Premier League talking points ahead of crucial games at both ends of table

Jurgen Klopp (left) and Graham Potter meet again (Clive Brunskill/PA) (PA Archive)
Jurgen Klopp (left) and Graham Potter meet again (Clive Brunskill/PA) (PA Archive)

The Premier League plays host to a series of titanic showdowns this weekend with plenty of crucial questions set to be answered at both ends of the table.

Leaders Arsenal head into a showdown with in-form Manchester United while Liverpool take on Chelsea with both sides’ hopes of qualifying for the Champions League in the balance.

At the other end of the table, West Ham face Everton in a match that will surely spell the end for the manager who finishes on the losing side.

Here the PA news agency takes a look at some of the highlights.

Gunner do it?

The ease with which Arsenal swept aside their north London rivals Tottenham last weekend underscored their status as legitimate title contenders, and possibly even favourites. If they come through another enormous test against Erik ten Hag’s resurgent Manchester United on Sunday, few will doubt their credentials. Casemiro’s suspension has dealt a major blow to the visitors, but as they head into recently uncharted territory, can Mikel Arteta’s men continue to hold their nerve?

City slipping?

Pep Guardiola was heavily critical of his Manchester City side after the champions needed to fight back from 2-0 down to beat Tottenham 4-2 on Thursday. Coming after a dismal Carabao Cup exit at Southampton and derby defeat at Manchester United, City’s first-half display further underlined recent concerns over their form and questioned the strength of their title defence while Arsenal continue to look strong at the top. “We are far away from the team we had in previous seasons,” said Guardiola in an outspoken rant, adding that he felt the Gunners could “destroy” them on current form. The Spaniard will now be expecting a reaction as City host Wolves on Sunday.

Klopp clipped?

With both Liverpool and Chelsea sitting a huge 19 points adrift of leaders Arsenal, defeat for either in Saturday’s Anfield showdown would realistically spell the end of their top-four ambitions. Klopp still clearly holds a lot of credit after inspiring the Reds to their historic title triumph but the outcome may be bleaker for Graham Potter, who is still to convince some of the more impatient elements of the Stamford Bridge support that he is the right man for the job.

Magpies flying high?

Almost five months have passed since Newcastle last tasted Premier League defeat and they head to Selhurst Park on Saturday with the praise of Eagles boss Patrick Vieira ringing in their ears. Vieira insists that despite a current nine-point deficit, Eddie Howe’s men stand a chance of overhauling the Gunners and claiming the title this season. But in order to achieve that improbable feat they will have to guard against any slip-ups in south London.

Sack race

Some claim Saturday’s Premier League clash between West Ham and Everton could yield a unique double-sacking if the game ends in a draw. David Moyes and Frank Lampard are clinging precariously to their respective jobs, with both teams languishing in the relegation zone on 15 points. The pressure on Lampard may be more ferocious but former Evertonian Moyes and his team also need a win, so there is plenty riding on the contest in east London.