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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Guardian sport

Premier League: 10 things to look out for this weekend

Bruno Guimarães, Diogo Jota, Chris Wood
Newcastle’s Bruno Guimarães, Liverpool’s Diogo Jota, Nottingham Forest’s Chris Wood (left to right). Composite: Getty Images

A card trick from Guimarães

Should Bruno Guimarães be booked against Tottenham at St James’ Park the Newcastle and Brazil midfielder faces a dilemma. Given that Guimarães is on nine yellow cards, a 10th would trigger an automatic two-game suspension, depriving Eddie Howe of a key player for forthcoming games at Crystal Palace and at home to Sheffield United. Alternatively, Guimarães could make sure he collected a second yellow card, ideally late in stoppage time, and be sent off. In such a red card scenario, the sanction would merely be a one-game ban. Considering that Guimarães has managed to avoid a booking in 10 games since mid-January the best solution would be to extend that run to 11 matches and then relax in the knowledge that the accumulated bookings slate will be wiped clean after the Premier League’s 32nd game – Tottenham’s visit to Newcastle. Yet if the Brazilian transgresses do not be surprised if he follows Anthony Gordon’s example.Gordon has remained on eight bookings, despite acquiring his ninth and 10th yellow cards in his team’s recent 4-3 home win over West Ham. The collection of the second, deep in stoppage time, dictated that yellow became red and, despite Gordon being sent off, the England winger stayed on eight bookings. The current rules certainly seem ripe for manipulation. Louise Taylor

Newcastle v Tottenham, Saturday 12.30pm (all times BST)

Wood ready to pounce on Wolves’ weaknesses

Wolves are in a disappointing rut, having failed to win in their past four outings and, while injuries have undoubtedly hindered their pursuit of a spot in Europe, individual errors at the back have been their downfall. The loss against West Ham last week was marred by the contentious disallowed equaliser in stoppage time, but it was defensive lapses that allowed West Ham to seize the lead late in the second half despite Wolves’ dominance in the first 45 minutes. Gary O’Neil’s side, who have kept only two clean sheets in their past 32 league away games, will be welcomed to the City Ground by Chris Wood, who has a history of tormenting them, having scored six goals against them in his career. The striker, who has scored 12 league goals this season, will look to pounce on any errors or defensive frailties. Yara El-Shaboury

Nottingham Forest v Wolves, Saturday 3pm

A Haaland reaction threatens Luton

Rodri spoke of needing a rest after Tuesday’s riveting 3-3 draw with Real Madrid, so expect the Spaniard to be stepped down along with other key players when Manchester City host Luton. Kevin De Bruyne’s “vomit” (as Pep Guardiola revealed) stopped him starting at the Santiago Bernabéu so expect him, if recovered, to be in the starting XI against Rob Edwards’s team. In more ill tidings for the relegation strugglers, Erling Haaland’s display in Madrid was a serious nonevent so he, and Guardiola, will be intent on using this outing as a tune-up for Wednesday’s return leg. Expect a home victory, then – probably by a handsome margin. Jamie Jackson

• Manchester City v Luton, Saturday 3pm

Toney and Mbuemo to fire in tandem?

Ivan Toney and Bryan Mbeumo are set to start together for Brentford for the first time in nearly a year when they face Sheffield United. With Mbeumo’s recent return to scoring form against Aston Villa after his recovery from injury and Toney reportedly back in top condition, Brentford’s attack may finally be at full throttle for the first time this season. Toney’s return from suspension has not unfolded as anticipated, though, and he finds himself in his lengthiest Premier League goal drought, having failed to find the net in seven consecutive starts. Despite amassing 21 shots and making 36 touches in the opposition box during this spell, the elusive goal has evaded him. With Mbeumo back and Toney hungry to end his barren run, Brentford will aim to end the nine-game winless streak that has left their top-flight status in the balance. A win against Sheffield United would mitigate the risk of being drawn into a relegation battle. YE-S

• Brentford v Sheffield United, Saturday 3pm

European exit could boost Brighton

A clear week to prepare for the trip to Turf Moor will not have been on Roberto De Zerbi’s wishlist given the alternative would have been a place in the Europa League quarter-finals, but this season’s evidence suggests Brighton will feel the benefit. The demands of a debut European campaign have taken a toll on De Zerbi’s squad and their prospects of qualifying next season have receded after a run of three wins in 12 league games. Burnley, architects of their own downfall at Everton last Saturday, offer an opportunity for Brighton to make up some ground before a testing run-in. As their coveted manager said this week: “We are working hard, maybe harder than last season, but we are not the same level yet as last season and we have to accept that.” Andy Hunter

• Burnley v Brighton, Saturday 3pm

Cherries and United focus on off-field revamps

Manchester United arrive in Bournemouth surrounded by more noise about their plans off the pitch than their travails on it. Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s upstairs reshuffle continues with this week being John Murtough’s last as the football director after 11 years at the club. The trio of Omar Berrada, Dan Ashworth and Jason Wilcox are poised to shape the club’s future, though none are in position yet. Berrada and Ashworth are on gardening leave from Manchester City and Newcastle respectively while United remain in negotiations with Southampton over compensation for Wilcox. Bournemouth are also making moves, with their billionaire owner, Bill Foley, over from Las Vegas this week to visit their new training base, into which they will move in the autumn, and take in the game. “It will be one of the best facilities in the league,” he said. “It will be unbelievable.” Ben Fisher

• Bournemouth v Manchester United, Saturday 5.30pm

Jota the most welcome Liverpool returnee?

Welcome selection dilemmas for Jürgen Klopp: now there’s a thing. The Liverpool manager readily admits that his team would not be in a position to challenge for the title without Caoimhín Kelleher and Conor Bradley seizing their opportunities in the absence of the injured Alisson and Trent Alexander-Arnold. With the first-choice goalkeeper and right-back available for their first league appearances since early February, however, the nature of an unforgiving title race means both their impressive deputies may have to step aside against Crystal Palace. Accommodating the fit-again Diogo Jota could be the more pressing concern for Klopp, certainly in light of the profligacy that cost Liverpool two valuable points at Manchester United last Sunday. Jota, a more clinical forward than Darwin Núñez or Luis Díaz, had scored five goals in six games before injuring his knee at Brentford. His return could be decisive. AH

• Liverpool v Crystal Palace, Sunday 2pm

Tosin must step up for faulty Fulham

Two leaky teams meet at the London Stadium. West Ham have kept one clean sheet in the league in 2024 and could be tired after their trip to Bayer Leverkusen. But Fulham have conceded seven goals in their previous three games and their season is in danger of fizzling out. Marco Silva has to make his side harder to break down in away games. He needs Tosin Adarabioyo to show why several teams are interested in signing him this summer. Tosin is out of contract at the end of the season and West Ham are monitoring the centre-back. They have a chance to take a good look at him this weekend. Jacob Steinberg

• West Ham v Fulham, Sunday 2pm

Emirates test for Emery’s balancing act

“No way.” Unai Emery was unequivocal in his response when asked whether Aston Villa had one eye on Arsenal despite first having to face Lille on Thursday in their quarter-final first leg. “We are speaking about the match in the Europa Conference League. We are not thinking about the [Premier League] match we are going to play. No way. It is not good for us, for me or everybody. I want to focus on [Lille] only.” Villa have won only one of their past five in the league and, while their recent form has been underwhelming, it was to be expected given it is their first season under Emery in which they have juggled European and domestic commitments. Sustaining the consistency they showed earlier in the season amid a demanding fixture schedule was always going to be a tough task and Villa now face a balancing act. Their solace? Sunday’s opponents, Arsenal, are on a similar learning curve. YE-S

• Arsenal v Aston Villa, Sunday 4.30pm

Dyche set to stall Chelsea once again

Sean Dyche has a history of frustrating Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. José Mourinho, Maurizio Sarri and Thomas Tuchel were all left grumbling about negative tactics, rough challenges and touchline bickering after home draws with Dyche’s Burnley. The football is rarely easy on the eye and Todd Boehly was less than impressed after seeing Graham Potter’s side flounder against the Ginger Mourinho last season. A 2-2 draw with Everton all but sealed Potter’s fate and Chelsea will need to watch out when they host Dyche’s struggling side. Everton, bruised and indignant after their latest points deduction, will not lack commitment. Chelsea, who have slipped to 2-2 draws with Sheffield United and Burnley in the past fortnight, will have to be less careless if they are to avoid more dropped points against another relegation battler. JS

• Chelsea v Everton, Monday 8pm

Pos Team P GD Pts
1 Arsenal 31 51 71
2 Liverpool 31 42 71
3 Man City 31 40 70
4 Tottenham Hotspur 31 20 60
5 Aston Villa 32 17 60
6 Man Utd 31 -1 49
7 West Ham 32 -4 48
8 Newcastle 31 13 47
9 Chelsea 30 3 44
10 Brighton 31 2 43
11 Wolverhampton 31 -5 42
12 AFC Bournemouth 31 -10 41
13 Fulham 32 -4 39
14 Crystal Palace 31 -18 30
15 Brentford 32 -13 29
16 Everton 31 -10 27
17 Nottm Forest 32 -16 25
18 Luton 32 -20 25
19 Burnley 32 -35 19
20 Sheff Utd 31 -52 16
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