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1) Brighton can finish 40 years of damage

Manchester United and Brighton assembly at Wembley can solely summon recollections of the 1983 FA Cup closing. Gordon Smith’s miss/Gary Bailey’s save, Ray Wilkins’ chip and maniacal celebration, Steve Foster’s ill-fated return from suspension for the replay, Ron Atkinson savouring the second of United’s replay win. Halcyon days however 40 years on, two coaches who’ve vastly impressed of their first seasons in English soccer meet for the primary time. With each Lisandro Martínez and Raphaël Varane lacking, Roberto de Zerbi, with Alexis Mac Allister in midfield, leads Erik ten Hag on the variety of World Cup winners accessible to him. Groups with a equally attacking, high-pressing type to Brighton have brought on Ten Hag’s staff issues this season. With Evan Ferguson dominated out, former Purple Danny Welbeck will lead Brighton’s line towards a patched-up defence. Ten Hag should hope Brighton freeze within the trend Newcastle did on this season’s Carabao Cup closing. The Seagulls return to the stage the place they narrowly misplaced to Manchester Metropolis in 2019, however are a distinct proposition to Chris Hughton’s staff, from which Lewis Dunk is the only real survivor. John Brewin

  • Brighton v Manchester United, FA Cup semi-final, Sunday 4.30pm (all occasions BST)

2) Blades should blunt irresistible Metropolis

If anybody deluded themselves into considering that competing on three fronts may trigger a terminal malfunction inside Manchester Metropolis’s remorseless successful machine, the shimmering mirage has made means for a world of scorched earth, electrical storms and burning skies. Having simply tossed apart Bayern Munich within the Champions League like a canine mauling a chew toy, Metropolis have clanked again into juggernaut mode and are actually on a streak of 15 video games with out defeat. To say Sheffield United, closing on automated promotion again to the highest flight, face a frightening process at Wembley could be an enormous understatement, not least given Metropolis demolished Burnley, the runaway Championship winners, of their Cup quarter-final. Pep Guardiola’s aspect gained all 4 conferences in the course of the Blades’ most up-to-date spell within the Premier League, so the underdogs will want a exceptional efficiency to have any hope of an upset that ends Pep Guardiola’s treble bid. Will Magee

3) Smith Rowe nonetheless awaits time to shine

Emile Smith Rowe shares a terrace track with Bukayo Saka for good purpose. Each are excellent younger gamers who, having come by Arsenal’s youth system, have proven themselves to be formidable operators on the highest stage. However whereas Saka has been elementary to their title cost, Smith Rowe has not began a sport all season. A lot of that was as a consequence of long-standing damage points however he’s now absolutely match and his lack of minutes has begun to lift eyebrows. At West Ham he was not known as from the bench regardless of a transparent want for attacking urgency. If a participant who scored 10 league targets final season is to not be deployed at that stage, one has to surprise when Smith Rowe will regain favour. No one doubts Smith Rowe has the power to assist Arsenal’s title ambitions; Arteta sought a dialogue with the 22-year-old lately and stated he’s “in an excellent place”. He will certainly be in a good higher one if he can kick begin his marketing campaign with a giant contribution towards Southampton on Friday night time. Nick Ames

Emile Smith Rowe and Gabriel Jesus in training
Emile Smith Rowe is absolutely match once more however Mikel Arteta has been reluctant to name on him. {Photograph}: Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC/Getty Photos

Monday’s thrashing of Leeds was not solely notable for the standard of Liverpool’s efficiency as soon as they took the lead – their better of the season in response to Jürgen Klopp – however for the affect Trent Alexander-Arnold exerted and clearly loved in his new, adjusted function. Klopp has maximised Alexander-Arnold’s strengths within the final two video games by giving the right-back licence to roam in midfield when Liverpool have possession and has been repaid with priceless assists towards Arsenal and Leeds. At Elland Highway, that led to 153 touches, 124 accomplished passes and registering his fiftieth Premier League help with a elegant ball for Darwin Núñez’s closing flourish. The go to of a Nottingham Forest aspect with out a win in 10 league video games supplies additional alternative for Alexander-Arnold to showcase the flexibility that offers Klopp an additional, perfectly-timed possibility , with a midfield rebuild required this summer time. Andy Hunter

5) Newcastle’s reliance on Bruno

Eddie Howe might be hoping for a optimistic reply following what he described as his staff’s “worst efficiency of the season” as they misplaced 3-0 at Aston Villa final Saturday. Newcastle stay fourth, three factors forward of Tottenham with a sport in hand, however Sunday’s assembly of Champions League hopefuls may show pivotal. If a top-four end stays Newcastle’s overriding intention, Howe’s downside is that the autumn again of a Europa League place is much from assured both. With Villa, Brighton and Liverpool all nonetheless within the operating, there could also be nerves on Tyneside within the weeks forward. Bruno Guimarães is presently restricted by the ankle damage he has carried for some weeks now. When the Brazilian performs nicely so, invariably, do Newcastle however the determination to delay full therapy on the ankle is knowledgeable largely by a scarcity of high-calibre understudies in an understaffed division. Small surprise two new midfielders – one a Declan Rice type No 6 – prime a Newcastle summer time procuring record additionally together with a left-back, a proper sided centre-half and one other ahead. Louise Taylor

6) James helps Leeds whereas on mortgage at Fulham

Marco Silva’s response to Fulham’s lack of kind was telling. Aleksandar Mitrovic’s eight-match suspension appeared to have taken a toll in the course of the meek dwelling defeat to West Ham earlier this month. The light-weight Carlos Vinícius made little influence after being requested to steer the road in Mitrovic’s absence and Silva used a distinct strategy when Fulham visited Everton final weekend. The choice to play with out a conventional No 9 proved impressed. Dan James performed by the center and his tempo made Fulham far much less predictable. Everton had been unable to respondwhen James created house for Harry Wilson, Andreas Pereira and Willian. The Wales worldwide, who can lack composure within the closing third, even scored the ultimate aim in a formidable 3-1 win. Javi Gracia’s struggling Leeds aspect have conceded 11 targets in two video games and might be relieved that James, who’s on mortgage from Elland Highway, can not damage them the way in which he did their relegation rivals. Silva, in the meantime, has to shuffle his attacking choices once more. Jacob Steinberg

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Daniel James celebrates scoring for Fulham at Goodison Park.
Daniel James impressed within the centre-forward function for Fulham at Goodison Park, however is ineligible to play towards mum or dad membership Leeds. {Photograph}: Marc Atkins/Getty Photos

7) Vardy’s decline mirrors Leicester woes

When Jamie Vardy was withdrawn at half-time at Manchester Metropolis final weekend it was the newest marker in a saddening slowdown. A as soon as prolific striker has been blunted this season; Vardy’s final aim got here towards MK Dons within the Carabao Cup again in December. The 36-year-old has now gone 532 minutes with out registering a shot on course, a dry run that dates again to January. Brendan Rodgers misplaced religion in Vardy however the striker was restored to the beginning lineup earlier this month by the interim supervisor, Adam Sadler, and retained by Dean Smith on the Etihad. However Smith have to be tempted to start out Kelechi Iheanacho, who scored a comfort aim in defeat towards his former membership, or Patson Daka in Vardy’s place once they host Wolves on Saturday. Vardy’s sole league aim of the season got here in a complete 4-0 victory at Wolves in October. How Vardy and Leicester may do with a repeat. Ben Fisher

8) Hodgson as we speak however gone tomorrow

Crystal Palace’s Roy Hodgson-inspired revival has created a feel-good story for this Premier League season however the larger image is extra worrying. Amid a flurry of current supervisor sackings, nothing illustrates the short-termism of the highest flight fairly like hiring a 75-year-old to exchange an up-and-coming managerial expertise similar to Patrick Vieira. Three straight wins below Hodgson seem to have ensured security from relegation this season, however what’s going to come subsequent? Wouldn’t soccer be in a greater place if younger managers got respiratory house to develop, fairly than being dismissed as quickly as the specter of relegation looms into view? That is hardly the primary time that short-termism has been recognized as a problem for the Premier League, however Hodgson’s restoration reveals the issue is barely getting worse with every passing season, with groups afraid to danger the financially daunting drop into the Championship. Luke McLaughlin

9) Toney and Watkins’ England battle

Brentford’s worst run of the marketing campaign comes as Aston Villa have hit their finest kind. The place as soon as Thomas Frank’s staff had been talked of as European contenders, now Unai Emery being touted as a Europa League (the place else?) supervisor subsequent season. Ought to they win in west London, Villa could even really feel emboldened to set their sights greater. A sub-plot comes within the assembly of previous and current free-scoring Brentford strikers. Ivan Toney lastly made his England breakthrough final month and few may argue along with his type of 5 targets in his 10 league video games. Ollie Watkins, who has pale from the nationwide staff image over the previous yr, has notched 11 in his final 12 and seems reinvigorated below Emery. A continuation of that streak would most likely hold Villa’s hearth burning, though Toney will anticipate to his personal say. Whoever wins out, Gareth Southgate will relish the actual fact two of Harry Kane’s potential deputies are in such wonderful nick. NA

Ollie Watkins scores for Aston Villa against Newcastle.
Ollie Watkins’ goalscoring kind could have moved him again up the England pecking order. {Photograph}: Simon Davies/ProSports/Shutterstock

10) Bournemouth repaying O’Neil’s religion

Gary O’Neil has lower an impressively composed determine on this marketing campaign. Throughout these occasions when outcomes had been going towards Bournemouth – slender defeats wherein marginal refereeing selections or different strokes of unhealthy fortune value his staff – he typically outlined his perception that constant enhancements had been obvious within the enjoying group, although they had been struggling results-wise. Give us extra time and we are going to present what we will do, was the supervisor’s line of argument when victories had been scarce. A well-worn chorus for any relegation-threatened supervisor whose first concern is to hold on to their job fairly than have interaction with actuality. However fortunately for Bournemouth, there was substance to O’Neil’s positivity below strain. Victories towards Fulham, Leicester and Tottenham this month have lifted the promoted aspect to 14th; one other win at dwelling to West Ham and security might be all however assured. LMc

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