There’s plenty of action this weekend to keep us football fans occupied – that’s if the ‘Beast from the East’ permits them to go forward as planned. As we enter crunch time in the Premier League, the races for both top four and relegation heat up significantly, turning ties that some would previously dismiss as skippable when watching Match of the Day into mouth-watering ones.
Let’s get into them, shall we?
Crystal Palace vs Manchester United
Jose Mourinho’s men come into the game at Selhurst Park off the back of last Sunday’s commanding performance at Old Trafford, where they came out victorious over Chelsea in the latest instalment of the Mourinho/Conte saga – and it felt absolutely fantastic.
The game saw complete performances from almost every position on the pitch, producing Romelu Lukaku’s best game in a United shirt so far and a tactical masterclass from Mourinho.
Scott McTominay continues to flourish in midfield alongside Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba, establishing himself as a first-team star.
Before two massive back-to-back home games against Liverpool and Sevilla, United face a much friendlier foe in the form of 17th place Crystal Palace.
Palace’s last win in all competitions came in mid-January at home to Bournemouth, but have since suffered losses from the likes of Spurs, Arsenal, and Everton.
Though in their last game, it was a late header from Harry Kane that clinched the win for Spurs at Selhurst Park, denying Palace a precious point.
Timothy Fosu-Mensah won’t have the opportunity to impress United boss, Jose Mourinho, due to regulations that prevent him from facing his parent club.
United are still without Marouane Fellaini, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Daley Blind, and Ander Herrera – who limped off against Sevilla with a hamstring problem last week. Meanwhile, fans hope Eric Bailly will make his first start for United since coming back from his long-term ankle injury.
With a tough slate of games to play in the upcoming weeks, United will hope to get off to a winning start against a struggling Crystal Palace side.
Burnley vs Everton
Burnley haven’t won any of their last 12 games, yet have still managed to clinch onto 7th place despite Leicester being hot on their heels.
Everton have climbed to 9th under Allardyce, and a win at Turf Moor could see them equal Sean Dyche’s men on points.
The Toffees are one of the worst travellers in the competition and have scooped just one point from five games on the road.
Burnley were denied three points against 16th-place Southampton last week through a 90th-minute equaliser from Manolo Gabbiadini.
Southampton vs Stoke
Speaking of the Saints, they welcome 19th place Stoke City to St Mary’s on Saturday. The two sides have found themselves unexpectedly tangled in this season’s relegation battle, and are both in desperate need of three points.
Both sides drew 1-1 in their previous outings. Manolo Gabbiadini bagging a precious point at Turf Moor as previously mentioned, while the Potters squandered a one-goal lead at the King Power Stadium.
However, the Italian’s recent strike was his first goal in 15 Premier League matches.
Southampton have struggled for goals this season, becoming one of the many unexpected candidates to find themselves tangled in the relegation battle.
Stoke City have won their last two league visits to St Mary’s, both by a 1-0 scoreline, and the side’s attacking power from the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri could create a hard-fought game on the south coast.
Liverpool vs Newcastle
Liverpool’s previous two results come in the form of a 4-1 thrashing of West Ham at Anfield and a 5-0 win visiting FC Porto in the Champion’s League.
Meanwhile, Newcastle drew 2-2 against Bournemouth in their last league game, despite upsetting Manchester United at St James’ Park the week prior.
Liverpool’s star man, Mohamed Salah, has played a part in 31 Premier League goals this season (23 goals, 8 assists) and has proven that Liverpool can do just fine without Philippe Coutinho.
This Saturday’s fixture is likely to see yet another comfortable win for Liverpool, as they look to close the gap on United in 2nd after they forced Chelsea to drop out of the top four last weekend.
Spurs vs Huddersfield
Mauricio Pochettino’s men are currently unbeaten in their last 15 games in all competitions. Spurs’ last game came in the form of an FA Cup 5th round replay at Wembley, where they overcame Rochdale, who sit at the bottom of League One.
Huddersfield crashed out of the FA Cup thanks to a United win at the John Smith Stadium. The Terriers then beat West Brom 2-1 away in their last game in the Premier League.
David Wagner’s men are desperate for points but will struggle to do so against Spurs, who have now broken into the top 4, re-establishing themselves as contenders in the race for 2nd place.
Swansea vs West Ham
Swansea have won their last three Premier League home matches, thought were beaten at Brighton (4-1) in their last outing.
Carlos Carvalhal recently triumphed over his former club, Sheffield Wednesday, to go through to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.
Meanwhile, West Ham’s latest league game resulted in a 4-1 thrashing at Anfield. Manchester United legend, Patrice Evra made his debut for the Hammers last weekend but is in slight doubt after picking up a small shin injury.
Leicester vs Bournemouth
Claude Puel’s men have lost just one of their last eight Premier League matches at home, with the Cherries coming into the fixture winless in their last four Premier League games.
The Foxes just about scraped a point against Stoke at the King Power Stadium in their last game, thanks to an unfortunate own goal in the 70th minute from Jack Butland. While Bournemouth came back from 2-0 down to secure a draw at the Vitality against Newcastle.
Bournemouth have been vulnerable at the back recently and Leicester have the attacking power to punish that. With the home crowd behind them, they have ample opportunity to finally dethrone Burnley in 7th place.
Watford vs West Brom
Watford’s recent fortunes have failed to live up to those of earlier stages in the season, though they still significantly trump Alan Pardew and his side’s.
A win is simply a must for bottom-of-the-table, West Brom. They’ve lost all five of their last five games in all competitions, while Watford’s last two league wins saw them topple Everton and defending champions, Chelsea.
A defeat at Vicarage Road for West Brom could spell the end of Alan Pardew’s tenure at the club, potentially being the second Baggies manager to get the sack this season.
Albion will once again be without Daniel Sturridge, who is still struggling with a hamstring injury he picked up at Chelsea, with Nacer Chadli and James Morrison also missing the tie.
Manchester City vs Chelsea
For the second week in a row, Super Sunday lives up to its name. This weekend’s biggest clash comes when league-leaders, Manchester City, host last season’s champions, Chelsea.
Pep Guardiola’s men have won their last 13 league matches at home, while Chelsea failed to get the better of Manchester United at Old Trafford last Sunday.
City beat Arsenal 3-0 for the second time in five days on Thursday night, goals from Bernardo Silva, David Silva, and Leroy Sane secured yet another win for the Citizens.
City’s Argentine superstar, Sergio Aguero, has netted 21 goals in the league this season, 10 more than Chelsea’s top scorer, Eden Hazard. Aguero has also scored five goals in the last four games he has played against the Blues.
This could be the perfect opportunity for Antonio Conte’s men to bounce back from last weekend’s disappointment, as they have the chance to once again infiltrate the top four as well as hand City their second loss of the season.
Brighton vs Arsenal
Fans who managed to brave the weather and drag themselves to the Emirates on Thursday night were greeted by yet another 3-0 defeat at the hands of Manchester City. The ground was sparsely populated that night partly due to the Beast from the East, but also possibly because of fans not wanting to witness another woeful display – it was probably for the best.
Brighton, on the other hand, have enjoyed a much better run of form as of late. Chris Hughton’s men are currently unbeaten in all of their last seven games in all competitions, winning four of their last six.
The Seagulls have lost just three games at home since the start of the season, an impressing achievement for the newly-promoted side. The arrival of record signing, Jurgen Locadia, has very much bolstered Brighton’s attacking options in their recent form, as the Dutchman has bagged goals in both of his appearances for the club so far.
The ‘Wenger Out’ contingent among Arsenal fans became more prominent than ever following their lacklustre performance in the Carabao Cup final last weekend.
Manchester City made an absolute mockery of the Gunners at Wembley, many fans highlighting the lack of ambition and fight in the side on the day.
Recent form in mind, Brighton could pounce on Arsenal’s misfortunes, sending Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal career further into disarray.