Manchester United’s perfect timing, Parker and Mourinho in the mood for a scrap, Man City set to turn the screw and a chance for the Blades to build on rare win: 10 things to look out for in the Premier League midweek action
- Premier League action returns with six midweek games to look forward to
- Manchester United can leapfrog Liverpool ahead of their clash on Sunday
- Tottenham’s trip to Aston Villa is off but they’ve been handed another opponent
- Sportsmail flags up the things to look out for ahead of the action this week
After a thrilling weekend of FA Cup action, all eyes turn back to the Premier League as clubs jostle for position approaching the halfway mark of the campaign.
Fans are no doubt already looking ahead to the mammoth clash between Liverpool and Manchester United at the weekend, but before that we have six encounters to see us through Tuesday to Thursday.
Sportsmail previews the things to look out for as United travel to face Burnley at Turf Moor, Sheffield United host Newcastle, Carlo Ancelotti takes his Everton side to Wolves, Manchester City host Brighton, Fulham take on Spurs and Crystal Palace visit Arsenal.
Premier League action returns with a mammoth week ahead as the title chase develops
Can the Blades and Magpies find their shooting boots?
The FA Cup offered a much-needed distraction for Chris Wilder’s struggling Sheffield United side. An entertaining 3-2 win over Bristol Rovers was their first victory of what has been a torrid season.
The Blades have been blunt in the top flight, becoming the first team since 1903 to go 17 games without registering a win.
Wilder’s side have failed to score in their last three league games, while Tuesday’s visitors Newcastle have scored just two in four.
On paper this might not be one for the goals galore coupon but it’ll be interesting to see if Wilder’s boys can kick on from their cup success.
Sheffield United and Newcastle will hope to find their shooting boots at Bramall Lane
Blades will be fancied… but beware of the bogey team
The Blades head into this one as favourites but fans will be acutely aware of their side’s history against the Magpies.
Newcastle have won the last five league meetings between the pair with the Yorkshiremen last celebrating at St James’ Park in November 2006.
Steve Bruce, who started his managerial career at Bramall Lane, watched his Toon side hit five without reply in the two games last season.
Steve Bruce (L) has a good record over Chris Wilder’s (R) strugglers, scoring five in two games
United on the brink of top spot… just in time for the big one
It has been some turnaround for Manchester United since that hammering at the hands of Spurs back in October. A run of nine wins, two draws and one defeat puts Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side within touching distance of the summit.
United have not held top spot in mid-January since 2013, when Sir Alex Ferguson was in charge. Fergie was the king of table-topping Super Sunday clashes, and a win at Turf Moor on Tuesday will set up the biggest game between United and arch rivals Liverpool since the 2008-09 title race.
United have a good record at Burnley, winning in each of their last four visits. Solskjaer will be confident that his side will leave Turf Moor with all three points ahead of the trip to Anfield.
Manchester United can move to the top of the league ahead of the trip to Liverpool on Sunday
Can Tosun step up and take his chance?
Everton’s best start to a campaign in recent memory can be put down to the contributions of one man: Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
The academy product is enjoying his best season in senior football, having bagged 14 goals and one assist from 19 games.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin will miss the trip to Molineux owing to a recent hamstring injury
However, the 23-year-old will not feature for Everton’s trip to Molinuex to play Wolves on Tuesday night, with Carlo Ancelotti confirming that his marksman has been sidelined with a hamstring injury.
It means that the veteran Italian will likely turn to Cenk Tosun to fill the void. The Turk has barely had a sniff this season and has been linked with a return to Turkey as well as a switch to West Brom. The 29-year-old scored in the cup and will hope to deputise well for the English striker.
Cenk Tosun is expected to deputise for the Toffees marksman when they face Wolves
Wolves need to get back in the hunt
It is fair to say Wolves’ standards have dipped from the performances that saw them earn back-to-back seventh-placed finishes in their first two seasons back in the Premier League.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s mantra for having a small squad has backfired with a string of injuries to key players seeing his options stretched thin.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s side have had a poor run of results and will be hoping for a turnaround
Wolves have won just two of their last 10 league games, placing them third bottom in the form table (13th in the one that counts). A switch to a back four has seen them ship goals and they fell apart at Brighton to gift a two-goal lead in that thrilling 3-3 draw.
They steamrollered Everton 3-0 last season, and will be looking to recapture that form this week.
Solid City bubbling along nicely
While all eyes will be on Man United at Burnley, their local rivals are quietly going about their business and can haul themselves further into the mix when Brighton visit the Etihad.
Fans and pundits thought City’s struggles in front of goal would hinder their title prospects this season, but much-needed solidity at the back has paved the way for a set of strong results.
New signing Ruben Dias has proved a perfect foil for the previously error-prone John Stones, and Pep Guardiola’s side will attract more than a few nervous glances if they post a seventh straight win (all competitions).
Manchester City are quietly going about their business and could move second on Tuesday
Seagulls nervously hovering above the relegation scrap
It’s a big ask going to the Etihad and expecting to come away with anything at the best of times but it’s pretty much mission impossible when the pressure is piled on.
Graham Potter’s Brighton, winless in their last eight league games and just three points above 18th-placed Fulham who have two games in hand, could do with a helping hand.
They won’t get that from Guardiola and Co and it could be a long journey back to the south coast.
Brighton are winless in eight league games and hover nervously above the relegation places
How will Fulham and Spurs cope with hasty turnaround?
A fifth covid-related postponement was confirmed this week with Tottenham’s trip to Villa Park called off as a result of a coronavirus outbreak at Aston Villa.
Spurs will now play Fulham at home on Wednesday night instead, after that fixture was postponed last month owing to an outbreak at the Cottagers.
Both sides have short preparation time for the game that was postponed last month
Sportsmail understands that Fulham boss Scott Parker, who was a Chelsea player under Mourinho, is not happy at being asked to play at such short notice, with the club given just 48 hours to prepare.
Spurs chief Mourinho will no doubt have his own gripes about the scheduling and we could be in for a feisty 90 minutes in north London.
Eze watch: Will Palace star feature against Arsenal?
It has been a fairly turbulent week for Eberechi Eze.
The Crystal Palace star scored a contender for goal of the season in the 2-0 win over Sheffield United, but the 22-year-old has been accused of breaking Covid rules after visiting Loftus Road to watch his old side QPR’s cup tie with Fulham.
It’s a fresh headache for Eagles manager Roy Hodgson ahead of the trip to Arsenal, following captain Luka Milivojevic’s breach when he attended a New Years’ Eve party.
Eberechi Eze (L) might not feature for Roy Hodgson’s (R) Crystal Palace at Arsenal this week
Can young Gunner Smith Rowe keep on rolling
Arsenal’s turnaround in form can be attributed to Mikel Arteta’s decision to put his faith in youth.
Bukayo Saka, Eddie Nketiah and Gabriel Martinelli have all impressed when given the chance, but it is Emile Smith Rowe who is hitting the highest notes.
The 20-year-old scored the crucial goal in the cup win over Newcastle, and is seen as the solution to Arsenal’s creativity woes. The playmaker will be looking to bag his first Premier League goal for the when they host Palace at the Emirates.
Emile Smith Rowe is in red hot form and could be the solution to Arsenal’s creativity problem
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