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

1) Badiashile under pressure for the Blues

It is certainly no coincidence that Benoît Badiashile’s only disappointing performance since his move to Chelsea came when Thiago Silva rested after last month’s defeat to Southampton. Badiashile is fast and strong, but he’s only 21 and has a lot to learn. It is no surprise that the former Monaco defender was better alongside Silva. Unfortunately for Chelsea, Silva cannot play every game. They had to rest the 38-year-old against Southampton and struggled after he was out with a knee injury against Spurs. Chelsea fear Silva will be out for six weeks and Graham Potter, who is under increasing pressure with his terrible 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 favor and 31-year-old Kalidou Koulibaly has been poor since joining last summer. Jacob Steinberg

2) Salah wants to hurt United again

For the first time in a long time, Manchester United visit Liverpool with an advantage and are able to confirm the reversal of roles, destroying the hopes of their great rivals of qualifying for the Champions League. United haven’t won at Anfield for more than seven years, but they’ll be sure to end that pathetic sequence on Sunday, when they could also be a fresher team, given the changes made by Erik ten Hag in the FA Cup tie with West Ham. But familiar obstacles lurk. Mohamed Salah has scored nine goals in his last five games against United and warmed up against one of his favorite opponents as he reached another milestone in Wednesday’s win over Wolves. Salah’s feats have taken him to 20 goals this season in all competitions, taking him to 20 goals in each of his six campaigns as a Liverpool player. In a season full of changes at Anfield, this is a remarkable comeback, and Salah’s influence is beginning to grow again. Andy Hunter

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

3) An urban quest for deadly cohesion

The weekend starts with a “nothing to see” derby that you can actually watch. Newcastle and Manchester City drew 3-3 at St James’ Park in August and the hosts led briefly 3-1 in the second half, but Erling Haaland burst in like an angry ice giant and secured a point with the help of Bernardo Silva. Although Newcastle’s form has drifted in recent weeks and they are back from losing to Manchester United in the Carabao Cup final, they will still be a tough opponent. Despite the prospect of a highly anticipated meeting with Arsenal at the Etihad next month, City – champions of an unrelenting streak – know that the title will be decided by consistency, not one climactic win, and as such, every point lost from here on out can be decisive. Will Magee

4) Arteta’s team depth adds to the tilt of the title

Arsenal ticked off one home task against relegation contenders on Wednesday night, and now another is quickly following. Everton were the first of four underdogs to visit the Emirates over five matches, and while they took advantage of the scheduling difficulty, Mikel Arteta couldn’t have wished for a better opportunity to score points quickly, and perhaps even extend their lead at the top. They certainly should add three more at the expense of Bournemouth, even if Gary O’Neil’s contenders showed signs of life in a timely manner with a win over Wolves in their last away game. While a change in less than 72 hours theoretically makes it difficult for Arsenal, Arteta has real depth to test these days with Eddie Nketiah and Thomas Partey both brought on from the bench to help the Toffees. Arsenal will surely have enough on Saturday and if they make it through this encouraging run in pink the finish line will be clearly in sight. Nick Ames

Eddie Nketiah tests Jordan Pickford after coming off the bench in Arsenal's match against Everton.
Eddie Nketiah tests Jordan Pickford after coming off the bench in Arsenal’s match against Everton. Photo: Peter Cziborra/Action Images/Reuters

5) Danjuma can trigger a Spurs attack

Arnaut Danjuma’s last-minute change of heart in January meant a move to Champions League chasers Tottenham, not a relegation battle with Everton. Since moving to north London, he has made one Premier League appearance as a late substitute in a 4-1 defeat to Leicester City. He made three substitute appearances in cup competitions and had to watch Lucas Moura, who had been out since November 1, be selected for an FA Cup defeat by Sheffield United. One wonders what role Danjuma was meant to fill, but with the top three at Bramall Lane looking lost, perhaps it’s time to give the Dutch international something more than a cameo in a meaningful match. The Spurs looked sluggish and weak for much of the season, and Danjuma could be the wild card to revitalize a team whose season is in danger of ending. Will Unwin

6) Brighton works on two fronts

Brighton progressed to the sixth round of the FA Cup thanks to a 1-0 defeat to Stoke in midweek and will welcome Grimsby into the quarter-finals. Roberto De Zerbi will not mind extra time as he will be desperate to take the Seagulls as far as possible in the competition. There are two possible routes into Europe that are still open with Brighton finishing eighth in the league. To fight on both fronts, they will need to use the roster wisely to keep the overall roster fresh. De Zerbi and his medical staff will know who is at the top and who needs rest, but balancing the two is still difficult with 16 league matches left to play, more than any other top-flight side. Burnout is a risk, but Brighton has a chance for a historic season and the Italian is smart enough 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 winning the FA Cup with Stoke.
Roberto De Zerbi celebrates with his players after winning the fifth round of the FA Cup with Stoke. Photo: Jason Cairnduff/Action Images/Reuters

7) Vibrations in the face of the forest during running-in

Under normal circumstances, finishing 13th in the table at the beginning of March would have made the team feel comfortable. Nottingham Forest and their entourage, however, are only a step away from falling towards the relegation zone. They went into the weekend four points ahead of Sunday’s opponents Everton, who are in 18th place – a defeat would have reduced that gap to a single point. Last week’s attack on West Ham will be a warning to Steve Cooper, who knocked out Jonjo Shelvey in the 67th minute with the match still goalless. Shelvey’s lack of match fitness may explain 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 took the lead and added three more goals in quick succession. Cooper is doing most things right, but he is in his first season in the Premier League and he is still learning. WU

8) Local rivals look to Europe

Just over two and a half years ago, Brentford and Fulham met in the Championship play-off final at Wembley. Think back to 1998 and West London rivals struggled in the Third Division, with a Paul Moody double to send Fulham into the top six and the Bees closer to relegation at Griffin Park. Monday’s game will see two teams genuinely interested in European spots meet. Fulham, who are only six points behind the top four, have some teeth in their teeth, while Brentford haven’t lost in the league since October and have games in hand against their Monday opponents, who are two places above them in seventh. It will be a derby of great hopes, although one cloud is approaching. Brentford is prepared for the possible suspension of Ivan Toney, who has accepted a breach of FA betting rules and would certainly struggle to survive without his leader. A win would make this challenge seem a little less daunting. ON

Ivan Toney's 14 league goals that season propelled Brentford into European competition.
Ivan Toney’s 14 league goals that season propelled Brentford into European competition. Photo: Mark Greenwood/IPS/Shutterstock

9) Rodgers needs reaction to exiting the Cup

After February started with brilliant four-goal victories over Aston Villa and Tottenham, the month ended disastrously for Brendan Rodgers’ team. They lost to Manchester United and Arsenal, not much to be ashamed of, but were knocked out of the FA Cup at home to Blackburn, although Saturday’s opponents Southampton overtook them with a loss to Grimsby. Admittedly, it was a weakened side losing to Second Division Rovers, but momentum is key at this stage of the season and a morale-crushing defeat makes little sense in a decisive away game against relegated rivals. Rodgers will be looking for his team’s reaction to St Mary’s ahead of potentially difficult games at home to Chelsea and away to Brentford. A full-fledged team will face the Saints, and Rodgers will expect responses from everyone. WU

10) Can Palace find something new?

Crystal Palace have not scored twice in any game since the turn of the year. Patrick Vieira’s side have no advantage and miss Wilfried Zaha, who suffered a hamstring injury at the end of January. The winger is a talisman at Selhurst Park and his absence would be felt by most teams, but others need to step up when he is not around. Zaha has doubts about going to Villa Park with Vieira, who doesn’t want to risk his key player when he returns from a muscle problem. Even with Zaha, the side has rarely been dynamic this season, with Palace netting just 21 times in 24 matches. Vieira needs to find consistency in attack from Michael Olise, Eberechi Eze and their rotating pool of forwards. Jean-Philippe Mateta has been the preferred midfield option in the last three games but has scored once all season. Maybe it’s time for Odsonne Édouard to lead the line. The French striker has five goals to his name this season, with the last one coming on January 7. WU

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