Premier League talking points as top two hope for normal service to resume

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Pep Guardiola suffered the shock result of midweek, with City losing to Newcastle.

The Premier League continues this weekend after some unexpected results in the midweek programme.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at the talking points ahead of the action.

Will normal service be resumed?

The midweek fixtures threw up a number of surprising results, most noticeably strugglers Newcastle recovering from conceding a goal in the first minute to beat title contenders Manchester City. That gave Liverpool the chance to move seven points clear at the top of the table, only for Jurgen Klopp’s side to also let an early lead slip as they were held to a 1-1 draw at Anfield by Leicester. Liverpool must wait until Monday for their away trip to West Ham, by which time the gap could be down to two points if City can beat Arsenal at home.

What impact will deadline day signings have?

The biggest deal on transfer deadline day saw Newcastle break their record to sign Paraguay’s Miguel Almiron from MLS side Atlanta United for £20m, as well as signing Monaco defender Antonio Barreca on loan. Wolves signed Atletico Madrid full-back Jonny Castro Otto for £15million after a successful loan spell, while the next highest fee was £7million as Ante Palaversa moved to Manchester City but immediately returned to Hajduk Split on loan. Almiron will be under the spotlight at St James’ Park, but that midweek win over Manchester City will help ease some of the pressure.

Can Crouch cut the mustard at Burnley?

“I feel that the older I get, the more hungry I am,” said former England forward Peter Crouch after moving from Championship side Stoke to Premier League Burnley. Crouch, who turned 38 on Wednesday, has made 462 Premier League appearances for six different clubs, scoring 108 goals. Burnley fans could be forgiven for feeling somewhat underwhelmed by the deal, but Crouch has no doubts that he can be a success. “I’ve got the will to succeed and prove people wrong,” he added. “I feel like I have been proving people wrong my whole career.”

Is there any life left in Huddersfield?

The Premier League’s bottom side were active in the transfer window, with five players leaving on loan and three coming in. However, while Jason Puncheon brings plenty of experience, Jaden Brown and Karlan Grant are 19 and 21 respectively and have the look of signings for the future, rather than with an immediate impact in mind. The Terriers are 12 points adrift of safety and could already be preparing for next season in the Championship.

What is going on at Chelsea?

Maurizio Sarri’s side have lost their last two Premier League games by an aggregate of 6-0, but sandwiched in between were cup wins over Tottenham and Sheffield Wednesday, the former taking the Blues into the Carabao Cup final. Chelsea were labelled “embarrassing” by TV pundit Alan Shearer and Sarri himself said the 4-0 defeat at Bournemouth was “difficult to understand”, but Sarri will need to get to the bottom of the issue soon after slipping out of the top four and with a resurgent Manchester United just two points behind.

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Man City tactics v Arsenal as champions look to press and suffocate Arsenal's defence

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Manchester City host Arsenal on Sunday in this weekend’s big-ticket fixture in the Premier League. City will be looking to put the stutter against Newcastle United behind them and get their season back on track. Arsenal have that top-four spot to fight for as the teams head into the business end of the season.

This fixture comes as a must-win for Pep Guardiola as he looks to keep the pressure on Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool. The ex-Barcelona coach has never had problems seeing off Arsenal. Yet, after the midweek blip on Tyneside, he will be under pressure to deliver a win.

Here we take a look at some of the tactics he could employ in the big game.

Press, counter-press, suffocate the defence

Both teams build from the back and are hence prone to yield under pressure. However, City’s players are more press-resistant and are potent enough to break Arsenal’s pressure. Guardiola must hence use pressing and counter-pressing to suffocate the Arsenal defence and force them to commit a mistake.

Given how fragile the backline is, one slight crack can ensure that the floodgates open for Emery’s men and City will then take all three points from the fixture rather comfortably.

Hence, it all comes down to Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane forcing the Arsenal defence to misplace a pass or give the ball away in a dangerous position.

Leroy Sane

Leroy Sane

Be wary of Arsenal’s quick transitions

City will, in all probability, dominate the possession and dictate terms in midfield. Although Arsenal build from the back themselves, they are more likely to catch city on the break and use Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s pace to score on the counter.

Hence, Kyle Walker and Danilo must be extra cautious while advancing forward. By ensuring that Arsenal are not able to convert a quick transition, the hosts will be striking out the Gunner’s most likely source of goals.

It would also help if the defensive high line is a bit conservative and stays low at times. But it’s highly unlikely that Guardiola will give up on his philosophy, unlike when came up against a ‘Gegenpressing’ team at Anfield a few weeks ago.

Kyle Walker (l) with Pep Guardiola (r)

Kyle Walker (l) with Pep Guardiola.

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Key tactics as Arsenal look to prevent Man City’s wing domination

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Unai Emery

Manchester City host Arsenal on Sunday in this weekend’s big-ticket fixture in the Premier League.

City will be looking to put the poor display against Newcastle United behind them and get their season back on track. Meanwhile, Arsenal are eyeing a top-four spot as the teams head into the business end of the season.

Unai Emery will have to pull one out of the hat to prevent City’s dominance over Arsenal from reaching new heights. We take a look at some of the key tactics the Gunners boss could employ to help him get the better of Pep Guardiola in this fixture.

Prevent City’s wing domination

Easier said than done? Worth a try. Guardiola’s system is based on stretching the field and creating overloads on the wing. This is usually followed by a cut-back, cross or attacking pockets of space in the half-space.

Preventing City from stretching play by cutting channels and maintaining a compact structure should work in Arsenal’s favour.

The wingers need to take up some of the defensive burden too and track back whenever possible. If shrinking the field out of possession does not work, the Gunners could also consider creating overloads on the wings themselves and win the battle on the flanks courtesy of numerical superiority.

However, priority must be given to preventing City from controlling the wings, rather than finding a solution to it after it happens.

Mystery box containing Denis Suarez

Former Manchester City playmaker Suarez was roped in from Barcelona on a loan deal by the Gunners on deadline day. No-one will expect Emery to field a system with the Galician as the focal point, let alone start the midfielder.

But Emery has worked with the Spaniard at Sevilla and, together, they won the Europa League in 2015. Also, Suarez will have a good reading of Guardiola’s system, having spent a good amount of his career at Barca.

Emery could risk tasking Suarez with battling City’s midfield on his debut. The potential backlash exists, but the surprise element in this plan could bear fruit too. It is a calculated risk and not a blind gamble.

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