Blades aim for a quickfire Manchester double – 5 Premier League talking points

PA

The Premier League games continue to come thick and fast, with a heavyweight clash and a vital game at the bottom of the league.

Here, the PA news agency looks at some of the key talking points ahead of
the weekend fixtures.

Can the Blades get a Manchester double?

Sheffield United busted coupons across the country on Wednesday when they won 2-1 at Manchester United in what was just their second victory of the season. It gave them hope that they could maybe start a miracle survival mission, but their next game is an even bigger challenge as they head back across the Woodhead Pass to the other side of the Manchester to face Pep Guardiola’s City. It will be a daunting task for Chris Wilder’s side, even if they are full of confidence, as City are looking ominously good in their pursuit of the title. A seventh Premier League win in a row came with a 5-0 hammering of West Brom in midweek and they are a point clear of United at the summit with a game in hand. If the Blades can make it a Manchester double, it would surely be one of the biggest surprises in Premier League history.

Will Tottenham be able without Kane?

Harry Kane suffered injuries to both ankles in Tottenham's defeat to Liverpool
Harry Kane suffered injuries to both ankles in Tottenham's defeat to Liverpool

Tottenham were subjected to the sight they fear most against Liverpool on Thursday – Harry Kane down injured holding his ankle. The striker suffered problems to both ankles in the first half of the 3-1 loss, which saw him come off at half-time. Boss Jose Mourinho said Kane will be out for “a few weeks”, which is a bitter blow for Spurs, who are so reliant on their talisman. Kane has scored 12 and created 11 of Tottenham’s 34 Premier League goals this season and he is so crucial to the way he plays. How Mourinho responds to his absence will be fascinating as he does not seem to trust Carlos Vinicius – the man signed to cover Kane – while he will not use Gareth Bale as a striker, meaning Son Heung-min could move into a striking role. Spurs’ top-four hopes have been damaged by a run of three wins in their last nine games so they can ill-afford a lengthy absence for Kane.

West Ham’s credentials put to the test against resurgent Liverpool

Amid a chaotic season, which has seen surprise results and big teams suffer, West Ham have slipped quietly under the radar and are enjoying one of their best Premier League campaigns. David Moyes’ men temporarily moved into the top four for the first time when they beat Crystal Palace in midweek to make it six games unbeaten and raise hopes that they could challenge for Europe this season. Their credentials will be tested on Sunday, though, as they welcome Liverpool to the London Stadium and it comes on the back of Liverpool’s return to form against Spurs. The Reds ended a five-game winless streak in style in north London, also ending a 434-minute drought, in a 3-1 victory which moved them above the Hammers in the table. How Liverpool, who have an injury crisis in defence, recover from the quick turnaround, with West Ham having played on Tuesday, will be key.

Saturday night heavyweight clash

Saturday evening sees the latest instalment in one of the Premier League’s heavyweight tussles as Manchester United visit Arsenal. Although this is not the title decider it often once was during the 1990s and early 2000s, it still has some importance at the top end of the table. United will be looking for a strong reaction to their shock defeat to the Blades in midweek, where they were knocked off the summit by City. United are the only team to remain unbeaten away from home this campaign, winning eight of their 10 matches, and will be keen to keep pace with Guardiola’s men – who play at 3pm. For Arsenal, it is a good measure of their progress as they come into the game on the back of a six-match unbeaten run. Mikel Arteta’s side are heading in the right direction after a dismal start and will be looking for a double over United, after winning 1-0 at Old Trafford in November’s reverse fixture.

A battle at the bottom

Ahead of #WBAFUL, check out some of our goals against Fulham at The Hawthorns 🎯 pic.twitter.com/jfgckKg6Jh

— West Bromwich Albion (@WBA) January 28, 2021

There is an epic relegation tussle on Saturday as West Brom host Fulham in a game neither side will want to lose. The Baggies’ situation is slightly more perilous as they are seven points below 17th-placed Brighton, but they would go above the Cottagers with a win. Sam Allardyce is yet to work his fire-fighting magic and they have particularly struggled at home, shipping 17 goals in four games. Fulham have improved in recent weeks but have been unable to turn those performances into wins as they have drawn six of their last eight matches, losing the other two. A win for Scott Parker’s men would move them to within two points of safety – ahead of Brighton’s visit of Spurs on Sunday.

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