Gameweek 34 of the 2021/22 Premier League season is set to play out over the upcoming weekend.
The action kicks off on Saturday afternoon with a huge clash between Arsenal and Manchester United.
The game week will then draw to a close on Monday evening as Patrick Vieira’s Crystal Palace face off with Leeds United in the latest edition of Monday Night Football.
Ahead of the weekend’s action getting underway, 101 have picked out five key talking points.
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How the mighty have fallen
As mentioned above, Arsenal and Manchester United are set to go head-to-head in the Premier League on Saturday.
And whilst the game is likely to be an entertaining affair that will garner plenty of media attention, Arsenal and Man United facing off is a reminder of how far the two clubs have fallen in the last several years.
Manchester United vs Arsenal, Sir Alex Ferguson vs Arsene Wenger, Roy Keane vs Patrick Vieira – once the crowning jewels of English football, there is now a chance neither outfit will even be in the Champions League next term.
United are without a title since 2013, whilst Arsenal have not won the Premier League since back in 2004.
Premier League title race heats up
With Arsenal and Manchester United still firmly in their rebuilding phases, Manchester City and Liverpool have taken over the mantel of boasting the best rivalry and best squads in the Premier League.
Since 2017/18 Man City and Liverpool have dominated the English top-flight, pushing one another to the brink as they fight for the biggest prize in the game.
Now, with each side having six league games left to play, we look set for another very close title race, similar to that of 2018/19, in which City edged by a point on the final day.
Ahead of game week 34, Manchester City is top of the Premier League, one point above Liverpool.
The Sky Blues face a Championship-bound Watford, whilst Liverpool must face bitter rivals, Everton.
And whilst both teams are expected to earn three points this weekend, the pressure on both due to the nature of the title race could cause an upset.
Manchester United’s defensive woes
Manchester United head into the weekend having appointed Erik ten Hag as their permanent manager.
The Dutchman will take over at the end of the current season and the mammoth task facing him has already been highlighted.
United’s defence has been shaky for many years now, but it was still pretty surprising to see it reported on Friday that Harry Maguire has committed the most errors leading to an opposition shot on goal of all outfielders since the start of last season in the Premier League.
Even more surprising was the fact United had three more players in the top 10 of that list in the form of Nemanja Matic, Luke Shaw, and Aaron Wan-Bissaka:
😬 Harry Maguire has committed the most errors leading to an opposition shot on goal of all outfielders since the start of last season in the Premier League
👹 He’s not alone from Man Utd, as we dive into the worrying stats behind their defence 👇
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) April 22, 2022
Is Chelsea in crisis?
April has been a pretty mixed month for Chelsea. They have secured their spot in the FA Cup final. However, they are out of the Champions League and really struggling in the league.
The Blues’ last league outing saw them beaten 4-2 by Arsenal on Wednesday in a very rare win for the Gunners at Stamford Bridge.
Arsenal have won back to back Premier League away games at Stamford Bridge for the first time since Chelsea were formed in 2003. 😉
— Orbinho (@Orbinho) April 21, 2022
Tuchel himself, meanwhile, seems very dejected and unsure of himself ahead of Chelsea’s meeting with West Ham this weekend.
Thomas Tuchel on what to say to motivate #Chelsea players:
“I don’t know, actually. I am very disappointed. Very frustrated. I don’t know what we do against West Ham.”
— Absolute Chelsea (@AbsoluteChelsea) April 21, 2022
Should Chelsea go on to lose against West Ham, there is a real danger the club’s season could spiral and they slip out of the top-four.
Burnley dealt a managerial blow
Burnley is set to play their third league game of the post-Sean Dyche era this weekend when they take on Wolves at Turf Moor.
The Clarets have so far done fairly well without Dyche, drawing with West Ham and picking up a win over Southampton.
However, the Lancashire outfit will need to appoint a permanent boss at some point and one of the favourites for the job was Middlesbrough’s Chris Wilder.
But, when speaking to the media on Friday, Wilder has poured cold water on said rumors:
“I want to work in the Premier League and I want to work in the Premier League with Middlesbrough, that’s the be-all and end-all,” Wilder said. “I think anybody who does anything at any trade wants to do it at the highest level.
“There has been no contact and I had a fabulous meeting with the chairman [Steve Gibson] yesterday for two or three hours and then we went out for something to eat. I’m fully committed. If I get a phone call or he gets a phone call, we’ve got an open and fully transparent relationship and we speak to each other all the time.
“I’m ambitious, but I’m ambitious with Middlesbrough. I want us to get in the Premier League and we’re making plans. There are medium and long-term plans. This is still a big rebuild and I think maybe one thing recent form has shown is that, even though our season is not dead and buried, there is still a lot of work to be done.”