Avoiding injuries and the battle for top spot – Premier League talking points

The final round of Premier League fixtures before the World Cup take place this weekend.

Arsenal and Manchester City lead the way at the top while the heat is on near the bottom.

Here, the PA news agency looks at the main talking points.

Who’ll top the tree at Christmas?

It comes round earlier every year, doesn’t it? The race to be Christmas number one will be decided this weekend with Arsenal and City vying for top spot. The Gunners are currently two points clear and head to lowly Wolves while City, with a superior goal difference, entertain erratic Brentford. In 10 of the last 13 seasons the team at the summit over the festive period have gone on to win the title. Starting to believe yet, Arsenal fans?

Magpies flying high

Meanwhile, in third, Newcastle will be looking for another statement win when they host Chelsea. The Magpies are unbeaten since August and have rattled in four goals in each of their last two matches, the thumping victories over Aston Villa and Southampton. With Chelsea looking distinctly unconvincing in recent weeks Eddie Howe’s side know they can cement their place in the top four.

Jones begins Saints survival bid

Nathan Jones would have been preparing for Luton’s home game with Rotherham had Southampton not opted for him to replace the sacked Ralph Hassenhuttl. Instead, the 49-year-old takes Saints to Anfield to face last season’s Champions League finalists Liverpool in his first match in charge. It feels like a free hit, as the ensuing five weeks Jones has to get stuck into his squad will be far more crucial to their survival hopes.

Malaise for Moyes

West Ham United v Fulham – Premier League – London Stadium
David Moyes needs a win at West Ham (Mike Egerton/PA)

Despite successive top-seven finishes and a European semi-final just six months ago, David Moyes is coming under scrutiny at West Ham. Moyes expensively overhauled his squad over the summer but big-money buys like Lucas Paqueta and Gianluca Scamacca have so far failed to deliver. The Hammers host in-form Leicester in dire need of a win or they will spend the World Cup break hovering perilously close to the relegation zone.

Fingers crossed everyone…

Gareth Southgate look away. The 26-man England squad face one more round of fixtures before jetting off to Qatar and the Three Lions boss will be desperate to avoid any more untimely injuries, having already lost Reece James and Ben Chilwell. England’s hopes of success will rest on Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling and Declan Rice et al coming through the weekend unscathed.