The smallest round of fixtures in the Premier League involves some huge clashes at the bottom of the table. While the FA Cup features a number of the big teams, it will be tough to ignore the significance of one six-pointer at the bottom of the table.
All matches are being broadcasted on Sky Sports.
Game of the week
Brighton & Hove Albion vs Newcastle United: AMEX Stadium, Saturday 20.00
A huge game at the bottom of the table; 17th versus 16th and a clash of highly contrasting styles.
Brighton have been the league’s unluckiest team. If games were won on xG, they’d be in the top-half of the table! Their build-up play is very good, using the back-three as a solid base to work from. Their attackers have been incredibly wasteful in front of goal, but their recent victory against Southampton gave the club some much needed respite.
By contrast, Newcastle have been struggling for victories and their performances have lacked their progressive edge. It’s not all on Steve Bruce’s tactical setup, though, with injuries to Allan Saint-Maximin, Callum Wilson and Miguel Almiron really blunting their attacking edge.
The hosts play football in a pleasing way but, most importantly, they have an identity. It doesn’t matter who Graham Potter plays, the style of play will always follow some fundamentals. It means that they look more equipped to beat the drop because there isn’t an overreliance on individual brilliance.
Fulham vs Leeds United: Craven Cottage, 20.00
This is a huge opportunity for Fulham to pull themselves out of the bottom three, albeit temporarily. Last week’s defeat to Manchester City was just a step too far for Scott Parker’s battling squad. Leeds are potentially without Patrick Bamford, after he hobbled off against Chelsea, and their results have staggered of late.
West Ham United vs Arsenal: London Park, 15.00
Will Arsenal be feeling a little tired after their exploits in Europe? Potentially. They have travelled a lot of miles over the past month and this international break will certainly be timely for anybody who isn’t linking up with their countries. My prediction for West Ham to win at Old Trafford was somewhat misguided, however, David Moyes will want to be more progressive.
Aston Villa vs Tottenham Hotspur: Villa Park, 19.30
Dean Smith’s men have looked lost without Jack Grealish in an attacking sense, but they have a lot of good players in attacking areas. Their talisman is close to a return but he might be left until after the international break. However, Spurs will be at an almighty low after embarrassingly exiting the Europa League to Dinamo Zagreb.