Pep v Bielsa, retribution and top-four battle – Premier League talking points

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PA Sport staff
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Premier League matters are back in focus after some exciting midweek European action.

Here, the PA news agency picks out five of the main talking points heading into this weekend’s fixtures.

Manchester City’s march to the title

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Pep Guardiola’s men rode their luck during Tuesday’s 2-1 victory against Borussia Dortmund in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final. There remains work to be done in Germany next week, making the Spaniard’s selection even harder than usual to work out heading into the Saturday lunchtime kick-off against Leeds. Guardiola’s admiration for counterpart Marcelo Bielsa is well documented and the reverse fixture ended in an entertaining 1-1 draw at Elland Road. This should be another interesting encounter as City look for the win that will see them edge ever closer to the title.

Looking for revenge part one

Liverpool were thrashed ay Villa Park
Liverpool were thrashed ay Villa Park (Peter Powell/PA)

Aston Villa’s jaw-dropping 7-2 shellacking of reigning champions Liverpool remains one of the moments of a topsy-turvy 2020-21 campaign. Jurgen Klopp’s men were rocked on their heels at Villa Park and memories of that galling loss is sure to be in the players’ minds as they meet again on Saturday. Dean Smith’s visitors are still without the injured Jack Grealish at Anfield, where the hosts will be looking to build on last weekend’s 3-0 triumph at Arsenal and show the 3-1 midweek loss at Real Madrid in the Champions League was just a blip in a challenging season.

Looking for revenge part two

Tottenham scored six at Old Trafford
Tottenham scored six at Old Trafford (Carl Recine/PA)

Talking of revenge missions, October 4 not only say Liverpool hammered at Villa but Manchester United humbled on home soil by former manager Jose Mourinho as Tottenham ran amok. Anthony Martial’s contentious red card certainly had a part to play but the 6-1 loss was comfortably United’s worst result of the season – a humiliation that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men will look to atone for at stuttering Spurs on Sunday. Pressure is mounting on Mourinho, who publicly criticised his players after last weekend’s shock 2-2 draw at embattled Newcastle.

Key clash for Newcastle

Steve Bruce's side are in a relegation scrap
Steve Bruce’s side are in a relegation scrap (Richard Sellers/PA)

With 18th-placed Fulham hosting Wolves on Friday evening, Newcastle could enter the weekend in the relegation zone. Steve Bruce’s side showed signs of life by digging deep to securing a point against Spurs last Sunday, just hours after Burnley blew a two-goal lead and lost 3-2 at Southampton. The sides now go head-to-head at Turf Moor in a key clash. Newcastle need to win and Sean Dyche knows victory would likely secure his side safety, putting them on to 36 points.

Top-four scrap

Jesse Lingard is spearheading West Ham's European push
Jesse Lingard is spearheading West Ham’s European push (Laurence Griffiths/PA)

You would have got good odds on Leicester and West Ham sitting third and fourth respectively with eight matches of the Premier League remaining. The two sides have been fantastic this season and go toe-to-toe at the London Stadium on Sunday in what is sure to be an entertaining encounter. High-flying West Ham are looking to chip away at the four-point gap to the Foxes, although injuries look to be biting at just the wrong time as Michail Antonio joins Declan Rice on the sidelines. Whoever wins will take a big step towards Champions League qualification.