Premier League: 10 things to look out for this weekend | Premier League

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1) Badiashile under pressure for Blues

It is surely not a coincidence that Benoît Badiashile’s only disappointing performance since his move to Chelsea came when Thiago Silva was rested for last month’s defeat to Southampton. Badiashile is quick and strong, but he is still only 21 and has much to learn. It is no surprise that the former Monaco defender has been better next to Silva. Unfortunately for Chelsea though, Silva cannot play every game. They had to rest the 38-year-old against Southampton and struggled after he went off with a knee injury against Spurs. Chelsea fear that Silva will be out for six weeks and Graham Potter, who is under growing pressure amid a dreadful run of form, could be short of defensive leaders when Leeds visit Stamford Bridge. Wesley Fofana is only three months older than Badiashile and has had injury problems, while Trevoh Chalobah is out of favour and the 31-year-old Kalidou Koulibaly has been poor since joining last summer. Jacob Steinberg

2) Salah seeks to hurt United again

For the first time in a long time, Manchester United visit Liverpool in the ascendancy and in a position to confirm a role reversal by denting their great rivals’ hopes of Champions League qualification. United have not won at Anfield in over seven years but will have every confidence of ending that sorry sequence on Sunday, when they might be also the fresher team given the changes made by Erik ten Hag in the FA Cup defeat of West Ham. But familiar obstacles lie in wait. Mohamed Salah has scored nine goals in his last five outings against United and warmed up for one of his favourite opponents by reaching another milestone in Wednesday’s win over Wolves. Salah’s thighed finish made it 20 goals for the season in all competitions, meaning he has hit the 20 mark in each of his six campaigns as a Liverpool player. In a season of flux at Anfield it is a remarkable return, and Salah’s influence is starting to increase once again. Andy Hunter

Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring against Wolves. He has nine goals in his last five games against Manchester United.
Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring against Wolves. He has nine goals in his last five games against Manchester United. Photograph: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images

3) City search for killer consistency

The weekend begins with the “nothing to see here” derby, which could actually be quite watchable. Newcastle and Manchester City thrashed out a frantic 3-3 draw at St James’ Park back in August, with the hosts briefly leading 3-1 in the second half only for Erling Haaland to lumber in like an angry ice giant and, with the help of Bernardo Silva, secure a point. While Newcastle’s form has drifted in recent weeks and they are coming off the back of defeat to Manchester United in the Carabao Cup final, they will still make for tricky opponents. Despite the prospect of a much-hyped meeting with Arsenal at the Etihad next month, City – masters of the inexorable winning streak – know the title will be decided by consistency as opposed to one climactic victory and, as such, every dropped point from here on out could be decisive. Will Magee

4) Arteta’s squad depth boosts title tilt

Arsenal ticked off one home assignment against relegation contenders on Wednesday night and now another follows swiftly. Everton were the first of four bottom-half sides to visit the Emirates in a five-game run and, while he has played up the schedule’s difficulty, Mikel Arteta could hardly ask for a better opportunity to put quick points on the board and maybe even stretch their lead at the top. They should certainly add three more at the expense of Bournemouth, even if Gary O’Neil’s strugglers showed timely signs of life in winning at Wolves in their last away game. While a turnaround of under 72 hours hinders Arsenal in theory, Arteta has genuine depth to call on these days with Eddie Nketiah and Thomas Partey both introduced from the bench to help down the Toffees. Arsenal will surely have enough on Saturday and, should they come through this inviting run in rosy condition, the finish line will be firmly in view. Nick Ames

Eddie Nketiah tests Jordan Pickford after coming off the bench for Arsenal against Everton.
Eddie Nketiah tests Jordan Pickford after coming off the bench for Arsenal against Everton. Photograph: Peter Cziborra/Action Images/Reuters

5) Danjuma can rouse Spurs attack

Arnaut Danjuma’s last-minute change of heart in January meant a move to Champions League chasers Tottenham rather than a relegation battle with Everton. Since moving to north London he has had made one Premier League appearance, as a late substitute in the 4-1 defeat at Leicester. He has made a further three appearances off the bench in cup competitions and had to watch on after Lucas Moura, who had not started since 1 November, was selected for the FA Cup defeat at Sheffield United. One wonders what role Danjuma was brought in to fulfil, but considering the front three at Bramall Lane looked lost, it might be time to give the Dutch international more than a cameo in a meaningful match. Spurs have looked slow and lacklustre for great parts of the season and Danjuma could be the wild card to bring some life to a team who season is at risk of petering out. Will Unwin

6) Brighton delivering on two fronts

Brighton edged into the FA Cup sixth round thanks to their 1-0 defeat of Stoke in midweek, and will welcome Grimsby in the quarter-finals. Roberto De Zerbi will not mind the extra match because he will be desperate to take the Seagulls as far as possible in the competition. There are two possible paths to Europe still open, with Brighton sitting eighth in the league. To fight on both fronts they will need to use the squad smartly to maintain freshness throughout their roster. De Zerbi and his medical staff will know who is peaking and who needs a rest but balancing the two is still tricky with 16 league matches still to play, more than any other top-flight team. Burnout is a risk but Brighton have the opportunity for a historic season, and the Italian is a smart enough operator to know what needs to be done in the next three months. WU

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Roberto De Zerbi celebrates with his players after the FA Cup win at Stoke.
Roberto De Zerbi celebrates with his players after the FA Cup fifth-round win at Stoke. Photograph: Jason Cairnduff/Action Images/Reuters

7) Forest facing jitters in the run-in

In normal circumstances, sitting 13th in the table at the start of March would make a team feel comfortable. For Nottingham Forest and those around them, however, they are only a wobble away from slipping towards the relegation zone. They enter the weekend with a four-point buffer to Sunday’s opponents, Everton, who are 18th – a loss would close that gap to a solitary point. Last week’s shellacking at West Ham will serve as a cautionary tale for Steve Cooper, who took off Jonjo Shelvey after 67 minutes with the game still goalless. Shelvey’s lack of match fitness might explaine his early departure, but Cooper’s decision to replace him with striker André Ayew opened things up for West Ham. Four minutes later, the hosts went ahead and they added three more goals in quick succession. Cooper gets most things right but he is in his first Premier League season and is still learning. WU

8) Local rivals have eyes on Europe

A little over two-and-a-half years ago, Brentford and Fulham were meeting in the Championship playoff final at Wembley. Wind back to 1998 and the west London rivals were tussling in the third tier, with a Paul Moody double sending Fulham towards the top six, and the Bees closer to relegation, at Griffin Park. Monday’s meeting will bring together two teams with a genuine mutual interest in the European spots. Fulham, only six points off the top four, have the bit between their teeth, while Brentford have not lost in the league since October and have games in hand on their Monday opponents, who are two places above them in seventh. It will be a derby of gloriously high hopes, albeit with one cloud looming. Brentford are braced for the possible suspension of Ivan Toney, who has accepted breaking FA betting rules, and would surely struggle to maintain the push without their leading man. A win would make that challenge feel slightly less daunting. NA

Ivan Toney’s 14 league goals this season have carried Brentford into European contention.
Ivan Toney’s 14 league goals this season have carried Brentford into European contention. Photograph: Mark Greenwood/IPS/Shutterstock

9) Rodgers needs reaction to Cup exit

After starting February with fine four-goal wins over Aston Villa and Tottenham, the month fizzled out badly for Brendan Rodgers’s side. They lost to Manchester United and Arsenal, which is no great cause for shame, but were then dumped out of the FA Cup at home to Blackburn, although Saturday’s opponents Southampton outdid them by losing to Grimsby. It was an admittedly weakened side that lost to second-tier Rovers but at this stage of the season, momentum is crucial and a morale-sapping defeat is of little use heading into a crucial match away at relegation rivals. Rodgers will be looking for a reaction from his team at St Mary’s before potentially difficult games at home to Chelsea and away to Brentford. A full-strength team will take on the Saints and Rodgers will be expecting a response from everyone. WU

10) Can Palace find a cutting edge?

Crystal Palace have failed to score two goals in any match since the turn of the year. Patrick Vieira’s side are lacking a cutting edge and badly miss Wilfried Zaha, who suffered a hamstring injury at the end of January. The winger is a talismanic figure at Selhurst Park and his absence would be felt by most teams, but others need to step up when he is not around. Zaha is a doubt for the trip to Villa Park with Vieira unwilling to risk his key man when returning from a muscle problem. Even with Zaha the team have rarely been dynamic this season, with Palace netting only 21 times in 24 games. Vieira needs to find attacking consistency from Michael Olise, Eberechi Eze and their rotating pool of strikers. Jean-Philippe Mateta has been the preferred central option in the last three matches, but he has scored once all season. It might be time for Odsonne Édouard to lead the line. The French forward has five goals to his name this term, even though the most recent came on 7 January. WU

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