Cleat Geeks

3 things to look out for this Premier League weekend

Old rivals meeting in a top four battle, the new man in charge at Sunderland and the sides looking to put European disappointment behind them – the three things to look out for in the Premier League this weekend.

1) Liverpool v Manchester United

liv manThese two powerhouses of English football renew their rivalry on Sunday at Anfield with both very much in the hunt for Champions League football next year. Liverpool are flying at the moment, winning their last five league games, conceding just one goal in their last four. They have been particularly tough to beat on Merseyside, their last home league defeat came back in November. Victory would take Brendan Rodgers’ side into the top four, above United, who themselves have won four of their last five league games.

Historically, United have a slight edge over Liverpool, winning 84 of the pair’s 220 meetings. Sunday’s hosts have won 10 fewer matches against their old rivals. There usually is a winner when the two sides meet, there has been only one draw in this fixture since 2005.

Although the glory days of old have passed and the title battles between United and Pool have been relegated to the memory banks, the rivalry that endures is just as intense. With both sides desperate to clinch a top four finish this season, there could well be some added spice between them on Sunday.

2) Dick Advocaat

advo Following last week’s humiliation at The Stadium of Light, Sunderland parted ways with manager Gus Poyet and have turned to Advocaat to keep them in the Premier League. The Dutchman has worked at some of the biggest club’s in Europe and has managed at international level – experience he may need to call upon to keep the Black Cats in the top flight.

Sunderland’s last league win was at the end of January, their only victory in their previous dozen Premier League matches. In fact, the Wearsiders have picked up just four victories in the league all season and are perched just a point above the relegation zone with nine games left.

Saturday’s trip to Upton Park to face West Ham will be Advocaat’s first at the helm and it could be the perfect chance to put some distance between themselves and the bottom three. The Hammers began the season well but are winless in their last eight matches and any faint hopes of European football next season have disappeared completely. All that is left now for Sam Allardyce’s men is mid table obscurity. Perhaps if some of the players have an eye on their summer holidays, Advocaat’s men can take advantage of a team low on confidence and grab a win they so sorely need.

The new boss also hinted that Adam Johnson may play in the game, despite his recent arrest on suspicion of sexual activity with a 15 year-old girl. The England international was suspended by the club but Advocaat suggested he may feature in Saturday’s clash.

3) Who will bounce back after European disappointment?

This week marked the end of Premier League sides’ involvement in both the Europa League and Champions League – at the last 16 stage.

Arsenal were excellent on Tuesday night, beating Monaco 2-0 at the Stade Louis II. They were eliminated on the away goals rule though following their – at times – shambolic defending in the first leg. They face a tricky trip up north to face Newcastle, although they have won their last six meetings with The Magpies.

aguero

Manchester City went out after a 1-0 defeat to Barcelona at the Nou Camp on Wednesday. Sergio Aguero’s recent dip in form was highlighted by his penalty miss in that game; and Samir Nasri in particular has disappointed in City’s midfield. A home game against West Brom should be a banker, but the defending champions have struggled at home this season and lost away to relegation threatened Burnley last week.

Everton’s defence leaked five goals away to Dynamo Kiev as they were dumped out of the Europa League on Thursday. Roberto Martinez’s men are in danger of being sucked into the relegation dog fight too, if their league form doesn’t pick up. Last week’s 3-0 win over Newcastle was The Toffees’ first league win since the end of January. They face QPR on Sunday at Loftus Road, which could add to the Blues’ fans frustrations, as Rangers will be desperate for a victory to help them mount a survival bid.

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