VAVEL will be joining many sports organisations in coming off social media for the weekend. It is a protest against online abuse, discrimination and racism.
That doesn't men it will not cover the weekend's matches, however, and this is your guide to the upcoming Premier League clashes.
Game of the week
Manchester United vs Liverpool: Old Trafford, Sunday 16.30 (Sky Sports)
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will have been delighted at his team’s second-half display in their 6-2 annihilation of AS Roma. After a turbulent opening 45 minutes, United upped the tempo and their Italian opponents couldn’t live with them. Edinson Cavani, Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba were all exceptional.
Unfortunately, Liverpool are out of European competition and Jurgen Klopp is restless. His formidable front-three, aside from Mo Salah, has lost its edge. Sadio Mane, in particular, has dramatically lost his composure in the box while Roberto Firmino’s steady return of goals has also dramatically dried up. This lack of efficiency angered Klopp in last week’s draw with Newcastle United, where Steve Bruce’s men snatched a point in the dying moments.
United will be delighted with their romping success on Thursday night but they could be a little fatigued. Whether or not the visitors can take advantage of tiredness remains to be seen. Solskjaer will set up in a pragmatic fashion, perhaps anticipating that his players cannot keep their high energy levels up.
Southampton vs Leicester City: St Mary’s, 20.00 (Sky Sports)
These two faced each other a few weeks ago in a tense FA Cup semi-final. However, this time the stakes are quite different. Southampton won’t go down because of their outstanding start to the season but they should be very concerned by their dramatic drop in league form. The two teams couldn’t be further apart in terms of their ambitions for the end to this campaign and Leicester could maul a tired and motiveless Saints outfit.
Crystal Palace vs Manchester City: Selhurst Park, 12.30 (BT Sport)
It’s that stage of the season and Palace have the deckchairs out again. Roy Hodgson has steered the Londoners to safety but the former England manager is out of contract in the summer. If Hodgson is being judged on how the Eagles finish their season then he might be out of luck. They notoriously take their foot off the gas after achieving survival. A heavily rotated Man City eleven should still be too hot to handle for the Palace team.
Brighton & Hove Albion vs Leeds United: AMEX Stadium, 15.00 (Prime Video)
Just when you think that Brighton are pulling away from trouble, they go and lose to relegated Sheffield United! This latest defeat, once again, owed a great deal to horrendous finishing in the final third. Graham Potter will want his players to get back on track but they face a Leeds that are rapidly growing in top-flight knowhow. They are no longer the naive unit that couldn’t stop leaking goals.
Chelsea vs Fulham: Stamford Bridge, 17.30 (Sky Sports)
Thomas Tuchel’s focus will be on the next leg of their clash with Real Madrid but he will also understand the importance of this clash. Anything less than a win would encourage their Champions League chasing rivals that they have a chance. It won’t be easy against a battling Fulham team, although, Scott Parker’s men have struggled to make decisive strides forward in their survival quest.
Everton vs Aston Villa: Goodison Park, 20.00 (BT Sport)
Jordan Pickford has returned some order to the Everton backline, putting together two clean sheets in three matches since his return from the sidelines. Carlo Ancelotti is on course to deliver Everton’s best season in a number of years, despite the feeling of what could have been. The Toffees have been horribly inconsistent: brilliant and bewildering. Villa fans can relate; their performances have largely dropped off in Jack Grealish’s absence.
Newcastle United vs Arsenal: St James’ Park, 14.00 (Sky Sports)
Mikel Arteta will have one-and-half-eyes on the second-leg of his Europa League tie with Villarreal. The Gunners had started to turn their league form around during the Christmas period, however, that progress has stalled again in recent weeks. It is also the worst time to face a Newcastle team, who haven’t lost a match since the international break. Allan Saint-Maximin could run rings around Arsenal’s shaky backline.
Tottenham Hotspur vs Sheffield United: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, 19.15 (Sky Sports)
Ryan Mason will hope to bounce back from their Carabao Cup loss with a second league win on the spin. The interim coach wants to channel the kind of football that Spurs had become accustomed to playing under Mauricio Pochettino. Unfortunately, recent evidence has suggested that this squad will struggle to play a more open and expansive style.
West Bromwich Albion vs Wolverhampton Wanderers: The Hawthorns, 18.00 (Sky Sports)
Aston Villa’s last minute equaliser would have been a dagger in the heart for those optimistic West Brom supporters. The great escape is looking very unlikely but Sam Allardyce will hope to get some bragging rights over Albion’s bitter west country rivals. It’s a good opportunity for the hosts as well, with Wolves coming off the back of their nightmarish 4-0 home defeat to Burnley. Nuno Espirito Santo will be desperate for the season to end.
Burnley vs West Ham United: Turf Moor, 20.15 (Sky Sports)
The claret and blue derby! West Ham’s injury list is piling up and the morale will have been dented after the 1-0 loss to Chelsea. Last weekend’s game was a crunch clash in the battle for a Champions League spot. It’s the final sprint for the Londoners but they face a Burnley team who are currently sitting on cloud-nine! They don’t win 4-0 on the road too often; Chris Wood is in superb form and he could punish a vulnerable Hammers defence.