Premier League Pulse: Liverpool keep ticking, Hojlund’s goalscoring run inspiring Manchester United

23 February, 2024

The Premier League season continues to produce its fair share of drama, as we begin to head into the business end of the season. This week, Liverpool’s push for the title continued but was dealt a huge blow, while Manchester United’s season is back on track thanks to the red-hot form of a much maligned attacker who’s begun to find his feet in England. Here are the key storylines to keep an eye on heading into another huge weekend of action.

Liverpool win, but it comes at a cost

Liverpool continues to set the tempo in the Premier League title race, after coming away with an impressive 4-1 win over Brentford over the weekend, but Jurgen Klopp’s side were left to count the casualties once again.

The Reds lost Curtis Jones, Diego Jota and Darwin Nunez to injury in the first-half of the contest, joining a mounting injury list that includes star keeper Alisson, Trent Alexander-Arnold and midfield duo Dominik Szboszlai and Thiago Alcantara.

Jones sustained a knock above the ankle which forced him from the field, while Jota was stretchered off the field with a knee injury.

Coach Jurgen Klopp confirmed in his pre-match press conference ahead of the clash withLuton Town on Thursday morning (AEDT), that Jones and Jota will miss the match against Rob Edwards’ side.

In the case of Jota, the Portuguese forward is set to be sidelined for “months”, which is a major blow to Liverpool’s attacking stocks, while Jones – who has a “ligament issue” – is also in significant doubt for the EFL Cup final against Chelsea on the weekend.

However, there’s yet to be a formal update on the status of Nunez after he was withdrawn at half-time of their match with the Bees, due to what Klopp described at the time as a precautionary measure. 

Should Nunez miss, Liverpool could be without up to 10 first team players against Luton, with the likes of Stefan Bajetic, Ben Doak and Joel Matip also sidelined due to long term injuries.

Thankfully, the likes of Szboszlai and Alexander-Arnold aren’t far away from returning, providing a major boost to their coffers, but Alisson is still out for the “foreseeable” future according to Klopp.

It comes at a less than ideal time in Liverpool’s hunt for silverware, with the Reds due to play eight more games before the March international break.

This includes the aforementioned Cup final against the Blues, a potential title decider with Manchester City on March 11 and their Europa League Round of 16 tie, with their opponent to be decided following the completion of this week’s knockout round playoffs.

Keeping up their red-hot form in the weeks ahead is imperative for Liverpool, sitting only a point clear of a rejuvenated Arsenal and two ahead of reigning champions City with 13 matches remaining.

To their credit, they have continued to find a way to get results even with players missing, and their deep squad should be able to provide ample cover, particularly with the return of Mohamed Salah and the likes of Harvey Elliott and Ryan Gravenberch slotting in to fill the midfield absentees.

 

History-making Hojlund leads United’s resurgence

Manchester United’s hopes of a top-four finish suddenly have a pulse again after four straight wins, but it’s their much-maligned young striker leading the charge.

After a slow start to life in Manchester, Rasmus Hojlund has begun to find his feet at Old Trafford, scoring in each of his last six Premier League appearances, including a history-making brace against Luton Town last weekend.

The Danish striker became the youngest player in Premier League history to score in six consecutive matches when he scored two goals inside the opening seven minutes at Kenilworth Road.

His opening goal was United’s earliest-ever Premier League away goal (37 seconds), and his second gave the club their fastest-ever 2-0 load in a road top-flight game.

Hojlund’s run of goals has coincided with United’s burst in form that has seen them close the gap on fourth-placed Aston Villa to only five points and three points behind fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur.

Since scoring his first league goal in December, Hojlund now has seven goals in the league this season – which is their equal-most alongside Scott McTominay – showcasing a turn in fortunes after taking his time to hit the ground running following the move from Serie A side Atalanta.

United have struggled to find the net this season, scoring only 35 goals, which is far less than the sides around them, including Villa and Spurs, who both have 52 goals to their name.

But in recent times, United have scored multiple goals in each of the matches in the new year, showcasing a turn in fortunes in recent weeks.

And with each of their next four league games being in Manchester – including an away derby to City – Erik ten Hag’s side are in a good position to potentially kick on and continue to mount the pressure on the sides above them.

 

Around The Grounds: Premier League Week 26 Preview

As we venture into the 26th week of the Premier League, the competition heats up with crucial fixtures that could not only impact the title race, but also the battle for survival.

 

Liverpool vs Luton Town

The Reds kick off the round on Thursday morning (AEDT) with another huge clash against Luton Town – who are equally desperate for points. A win for Liverpool will ensure they stay top for yet another week, putting the pressure on Arsenal and Manchester City to get points this weekend, while Luton could jump out of the relegation zone with a result. Plenty on the line at Anfield.

 

Crystal Palace vs Burnley

The Oliver Glasner era gets underway at Crystal Palace this weekend when they take on Burnley at Selhurst Park this weekend. Palace are without a win in three games and need points to keep clear of the drop zone, while Burnley’s hopes of survival are hanging by a thread, sitting seven points inside the bottom three and coming into the contest on a seven game winless run in the league.

 

Aston Villa vs Nottingham Forest

Aston Villa will be looking to string consecutive wins in the league for the first time since mid-December when they welcome Nottingham Forest to town. Both sides need points, particularly Villa in their push for fourth place.

 

Manchester United vs Fulham

A resurgent Manchester United welcome Fulham to Old Trafford, in another huge game for the Red Devils as they push for a top four finish. Erik ten Hag’s side are unbeaten in the new year, and are only five points behind Aston Villa heading into the weekend.

 

Brighton vs Everton

Everton are hoping to turn around their dip in form when they head on the road to face Brighton. The Toffees are without a win in the league since December 17, and are only goal difference clear of the drop zone, but face a difficult test in the Seagulls who are in the mix for European football.

 

Bournemouth vs Manchester City

Manchester City are on the march and they will be looking to make it nine straight wins when they take on Bournemouth on the road. City survived a major scare to claim three points against Brentford in midweek, and the Cherries have been no pushover, going unbeaten in their last four.

 

Arsenal vs Newcastle

Arsenal’s push to leapfrog Liverpool in the title race continues this week, as they take on Newcastle in a blockbuster clash at the Emirates. The Gunners have been in fine form as of late, and will go in with plenty of confidence after scoring 11 goals in their last two league matches. Newcastle – on the other hand – need points to stay in the hunt for European football next season.

 

Wolves vs Sheffield United

Sheffield United head on the road to face Wolves in another must-win game for Chris Wilder’s side. The Blades are seven points inside the relegation zone, and need points and fast to resuscitate their survival hopes, but face a Wolves side buoyed by an impressive win over Tottenham.

 

West Ham vs Brentford

West Ham will be looking to turn around their poor start to the new year, when they face local rivals Brentford at home. The Hammers are without a win in the league since the turn of the year and need points to keep their hopes of European football alive, while the Bees come into the contest fresh off defeats to the competition top two sides.

 

Tips

Liverpool vs Luton Town – Liverpool to win

Crystal Palace vs Burnley – Draw

Aston Villa vs Nottingham Forest – Aston Villa to win

Manchester United vs Fulham – Manchester United to win

Brighton vs Everton – Brighton to win

Bournemouth vs Manchester City – Manchester City to win

Arsenal vs Newcastle – Arsenal to win

Wolves vs Sheffield United – Wolves to win

West Ham vs Brentford – Draw

 

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