• Talking points ahead of the midweek Premier League fixtures

    Premier League trophy

    The Premier League marches on at pace with all 20 clubs involved in midweek fixtures.

    Chelsea host Arsenal, Liverpool travel to Wolves and Manchester City face Sheffield United at Bramall Lane for the first time since 2008.

    Here, FourFourTwoSA looks at some of the main talking points ahead of the midweek action.

    Palace look to draw on positives

    Crystal Palace’s last four league fixtures have ended in a draw, but in a dramatic late intervention at the Etihad on Saturday they claimed an impressive point against Manchester City. But Palace fans have to think back to Boxing Day to remember their club’s last victory. They will hope to end this run of stalemates, punctuated only by an FA Cup loss to Derby, at home to Southampton on Tuesday. It was a 1-1 draw with Ralph Hasenhuttl’s Saints on 28 January that began the drawing streak and Roy Hodgson’s men would love to recapture that winning feeling.

    Can Wolves bite back?

    It seems only the most dramatic dip in form could now stand in the way of Liverpool and their first Premier League title. Sixteen points clear of Manchester City and unbeaten in league action all season, Jurgen Klopp’s Reds head to Molineux on Thursday to face sixth-placed Wolves. The two sides last met on 29 January, when a 1-0 Liverpool victory was marred by the controversial VAR decision to disallow Pedro Neto’s equaliser after he was deemed offside by the narrowest of margins. Nuno Espirito Santo’s squad are therefore searching for recompense and will be keen to repeat the 2-1 victory with which they knocked the Champions League holders out of the FA Cup last January.

    United star sidelined

    Manchester United’s faltering season took another hit on Sunday when it was announced that Marcus Rashford is set for around six weeks on the sidelines due to a stress fracture of the back. The 22-year-old has been key for United this season, with his 14 league goals making him one of the few reliable aspects of an inconsistent side. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was without the striker during Sunday’s 2-0 loss to league-leaders Liverpool and his absence will be felt when they host Burnley on Wednesday.

    Jose’s honeymoon is over

    Jose Mourinho is in need of a victory as his Tottenham squad endure a four-game winless run that has left them eighth on the table. Welcoming Norwich on Wednesday would seem the ideal fixture to return to winning ways, but Spurs’ last encounter with the Canaries left them with just a point after a 2-2 draw on 28 December. Daniel Farke’s bottom-placed team ended their nine-game winless spell by defeating the sinking Bournemouth on Saturday, but even a below-par Tottenham pose a significantly stiffer test. Though Spurs’ 1-0 loss to Liverpool could be forgiven, the absence of Harry Kane is still unlikely to explain away Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Watford. Spurs have failed to score in each of their last three league games.

    Bournemouth battle on

    Having lifted the club from League Two to the top flight – either side of a brief stint at Burnley – Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe is coming under pressure for perhaps the first time after a run of 10 defeats in their past 12 league matches. The weekend loss to Norwich, in which Steve Cook was sent off, compounded the Cherries’ misery as they slipped to 19th and lost their fourth consecutive fixture. Howe now prepares his squad to take on Brighton on Tuesday as pressure builds and a major upturn in form begins to look essential if the squad are to avoid relegation.

    Lampard looks for vengeance

    Chelsea boss Frank Lampard has called for his squad to ‘take it out on Arsenal’ after an injury-time goal snatched away what looked to be a safe point at Newcastle on Saturday. Tuesday night’s clash between the two squads will be the first off-pitch meeting between Lampard and his Arsenal counterpart Mikel Arteta since the latter was appointed as Gunners manager in December. While the Blues are searching for retribution, Arteta’s team have ground to make up after slipping to 10th on the table after a 1-1 draw with Sheffield United on Saturday.

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