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5 talking points ahead of the weekend’s Premier League action

The battle to avoid the drop could heat up this weekend.

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Steve Bruce, Scott Parker, Paul Heckingbottom (PA)

Steve Bruce, Scott Parker, Paul Heckingbottom (PA)

Steve Bruce, Scott Parker, Paul Heckingbottom (PA)

An interesting few days of Premier League action lies in store following the European quarter-finals.

Here, the PA news agency picks out five of the main talking points heading into this round of fixtures.

Can Newcastle pull clear of danger?

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Allan Saint-Maximin inspired Newcastle to victory at Burnley (Stu Forster/PA)

Allan Saint-Maximin inspired Newcastle to victory at Burnley (Stu Forster/PA)

Allan Saint-Maximin inspired Newcastle to victory at Burnley (Stu Forster/PA)

As relegation concerns mounted along with the pressure on manager Steve Bruce, last weekend’s 2-1 comeback win at Burnley provided a much-needed shot in the arm for Newcastle. Still 17th but six points above Fulham in the final relegation spot, Allan Saint-Maximin and Callum Wilson starred off the bench at Turf Moor and look set to start when high-flying West Ham arrive on Saturday. David Moyes’ men sit fourth in the standings, with in-form Jesse Lingard shining bright enough to make up for the absence of Michail Antonio and Declan Rice last weekend.

Can Wolves cut down the Blades?

Adama Traore’s stoppage-time effort secured a last-gasp win at embattled Fulham last Friday, ending a five-match winless streak for Wolves. Nuno Espirito Santo’s side have endured their most challenging campaign since returning to the Premier League in 2019 and face a big ask to finish in the top half, never mind match their back-to-back seventh-placed finishes. Star man Pedro Neto’s season-ending injury is a blow heading into Saturday’s clash against rock-bottom Sheffield United, who could be relegated this weekend.

Will Arsenal push Fulham closer to the drop?

Mikel Arteta’s side reached the Europa League semi-finals in convincing fashion on Thursday night. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang missed the rout of Slavia Prague after contracting malaria during the recent international break and will be absent again, giving Alexandre Lacazette the chance to add to his haul of seven goals in nine matches. Scott Parker’s Cottagers missed a third opportunity to move out of the relegation zone when losing to Wolves last week, leaving on-loan Mario Lemina in tears after the match. Fulham could be seven points from survival come kick-off and are running out of matches to save their top-flight status.

Can United maintain momentum?

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer knows catching runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City is unrealistic, even if they cut the gap to eight points with six matches remaining by beating Burnley on Sunday. The Manchester United boss pledged to keep pushing as they look to end the season on a high, with the visit of Sean Dyche’s Clarets offering them the chance to show the mettle so sorely lacking when Burnley last visited Old Trafford. The 2-0 home loss in January 2020 led fans to make their discontent known, with Solskjaer saying this is “a massive game for the players, massive game to show the mentality they have shown over the last 13 or 14 months”.

Another scalp for Leeds?

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Stuart Dallas’ brace helped Leeds to victory at the Etihad Stadium (Michael Regan/PA)

Stuart Dallas’ brace helped Leeds to victory at the Etihad Stadium (Michael Regan/PA)

Stuart Dallas’ brace helped Leeds to victory at the Etihad Stadium (Michael Regan/PA)

Marcelo Bielsa’s men upset the odds and a one-man disadvantage to beat leaders Manchester City 2-1 last weekend. Stuart Dallas’ late winner secured a dramatic win for the promoted side, who welcome reigning champions Liverpool to Elland Road on Monday evening. Jurgen Klopp’s men are reeling from their Champions League exit to Real Madrid on Wednesday but have shown an upturn in domestic fortunes recently by beating Wolves, Arsenal and Aston Villa.

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