It’s the North London Derby that headlines this next set of matches, although Europa League commitments may leave both teams a little tired.
Game of the week
Arsenal vs Tottenham Hotspur: Emirates Stadium, Sunday 16.30 (Sky Sports)
Mikel Arteta is now without a win in three matches against Burnley and their most recent clash was a microcosm of Arsenal’s season. The Gunners played some excellent football and took an early lead through Pierre-Emerick Aubameyeang. However, an awful mistake from Granit Xhaka got Burnley back into the clash. Despite a late assault on the Burnley goal, Arsenal couldn’t quite stretch to three points. A lot of promise and a lot of frustration.
By contrast, Spurs have quickly reversed their gloomy predicament - putting together three straight league victories. The feel-good factor has started to return as Jose Mourinho decided to play a more expansive style of football, bringing Gareth Bale back into the fold; the Welshman certainly hasn’t let him down, scoring four times in those three league matches. And, having been left out of the starting eleven against Dinamo Zagreb, Bale will be raring to go.
This is the acid test for Mourinho. Will he deploy the same attacking line-up against big-six opposition? It’s a tough one. Tanguy Ndombele has been flourishing in a double-pivot and it has given the team a creative spark from deep.
Both managers will be concerned about what they are facing and it could be a case of caution over chaos. An element of tiredness could also come into play, with both teams having had European commitments on Thursday night.
Newcastle United vs Aston Villa: St James’ Park, 20.00 (BT Sport)
Newcastle’s point against West Bromwich Albion looked like being a respectable one, until Fulham won at Anfield just a couple of hours later! Steve Bruce is approaching his very own version of “squeaky-bum time”. Key players are injured and tensions are high within the camp after Bruce’s spat with Matt Ritchie. Nonetheless, the Magpies can defend resolutely against a Villa team without Jack Grealish simply do not offer the same attacking threat.
Leeds United vs Chelsea: Elland Road, 12.30 (BT Sport)
Leeds were comprehensively beaten by West Ham United last Monday, and it’s tough to see them getting the better of this well oiled Chelsea machine. The Blues have only conceded twice in 11 matches under Thomas Tuchel, beating Tottenham and Atletico Madrid in the process. His back-three system has created a platform for a solid defensive structure that can morph into progressive attacking football.
Crystal Palace vs West Bromwich Albion: Selhurst Park, 15.00 (Sky Sports)
It’s another must-win match for West Brom, but the ray of light is getting dimmer with every passing game. The Sam Allardyce effect is kicking into gear but it’s all looking a little too late. It’s unfortunate for them that Wilfried Zaha is expected to make his long awaited return to the starting eleven after coming off the bench in their defeat to Spurs. Zaha takes Palace up to another level and he will be itching to get back amongst the action.
Everton vs Burnley: Goodison Park, 17.30 (Sky Sports)
Everton are a strange team. They can be very easy on the eye in some games and absolutely dire in others. Strangely, their form against the division’s struggling teams has been patchy; Burnley is exactly the kind of match that they could trip up in. The Clarets will sit deep, defend compactly and look to play a very physical match; the aim will be to restrict space in-behind their defence and ruffle the feathers of Jordan Pickford on set-pieces.
Fulham vs Manchester City: Craven Cottage, 20.00 (BT Sport)
Fulham’s efforts over the past few months have been remarkable. Their victory at Anfield was a sign of just how far they have come in such a short period of time; Fulham didn’t just beat Liverpool - they played them off the park at times. That being said, Liverpool are having an almighty crisis and City are simply a different animal to them.
Southampton vs Brighton & Hove Albion: St Mary’s, 12.00 (BBC Sport)
Ralph Hasenhuttl will have felt immense relief after beating Sheffield United, their first league victory since January 4. Getting another victory would alleviate the very unlikely possibility of being dragged into a relegation battle with their southern rivals. Graham Potter would kill to be in the position of his opponents and, in all honesty, his team should be. The xG kings only have themselves to blame for failing to pick up the points.
Leicester City vs Sheffield United: King Power Stadium, 14.00 (Sky Sports)
They are still trundling along nicely but Leicester aren’t nearly as sharp as they were earlier in the year. James Maddison and Harvey Barnes are integral to their attack. It could be a tough match for the Foxes, however Sheffield United also have a lot of key figures on the sidelines. Their defence, in particular, has looked patchy in the absence of John Egan.
Manchester United vs West Ham United: Old Trafford, 19.15 (Sky Sports)
Beating City at the Etihad was the best result of Man United’s season, however, they could be brought down to earth this weekend. The expectation will be on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team to beat West Ham and David Moyes will be eyeing an upset. His team are very solid defensively and their attacking stars are primed for the counter.
Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Liverpool: Molineux, 20.00 (Sky Sports)
Liverpool have won four of their last five home matches in all competitions, despite losing their last six games at Anfield. The crisis doesn’t extend to away venues! Wolves have one win in their last four and haven’t scored more than once in any of those fixtures. This is an opportunity for Liverpool. They won’t have the curse of Anfield hanging over their head but the players on the pitch need to show hunger.