Hi everyone and welcome to another preview of the weekends fixtures in the EPL which should give you food for thought before the FPL team selections for the weekend.
Last weekend saw Liverpool fall to 2nd in the title race behind City, controversial penalties being scored and missed in North London and Man Utd showing their powers of recovery in coming from behind to win (which may have been a marker for things to come).
The weekend fixtures promise much again, so let’s jump in and see what we have in store…
Crystal Palace v Brighton & Hove Albion
Things begin with the early kick-off at Selhurst Park where the Eagles welcome the Seagulls in a match that will be up in the air (apologies) as both sides look to build on wins from last weekend. There is a bit of needle in this one given the rivalry that has built up between the 2 sides over the years, so this one could be quite tasty.
Palace have really played up to their billing of a team that is better suited to playing away from home this season, with only Huddersfield picking up fewer points at home this season, and Brighton certainly won’t leave themselves open to the Eagles counter attacking threat. Neither of these two rivals are out of the relegation picture just yet, but know that a win would move them a huge step closer to survival, so expect a relatively cagey start to the game.
Palace have no new injury concerns so Hodgson may name the same starting XI that picked up an impressive 3-1 win at Burnley last weekend, though Townsend will hope for a recall. Wan-Bissaka passed a late fitness test to start that game, while Batshuayi scored for the second successive away game. Hughton’s side picked up a much needed win over Huddersfield last time out and came through the game unscathed, so should be generally unchanged.
Andone swung the game in Brighton’s favour last week and could be given the nod ahead of Murray here. Jahanbakhsh could get another chance to start, while Gross is nearing a return from a hamstring injury.
Prediction CRY 2-1 BHA
Cardiff City v West Ham United
Cardiff is the next destination as the Hammers come to Wales to face the Bluebirds. The home side lost away at Wolves last weekend and stayed in the bottom 3. They are desperate to improve on their recent form, but their cause will not be helped by the news that Bamba has been ruled out for the rest of the season with a knee injury.
West Ham are winless in their last five Premier League away matches. In that time they have lost four times and failed to score in each of those defeats. A trip to Cardiff, who have conceded eight times in their last two home matches, might help end that run.
Warnock will look to change formation after going 2 up top last week backfired, so expect one of Zohore or Niasse to drop out. Ralls and Camarasa both recovered from injury to feature last weekend and will expect to start here too. Paterson and Arter were benched last week, so will hope to come back in. West Ham won well at home to Newcastle last weekend, and will probably look to make few changes.
Arnautovic was only fit enough for a place on the bench last weekend and will hope to start here. Pellegrini insists Lanzini is ready to start successive matches, meaning Nasri may be forced to settle for a spot on the bench once again, whilst Antonio will hope to start having been dropped to the bench last time out.
Prediction CAR 0-2 WHU
Huddersfield Town v AFC Bournemouth
Onto the John Smiths stadium, as the divisions bottom side welcome Eddie Howe and his men to West Yorkshire.
The relegation race is almost run for the Terriers as they remain 13 points adrift of safety and are running out of points with only 27 left to play for. They failed to build on their win in the previous fixture, losing to Brighton last weekend.
Bournemouth were humiliated by Manchester City last weekend, conceding 82% possession to Pep’s side, failing to register a single shot and didn’t even win a corner. They have been on a 9 game losing streak on their PL travels and will hope to change that here.
For the home side, Smith serves the final match of a three-game ban this weekend so will sill be unavailable. Kongolo continues in defence whilst Zanka appears to be out in the cold. Grant and Mounie should continue up top. The Cherries welcome back a key man, as Lerma has served a two-match ban and is expected to return to the starting XI this weekend.
Wilson missed last weekend due to a lack of match fitness and Howe will hope to have his main striker available here.
Prediction HUD 1-1 BOU
Leicester City v Fulham
At the King Power, The Foxes welcome Fulham to what will be the first home game in full charge for new manager Rodgers.
Leicester looked to have got their 1st point under the new boss, but were denied by the injury time winner for Watford. The home sides home form is not good recently, having only won two of their last six Premier League home matches but Rodgers will be looking for nothing less than 3 points in this one.
Fulham also lost last weekend in Parker’s 1st game in charge, although the Cottagers put in a respectable performance in a 2-1 defeat to Chelsea. That defeat left them in the bottom 3 and 10 points from safety. Rodgers deployed a three-man defence in his first game in charge and it remains to be seen whether he sticks with that at home.
Vardy was forced off after scoring last weekend, and is a major doubt here. If he doesn’t make it expect Iheanacho to come in up top. Gray is an option both for the frontline or if the formation is to be changed. The interim Fulham manager may opt against tinkering with his side after their decent display vs Chelsea.
Players like Seri and Anguissa will hope to benefit from any changes made in midfield. Mitrovic is the main man still but hasn’t scored since the end of January, a stat that must change if they are to take anything back to London with them from this one.
Prediction LEI 3-1 FUL
Newcastle United v Everton
To the Toon next, with Rafa’s Magpies hosting the Toffees at St James’ Park. After a run of 7 points from 3 games, Newcastle looked off the pace against West Ham last time out but will feel more confident back at St. James’ Park, where the atmosphere has improved so far this year following four consecutive wins.
Benitez will hope that home advantage pays dividends once more given that his side aren’t out of the relegation picture just yet. In the away dressing room, 4 points from the last two games, including a hard-fought draw in the Merseyside derby last weekend, have bought under fire Everton boss Marco Silva some time following three consecutive defeats.
For the home side, Longstaff was forced off at half-time in the defeat at West Ham and is ruled out with a knee injury, joining Elliot and Clark on the sidelines. This could open the door to a return for Diame or Shelvey, in what would likely be the only change to the Newcastle side. Silva has confirmed Baines will miss Saturday’s trip.
Jagielka has missed several training sessions this week and could join his team-mate on the sidelines. Richarlison was dropped to the bench for the derby and will look to get back into the starting XI in this one. Also expect Schneiderlein to continue in midfield.
Prediction NEW 2-2 EVE
Southampton v Tottenham Hotspur
St Mary’s plays host to the last of the 3pm kick offs, with Pochettino bringing his Spurs side to his old stomping ground to face the Saints.
Southampton played well and will consider themselves unlucky not to have got anything from their 3-2 defeat away to United last weekend. They remain two points clear of the relegation zone as all three teams below them also lost. Meanwhile, Tottenham start the weekend in third and only two points clear of United after last weekend’s 1-1 draw with rivals Arsenal.
Pochettino’s side are winless in three Premier League matches and have lost their last two on the road. Hasenhuttl has no reason to change his XI after last weekends good showing, but may find a place for Ings after the on loan frontman failed a fitness test at Old Trafford.
Spurs are coming into this after being involves in Champions League action so changes could be made to rest weary legs. Alli is back in full training and could be involved against Southampton, but Winks and Trippier are both doubts. If Trippier fails to make it, expect Aurier to start.
Prediction SOU 1-2 TOT
Manchester City v Watford
The Saturday evening kick off sees City welcome Watford to the Etihad as they look to maintain top spot in the race for the title.
City overtook Liverpool into top spot last weekend and will now have the chance to open up a four-point lead before Liverpool host Burnley on Sunday.
City have won 14 of their 15 Premier League home matches this season, so will be confident coming into this one. The visitors will hope to perform better than the last time they faced league leaders, as Watford were recently trounced 5-0 by Liverpool. They have generally been very good this season, and are looking to cement a place in 7th spot, which is likely to yield European Football next season.
Guardiola may have one eye on the Champions League next midweek, so may rotate accordingly here. De Bruyne picked up a hamstring injury against Bournemouth last weekend and will almost certainly miss out here. Stones may also be sidelined here, whilst this one may just come too soon for Mendy and Delph. Watford have had a full squad to choose from for the past few weeks, and Gracia will be unlikely to change too much ahead of this one.
Gray netted coming off the bench last weekend, and will be pushing for a start here.
Prediction MNC 4-1 WAT
Liverpool v Burnley
The Sunday games begin at high noon in Liverpool, with the visit of Burnley to Anfield. Klopp’s men are unbeaten in their last 9 games in all competitions, but have been accused of bottling their title challenge in recent weeks.
This game seems to offer a good chance of them getting back on track. Burnley have now lost successive league matches and their mini-resurgence appears to be over. They are only five points above the bottom three and have only won three of their 15 away league matches this season. They can take confidence from the fact they have scored in each of their last four encounters with Liverpool. The home side should make changes after the draw in the derby.
Firmino was only fit enough for a place on the bench but should return to the starting XI here. Keita should return to the fold against Burnley in a bid to spark some creativity from central midfield. Despite being back in training, this will come too soon for Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Dyche is still expected to be without Lennon, Walters and Defour for this one but has no other fresh injury concerns and may field an unchanged side. Crouch returns to one of his old clubs, and will hope to make an impact off the bench.
Prediction LIV 3-1 BUR
Chelsea v Wolverhampton Wanderers
At the Bridge, Sarri and his Chelsea side welcome Wolves to West London.
Chelsea have won three in a row since losing the Carabao Cup final to Manchester City and they have benefited from the clear the air meetings held after the poor form last month. Wolves have only lost one of their last 10 matches in all competitions and have caused upsets to a number of big teams already this season, already picking up draws away to Arsenal and United and all 3 points at Spurs.
Chelsea rested players for the midweek Europa League tie, so the likes of Hazard, Higuain and Kante should return to the XI here. Pedro is expected to get the nod over Willian and Christiansen should continue in defence ahead of either Rudiger or Luiz.
For Wolves, Neves, Joao Moutinho and Jonny were surprisingly dropped in last weekend’s win over Cardiff, and all may return for this match. Doherty may also return to allow a more defensive approach, meaning Traore should drop to the bench.
Prediction CHE 2-1 WOL
Arsenal v Manchester United
Finishing things off in style, the always hotly anticipated clash of the Gunners and Red Devils at the Emirates. Whilst both sides were involved in European competitions in France, the sides had differing success, with Arsenal losing 3-1 in Rennes whilst United won by the same score and may still have to come down from the clouds in completing an unlikely comeback against PSG.
Arsenal have won 4 on the bounce at home in all competitions, their last defeat ironically to United in the FA Cup. Meanwhile, Solskjaer has a 100 per cent record away from home as United manager (nine wins from nine) and will be out to make it 10 in a row on Sunday to stay at the front of the pack for a top four finish.
For the home side, they will be without Torreira as he begins a 3 game ban after being ordered off in last weeks North London derby. Lacazette missed out in Europe through suspension and will certainly return to the starting XI here. Mustafi might well continue at full back. United will welcome back Pogba who missed midweek in Paris through suspension.
The display of McTominay and Fred should see them retain their places for this one and Dalot should continue at right back.
Prediction ARS 1-1 MNU
So there we have it, a wonderful weekend ahead with many tales to be oven by the players over the 10 matches. Lots of FPL points to be won and lost, so pick your players carefully.
So until next week….
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