Can Sheffield United pile misery on Liverpool with Sunday upset? - Ten Premier League talking points ahead of this weekend's clashes

Sheffield United are facing a gargantuan task if they are to stay in the Premier League this season.

Friday, 26th February 2021, 11:25 am
Premier League match ball. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

The Blades have been rooted to the foot of the table all campaign, and are now 14 points adrift of safety with 13 matches left to play.

Even the most optimistic of supporters would concede that the Championship is beckoning, and ordinarily, a clash against defending champions Liverpool would only pile on the misery.

Chris Wilder’s men might just fancy themselves to cause a bit of an upset, however.

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The Reds have lost their last four league matches on the bounce, and if there was a perfect time to play Jurgen Klopp’s men, this would probably be it.

We’ve taken a look at some of the biggest talking points from this weekend’s upcoming Premier League matches below...

West Ham vs Manchester City: Can Moyes keep hammering away against Blues?

You’d struggle to find a manager in the country who can boast a redemption arc as impressive as David Moyes’.

The Scot was widely written off following doomed spells with Manchester United, Sunderland, and Real Sociedad in La Liga, but his time with West Ham has been a welcome reminder of his obvious talent in the dugout.

The Hammers have, somewhat shockingly, emerged as genuine top four contenders this season, and a hard-fought victory over Tottenham last weekend only boosted their credentials further.

Saturday’s clash against Manchester City will be anything but easy, and the truth is that the Premier League title is probably Pep Guardiola’s to lose at this stage.

But the Irons are in a uniquely rich purple patch at the moment, and you wouldn’t bet against them getting some kind of positive result out of this one.

Brighton vs West Brom: Will misfiring Albion his the spot against the Baggies?

Who knows where Brighton would be in the Premier League table if they had a 20-goal-a-season striker in their ranks.

To be fair, you could probably say that about most sides in the bottom half of the table, but it feels like finding a consistent hitman is a particularly pressing issue for the Seagulls.

Monday night’s late defeat to bitter rivals Crystal Palace was a perfect case in point – Albion managed 25 efforts on goal to the Eagles’ three, and yet still came away with nothing.

Ordinarily, the last person a misfiring team at the wrong end of the table would want to see rolling over the horizon is Sam Allardyce, but so far, the veteran firefighter’s struggling West Brom side have failed to live up to his usual standards of defensive solidity.

Last Saturday’s agricultural stalemate against Burnley was his first clean sheet since taking over at The Hawthorns, and if there is a game that Brighton can rekindle their goal-scoring mojo in, it’s surely this one.

Leeds United vs Aston Villa: Can Whites edge Villans in battle of the high-flyers?

The Pontus Jansson derby, Leeds against Aston Villa has thrown up its fair share of thrills and spills in recent seasons – and given that Marcelo Bielsa insists on his team playing every match in the Premier League like the final act of a Hollywood action movie, this one promises to be no different.

These sides have arguably been two of the surprise packages of the season, and a win for the Whites could see them leapfrog Dean Smith’s men into eighth in the table.

A lot could depend on whether or not Jack Grealish is fit to feature for Villa too.

The short-socked sensation has been unplayable at times this year, and as we saw during last weekend's defeat to Leicester City, the Villans just aren't the same team without him pulling the strings.

Newcastle United vs Wolves: Can Steve Bruce keep mounting pressure at bay?

Fulham’s recent upturn in form could hardly have come at a worse time for Steve Bruce.

From being 10 points clear of safety, his Newcastle United side are now teetering precariously on the edge of the relegation zone, and could succumb to its quicksand-like pull if they lose to Wolves on Saturday night and the Cottagers beat Crystal Palace on Sunday.

There's still plenty of football left to be played, but being anywhere near a survival scrap at this advanced stage of the campaign borders on disastrous for the Magpies, and unless things change quickly, the pressure on Bruce is going to keeping on cranking up and up.

In truth, in the eyes of the fans, it may already be too late for the 60-year-old.

Fulham vs Crystal Palace: Will Cottagers continue their march towards safety?

This will definitely be a game that Scott Parker has ringed in red marker pen on his calendar.

Fulham have looked like a team transformed in recent weeks, and up until their last gasp victory over Brighton on Monday, Palace had been in shambolic form of late.

In truth, that win over the Seagulls might actually play into Parker's hands.

A valuable three points at the Amex may well have pulled Roy Hodgson’s side clear of their relegation worries for another season, and if they ease their foot of the gas even slightly, don’t be surprised to see the Cottagers take advantage.

Leicester City vs Arsenal: Can irresistible Foxes outfox Gunners?

When Brendan Rodgers arrived at the King Power Stadium, he claimed that his mission statement was to get Leicester into the top six and to keep them there.

After a superb campaign, he may just be readjusting his sights to aim a little higher.

The Foxes have been a constant source of entertainment and energy this term, and a win against Mike Arteta’s inconsistent Gunners could take them up to second in the table.

A second-ever Premier League title might be out of reach this time around, but these are exciting times in the East Midlands.

Burnley vs Tottenham: Can Clarets claim another major scalp against Spurs?

Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham side are in free fall at the moment.

Spurs have five of their last six matches in the league, and have slipped to ninth in the table in the process.

Enter Sean Dyche and Burnley, who will be licking their lips at the prospect of compounding the Special One’s misery even further.

It wasn’t too long ago that the Clarets were sneaking out of Anfield with all three points after humbling the champions, and another unexpected win here could give them the footing they need to climb out of this season's relegation bear pit.

Chelsea vs Manchester United: Who will do the business in the Battle of Stamford Bridge?

Once upon a time, Chelsea hosting Manchester United in late February might have been billed as a title decider.

There’s no danger of that this year, but that’s not to say that there isn't plenty riding on this one.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – who seems unsure as to whether or not his side are actually in a title race – probably won’t have to worry about that conundrum anymore if the Red Devils slip up here, while for Thomas Tuchel, this will be a first opportunity to test himself against one of the Premier League’s real big hitters.

Expect fireworks or, as is often the case when a match like this is given top billing by Sky Sports, a complete and utter damp squib.

Sheffield United vs Liverpool: Can Jurgen stop the rot against Wilder’s blunt Blades?

Liverpool and Sheffield United have both had immensely disappointing seasons for vastly different reasons.

The Reds have been about as much use as a chocolate fireguard in their title defence, while the Blades have been hit with an acute case of second season syndrome and have subsequently taken up residence at the foot of the table.

Barring a miraculous great escape, they look as if they will be playing Championship football next term, and for Jurgen Klopp’s ailing mentality monsters, that should make them the ideal opposition to come up against as they look to put to bed their run of four successive top flight defeats.

Everton vs Southampton: How far can Toffees go under Ancelotti?

Supporting Everton must be like watching a perpetual game of snakes and ladders.

Every time the Toffees look as if they have hit upon a winning formula, they tend to come unstuck and find themselves hurtling back towards square one.

If ever there was a confidence boost to break them out of that cycle, however, it surely has to be last weekend's stunning derby day win over Liverpool.

Calm and authoritative throughout, Carlo Ancelotti’s men looked like a real force to be reckoned with, and the veteran Italian will be hoping that his side can bolster their top four hopes with another significant win over out-of-sorts Southampton.