It’s a clash between Champions League hopefuls. Five points behind Arsenal with 13 games to go means Pep Guardiola’s side has little or no room for more slip-ups if they are to retain the Premier League title.
Winning away against top-club Arsenal and then going on to earn only a draw against newly-promoted, bottom-half Nottingham Forest at the Etihad encapsulates the Citizens’ season in just two games.
Newcastle’s four games without victory in the league was topped off with a defeat at the hands of Man United in the Carabao Cup final last week. Howe’s side needs to start turning draws into wins to climb above Tottenham into the last Champions League spot.
Arsenal v Bournemouth
Low defensive block? No problem. Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal tore apart Sean Dyche’s deep-lying Everton side to go five points clear at the top of the table. After surprisingly losing the reverse fixture less than a month ago, the Gunners were better prepared for the Toffees this time, and showed the patience and resilience needed to breach the Everton rearguard.
Gary O’Neil must have been left scratching his head if he had monitored the Everton game hoping to pick up pointers on how to stop the Gunners from scoring. Currently 19th with the poorest goal difference in the league, Bournemouth needs to quickly find ways to score more goals and concede less if they are to avoid the drop.
Aston Villa v Crystal Palace
It’s a mid-table clash. Premier League 11th v 12th face off in what is expected to be a tasty affair. With little fear of relegation, both teams are expected to attack and run the game on the front foot.
A lack of consistency was Aston Villa’s biggest problem before the arrival of Unai Emery, but the Spaniard doesn’t seem to have a ready-made solution. The Villans have stumbled between sublime and abysmal at different times this season, and it is unknown which version of Aston Villa will show up this weekend.
Crystal Palace’s poor output in front of goal is a constant worry for Patrick Viera. The Eagles have scored only three times in their last seven games. Their lack of goals has also seen them struggle to turn draws into wins, with four draws in their last five league games.
Brighton v West Ham
Coming off the back of a two-week break, Brighton faces Fulham hoping to regain the red-hot form that put the Seagulls in contention for a European place. But they have been far from their best in recent weeks, winning just two of their last five games. They’ll have their hands full when they take on a West Ham side seeking to pull away from the relegation battle.
The Hammers’ outstanding four-nil victory over Nottingham Forest last week was dampened by the come-from-ahead loss to Man United in the FA Cup on Wednesday.
How long can Todd Boehly withold the axe? Graham Potter knows it’s only a matter of time before he is shown the exit door at Stamford Bridge if recent dismal results continue.
Sitting in 10th with a points tally closer to relegation than Champions League places, the Blues have failed to win any of their last five matches in the League.
The Blues’ goal-scoring stats also make for terrible reading — They’ve scored just once in their last five games.
Leeds hasn’t faired much better recently, winning just one of the last five games. Leeds however, possesses a better goalscoring record.
Wolves v Tottenham
Wolves seem to have returned to old ways with a run of three straight wins lifting them out of the relegation zone. They have failed to win any of their last three matches, losing two and settling for a draw in one.
Julen lupetegui’s side’s struggle in front of goal is made more evident by the fact that none of his central forwards has scored a Premier League goal in the past year.
Should Spurs be looking at keeping assistant manager Christian Stellini after Antonio Conte’s time in charge? Stellini has guided Spurs to four wins in the four matches since he has stepped in as head coach. Last week’s victory over Chelsea was Spurs’ fourth victory in their last five games.
Can the Saints possibly avoid the drop? Currently bottom of the league with just one win in their last five games, they needed to start winning weeks ago against fellow strugglers to avoid dropping to the Championship. The Saints failed to build on an impressive one-nil victory over Chelsea by losing to fellow strugglers Leeds last week.
Leicester’s problems were laid bare when they were knocked out of the FA Cup by lower-division side Blackburn Rovers on Tuesday. The Foxes struggle to create anything in attack without James Maddison, and it is unknown whether the England international will be fit enough to feature this weekend.
Nottingham Forest v Everton
Nottingham Forest looks like a different team from the side that struggled to score goals while leaking goals at every given chance early in the season.
Forest has worked its way up to 13th, currently four points from relegation. The four-nil defeat to West Ham should be enough of a wake-up call to remind Steve Cooper’s side of the task at hand.
A victory against Arsenal in his first game seemed like the beginning of good times for Everton. The Toffees have since gone on to lose three of their last four and are still firmly perched in the relegation places.
Is Liverpool finally back in form? Three wins and one draw in their last four league games suggests that the Reds have finally turned a corner. Jurgen Klopp’s side has endured an unusual season that has seen them adrift in mid-table spots for most of the season. The Reds’ recent upturn in form has elevated them to sixth, just six points off the top-four places.
Can the Red Devils be stopped? With many of their first-team players rested, the 3-1 come-from-behind victory against West Ham showed the level at which the Red Devils are currently performing.
Manchester United lifted the first trophy of the English League by defeating Newcastle in the final last week so will be confident at Anfield.
Brentford v Fulham
Overachievers? Maybe. Ninth-placed Brentford welcomes 7th placed Fulham in what is expected to be an open affair.
The Bees have been difficult to crack for big teams this season, their defensive resoluteness being the most impressive aspect of their play. Brentford hasn’t lost any of the last five games, now six points behind Newcastle and the final European spot.
Lessons from past failures finally seem to be paying dividends for Fulham as the Cottagers look set to maintain their Premier League status for at least another season. They have won two and drawn two of their last four games.
Let the games begin. Join us in the chats below!