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Premier League: What to expect in gameweek 34

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Mudryk battles the ball against Saliba Photo Chelsea FC
Mudryk battles the ball against Saliba. Photo/ Chelsea FC
  • We examine the talking topics leading up to the Premier League weekend including a renewed emphasis on the title contenders.

We examine the talking topics leading up to the Premier League weekend, including the opportunity for Aston Villa to increase pressure on the top-four competition, Everton’s pivotal week, and a renewed emphasis on the title contenders.

The title race

Man City vs Aston Villa

Kevin De Bruyne were on the bench as Phil Foden ran the show for City. Photo/ Sky Sports.

For the Premier League, it was a dismal week of European football. With Manchester City and Liverpool out even though they entered the round as favorites in the Champions League and Europa League, respectively, four quarterfinal exits mean that no English clubs are left in Europe’s top two club championships.

All attention is now focused on the final stretch since it was shocking that all three of the championship contenders—including Arsenal—bowled out of Europe in the same week. Though they may pass the champs this weekend with victories, Arsenal and Liverpool let Manchester City win last weekend because of their inadequacies. With City, who have been so perfect in the final stretch, under increased pressure, Pep Guardiola’s club would be foolish to pass up this FA Cup opportunity.

Aston Villa top four hopes

Aston Villa vs Burnley

Douglas Luiz celebrates with his teammates after scoring from the penalty spot at Villa Park. Photo/ Loop News Caribbean.

This week’s fight for Champions League qualifying has higher stakes. England is extremely unlikely to earn an extra spot in the tournament by coefficient next season, as a result of the European departures of Arsenal, Manchester City, Liverpool, and West Ham. This eliminates the safety net of a fifth-place finish.

Now, it seems like a direct shootout between Tottenham and Aston Villa for a top-four spot. Villa took advantage of a Spurs error at Newcastle to win 2-0 against Arsenal last weekend, putting them three points ahead of the north Londoners. However, Ange Postecoglou’s team still has a game remaining.

But Spurs are still hurting after their 4-0 loss at St James’ Park last Saturday, and by the time of their next league game, they may fall nine points behind Villa. Because Villa is playing Bournemouth at home in the FA Cup semi-finals, Spurs will not be playing this weekend.

The next weekend, on Saturday night, Unai Emery’s team will play Chelsea, one day before Spurs enter the field. When do Spurs play next? An Arsenal derby in North London. Villa has to take full advantage of this opportunity to put further pressure on their opponents in the top four.

Deja vu for Arsenal?

Arsenal

Arsenal were eliminated out of the Champions League. Photo/ Yardbarker.

After faltering throughout the season’s final stretch, Arsenal was not short of taunts. Although a four-game winless streak in April allowed Manchester City to close the gap, the Gunners did not want to set a record for the longest period at the top of the league without winning the Premier League.

This time around, the situation is a little different, but Arsenal supporters will still feel uneasy following consecutive losses across all competitions. Arsenal lost to Bayern Munich midweek in the Champions League, following a dramatic double that saw Aston Villa win three points at the Emirates last weekend.

The momentum of an undefeated start to the year has slowed after a string of defeats, and an important trip to Wolves will be a litmus test for this Arsenal club and their level of improvement and learning from the previous year.

Everton’s make or break games

everton

Everton. Photo/CNBC

Everton’s current state of affairs, both on and off the field, is dire; James Tarkowski called Monday’s 6-0 loss to Chelsea the most humiliating moment of his career.

The team’s crushing defeat at Stamford Bridge has put the Toffees two points above the relegation zone going into this weekend’s crucial matchup with Nottingham Forest. Having received their own punishments for breaking the Premier League’s Profit and Sustainability regulations, Forest is currently one spot and a half below Everton in the standings.

The two teams are fighting for their lives to stay in the Premier League since a drop to the second division would have disastrous effects. The continued drama surrounding the 777 acquisition prolongs Everton’s instability off the field.

A acquisition that was expected to be finalized by Christmas has continued as 777 tries to satisfy the directors’ and owners’ test of the Premier League and show where its funding would come from. Concerns about potential administration should a deal fall through are significant, since a nine-point deduction may have serious consequences.

 

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

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