Tuesday 17 October 2017

5 Premier League talking points

Marco Silva's Hull will look to pull clear of relegation rivals Swansea this weekend
Marco Silva's Hull will look to pull clear of relegation rivals Swansea this weekend

The Premier League's finish line draws nearer this weekend, and t here remain questions to be answered at both ends of the table as Tottenham look to chase leaders Chelsea while Swansea and Hull aim to keep their heads above water in the battle for survival.

Here, Press Association Sport takes a look at five of the main talking points heading into the next few days.

CAN SPURS WIN ANOTHER LONDON DERBY TO MAKE A POINT?

Tottenham reacted to Chelsea's win last Sunday by outperforming their local rivals Arsenal to keep the gap to the table-topping Blues down to four points.

This weekend, Mauricio Pochettino's men play first, on Friday evening, and can close to within a point of Antonio Conte's men - who face Middlesbrough on Monday.

All that stands in their way is a clash with another of their long-term adversaries, West Ham, who themselves still need one more win to mathematically seal a place in the top flight for next season.

Add to that a yearning to cap off a difficult first season at the London Stadium with a famous scalp and Spurs will face a stern test of their title-winning credentials in east London.

WILL EITHER HULL OR SWANSEA BE ABLE TO CHANGE THE PICTURE AT THE BOTTOM?

With Middlesbrough close to joining Sunderland in the Championship next season, the favourites to be the third relegated side are either Hull or Swansea.

As they battle to escape the drop, the two teams have actually recorded the same result as one another in recent weeks.

Two defeats were followed by a win apiece before battling draws last weekend, Hull holding Southampton and Swansea leaving Manchester United with a share of the spoils.

Now is the perfect time for the recent stalemate to end and for one side to truly stake a claim for survival.

Hull have the perfect opportunity to do so and Marco Silva looks to defend his incredible home record with a win over the already-doomed Black Cats.

Swansea do not play until Saturday evening and they face a trickier test as Paul Clement welcomes Everton to the Liberty Stadium.

WILL JOSE STICK TO HIS WORD?

Jose Mourinho takes his Manchester United side to face Arsenal on Sunday with both teams currently sat outside of the top four.

The Red Devils travel to the Emirates Stadium on the back of a 1-0 win in the opening leg of their Europa League semi-final away to Celta Vigo.

The return leg against the Spaniards is next Thursday and Mourinho has suggested he will rest key players at Arsenal as he aims to win the continental competition.

With Marcus Rashford and Ashley Young both limping out in Vigo, the Portuguese still have several injury worries but can he seriously take Arsenal lightly and risk blowing any chances of reaching the Champions League courtesy of a top-four finish?

WENGER'S TIME TO FINALLY STRIKE

If Mourinho does make wholesale changes, long-term nemesis Arsene Wenger will have no excuse as he chases a first Premier League win over the former Chelsea boss.

The under-fire Wenger has failed to record a victory over Mourinho in their previous 12 league encounters but needs the three points this time for much more than just personal pride.

The Gunners boss remains under pressure following a string of disappointing results and, with his current deal expiring at the end of the season, another protest is planned before the United game by those fans who want to see change.

A HOST OF TEAMS CAN CLAIM TOP-FLIGHT CONFIRMATION

While it appears to be a straight two-horse race between Hull and Swansea, there are still several clubs whose Premier League status is not yet entirely secure.

From reigning champions Leicester, currently in 11th, downwards there are still chairmen and owners unsure of their position for the 2017-18 campaign.

But most will be able to breathe a sigh of relief at the close of play on Monday night if results go their way.

Leicester host Watford with the winner safe and a draw all-but enough for both, Burnley know a win over West Brom will see them safe.

West Ham can beat Spurs to keep themselves clear of the bottom three while Crystal Palace travel to Manchester City knowing victory at the Etihad Stadium would take them one step closer to staying up.

Press Association

Independent.ie Comments Facility

INM has taken the decision to remove the commenting facility on its online platform Independent.ie to minimise the legal risk to our business that arises from Ireland's draconian libel awards system.

We continue to look forward to receiving comments through direct email contact or via social media, some of which may still be featured on the website Independent.ie


Editor's Choice

Also in Sport