With the Premier League becoming increasingly tense at both ends of the table, we take a look at the upcoming action this weekend.
European commitments are done and dusted for the week, and the domestic action takes centre stage over the next couple of days.
Liverpool visit Southampton on Sunday, following their Europa League triumph against rivals Man United, in what is a tricky match on paper.
Jurgen Klopp and his side still have an outside chance of finishing in the Premier League’s top four this season, and three points at St Mary’s would be another positive step in the right direction.
It is one of 10 top-flight games in the coming days, with two matches really standing out.
Vital Derbies Up North
The Tyne-Wear derby between Newcastle and Sunderland is always a ferocious encounter, regardless of league positions, but Sunday’s clash is one of the biggest in years.
It looks increasingly likely that only one will survive relegation this season, and victory for either team at St James’ Park would be enormous.
With former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez now in charge of the Magpies, and old rival Sam Allardyce the Sunderland boss, even more spice is added to the occasion.
Newcastle have had a wretched run of form against their arch-rivals in recent times, and it will be intriguing to see if Benitez can work his magic this weekend and beyond.
Second on the bill on Sunday is the Manchester derby at the Etihad, with both Man City and United in a scrap for Champions League football in 2016/17.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side have flattered to deceive all season long, with last weekend’s drab 0-0 draw at Norwich City epitomising their campaign to date.
With Vincent Kompany again out injured, and the Champions League now City’s main focus, United may fancy their chances of springing a surprise on City’s home turf. They need a response after Thursday’s exit from Europe.
Derbies are never easy to predict, and this clash is no different.
Leicester City continued their incredible Premier League campaign on Monday, winning 1-0 at home to Newcastle, and they visit Crystal Palace on Saturday as firm favourites to win the title in May.
The Foxes are now within touching distance of quite possibly the greatest achievement in the history of English football.
Tottenham Hotspur, now Leicester’s biggest rivals to win the league, host Bournemouth on Sunday afternoon, with any kind of slip-up unthinkable.
Arsenal are in dreadful form, winning just four times in their last 15 matches, and they know that they must win at Everton in order to keep their slim title hopes alive.
West Ham United face a tough trip to Chelsea on Saturday, and the Hammers’ top-four credentials will be tested at Stamford Bridge.
The remaining fixtures see relegation-threatened Norwich visit West Bromwich Albion, already-doomed Aston Villa travel to Swansea City and Watford welcome Stoke City to Vicarage Road.
Full Fixtures & TV Info
Everton vs. Arsenal – Saturday 12:45pm, BT Sport 1
Chelsea vs. West Ham United – Saturday 3pm
Crystal Palace vs. Leicester City – Saturday 3pm
Watford vs. Stoke City – Saturday 3pm
West Bromwich Albion vs. Norwich City – Saturday 3pm
Swansea City vs. Aston Villa – Saturday 5:30pm, Sky Sports 1
Newcastle United vs. Sunderland – Sunday 1:30pm, Sky Sports 1
Southampton vs. Liverpool – Sunday 1:30pm
Man City vs. Man United – Sunday 4pm, Sky Sports 1
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Bournemouth – Sunday 4pm
Fantasy Football Tips
So much has been said about the brilliance of Leicester trio Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez and N’Golo Kante, but defensively they have also been superb in general.
Danny Simpson is arguably the least-lauded member of the team, but selecting the right-back in your fantasy football team would be a shrewd, cut-price move.
The Foxes may well keep a clean sheet at Crystal Palace.
Following a barren run in front of goal, Odion Ighalo returned to scoring ways with a vital strike at Arsenal in the FA Cup last weekend.
It is likely to give the striker a new lease of life for the remainder of the season, and a Stoke side with little to play for may well feel the wrath of the Nigerian.
With Klopp likely to make a few changes for the trip to Southampton, there is every chance Divock Origi will get his chance to shine in attack.
The young Belgian scored a hat-trick at St Mary’s in the League Cup earlier this season, and may well play a key role once again on Sunday.
Georginio Wijnaldum has not hit the heights that he did for Newcastle earlier in the season, but he is still their one truly top-class player.
The Dutchman has the ability to be the difference in Sunday’s Tyne-Wear derby, and his eye for goal and creativity will make him a decent addition to your team—Newcastle are due a win against Sunderland, too.
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