Raheem Sterling’s return to Anfield, Leicester’s title challenge and Louis van Gaal saviour Marcus Rashford feature in our five talking points for the midweek Premier League programme.
With 10 key games spread out over Tuesday and Wednesday evening – you can get all your team news and Opta stats here – there’s plenty to look forward to in the midweek fixture list.
Here, TEAMtalk picks out five of the key talking points as the battle for the title and the fight for survival hots up.
CAN THE FOXES STEAL A MARCH?
Leicester can steal a march at the top as they play 24 hours before all of their title rivals. With Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester City not in action until Wednesday, Leicester would apply real pressure by beating West Brom at home on Tuesday night.
Albion would appear safe after beating Crystal Palace at the weekend and will present a danger with a willing Saido Berahino back on board, but another Foxes win would definitely leave them top with 10 games left and give Claudio Ranieri’s squad increased belief they can really pull off the impossible dream.
The Foxes were limp in Saturday’s late win against Norwich and will need a much better performance against a West Brom side, who like the Canaries, are certain to put men behind the ball. A potential banana skin – or another victory on the way to Premier League glory?
To further spur (no pun intended) the Foxes on, 10 of the last 12 Premier League title winners have been top of the table come March 1.
LONDON CALLING AS TOTTENHAM & ARSENAL FACE HUGE GAMES
Tottenham passed a major test of their character when they came from a goal down to beat Swansea on Sunday. But Spurs face another major hurdle when they make the short trip to West Ham and Hammers fans would love nothing more than putting a dent in their local rivals’ title hopes. It’ll be a huge test against Slaven Bilic’s side, who have gone more than six months since a league defeat at Upton Park.
Arsenal, meanwhile, seek to bounce back from their “very average display” and defeat to a patched-up Manchester United side when they face Swansea at home – and Arsene Wenger will demand a positive response ahead of what will be one of the biggest-ever north London derbies this weekend.
CAN RASHFORD DO A TREBLE?
THIS IS AMAZING https://t.co/RQMDz7Bw9f
— Daniel Harris (@DanielHarris) February 28, 2016
Manchester United teenager Marcus Rashford has provided one of the stories of the season in the past week. Few outside of Old Trafford had heard of the 18-year-old striker before he was summoned to make a Europa League debut after Anthony Martial dropped out with a hamstring injury.
But Rashford scored twice against Danish champions FC Midtjylland and then repeated the feat against Arsenal. Now it is Watford on Wednesday and more Rashford heroics could push closer United closer to the top four and keep manager Louis van Gaal in a job.
STERLING’S ANFIELD RETURN
Judging by the boos ringing around Wembley at the Capital One Cup final on Sunday, Raheem Sterling could be in for a tough time on his first return to Anfield since moving to Manchester City last summer.
Sterling will feel the first trophy of his City career has vindicated his wish to leave Liverpool, but doubts remain over the quality of his finishing after some glaring Wembley misses almost cost City the cup. In the bigger picture, City need to get the job done in 90 minutes this time to keep the pressure on top two Leicester and Tottenham.
For Liverpool, it will not so much be about avenging their cup final defeat, but proving to Jurgen Klopp that the players are good enough for Liverpool and can have a long-term future at Anfield – especially after Jamie Carragher questioned the quality of their squad.
A LIFE FOR THE BLACK CATS – BUT PALACE IN THE MIRE?
It is probably difficult to underestimate how big these round of fixtures are for Sam Allardyce’s Sunderland.
While relegation rivals Newcastle (Stoke, away), Norwich (Chelsea, home) and Swansea (Arsenal, away) will do well to pick up points, the Black Cats entertain a Crystal Palace side who have not won in 10 Premier League games. Win and there is every chance Sunderland will finally escape the bottom three, but lose and the psychological damage could be so great that not even Allardyce’s renowned survival skills might work this time.
A defeat for the Eagles, meanwhile, will mean Palace are in a relegation fight themselves, according to boss Alan Pardew.