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How the mighty have fallen & title race heats up: 5 talking points ahead of the weekend’s Premier League action


Gameweek 34 of the 2021/22 Premier League season is set to play out over the upcoming weekend.

The action kicks off on Saturday afternoon with a huge clash between Arsenal and Manchester United.

The gameweek will then draw to a close on Monday evening when Patrick Vieira’s Crystal Palace face off with Leeds United in the latest edition of Monday Night Football.

Ahead of the weekend’s action getting underway, 101 have therefore picked out five key talking points.

How the mighty have fallen

As mentioned above, Arsenal and Manchester United are set to go head-to-head in the Premier League on Saturday.

And though the game is likely to be an entertaining affair that will garner plenty of media attention, it will also serve as a reminder of how far the two clubs have fallen in recent years.

Manchester United vs Arsenal, Sir Alex Ferguson vs Arsene Wenger, Roy Keane vs Patrick Vieira – once the crowning jewels of English football, yet there is now a chance that neither outfit will even be in the Champions League next term.

United are without a league title since 2013, whilst Arsenal have not won the Premier League since back in 2004.

Premier League title race heats up

With Arsenal and Manchester United still firmly in their rebuilding phases, Manchester City and Liverpool have taken over the mantle of boasting both the best rivalry and best squads in the Premier League.

Since 2017/18, City and Liverpool have dominated the English top-flight, pushing one another to the brink as they fight for the biggest prize in the game.

Now, with each side having six league games left to play, we look set for another thrilling close to the title race, similar to that of 2018/19, which City ultimately edged by a point on the final day.

Ahead of gameweek 34, Pep Guardiola's men sit top of the Premier League, one point above Liverpool.

The Sky Blues face a Championship-bound Watford, whilst the Reds must take on bitter rivals, Everton.

And though both teams are expected to earn three points this weekend, the pressure of the title race could yet result in an upset or two.

Manchester United’s defensive woes

Manchester United head into the weekend having appointed Erik ten Hag as their next permanent manager.

The Dutchman will take over at the end of the current season, and the mammoth task facing him has already been highlighted.

United’s defence has been shaky for many years now, but it was nevertheless surprising to see it reported on Friday that Harry Maguire has committed the most errors leading to an opposition shot on goal of all outfielders since the start of last season in the Premier League.

Even more surprising was the fact that the Red Devils had three more players in the top-10 of that list, too, in the form of Nemanja Matic, Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan-Bissaka:

Chelsea in crisis?

April has proven a pretty mixed month for Chelsea. They have secured their spot in the FA Cup final. However, the Blues are also out of the Champions League and really struggling in the league.

Their last league outing saw Chelsea beaten 4-2 by Arsenal on Wednesday, in a rare win for the Gunners at Stamford Bridge.

Thomas Tuchel, meanwhile, seems altogether dejected and unsure of himself ahead of Chelsea’s meeting with West Ham this weekend.

Should the Pensioners go on to lose against West Ham, the very real danger exists that the club’s season could spiral out of control, forcing them out of the top-four.

Burnley dealt managerial blow

Burnley are set to play their third league game of the post-Sean Dyche era this weekend, when they take on Wolves at Turf Moor.

The Clarets have so far done fairly well without Dyche, drawing with West Ham and picking up a win over Southampton.

However, the Lancashire outfit will need to appoint a permanent boss at some point, with Middlesbrough’s Chris Wilder previously viewed as one of the favourites for the job.

But, speaking to the media on Friday, Wilder moved to pour cold water on said rumours:

"I want to work in the Premier League and I want to work in the Premier League with Middlesbrough, that's the be all and end all,” Wilder said. “I think anybody who does anything at any trade wants to do it at the highest level.

"There has been no contact and I had a fabulous meeting with the chairman [Steve Gibson] yesterday for two or three hours and then we went out for something to eat. I'm fully committed. If I get a phone call or he gets a phone call, we've got an open and fully transparent relationship and we speak to each other all the time.

"I'm ambitious, but I'm ambitious with Middlesbrough. I want us to get in the Premier League and we're making plans. There are medium and long term plans. This is still a big rebuild and I think maybe one thing recent form has shown is that, even though our season is not dead and buried, there is still a lot of work to be done.”

For all the latest Burnley manger odds, visit 888sport.

 

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Josh Barker

Josh Barker

Middlesbrough fan from the North East of England. @JoshBarker979 on Twitter.



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