It’s already been a massive week in football. Real Madrid brushed aside Juventus in their first leg in the Champions League quarter-finals, while Liverpool performed the unthinkable in completely out-classing Manchester City in their quarter-final clash.
The week’s massive slate of fixtures continues into this weekend, as Pep’s men look to bounce back from their midweek upset – but their opponents have other ideas.
Here’s a preview of this weekend’s Premier League games, featuring some notable derby delights:
Manchester City vs Manchester United
Objectively, this could be the biggest game of the season. After 27 wins, six more than United in second place, City have the opportunity to officially secure Premier League glory for the first time under Pep Guardiola – and they could do so against their biggest rivals.
Meanwhile, this season has been widely considered a mixed bag for Manchester United. While the side is by far in their best place since Sir Alex’s retirement, they’re still yet to return to their world-beating best.
City have been this season’s runaway success story, while Jose Mourinho’s men have merely been the best of the rest. Although, Wednesday night’s defeat at the hands of Liverpool could be the perfect opportunity for the Red Devils to strike while the iron is hot.
Just one goal separated the two sides in their meeting at Old Trafford in December as the Blues won 2-1.
However, United will fancy their chances this time out, accumulating wins against Liverpool and Chelsea since the last Manchester derby, as well as a convincingly beating Swansea City last week.
Goals from Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez clinched three points for Jose’s men, but another win will be vital in proving doubters wrong.
City have begun to show cracks since many lauded them as ‘the greatest side in Premier League history’ around the Christmas period, and it’s up to United to prove there is still an argument for Manchester being red.
Everton vs Liverpool
Next up is the second major derby of the weekend, but this game’s result may be a bit more clear-cut.
As already mentioned, Liverpool got the better of Manchester City earlier in the week, but it’s fair to say that Everton are hardly a team as intimidating as Manchester City.
Sam Allardyce’s men themselves faced Manchester City in their last outing but lost to the champions-elect 3-1 despite the home advantage.
However, the two sides drew 1-1 in the reverse fixture, and Everton have climbed all the way to ninth place despite being relegation contenders earlier on in the season. Meanwhile, Liverpool sit in third, two points behind United in second, though United have a game less played.
Stoke vs Spurs
Next up, Spurs look to leapfrog Liverpool into third place, they can do so if they beat 19th placed Stoke City on Saturday.
Spurs are currently undefeated in 11 away matches, while Stoke have only won five home matches this season and have failed to win any of their last eight in all competitions.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men overcame London rivals, Chelsea, in their last Premier League match thanks to goals from Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli. Stoke, on the other hand, suffered a 3-0 loss at the hands of Arsenal, although the score-line very much flattered the Gunners’ performance.
West Brom vs Swansea
In quite possibly one of the most important matches in the bottom half of the table this weekend, rock-bottom West Brom host Swansea City as they look to extend their win tally to four for the whole season.
A 2-1 defeat at home to Burnley ultimately saw the end of Alan Pardew’s reign at the club, as the Baggies lost their eighth game in a row.
The Swans, however, despite a turnaround in form since the appointment of Carlos Carvalhal, still face the prospect of relegation, sitting just three points above the drop zone.
Both sides have some crucial fixtures coming up in their bids for Premier League survival. And three points for either side could go a long way in each of their seasons.
Watford vs Burnley
In a game where both sides’ safety is slightly more certain, Javi Gracia’s Watford play host to this season’s breakout stars, Burnley.
Sean Dyche’s men go into the match off the back of three consecutive wins, while Watford are without a win in three. However, the Hornets are still undefeated in their last six matches at Vicarage Road, with four wins and six draws.
Burnley were the victors in December’s reverse fixture that ended 1-0. The Clarets’ Scott Arfield scored the only goal in the game in front of the Turf Moor crowd.
Leicester City vs Newcastle United
Leicester City’s recent attacking firepower from the likes of Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez has been very reminiscent of the Foxes’ Premier League-winning season just two years ago.
Claude Puel’s men have managed to score in 12 consecutive matches in all competitions, though have won just one of their last five matches at the King Power Stadium. Their opponents, Newcastle, moved up to 12th in the league after bagging back-to-back wins thanks to a 1-0 toppling of Huddersfield last weekend.
Leicester currently sit in a respectable 8th place but could finally leapfrog Burnley if results go their way. Meanwhile, Rafa Benitez’s Magpies have failed to win any of their last five away matches, still sitting just seven points off the drop zone.
Bournemouth vs Crystal Palace
Another of the many sides faced with the possibility is 17th placed Crystal Palace. They visit the south coast this weekend to face a side who have the joint-second worst defensive record at home in the league, Bournemouth.
The Cherries drew with Watford last week at Vicarage, still clinching onto 10th place. Goals from Josh King and Jermain Defoe brought the visitors level twice, ultimately securing a vital point.
Palace, on the other hand, were beaten by Liverpool in their last time out. The game was Roy Hodgson’s side’s fifth loss in six matches, leaving the Eagles dangerously close to the bottom three.
Brighton vs Huddersfield
Brighton and Huddersfield both go into the game in poor form. Brighton have lost 2-0 in each of their last three matches – the latest coming at the hands of Leicester – while Huddersfield haven’t scored in their last four.
Both sides have slid down the rankings in recent weeks, Brighton now sitting ahead of 16th placed Huddersfield in 13th. However, the Terriers sit worse off at just three points above the drop zone even though they’ve played more games than some of those around them.
David Wagner’s side were 2-0 winners in December’s reverse fixture, though I fully expect the home side to come out on top this time.
Chelsea vs West Ham
In this weekend’s London derby, the two sides walk into the fixture with the roles very much reversed. Chelsea suffered a 3-1 home upset at the hands of Spurs last Sunday, while West Ham pulled off an impressive 3-0 win against relegation strugglers, Southampton.
Interestingly, the two sides have won the same number of games in their last five. Chelsea’s hopes of Champion’s League qualification have been left hanging by thread following five defeats in their last seven games.
Antonio Conte’s men currently sit eight points behind Spurs in fourth. And current form dictates that won’t change any time soon.
Arsenal vs Southampton
The last of this weekend’s fixtures sees Arsene Wenger’s men welcome Southampton at the Emirates. Arsenal have won all of their last four games despite a lacklustre campaign thus far – and sit well outside of Champion’s League contention in sixth.
Meanwhile, Southampton’s newly-appointed gaffer, Mark Hughes, failed to grab a second win since his appointment after last Saturday’s loss at West Ham.
For Arsenal, it’s mostly pride that’ll be on the line this Sunday. But for Southampton, who sit in 18th, serious work still needs to be done to ensure safety.