffees will want to do whatever they can to scupper Liverpool’s title charge, and stopping Klopp’s men from getting maximum points on Sunday will go a long way towards doing that. Marco Silva‘s men should have drawn at Anfield earlier this season but Divock Origi‘s wild late goal won it for Liverpool. And although Liverpool have dominated this rivalry for decades, heading to Goodison hasn’t been easy for them in recent years as they’ve drawn four of their last five trips across Stanley Park. With Everton sitting comfortable in midtable, putting a big dent in Liverpool’s title bid is probably their main objective remaining this season. Expect a ferocious atmosphere at Goodison with Liverpool potentially in second place by the time the game kicks off on Sunday due to Man City’s clash at Bournemouth on Saturday. This is one of the biggest hurdles remaining for Liverpool in their title bid…
It is now one from six to go down
- Saturday, 10 a.m. ET: Man United v. Southampton – NBCSN [STREAM]
- Sunday, 9:15 a.m. ET: Fulham v. Chelsea – NBCSN [STREAM]
- Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET: West Ham v. Newcastle – NBCSN [STREAM]
- Saturday, 10 a.m. ET: Brighton v. Huddersfield – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
- Saturday, 10 a.m. ET: Burnley v. Crystal Palace – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
Following their defeat at Southampton in midweek and the firing of Claudio Ranieri, only a miracle will keep Fulham in the Premier League. Alongside Huddersfield they are now cut adrift at the bottom, with Fulham now 10 points from safety with 10 games to go. Cardiff City sit in the final relegation place, with Southampton, Brighton, Burnley, Crystal Palace and Newcastle hovering above them. It is now a case of one team from those six to join Huddersfield and Fulham in being relegated, and the remaining schedule for these teams varies greatly.
Saints have tough games coming up then an easier finish. Cardiff have a tough schedule. Newcastle have an easier one. Brighton and Burnley have tough schedules and Crystal Palace’s remaining games are a mixed bag. Momentum and form is everything at this point of the season and the likes of Newcastle, Palace, Burnley and Saints have it in varying degrees. If you’re a Cardiff or Brighton fan right now, you have to be concerned. The battle to avoid finishing in 18th will likely go down to the wire and it will be as agonizing as it is exciting for almost a third of the league.
Rodgers has to hit the ground running – (Sunday, 9:05 a.m. ET: Watford v. Leicester – NBCSN [STREAM])
Leicester pulled out all of the stops to get Brendan Rodgers from Celtic and now the former Swansea and Liverpool boss must hit the ground running as he returns to the Premier League. Claude Puel‘s time in charge of the Foxes was muddled and confusing for most of their squad, and it is likely Rodgers will get them back to basics between now and the end of the season. Rodgers will overhaul his squad and their style in the summer, as we know he loves to build from the back and push his wide defenders into attacking areas of the pitch. But Leicester still have a great opportunity to finish in seventh and qualify for Europe this season, with a favorable schedule and a squad hungry to impress the new manager and prove they can stick around beyond the summer.
Battle of the South American stars – (Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET: West Ham v. Newcastle – NBCSN [STREAM])
Miguel Almiron is making quite a name for himself in the Premier League after his January arrival from Atlanta United in Major League Soccer. The Paraguayan forward is already adored by the Newcastle faithful and has received standing ovations in his two masterful home displays (both wins) to push the Magpies away from relegation trouble. Next up: a trip to West Ham, one of the teams who were interested in signing him. The reason the Hammers maybe didn’t push quite as hard was due to Manuel Lanzini returning from injury a little sooner than expected and the Argentine playmaker adds a whole new dimension to Manuel Pellegrini‘s attack. The tenacious duo of Almiron and Lanzini will go head-to-head under the lights at the London Stadium on Saturday with both aiming to prove how important they are to their respective clubs.