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Premier League: Weekend talking points

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Haaland battles the ball with Arsenal's Declan Rice
Haaland battles the ball with Arsenal's Declan Rice. Photo/ CBS Sports
  • Premier League football returns, and this weekend is sure to be a must-watch of top-tier action.
  • Ahead of the Premier League games, we’ve examined talking points, including a major title match at the Etihad.

Following the international break, Premier League football returns, and this weekend is sure to be a must-watch of top-tier action.

Ahead of the Premier League games, we’ve examined talking points, including a major title match at the Etihad.

Nottingham Forest bounce?

nottingham forest

Nottingham Forest. Photo/BBC

Nuno Espirito Santo’s team was punished four points for violating PSR regulations, while Nottingham Forest is still suffering from their Premier League point punishment. Forest is now one point below Luton in 17th position in the fight for safety after falling into the relegation spots as a result of the punishments.

Although Forest has recently failed to produce results, this weekend they have the opportunity to include another party in the battle. The visiting team, Crystal Palace, had lost all eight of their previous away games.

If Forest wins this weekend, they will be just five points behind the Eagles, who will be anxiously watching them if things don’t go their way. Nuno’s squad has to make the most of home advantage before facing Palace and Fulham at the City Ground back-to-back since only two clubs have collected less points away from home than Forest this season.

Aston Villa poor home record

Throughout the first few months of the season, the Premier League schedule’s trip to Aston Villa was among the most difficult, but Unai Emery’s club has recently struggled at home. The only teams with more home victories this season are the top two, but Villa has dropped three of its previous four games at Villa Park, with three points each going to Newcastle, Manchester United, and Spurs.

This weekend, Wolves will be the visiting club in an all-Midlands matchup where both teams are vying for European qualifying. With their forthcoming schedule, Villa will be eager to avoid dropping any more points and maintain their lead over Spurs in the competition for Champions League football. The following four games for Emery’s squad will involve travels to Manchester City and Arsenal.

City welcome challengers Arsenal

This weekend at the Etihad, the top two teams from the previous campaign square off as leaders Arsenal takes on reigning champions Manchester City.

Arsenal, who have won eight straight Premier League games, will be facing a Citizens team that has not lost in 38 games at the Etihad Stadium. Arsenal could not be in better form going into the match.

Kai Havertz vs. Ruben Dias is one match that may prove pivotal. Since switching to a false nine position, the former player has performed admirably, with four goals and two assists in his previous four Premier League games.

When confronting this opponent, the German has experience; in previous meetings, Dias found his elusive movement to be challenging. After Havertz scored the game-winning goal for Chelsea in the 2021 UCL final, Havertz caused trouble for Dias. A few weeks later, Havertz tormented the center back as Germany crushed Portugal in the European Championship.

Arsenal’s chances of pulling off a historic victory over the reigning Premier League winners might depend on Havertz’s performance. The Gunners are trying to win both at home and away against them for the first time in 22 years.

Fulham need to improve

Fulham 5-0 West Ham Premier League

Fulham players celebrate a goal in the Premier League match against West Ham, December 10, 2023.
| PHOTO: Sky Sports |

Before the international break, Fulham defeated Tottenham 3-0 in what was maybe their best performance of the season. As a consequence, Marco Silva’s team is now within striking distance of the European spots.

Although the West Londoners are only six points out of the top seven in the Premier League, they haven’t participated in Europe since 2011–12. Just the top five have won more home games (9) this season than Fulham, whose campaign has been built on a strong home record. If away games were the only ones that mattered, Fulham would be in the relegation zone.

The trip to a deeply struggling Sheffield United this coming weekend offers the ideal opportunity to alleviate their travel sickness.

Can Liverpool capitalize?

Liverpool vs Sparta

Liverpool players. Photo/ Eurosport.

Liverpool’s quadruple dream came crumbling down at Manchester United, causing a setback prior to the international break. Though focus returns to Anfield’s Premier League championship bid this weekend, the stunning FA Cup loss sapped the team’s optimism.

On Sunday, Jurgen Klopp’s team takes on Brighton, beginning a pivotal afternoon in the championship contest. With a point, the Reds will top the standings, at least momentarily, ahead of a major matchup between championship rivals Manchester City and Arsenal at the Etihad.

In their meeting later in the day, both sides will be under more pressure to win, and Liverpool will be confident going up against a Brighton squad that has dropped five of its past six away games.

A much-needed boost for the Reds might come with the return of Curtis Jones and Ibrahima Konate.

I am an ardent sports enthusiast interested in writing about football, motorsport and athletics.

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