Premier League talking points: Title tussle, misfiring Jackson, Ten Hag's future

We pick out the main issues ahead of the English top-flight's midweek fixture list

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Can Arsenal build on Wolves boost?

With the title race set to go down to the wire, every match is vital with just one point separating Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City.

All three sides suffered European blows last week with Arsenal and Manchester City exiting the Champions League – against Bayern Munich and Real Madrid, respectively – while Liverpool were knocked out of the Europa League by Atalanta.

Arsenal went into Saturday's game at Wolves having lost at home to Aston Villa the previous week. So the fact they managed to come away with a 2-0 victory was a huge boost for Mikel Arteta's side.

“It really meant a lot to us,” the Spanish coach said of the 2-0 win at Molineux, ahead of Tuesday's London derby at home to Chelsea. “We want to give it a real go and are really determined [to carrying on challenging] while it is still in our hands to try to lift the trophy.

“But it is dependent on another two teams as well. They are two of the best teams in the history of this league, so this is where we are.”

Will misfiring Jackson hit target?

Chelsea, meanwhile, will be looking to bounce back from their own disappointment, having lost 1-0 to Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-finals on Saturday.

It was a day to forget for striker Nicolas Jackson who could have scored a hat-trick before Bernardo Silva grabbed a late winner for City.

That profligacy in front of goal at Wembley came hot on the heels of his petulant display during the 6-0 win over Everton which saw the 22-year-old argue with teammates after demanding, without success, to take over penalty duties from Cole Palmer.

Manager Maurico Pochettino was furious after the penalty incident overshadowed what was an impressive win but more sympathetic on Monday about Jackson's form this season. And with 23-goal top-scorer Palmer a doubt for the game against Arsenal due to illness, the Argentine will be hoping Jackson can make headlines for the right reasons.

“The first season is always difficult for all the players, especially when you are a striker and need to perform and score goals,” said Pochettino.

“He's doing an amazing job for the team – running, scoring goals and giving assists. He has all my support. He is going to be better next season, no doubt. He just needs to keep going.”

Is Ten Hag heading for the sack?

It is not often that reaching an FA Cup final is met with muted celebrations but that was the case when Manchester United scraped past Championship side Coventry City via a penalty shoot-out on Sunday.

Erik ten Hag's side threw away a three-goal lead at Wembley and only avoided a defeat at the end of extra time when Coventry forward Haji Wright's big toe was offside ahead of setting up Victor Torp for what most believed was a last-gasp winner.

So United were rescued by VAR, and with Coventry then failing in the shoot-out, Ten Hag admitted: “We got away with it.”

New co-owner Jim Ratcliffe, who was watching from the stands at Wembley, insisted that fans must show patience following his £1.25 billion deal to buy a 27.7 per cent stake in the club.

"It's a long journey,” he told BBC Sport on Sunday. “The fans are impatient and I have some sympathy with that. It’s a journey and people, whether they like it or not, have to be a bit patient.”

That patience will be in short supply if bottom club Sheffield United are not swept aside at Old Trafford on Wednesday with the Red Devils in danger of slipping out of the European places if results go against them this week.

Will Liverpool maintain title push?

The magic wand that is Trent Alexander-Arnold's right foot played a key role in Liverpool's 3-1 win at Fulham on Sunday.

Making his first league start in more than two months due to injury, Alexander-Arnold curled home a sublime free kick to level the scores at Craven Cottage.

It was the sixth direct free kick Alexander-Arnold has scored in the Premier League, with only Jamie Redknapp (eight) and Steven Gerrard (seven) having scored more for Liverpool.

Next up is derby-day against Everton at Goodison Park with the blue half of Merseyside having also enjoyed victory last weekend – beating Nottingham Forest 2-0.

And Alexander-Arnold admitted that there is no margin for error with only five games left. “We need five big ones, five finals … If anyone drops points around us, we need to be in the best position we can aim for. Five out of five wins is the aim for us.”

Can Man City maintain Brighton dominance?

The final game of the midweek fixture list sees Brighton play host to double-chasing Manchester City on Thursday.

City manager Pep Guardiola was delighted with the efforts of his team after beating Chelsea to set up an all-Manchester FA Cup final for the second year running.

Only three days earlier, City lost to Madrid on penalties after a draining night at the Etihad Stadium but had to pick themselves up.

“I don't understand how we survived,” said Guardiola, who was angry that City were forced to play on Saturday rather than Coventry City and Manchester United who had no midweek game but saw their semi-final take place 24 hours later.

“It's impossible, for the health of the players. It's not normal. One hundred and twenty minutes, the emotions of Madrid, the way we lose, honestly. I'm not asking for something special or privilege.”

City will have had five days rest before facing a Brighton team they have beaten 11 times out the last 13 league games, losing only once in that time.

Updated: April 23, 2024, 5:35 AM