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Can Liverpool continue fine record against top 6 and the other Premier League talking points

There’s a big one at Anfield on Saturday evening, while leaders Chelsea have a London derby on Monday night.

Roberto Firmino and Nacho Monreal when Liverpool and Arsenal met back in August.
Roberto Firmino and Nacho Monreal when Liverpool and Arsenal met back in August.
Image: Nigel French

1. Reds need a reaction at home to Gunners

LIVERPOOL’S LIST OF results since the turn of the year makes for depressing reading if you’re a Reds fan.

The 3-1 loss to Leicester City on Monday night means they have recorded one win, three draws and three defeats in the league in 2017 — as well as going out of the FA Cup and EFL Cup — and Jurgen Klopp has understandably caught some serious flack this week.

But while Liverpool have struggled against teams in the bottom half of the table, their record when facing clubs top-six clubs has been excellent and they are unbeaten this term in meetings with Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester City, Manchester United and their latest opponents.

On Saturday evening, Arsenal visit Anfield and the home side could leapfrog their opponents into the Champions League spots with a win — although the Gunners do have a game in hand.

If Liverpool do claim three points it will be the first time since 2000 that they’ve done the Premier League double over Arsenal in a season.

2. Man United’s momentum builds

Two clubs with contrasting recent form kick off the weekend’s Premier League fixtures as Manchester United welcome Bournemouth to Old Trafford at lunch-time on Saturday.

United are on a 16-game unbeaten run in the league having last suffered defeat way back in October — a 4-0 drubbing by Chelsea — while the Cherries have lost out in their last four and remain winless since New Year’s Eve.

The Red Devils may have been lucky at times in last Sunday’s EFL Cup final, but the victory represented Jose Mourinho’s first trophy at the club and now he will be looking to continue that momentum by closing in on the top four.

Meanwhile, Eddie Howe has admitted that time is running out after watching his side slump to 14th with just four points separating them and the drop zone.

3. Another chance for ‘Shakes’ to impress

Just this past week, we saw a glimpse of the Leicester City that achieved the unthinkable by winning the Premier League title ten months ago. Okay, Liverpool allowed them to play to their strengths but it was a superb display from Jamie Vardy and Co in their first game since the sacking of Claudio Ranieri.

Caretaker manager Craig Shakespeare has openly admitted he would jump at the chance to take the job on a permanent basis and, while there has been talk that Roy Hodgson is being lined up for the position, Saturday’s visit of Hull is another opportunity for him to put his case forward.

The Tigers, 19th but just two points from safety, are a club who have seen the benefits of changing manager mid-season. Marco Silva has had a really positive impact since taking over from Mike Phelan in January and this is a game he will be aiming to take points from.

4. Kane v Lukaku at White Hart Lane

Two of the English top flight’s most in-form strikers could go head-to-head on Sunday with the meeting of Tottenham and Everton.

Only Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez has scored as many Premier League goals as Romelu Lukaku and Harry Kane (17) this season. Belgian international Lukakua grabbed one in the 2-0 victory over Sunderland while England’s Kane bagged his third hat-trick in nine games at home to Stoke.

Kane picked up a minor knock in that game last weekend and will have a fitness assessment along with Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen to line out for second-placed Spurs against the Toffees, who are up to seventh after their recent good form.

Both Mauricio Pochettino and Ronald Koeman have been mentioned as possible replacements to Luis Enrique at Barcelona in recent days, although Athletic Bilbao coach Ernesto Valverde and Sevilla’s Jorge Sampaoli are the favourites.

5. London derby on Monday night

With a ten-point advantage at the summit of the Premier League table and just 12 matches left to play, the title is Chelsea’s to throw away now it would seem.

 

Out of the current top six, the Blues only have Manchester City and Manchester United left to play and, with no European football to distract them, a league winner’s medal in his first season looks likely for Antonio Conte.

This Monday night, it’s a short trip to the London Stadium to take on mid-table West Ham. The clubs have faced each other twice already this season — Diego Costa’s late goal handing Chelsea a 2-1 win on the opening day, before the Hammers claimed victory by the same scoreline in the EFL Cup two months later.

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Ben Blake

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