Premier League: 10 things to look out for in this weekend’s football | Premier League


Fulham will be no pushovers

If Arsenal miss out on the title, one of the games they will look back on will be the 2-1 defeat to Fulham on New Year’s Eve, the last time they were beaten away from home in the league. However, Fulham have a chance to do Arsenal a favour this weekend. Marco Silva’s team host Manchester City in the lunchtime kick-off on Saturday and should not be written off. Fulham are awkward, creative and combative at home. Plenty of reason for Arsenal to be optimistic. Until Erling Haaland completes a first-half hat-trick, that is. Jacob Steinberg


Bournemouth have options in goal

Brentford moved quickly to sign Mark Flekken as a replacement for the Arsenal-bound David Raya and the Bees’ next opponents, Bournemouth, will review their goalkeeping options this summer. Andoni Iraola dropped the 34-year-old club captain, Neto, last month in favour of Mark Travers, who spent the beginning of the season on loan at Stoke and has since kept his place. But keep an eye out for the 17-year-old Callan McKenna, signed from Queen’s Park this year, a deal that had shades of the signing of an 18-year-old Aaron Ramsdale from Sheffield United in 2017. McKenna, who was also pursued by Manchester United after only nine first-team appearances, was won over by Bournemouth after talks with the goalkeeping coach Neil Moss and Simon Francis, who will replace the outgoing Richard Hughes as technical director this summer. Ben Fisher


Who’s in and who’s out at Everton?

Everton have not staged a true “lap of appreciation” after their final home game since 2019 due to Covid restrictions and Premier League survival going down to the wire in two successive seasons. Barring any unexpected drama, such as Farhad Moshiri striding on to the pitch and announcing 777 Partners as the club’s new owner, Sean Dyche and his players will get the send-off they richly deserve after the visit of Sheffield United. How many players will be saying a permanent goodbye remains to be seen. Everton have six players out of contract this summer plus two loanees (Jack Harrison and Arnaut Danjuma) coming to the end of their deals. Dyche has confirmed any contract extensions must be signed off by Everton’s interim board and owner – Idrissa Gueye is surely the priority – and that the club are looking into another year’s deal for the captain, Séamus Coleman. “His thirst is to keep on playing,” said Dyche of Everton’s long-serving leader. Good. Andy Hunter

Séamus Coleman could extend his 15-year stay at Goodison Park. Photograph: Jason Cairnduff/Action Images/Reuters


Ritchie rides off into the sunset

Matt Ritchie recently secured an HGV licence, enabling the Newcastle winger to drive lorries professionally. It prompted plenty of jokes about a potential new career at the wheel of the team bus but Eddie Howe retorted that even the club’s Saudi Arabian owners would be unable to afford him. In reality Ritchie, who turns 35 in September, wanted to be able to drive super-size horseboxes for his equestrian-mad, New Forest-based family as he looks beyond football. After eight years on Tyneside, a right-winger also capable of operating on the left and in both full-back positions is set to leave St James’ Park this summer and Brighton’s visit may afford him a final appearance from the bench. Since 2016, when Rafa Benítez bought him from Bournemouth for £12m, Ritchie has played 213 times for Newcastle, scoring 25 goals and proving a catalyst of the team’s promotion in 2017 and subsequent Premier League survival. Ritchie has remained a highly valued member of the dressing room leadership group. He deserves a decent send-off from Newcastle fans. Louise Taylor


Spurs must act to end losing run

Few managers relish relegating an opponent but Ange Postecoglou needs a victory after four straight losses. Burnley have been on the brink of going down for a while and the prospect of travelling to north London will not feel inviting, even if the hosts’ form has underwhelmed of late. Recent losses have confirmed to the Australian that a busy summer is ahead, requiring an overhaul of a Tottenham squad that looks set to fall short of qualifying for the Champions League. There are three opportunities left for those who want to be part of the Postecoglou revolution to show their attitude and performances are worthy of a place in the squad. Oliver Skipp, Rodrigo Bentancur, Pierre-Emile Højbjerg and Richarlison, among others, all look at risk of departing, but there is still a chance of redemption. Time to dust themselves down after recent setbacks and deliver against a team staring down the barrel. Will Unwin


Moyes should let the handbrake off

David Moyes has nothing to lose. This is his final home game as West Ham’s manager, so he can give a couple of youngsters a try against Luton. The pressure’s off. Moyes doesn’t have to start Angelo Ogbonna over Kaelan Casey in central defence. Then again, look at who he brought on for Lucas Paquetá when West Ham were losing 4-0 to Chelsea last weekend. It was mystifying that Aaron Cresswell, the 34-year-old left-back, was selected instead of George Earthy, the 19-year-old midfielder, to replace Paquetá. Perhaps it was self-preservation; an attempt to stop the bleeding. West Ham still conceded another goal. JS

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Is it time for David Moyes to drop some of his mainstays and give West Ham’s youngsters a chance? Photograph: Michael Zemanek/Shutterstock


Should Wharton go to the Euros?

Crystal Palace’s trip to Wolves may not appear the most mouthwatering fixture but it will surely intrigue Gareth Southgate, who also took in Palace’s comprehensive 4-0 win over Manchester United. Palace’s sporting director, Dougie Freedman, has driven their recruitment of several English youngsters from the Championship, with Adam Wharton, an £18m January signing, the latest to warrant praise. The rangy 20-year-old midfielder, signed from Blackburn, has seamlessly adapted to his surrounds since swapping one relegation fight for another. Palace have eased clear of the drop zone with Wharton, Eberechi Eze, Michael Olise and Dean Henderson, all of whom are on Southgate’s radar, among their key performers. Marc Guéhi, who made a welcome comeback from knee surgery in the rout of United, is perhaps most likely to make Southgate’s 26-man squad, but Wharton is pressing a late case. BF


Forest seek safety on the field

Finally, Nottingham Forest know the task required to survive after their appeal against a four-point deduction was rejected. The club hoped they would get a one-point reduction but the independent appeal board did not agree and upheld the original decision. The good news for Forest is that they have destiny in their own hands – they are three points clear of Luton with two games to go. Chelsea, however, are in decent form before their trip to the City Ground, having lost once in their past 12 Premier League matches. They will be greeted by a hostile crowd that holds plenty of resentment against the football authorities, and a well-disciplined team who want to secure the win that would almost certainly result in survival (Forest have a far superior goal difference to Luton). Twelve months ago Forest faced a similarly crucial fixture against title-chasing Arsenal and got the 1-0 win they needed for salvation. That experience will serve them well against another London team. WU


United need to win, even if it aids City

If Erik ten Hag’s misfiring Manchester United beat Arsenal – a big if – they will do Manchester City a massive favour in their neighbours’ attempt to secure a record fourth consecutive title. No United player or fan will want continued City success but Ten Hag’s side need, for pride and the manager’s job prospects, to close out the season with four wins from four (including the FA Cup final). Arsenal will arrive at Old Trafford as a finely tuned machine capable of thrashing their hosts, just as Crystal Palace did to United last time out, with their classy pass-and-move play. Jamie Jackson

Erik ten Hag is in desperate need of a win against Arsenal. Photograph: Zac Goodwin/PA


Liverpool XI will want to impress Slot

So, this is really it. Liverpool supporters have enjoyed countless away days under Jürgen Klopp – they will always cherish the Champions League triumph in Madrid, the Super Cup victory in Istanbul and the FA Cup win at Wembley – but the final trip of his reign will be to Villa Park on Monday. Klopp will be determined to finish in style after returning to winning ways against Tottenham. Liverpool have sewn up a Champions League place and with Klopp’s anticipated successor, Arne Slot, admitting he watched as much of that 4-2 win as possible before turning his attention to Feyenoord’s game against PEC Zwolle, every Liverpool player is in effect on trial. BF

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