Premier League talking points
A look ahead to the main issues at play this weekend as the Premier League season nears its conclusion.
West Brom’s stay of execution was extended last week as they fought back from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Liverpool.
However, the Baggies are now at the must-win stage if they are to pull off another great escape.
It could be a telling weekend for the other teams fighting against relegation while Premier League champions Manchester City are showing no signs of easing up as they continue their quest for a record-breaking campaign.
Here, Press Association Sport takes a look at some of the talking points surrounding the latest round of fixtures.
Will the Baggies fall into the Championship?
West Brom have been revived by the appointment of Darren Moore as caretaker manager but the upturn has surely come too late to save them. Moore is unbeaten in his three games in charge after guiding Albion to home draws either side of a sensational victory at Manchester United.
The writing has been on the wall for some time now and the club’s supporters – and probably owners – must be wondering what might have been had the change been made sooner.
A record-equalling fourth Premier League relegation could be confirmed this weekend. West Brom must win at Newcastle or they are down. Even victory at St James’ Park will not save them if Swansea win at home against Chelsea in Saturday’s late kick-off.
Must-win south coast derby for Saints
Southampton boss Mark Hughes has described his side’s home match with rivals Bournemouth as a must-win clash if they are to give themselves a chance of staying up. Hughes has vowed his team will “throw everything at it” in their remaining fixtures after Saints were criticised for their lack of ambition during the goalless draw at Leicester last week.
That point halted a four-match losing run in the Premier League but Southampton are without a win in eight in the top flight. Victory could move Hughes’ side to within a point of safety and 17th-placed Swansea, who they still have to play in Wales in the penultimate round of games.
Trips to Everton and Swansea and a final game of the season at home to Manchester City illustrate just how important a win is for Saints’ hopes.
Will Liverpool and Arsenal rest key players?
8 - Tonight was the 8th time that Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané have all scored in a competitive game for Liverpool in 2017/18. Problem. pic.twitter.com/11C2RitDdA— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 24, 2018
With European semi-final second legs on the horizon next week, there could be a temptation for Jurgen Klopp and Arsene Wenger to preserve their star players this weekend.
Liverpool will take a 5-2 lead to Roma on Wednesday night as they attempt to avoid a three-goal defeat to reach the final of the Champions League. It sounds a simple enough task but Roma achieved exactly that against Barcelona in the previous round, so Reds boss Klopp will want the likes of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Saido Mane fresh and firing on all cylinders.
Should Klopp choose to rest the trio, and possibly others, it could have implications for the Premier League relegation battle as Liverpool’s opponents on Saturday are Stoke.
8 - Arsenal are appearing in their 8th European semi-final – they have progressed from six of the previous seven, only failing to reach the final in 2008-09 in the Champions League when they lost to Man Utd. Force. pic.twitter.com/5FPlLVRAva— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 26, 2018
Arsenal travel to Manchester United on Sunday ahead of their trip to Atletico Madrid in the Europa League, with the tie delicately-poised at 1-1 after the first game at the Emirates Stadium.
City continue record chase at West Ham
Pep Guardiola’s team may have wrapped up the title but they showed against Swansea last week that they are not going to take their foot of the gas. After that 5-0 win, City now have 90 points – five behind Chelsea’s record with four games remaining. They have 29 wins, needing just one more to equal the record, and 98 goals – needing just six more to break that record.
City want to set new figures for them all and a strong finish to the campaign would put down an ever bigger marker ahead of next season.