There are now just 11 games of the Premier League season left before all 20 sides in the division discover their fate, and the next round of fixtures get underway this evening as Leicester City travel to Carrow Road.
Here, we take a look at five of the biggest talking points to look out for this weekend, including an in-country battle in Tottenham versus Wolves, Jarrod Bowen’s potential first start for West Ham, and an omen that could be great news for the Foxes against Norwich City.
In the first match between these two sides this season, in December, Wolves will have felt hard done as they came away from the clash with nothing.
Despite bossing possession – 57% to 43% – and shots – 19 to nine – they were beaten 2-1 thanks to a late Jan Vertonghen goal. Since then, both sides’ form has roughly stayed the same overall – Spurs’ two-point advantage is now down to one – but considering the home side have lost their last two matches, the Midlands outfit will be confident of getting a result.
A win would put them above the Lilywhites, and that would only increase Nuno Espirito Santo’s stock. The Portuguese manager has done a fantastic job at Wolves, leading them to a seventh place finish last term, as well as an FA Cup semi-final. Mourinho’s reputation, meanwhile, has only decreased in recent years. He was sacked by Chelsea and, although he did win two trophies with Manchester United, he was still relieved of his duties in December 2018. Victory for Nuno would not only put his side above the Red Devils, but also himself above his compatriot.
Perhaps the time has come when Mourinho will fade into Nuno’s shadow and no longer represent the Portuguese top dog.
Back in December, Leicester City equalled a Premier League record with a 9-0 Friday night mauling of Southampton – the joint-biggest victory since 1992.
They have played once since then on the fifth day of the week, but Wolves are currently a tough opponent to face – this week’s opponents, Norwich, are far more reminiscent of the Ralph Hasenhuttl side back then.
In fact, they are arguably in even worse form than Southampton were at the end of last year – they are currently rock bottom of the league table, six points adrift of 19th, and they have won just once in their last 14 matches in the top tier. In all fairness, the Foxes are currently not at the peak of their powers – they have won just one of their last six matches in the competition – but they are still third and should qualify for the Champions League.
Against the struggling Canaries, you wouldn’t put it past them to run up a big score – although 9-0 might be just a bit of a push.
West Ham’s £22m signing of Jarrod Bowen from Hull City was one of the biggest transfers of the January transfer window.
The 23-year-old was in demand – Crystal Palace also tabled an offer on January deadlin day eve – and rightly so.
In 29 matches in the second tier this season, he scored 16 goals, adding to the 36 he had managed across the previous two campaigns as well. But he is yet to make his full debut for the Hammers since his move, instead reduced to bit-part roles against both Man City and Liverpool.
In all fairness, playing against either of those from the start would have been a baptism of fire, but David Moyes’ men face Southampton this Saturday, which is a far more fitting clash in which to throw him in to the action.
The London outfit may have pushed Liverpool all the way in their 3-2 defeat on Monday, but the fact of the matter is they are in a precarious position at the bottom – 18th in the table, they need points, and fast.
They will be hoping that Bowen is just the man to fire them to safety.
Liverpool’s imperious form – they have won 26 of 27 matches so far – has seen them pull miles clear of the rest of the division, but Watford go in to this clash with a better chance than most of getting a result.
The winter break appears to have slowed the Reds down – they fell to only their third defeat of the campaign in all competitions against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League last week, losing 1-0, and they only managed one-goal victories against Norwich and West Ham in the league, who are both in the relegation zone.
The Hornets’ form has been chequered since their 2-0 loss at Anfield – they lost one of their next six after that, before losing three of their last four. However, with Jordan Henderson also unavailable, they must go into this match seeing it as an opportunity for an upset. Few will get a better chance this season.
Heung-min Son may have been distraught following his part in Andre Gomes’ horrific injury in November, but he will unlikely have been more upset than the Portugal international himself.
The ankle fracture kept him out of action for three months, but he is now back in contention to start for Everton this weekend against Manchester United after playing 30 minutes in the last match against Arsenal, his first appearance since returning from injury.
Many have labelled his recovery as remarkable, and it does seem as though he is back in the fold a little quick given the severity of the injury.
Clearly, though, his composure on the ball is something Carlo Ancelotti could do with – he has an average pass accuracy of 86.1% per Premier League game this season, with only Fabian Delph (86.6%) to manage more amongst the regular starters for the Toffees.