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Premier League Matchday 34: Arsenal & Liverpool must bounce back

There is a truncated look to Matchday 34 in the Premier League, with three fixtures pushed back to the middle of May due to the FA Cup semi-finals.

However, there are still plenty of eye-catching matches on the agenda, so let’s look at some of the key talking points and statistics ahead of the weekend.

Luton Town vs Brentford

The clash between Luton Town and Brentford could be a pivotal game in determining the outcome of the Premier League relegation battle this season.

The Hatters are in 18th place heading into the match but would move out of the drop zone if they collect three points at Kenilworth Road.

Despite their struggles, Luton have scored in 16 of their last 17 Premier League outings and could cause problems for the visitors on Saturday.

The Bees have conceded 11 goals in their last four away contests and would be dragged back into trouble if they are beaten this weekend.

Sheffield United vs Burnley

Another key match in the race to avoid relegation from the top flight is the Sheffield United vs Burnley fixture at Bramall Lane this weekend.

Chris Wilder’s side are bottom of the standings with six games remaining, but a victory over Burnley would keep their faint survival hopes alive.

The Blades have conceded a whopping 84 goals in 32 games this season – the most at this stage of the campaign since the competition was launched in 1992.

Burnley have yet to keep a clean sheet in 2024 and look destined for an immediate return to the Championship. On that basis, this game really is ‘now or never’ for the home side.

Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Arsenal

Less than a week ago, Arsenal were top of the Premier League and still in with a chance of progressing to the semi-finals of the Champions League.

However, a home defeat against Aston Villa dropped them to second in the league and they crashed out of Europe after producing a miserable performance at Bayern Munich in midweek.

The recent head-to-head between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Arsenal may provide some comfort, with the Gunners rattling off five straight victories over the Midlands club.

Arsenal are unbeaten in their last six league games on the road, winning five of them by three or more goals. This should be an away win, but Wolves will have other ideas.

Everton vs Nottingham Forest

Everton and Nottingham Forest will be keeping a close eye on a couple of the Saturday fixtures ahead of their meeting at Goodison Park the following day.

Points deductions for breaches of financial rules have left both clubs deep in the mire and ramped up the pressure on the game this weekend.

Only Sheffield United (30) have scored fewer goals than Everton this season (32), yet the Toffees have still managed to win nine league games.

With Forest picking up just ten points away from the City Ground, everything points to Everton recording a hard-fought 1-0 victory.

Crystal Palace vs West Ham United

Anyone watching the Crystal Palace vs West Ham United game on Sunday would be well-advised to keep a close eye on midfielder Adam Wharton.

He has been a revelation since joining the Eagles from Blackburn Rovers, sparking talk that he should be part of England’s European Championship squad this summer.

Wharton produced a masterclass against Liverpool last weekend, completing 100 percent of his long passes, winning eight out of ten duels and six out of seven tackles.

If Three Lions manager Gareth Southgate has any sense, he will be in the stands to watch Wharton at Selhurst Park this weekend.

Aston Villa vs Bournemouth

Striker Ollie Watkins could set a notable landmark when Aston Villa and Bournemouth go head-to-head in the Midlands on Sunday.

The 28-year-old has netted 19 league goals this season – if he adds another to his tally, he would hit the 20-mark for the first time in the top flight.

Watkins has previously achieved the feat just once in his senior career, netting 26 goals in 50 appearances as Brentford narrowly missed out on promotion from the Championship.

His efforts this season have fired Villa into contention for Champions League qualification. They last appeared in UEFA’s top club competition in 1982/83.

Fulham vs Liverpool

Fulham and Liverpool head into their meeting at Craven Cottage on Sunday with plenty riding on the outcome of the game.

The home side are currently 12th in the Premier League table, but could still force their way into European qualification spot if they have a strong end to the season.

The Reds’ defeat against Palace last weekend left them two points off top spot in the Premier League and they can ill-afford any more slip-ups on the run-in.

Liverpool traditionally dominate this fixture, but will need to improve markedly after failing to live up to expectations against Palace.

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