Liverpool’s fight, Thomas Muller’s struggles and Claudio Ranieri’s last chance: Weekend talking points

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Thomas Woods looks at some of the football weekend's biggest talking points. Click or swipe through for more.

Five games to save Liverpool’s season

A month ago Liverpool were Premier League title contenders. Now they are clinging on to their top-four spot for dear life.

With Manchester United, Arsenal and Manchester City all facing very winnable games this weekend, Liverpool’s home match with Tottenham takes on huge significance.

Lose and they could be two points adrift in fifth and they have a tricky run coming up – especially for a team who haven’t won in five games.

Leicester away, Arsenal and Burnley at home, followed by a trip to the Etihad Stadium to play Manchester City.

Two teams scrapping for every point and two Champions League rivals.

Jurgen Klopp needs to find answers to his side’s poor form.

What’s up with Muller?

Look at these numbers: 23, 26, 21, 31… 4.

These are Thomas Muller’s goal tallies for Bayern Munich over the past five seasons. With about a third of the campaign to go, he is stuck in a major goal drought.

The German international has just one league goal this season and has lost his role as an integral part of Bayern’s squad.

This is a man who top scored at the 2010 World Cup and hit five at the 2014 World Cup.

He was subject to a huge bid from Manchester United last summer and maybe, at 27 and with nearly 400 Bayern games under his belt, a change of environment is needed for him to find his goalscoring boots again.

The risk of course is that a move away turns out like Pedro’s departure from Barcelona after nine seasons there. It took the Spaniard more than a season to really find his feet at Chelsea.

Ranieri’s last chance

Leicester’s board has given manager Claudio Ranieri a vote of confidence and in English football that usually means he will get the sack shortly.

It could be as soon as next week. Leicester travel to relegation rivals Swansea on Sunday without a league goal in 2017.

That’s a woeful run and the side Ranieri picked for Wednesday’s home FA Cup replay against Derby – a second string – shows where his priorities now lie.

It’s astonishing to think that a team that won the title last season could be relegated, but Leicester have the fourth worst form in the league over the last six games and every key player is under-performing.

If they fail to beat Swansea, don’t be surprised to see Ranieri given the boot in desperation.

Is Mertens the hottest striker in Europe?

Napoli lost star striker Gonzalo Higuain to arch-rivals Juventus in the summer and then saw his replacement, Polish hot-shot Arkadiusz Milik, go down with a serious knee injury in October.

It looked like a bleak situation in terms of finding a regular source of goals, but up stepped Dries Mertens.

The Belgian winger was switched to centre-forward and hasn’t looked back.

He’s been so successful in fact that Napoli sold his back-up, Manolo Gabbiadini, to Southampton in the January transfer window.

Mertens has as many Serie A goals as Higuain (16) and has netted 13 in his last eight league games.

That is sensational.

Aguero on his way out?

It’s hard to make a case for Sergio Aguero being picked ahead of young Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus for Manchester City when they travel to Bournemouth on Saturday.

Jesus Gabriel has scored three in his last two games including a last-minute winner at home to Swansea on Sunday.

He’s slotted perfectly into a 4-1-4-1 formation that Pep Guardiola has started playing.

There’s only room for one striker and neither Aguero nor Jesus Gabriel would be playing to their strengths in a deeper role.

There are rumours that Aguero will be leaving City in the summer and Jesus Gabriel’s form might be one of the factors that convinces the Argentine to try something new.

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