Five talking points ahead of Premier League matchweek 29

31 March 2017 01:26

The Premier League resumes this weekend following the international break with big games at both ends of the table, including a Merseyside derby.

Here, we look at some of the main talking points.

Home struggles to continue for Mourinho?

Manchester United's bid to secure Champions League football for next season is in danger of being derailed by their poor form at Old Trafford. United have won only six of their 14 home league games this season, with frustrating draws against lower-placed sides Stoke, Burnley, West Ham, Hull and Bournemouth accounting for some of the dropped points. West Brom travel to the north-west on Saturday and Jose Mourinho's fifth-placed side, who can still qualify for the Champions League by winning the Europa League, will be looking to prevent the Baggies becoming the latest club to leave with a positive result. Given West Brom have won on two of their last three visits to United, Tony Pulis' team may be confident of denting their opponents' top-four aspirations.

More Merseyside misery for the Toffees?

Everton travel to Anfield for Saturday's early kick-off looking to break a woeful recent run against their near-neighbours. The Toffees have failed to win any of their last 13 meetings with Liverpool and have recorded just one victory from the previous 20 league matches between the two rivals. They have also not won at Anfield since September 1999. Ronald Koeman's men could boost their outside hopes of a Champions League spot with victory on the other side of Stanley Park, which may in turn help convince star striker Romelu Lukaku that he has a future at Goodison Park. Defeat, however, will leave Blues supporters looking at Europa League qualification at best and exposed to yet more taunts from Reds fans.

Wenger going gets tough

The pressure on Arsene Wenger shows no sign on relenting and sections of Arsenal's support are expected to continue their protests against the manager when Manchester City arrive at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday. Despite admitting he knows what his future holds, the long-serving Frenchman, who is out of contract in the summer, continues to keep fans guessing. The 'Wenger Out' banners displayed at West Brom a fortnight ago will no doubt be out again, and the voices of discontent could became even louder should the Gunners' Champions League aspirations suffer another setback with defeat to top-four rivals City.

Can Boro bag some goals?

A change of manager may have given Leicester, Swansea, Hull and Crystal Palace renewed hope of survival but Middlesbrough, who parted company with Aitor Karanka on March 16, will not improve until they can start hitting the back of the net on a regular basis. They have managed just three goals in their last nine league outings and only 20 all season. That strike-rate has resulted in a paltry four victories, and caretaker boss Steve Agnew has a big job on his hands to prevent the Teessiders' immediate return to the Championship. His second game in charge sees Boro travel to relegation rivals Swansea and the outcome at the Liberty Stadium could have a big bearing on the fate of both teams.

Sunderland need their Jermain man?

Jermain Defoe proved he can still cut it at international level by ending his three-and-a-half year England exile with the opening goal in last Sunday's victory over Lithuania. The fact that struggling Sunderland still have a slim chance of staying up is almost entirely down to the 34-year-old's 14 strikes. While some Black Cats fans already seem resigned to relegation, they will continue to pray that their in-form forward can somehow fire them to safety. David Moyes' men urgently need to put points on the board, beginning with Saturday's visit to Vicarage Road to face a Watford side still at risk of being dragged into the survival scrap.

Source: PA-WIRE


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