Hi Guys and Gals…
Welcome to the preview to Game Week 25.
After the seemingly crazy fixtures in midweek, there are many talking points ahead of the games this weekend. This will be a double game week for any of you that have players from Man City or Everton so that may influence your choices for the week ahead but I will be looking at the weekends games in this preview, so lets see what we have in store…….
Tottenham Hotspur v Newcastle United
The early kick off on Saturday sees the Magpies travel to Wembley to take on Spurs. Both teams had late wins in midweek and will come into this one with some confidence. Spurs revitalised their faint title hopes after the top two dropped points through the week. Back to back league wins has helped keep the pace on the defending champions and they’ll hope to put the pressure on Liverpool with a win here after both teams dropped points in midweek. Back to back wins have also boosted Newcastle’s chances of survival significantly, though the Magpies have failed to win in three on the road.
That being said, Spurs have won eight of their last 10 league games and will undoubtedly come into the match as strong favourites. Son Heung-Min returned to action against Watford, and netted a key equaliser in the 2-1 win, but pulled up with cramp, so will be assessed. Moura and Lamela would be favourite to replace him.
Pochettino remains without Alli, Kane and Davies for this one. After their impressive win over Manchester City last time out, Benitez may name the same starting XI here. Almiron and Barreca have joined from Atlanta and Monaco, respectively, but are unlikely to feature from the off at Wembley.
Prediction TOT 2-1 NEW
Brighton & Hove Albion v Watford
The Amex is our next stop as the low flying Seagulls welcome the Hornets to the south coast. Brighton will still be reeling from their collapse at Fulham in midweek.
There were four unanswered second half goals as they contrived to lose 4-2 and the Seagulls are now winless in their last four matches, losing their last three in the Premier League. Watford conceded two goals in the last 10 minutes against Tottenham to lose 2-1 on Wednesday night. The Hornets were unbeaten in six matches prior to their trip to Wembley in midweek so will hope to bring their previous good form here.
For the home side, Jahanbakhsh is back from international duty and could make the bench this weekend, whilst Knockaert, Bissouma and Kayal will push for starts if Chris Hughton tinkers with his starting XI . Watford should see Cleverley drop out of the squad after his early withdrawal from the pitch in midweek, and they will likely be without Doucoure here as well. Masina, Success and Sema will hope to benefit from any rotation applied by manager Gracia.
Prediction BHA 1-1 WAT
Burnley v Southampton
Much of the focus on Turf Moor will be on the return of a former Southampton player hoping to line up against his old club for the Clarets.
Crouch is a proven EPL goalscorer, and whilst he is definitely approaching the end of his career, Dyche will be hoping he gives Burnley that much needed firepower in this 2nd half of the season. Burnley came agonisingly close to beating Manchester United at Old Trafford in midweek but for the second season in a row they conceded two late goals and ended up drawing 2-2.
The Clarets are, nonetheless, now unbeaten in five Premier League matches. Southampton came from 1-0 down to draw with relegation rivals Crystal Palace on Wednesday. Hasenhuttl’s side are unbeaten in four and, like Burnley, moving in the right direction after a poor start to the season. For Burnley, Gudmundsson and Bardsley both recovered from injury in time to face United, but Lowton and Defour are expected to miss out once again in this one.
The Saints should line up pretty much as they did midweek, although Højbjerg suffered a head injury and will need to be assessed. If changes do come, expect Long and Armstrong to be in contention to start.
Prediction BUR 1-2 SOU
Chelsea v Huddersfield Town
AN unhappy Stamford Bridge awaits here as Chelsea face Huddersfield in what may already be a must win for Sarri and his men. The Italian started well in his new job in the early weeks of the season but the wheels are threatening to come off spectacularly after Wednesdays 4-0 humiliation at Bournemouth. They will be relieved to find the struggling Terriers in the opposing dressing room as their 1-0 defeat to 10 man Everton sees them edge closer to a return to the Championship.
Sarri will demand a response from Chelsea this weekend and they should have Giroud back in the starting XI to replace Higuain who came off in midweek and is looking short of match sharpness. Squad rotation could see, Hudson-Odoi, Loftus-Cheek and Alonso all return to the side here as well.
For the visitors, Mooy came off the bench to feature in Jan Siewert’s first game as Huddersfield manager on Tuesday and will start here if he is fit enough. Huddersfield have signed striker Karlan Grant from Charlton Athletic on the penultimate day of the window and he could make his debut here.
Prediction CHE 3-0 HUD
Crystal Palace v Fulham
Selhurst Park is the venue as this London derby sees Fulham cross the big smoke to face Hodgson’s Eagles. Hodgson’s Palace were held to a 1-1 draw by relegation rivals Southampton on Wednesday but are now four points clear off safety and will look to prove again that they can indeed win without the now suspended Zaha, after his dismissal against the Saints.
Fulham came from 2-0 down to beat Brighton 4-2 on Tuesday and Ranieri will hope that will spark their great escape. They are now only 4 points behind and gained places on the 2 sides above them with that win. They will need to find form that has so far eluded them this season as they have no wins from 12 away games in this league.
Palace’s Kouyaté and Tomkins picked up hamstring and ankle injuries, respectively, in midweek and will need further assessment. Meyer and Dann stand to benefit if changes are required here. The Tinkerman will likely have to replace Bryan after he picked up a knock midweek, Sessengnon his most likely replacement. Anguissa and Mawson are both expected to miss out once again.
Prediction CRY 2-1 FUL
Everton v Wolverhampton Wanderers
Everton welcome Wolves to Goodison, as both teams loo to build on wins midweek.
Everton eked out a 1-0 win at Huddersfield, despite losing Digne to a red card midway through the 2nd half. Everton have won two of their last three Premier League games but still aren’t convincing as their defeat to Millwall highlighted once again. They have only won one of their last five home league matches.
Wolves will be high on confidence after a comfortable 3-0 win over West Ham in midweek.
Nuno’s side have only lost four away league matches all season, though haven’t kept a clean sheet on the road since October. The home side should see Baines come in for the suspended Digne, but this game may come too soon for Mina to return.
At time of writing, Gueye had not left for PSG and may feature if recovered from the knock that kept him out midweek. Wolves signed Jonny on a permanent deal in what looks like good business from Nuno. Boly has now served his 3 match ban and should return to the starting line up here.
Otherwise expect not much change from the successful midweek side here.
Prediction EVE 2-2 WOL
Cardiff City v AFC Bournemouth
The early evening game is in the Welsh Capital as Warnock’s men entertain the Cherries, who are fresh from their 4-0 humbling of Chelsea in midweek. This may well be an emotional game as the Bluebirds have their first home match since the tragic loss of their new signing Sala over the English Channel. He may not have played for the club, but there is a keen sense of loss around the club and this may get a reaction from them in this important game. The loss at Arsenal in midweek means Cardiff are 4 points from safety in 18th place. Arter, Harris and Zohore all recovered from injury in time to face Arsenal on Tuesday, but Morrison and Richards remain doubts. New signing Bacuna could feature, but most likely from thbench.
For Bournemouth, they will definitely be without Lerma and may well lose Brooks as both were injured vs Chelsea. Solanke is pushing for his 1st start as Howe confirmed Wilson will be out for up to a month with a knee injury. Mepham made his debut off the bench late on in midweek, and will be looking to be more involved here.
Prediction CAR 1-1 BOU
Leicester City v Manchester United
Sundays games kick off at the King Power as the Foxes welcome Solskjaer’s troops to the Midlands.
Both sides drew in midweek, although Leicester will be much the happier having come away from Anfield with a point and will fancy their chances of inflicting Solskjaer’s first defeat as Manchester United boss. The Foxes have beaten the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea recently so why not United? They are still unbeaten under Ole but will need to make a massive improvement from the performance against Burnley if they are to take anything here.
New signing Tielemans may feature for the home side, who could also see Morgan return after being dropped to the bench at Liverpool. Maguire scored the equaliser but may drop out after recent injury concerns. United are sweating on the fitness of Pogba, so will give him all the time he can to recover for this one. Lingard and Herrera should return to the starting XI on Sunday after dropping out of the team in midweek, whilst Sanchez could also start here.
Prediction LEI 1-1 MNU
Manchester City v Arsenal
On paper this is the biggest match of the weekend, as the champions look to get back on track after midweek defeat against an Arsenal side that has been in relatively decent form of late. City’s shock 2-1 loss at Newcastle was very unexpected, especially as they took the lead so early on. Whilst they could have been further punished by Liverpool, they have still fallen further behind the league leaders, so will hope to put pressure on them with a win here.
Arsenal’s win at home to Cardiff meant that they opened the gap on Man Utd and leapfrogged Chelsea in the race for the last Champions league spot. The Gunners have scored in their last five league visits to the Etihad and have a real chance to get a positive result on Sunday. Silva, Mahrez and Jesus are among those that could start who didn’t in midweek. Ederson took a knock but should play in goal here. Emery should be able to make some positive changes, as Ramsey and Xhaka are expected back in the starting XI and Suarez may feature from the bench against his former side. Koscielny will be assessed ahead of Sunday’s match, and Mavropanos could play after making the bench in midweek.
Prediction MNC 2-1 ARS
West Ham United v Liverpool
Monday night and the lights will be on at the London Stadium to welcome Klopp’s league leaders to face the Irons. West Ham have conceded seven goals in their last two matches in all competitions, which does not bode well given the talented strike force they face here. Indeed they have conceded 4 goals in each of their past 4 matches against Liverpool. The red’s could only manage a draw at home to Leicester in midweek, missing out on the chance to go 7 points clear at the top. That gap could be down to 2 by the time they begin proceedings here.
The home side will hope to have their talisman Arnautovic fit, but his foot injury may rule him out here. Carroll could deputise against his former side. They also have doubts over Fabianski but will be desperate for their no1 to make it here. Liverpool were pleased to have both Van Dijk and Wijnaldum back in the starting XI in midweek, but could also see the likes of Milner, Lovren and Fabinho come in. This game will most likely come too soon for Alexander-Arnold to feature.
Prediction WHU1-3 LIV
A packed weekend to look forward to then, and until next time….
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