Premier League talking points: New era at Man United, Arsenal goals, Calvert-Lewin drought

We pick out the big issues ahead of this weekend's English top-flight fixtures

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Will Man United start Ratcliffe era with win?

And so begins the Sir Jim Ratcliffe revolution at Manchester United with the club's new billionaire part-owner already talking about knocking local rivals Manchester City and Liverpool “off their perch” within three years.

“We have a lot to learn from our noisy neighbour and the other neighbour, I am very respectful of them but they are still the enemy,” insisted the 71-year-old Ineos founder and chairman.

On the pitch, United take on Fulham at Old Trafford on Saturday looking to secure their fifth win on the trot, having defeated Wolves, West Ham, Aston Villa and Luton Town.

Young trio Kobbie Mainoo, Alejandro Garnacho and Rasmus Hojlund have been at the heart of that run ahead of a weekend that could see the Red Devils move to within two points of the top four if results go their way.

“At the end of the day we are in the entertainment business. So that’s why you don’t want to watch bland football or characterless football,” added Ratcliffe. “And to be honest, since Christmas, with the young lads, they have played some fantastic football.”

It will now be up to manager Erik ten Hag to maintain the success and “glamour” Ratcliffe is striving for following his $1.6 billion purchase of a 25 per cent stake in the club.

Can Gunners maintain goals rush?

Sitting 11 points ahead of United in the table are third-place Arsenal with the Gunners enjoying an even more impressive run since the turn of the year.

Mikel Arteta's side might have suffered midweek Champions League disappointment FC Porto, but on the domestic front, they are enjoying a superb goal streak.

Since January 20, Arsenal have won five on the trot – Crystal Palace (h) 5-0, Nottingham Forest (a) 2-1, Liverpool (h) 3-1, West Ham (a) 6-0 and Burnley (a) 5-0 – in what is the club's best scoring sequence since 1934/35.

It's worth noting that Gabriel Jesus – their only out-and-out central striker – has played only two games in that run due to injury, scoring once. Bukayo Saka (four) Leandro Trossard and defender Gabriel (both three) have contributed the most.

The goals are being shared around and the team looks in a good place going into Saturday's game at the Emirates Stadium against a Newcastle United side leaking goals at an alarming rate.

“We are generating competition within the squad,” said Arteta after the Burnley win. “They are a joy to work with, the way they train every day and apply themselves, and … they want more – that's the good thing.”

When will Calvert-Lewin score?

While the Gunners are scoring goals for fun, Everton striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin is finding life a struggle in front of goal.

The 26-year-old has endured a nightmare run of injuries since scoring 21 times across competitions in the 2020/21 season and has managed just three Premier League goals this season going into Saturday's match at Brighton.

He is currently on an 19-game goalless run, having last found the back of the net against West Ham on October 21. It is a drought Everton can ill afford. In fairness to Calvert-Lewin, he has found the back of the net twice in that time, one extremely harshly ruled out by the VAR away at Tottenham and one awarded to teammate Jack Harrison for the slightest of flicks on its way in.

The Merseysiders sit outside the relegation zone on goal difference with only Sheffield United (22) and Burnley (25) having scored fewer than the Toffees' 27.

With the club nervously awaiting a verdict on their appeal against a 10-point deduction for breaking financial rules, Everton need the man who has notched four goals in 11 England caps to rediscover his scoring touch.

“He's working hard at his game, he's getting stronger by the week in key areas,” said manager Sean Dyche after last week's draw with Crystal Palace. “That's all I want to do is see him in key areas because the hardest thing to do is put it in the net.”

Can Glasner lift wounded Eagles?

It has been a tough week for Crystal Palace that has seen Roy Hodgson step down as manager after being taken ill during training amid reports that he was about to be sacked.

Former Eintracht Frankfurt coach Oliver Glasner has taken over at Selhurst Park tasked with lifting a side that have lost 10 of their last 17 league games, leaving them 15th in the table, five points above the drop zone.

Glasner, who won the Europa League with Frankfurt in 2022, has promised attack will be the best form of defence for a team with the fourth worst scoring record in the division. His first game sees them take on Burnley at home on Saturday.

“My philosophy is very easy: it's scoring goals because that's why, as I tell the players very often, we all started playing football,” the 59-year-told the club's website. “Nobody went on the pitch when he was a young kid to defend.”

Will nightmare go on for Sheffield United and Burnley?

It really has been a nightmare return to the top-flight for Sheffield United and Burnley, who both have just 13 points as well as having the two worst goals for and against records in the division.

The Blades had given fans hope the week before by securing a 3-1 win at relegation rivals Luton Town only to slump to a second successive 5-0 home thrashing, this time against Brighton.

It was the fifth time they have lost a league game by five or more goals this season. “It looks like a hell of a beating but I thought the attitude of the players were great,” insisted manager Chris Wilder, whose team travel to Wolves on Monday.

Burnley, meanwhile, could not have faced a rampant Arsenal at a worse time as they also fell to a five-goal battering.

“We've had defeats and come back and said it was a good performance but there were details in the key moments – but today was not good enough,” admitted manager Vincent Kompany. “We will take it on the chin and focus on the next game.”

Updated: February 23, 2024, 2:47 AM