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EPL GW-26 Pre-Deadline & Live Chat

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Aymeric Laporte, Ruben Dias and Kyle Walker - Manchester City - Premier League
Do you think Manchester City is the clear cut favorite to win the Premier League title?
Photo by ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP via Getty Images

With the latest Champions League win against Borussia M’gladbach, Manchester City now has 19 consecutive wins in all competitions, and there is no stopping them. With a 10 point cushion above Manchester United, Pep Guardiola’s men are running away while others chase. At the bottom, a few teams are desperately trying to escape the relegation zone. So the Premier League has lots to offer this week; let’s see who’s likely to see action.

Check out the NMA Podcast this week, with a double game-week 26 special!


Saturday

Man City v West Ham

Despite Man City leading the charts with a 10-point advantage and being unbeaten in their previous 13 league matches, the Citizens can expect a tough game from in-form West Ham. The Hammers are currently fourth in the table and have been electrifying, players stepping up to make a difference when needed. But the Citizens may indeed be too difficult for David Moyes when it comes to creativity and solidarity at the back.

Key facts:

* City is unbeaten in the last 10 Premier League meetings against West Ham (W8 D2).

* West Ham has won two of its 23 Premier League away games against the league leaders (D3 L18).

* City winger Raheem Sterling has been involved in 14 goals (eight goals and six assists) in 15 Premier League games against West Ham, more than he has against any other opponent in the league.

Prediction: 2 – 0

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West Brom v Brighton

The Baggies have won only twice in the league, drawing their previous two. They desperately need three points to close the gap at the bottom of the table, and Big Sam may see this game as the perfect opportunity to do so, because... Brighton tends to have the most of the ball – as against Crystal Palace when losing the game. The problem Graham Potter faces is finishing, which he massively lacks at the moment.

Key facts:

* West Brom has not lost in 10 previous home league games against Brighton (W6 D4).

* Brighton has won one of its 11 top-flight meetings with West Brom (D6 L4).

* Brighton has lost one of its last six away league games (W2 D3).

Prediction: 0 – 1

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Leeds v Aston Villa

Raphinha and Patrick Bamford have been leading Leeds. Their form, including the 3-0 rout of Southampton, suggests that Biesla’s team is here to stay in the Premier League. Aston Villa had hoped that Jack Grealish would recover in time for this match, but the talisman is ruled out as of this writing (see comments for updates). The Villans really missed their captain in the 2-1 defeat to Leicester. Even with Grealish, Villa was thrashed 0-3 in the reverse fixture, which is why Dean Smith should expect a tough game this weekend.

Key facts:

* Leeds looks to complete its first league double over Villa since the 1975-76 season :o

* Villa has won two of their last 17 away league games against Leeds (D9 L6).

* Leeds striker Patrick Bamford has scored five goals in three starts in all competitions against Villa.

Prediction: 2 – 1

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Newcastle v Wolves

Newcastle played well enough to deserve better than the 3-1 defeat to Man United, but Steve Bruce’s men showed positive glimpses in a few phases. However, Wolves have won back-to-back for the first time since October, and Nuno Santo’s men are also unbeaten in the previous four fixtures. They do lack in scoring goals, but Wolves fans can smile as Raul Jimenez is back in training, and he may return sooner rather than later.

Key facts:

* Newcastle is without a win in its last four home league games against Wolves (D2 L2).

* Wolves have won three of their last four Premier League games (D1), as many as they had in their previous 16 (D5 L8).

* Newcastle had a player sent off in each of the last three home league games against Wolves.

Prediction: 0 – 1


Sunday

Crystal Palace v Fulham

Palace had only two touches inside Brighton’s box yet still left the game with three points. Roy Hodgson said he doesn’t care about stats unless he wins the game, and somehow this Palace side has managed to do just that, 10 points above the relegation zone without Wilfried Zaha. On the other hand, Fulham looks to have finally found a groove, unbeaten in four. The Cottagers have been drawing matches, so they may want to find goals up front to convert single points into the threes needed to escape relegation.

Key facts:

* Palace has won its last three league games against Fulham.

* Fulham is unbeaten in the last six away league matches.

* Fulham has won two of the last three EPL games (drawing one), as many as in the previous 24 (D9 L13).

Prediction: 1 – 1

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Leicester v Arsenal

James Maddison and Harvey Barnes have been thriving, just as in their 2-1 victory against Villa. Given the goal difference with United, Brendon Rodgers will want to chase the top or 2nd spot. Jamie Vardy wants to add to his record against so-called ‘Big Six’ teams. Meanwhile, Arsenal rebounds from defeat by Manchester City, though a 1-0 loss may seem like a compliment given Guardiola’s recent form. The Gunners will look to improve their own record at the King Power Stadium since they’ve been defeated thrice and earned more red cards (2) than goals (1) in their previous three visits.

Key facts:

* Leicester has won four of the last six Premier League matches against Arsenal (D1 L1).

* Arsenal has lost the last three away Premier League matches against Leicester.

* Only Wayne Rooney (12) has scored more Premier League goals against Arsenal than Jamie Vardy (11).

* Vardy played the full 90 in midweek’s Europa League action while Barnes played only a half.

Prediction: 1 – 1

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Tottenham v Burnley

Despite securing an 8-1 aggregate win against Wolfsberger in the Europa League, Spurs have been terrible in the EPL. Jose Mourinho’s men have lost five of their previous six fixtures and are down to ninth in the table after the defeat to Aston Villa. While the Clarets have been unbeaten in their last four fixtures, they have just one win in the last six league games. Tottenham does have a decent record of wins against Burnley in the past – as Hueng-Min Son scored the winner to earn a 1-0 victory at Turf Moor.

Key facts:

* Spurs have won five of their six home Premier League games against Burnley (D1).

* Burnley is aiming for a first away top-flight win against Spurs since Oct. 1974.

* Spurs have lost five of their last six Premier League games (W1), more than in their previous 28 in the league (W14 D10 L4).

Prediction: 1 – 0

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Chelsea v Man United

This fixture can be called the most interesting out of the lot for this week. Chelsea may have been disappointed with the draw against Southampton, but the Champions League win over Atletico Madrid will give a major boost against United. Thomas Tuchel’s men have won five and drawn one in their last six matches; what is most impressive is that in seven games under Tuchel, the Blues have conceded just two goals.

United has two fewer days to recover after facing Real Sociedad in the Europa League. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looks to restart his main stars after saying that he will not let City chase away. The Red Devils have won four and drawn two of their last six league outings, and one slip may very well end their hopes of overtaking the noisy neighbours.

Key facts:

* Manchester United has won their last three away games in all competitions against Chelsea.

* Chelsea has not lost four consecutive home games in all competitions against an opponent since a run of four against Watford between 1981-86.

* United forward Marcus Rashford has been involved in seven goals (five goals and two assists) in all competitions against Chelsea – against no side has he been involved in more.

Prediction: 2 – 2

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Sheffield United v Liverpool

The Blades are 14 points from safety with a maximum of 39 left to play for. The Reds lost a Merseyside derby at Anfield for the first time since 1999, and Klopp has admitted ‘Pool’s fate, so he may lower his aim to the top four and Europe. Klopp now has Jordan Henderson out for a while, but Diogo Jota is back in training as some relief. Alisson is out on compassionate leave for at least this match.

Interestingly, Sheffield has earned more (7) points than Liverpool this year, and the defending champs have lost four league matches in a row for the second time in their history since 2002. However, a fifth loss against a Sheffield side should surely not happen, but you never really know in the Premier League now.

Key facts:

* Sheffield United has lost 20 of its 25 Premier League games this season (W3 D2) – the fewest a team has taken to reach 20 defeats in a single campaign in the English top flight.

* Liverpool has won its last four Premier League games against Sheffield United.

* Liverpool has conceded 34 goals in their 25 Premier League games this season, one more than they did in the whole of their 2019-20 title-winning season.

Prediction: 0 – 2


Monday

Everton v Southampton

Southampton hasn’t won a single league game since GW-17 when the Saints defeated Liverpool. A 3-0 defeat to Leeds this Tuesday means they have not gained even one point in their previous eight league games while conceding 24.

The Toffees are coming in with high confidence after their first Merseyside derby victory at Anfield since 1999, so Carlos Ancelotti’s men will be buzzing to take advantage of a struggling Southampton side to earn another precious three points. The manager also confirmed that Allan and Dominic Calvert-Lewin are available for selection against the Saints.

Key facts:

* Everton is unbeaten in its last 15 home Premier League games against Southampton (W10 D5).

* Everton has lost its last three Premier League home games, most since April-Sept. 1958 (seven).

* Brazilian Richarlison is looking to score in three consecutive Premier League games for Everton for the first time since December 2019.

Prediction: 2 – 0

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[All key facts sourced from Reuters]

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[ The early match is Man City hosting West Ham, so we should see Pep’s confirmed lineups before the Fantrax deadline! ]

What are your predictions for the fixtures? Any specific match you’re looking forward to watching? What are your fantasy strategies for the week? Any popular player whom you hope will earn you points? Who are you adding and dropping? Please let us know in the comments below, and if you hear any late fitness news (e.g. Covid-19 positive or injury), please share!