Big tests for Liverpool & Man City, key relegation battles – Premier League Weekend Preview

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Another Premier League weekend is almost upon us, as the pressure in the title race begins to go up a notch.

Liverpool finally dropped points to a team outside the top-six on Wednesday, drawing 1-1 to Leicester at Anfield.

It was a below-par night for both Jurgen Klopp and his players, but their lead at the top is still five points, as they prepare to face West Ham on Monday night.

The Reds have looked to be feeling the heat in recent weeks, so returning to winning ways at the London Stadium is vital.

There are nine more games before Liverpool head to the capital – here’s a look at the upcoming action.

 

Tottenham vs. Newcastle – Saturday, 12:30pm – Sky Sports Main Event

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Boxing Day, Wednesday, December 26, 2018: Newcastle United's manager Rafael Benitez waves as the Liverpool supporters sing his name after during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Newcastle United FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 4-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Just as Tottenham‘s season looked to be falling apart, they went and found an unlikely hero in Fernando Llorente.

The Spaniard’s late header earned a 2-1 win over Watford, leaving them only two points behind City and seven adrift of Liverpool.

It is likely to give Mauricio Pochettino’s side a huge boost and it is difficult to see Newcastle getting anything at Wembley on Saturday lunchtime.

Then again, Rafa Benitez masterminded a memorable win over City in midweek, once again proving that anything is possible in the Premier League.

Prediction: Tottenham 2-0 Newcastle

 

Brighton vs. Watford – Saturday, 3pm

Brighton & Hove Albion's Pascal Gross (Gareth Fuller/PA Wire/PA Images)

Two sides for whom relegation isn’t an issue and a mid-table finish looks likely: this doesn’t look like one to keep an eye on.

Brighton were stunned by Fulham on Tuesday, blowing a two-goal to lose 4-2, while Watford were beaten at the death by Spurs.

The Seagulls are a strong home team which gives them a clear edge, but they only have one victory to their name in 2019 so far.

Chris Hughton’s side will edge it and the fixture will swiftly be forgotten about.

Prediction: Brighton 2-1 Watford

 

Burnley vs. Southampton – Saturday, 3pm

BURNLEY, ENGLAND - Thursday, August 16, 2018: Burnley's manager Sean Dyche during the UEFA Europa League Third Qualifying Round 2nd Leg match between Burnley FC and ?stanbul Ba?ak?ehir at Turf Moor. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

This is a huge match between Burnley and Southampton, with the pair hovering ominously above the relegation zone.

Both have the luxury of being four points clear of Cardiff, but they will know that defeat on Saturday could spell real danger.

Burnley were seconds away from a famous win at Man United in midweek, but the 2-2 draw was still a good result.

They are likely to take that confidence and home advantage with them into the meeting with Saints, although Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men remain undefeated this year.

Prediction: Burnley 1-0 Southampton

 

Chelsea vs. Huddersfield – Saturday, 3pm

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, September 26, 2018: Chelsea's manager Maurizio Sarri during the pre-match warm-up before the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

What on earth is going on at Chelsea?

The Blues may have won in both domestic cup competitions last week, but that only masked their current issues under Maurizio Sarri, as they slumped to a 4-0 defeat at Bournemouth on Wednesday.

Chelsea have let United right back into the top-four fight, leading them by just two points and falling behind Arsenal on goal difference.

Failure to beat a Huddersfield team surely on their way back to the Championship would be disastrous – they will get the job done.

Prediction: Chelsea 3-0 Huddersfield

 

Crystal Palace vs. Fulham – Saturday, 3pm

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, October 21, 2018: Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha during the FA Premier League match between Everton FC and Crystal Palace FC at Goodison Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Fulham’s stunning aforementioned win over Brighton has given them fresh hope of survival, but they do remain six points off safety.

Claudio Ranieri takes his side the short distance to Crystal Palace on Saturday, knowing victory would make things very interesting.

Palace may have impressed at Anfield last month, but they are far weaker against lesser teams and are not yet clear of relegation.

The hosts should be too strong for their opponents, however.

Prediction: Crystal Palace 2-0 Fulham

 

Everton vs. Wolves – Saturday, 3pm

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Friday, December 21, 2018: Wolverhampton Wanderers' captain Conor Coady during the FA Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers FC and Liverpool FC at Molineux Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Everton returned to winning ways after a poor run of form, edging out Huddersfield 1-0 and giving Marco Silva some breathing space.

They still look an unconvincing outfit, though, and Wolves will believe they can get all three points at Goodison Park.

Last season’s Championship winners have impressed on their return to the top flight and they arguably look favourites to finish seventh, currently adopting that position.

A share of the spoils sounds about right.

Prediction: Everton 1-1 Wolves

 

Cardiff vs. Bournemouth – Saturday, 5:30pm – BT Sport 1

BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - Sunday, November 25, 2018: AFC Bournemouth's David Brooks during the FA Premier League match between AFC Bournemouth and Arsenal FC at the Vitality Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

What a fantastic job Eddie Howe continues to do at Bournemouth.

The Cherries’ 4-0 win over Chelsea was one of their best-ever results in the Premier League and the key is to build on that and not drop silly points this weekend.

They head to Cardiff for a potentially tricky clash, however, with Neil Warnock’s men battling for their lives in 18th-place.

The main issue could be how much Wednesday’s famous victory has taken out of Bournemouth, with Cardiff looking to take advantage of it.

Prediction: Cardiff 2-1 Bournemouth

 

Leicester vs. Man United – Sunday, 2:05pm – Sky Sports Main Event

Ole Gunnar Solksjaer (Pic by Vegard Grott/Propaganda)

Leicester once again showed their preference for facing the top sides on Wednesday, earning a richly deserved point at Anfield, after beating City and Chelsea already this season.

They host Man United on Sunday afternoon, in what promises to be one of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s biggest tests yet.

The first cracks appeared in the 2-2 draw at home to Burnley and they will have to up their performance level at the King Power Stadium.

Both teams will feel they can earn all three points – one apiece is more likely.

Prediction: Leicester 2-2 Man United

 

Man City vs. Arsenal – Sunday, 4:30pm – Sky Sports Main Event

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Thursday, January 3, 2019: Manchester City's Fernando Luiz Roza 'Fernandinho' during the FA Premier League match between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC at the Etihad Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It’s a big game to finish off Sunday’s action, as City host Arsenal in a test of the faltering champions’ credentials.

The defeat to Newcastle was a genuine shock, especially the limp manner in which Pep Guardiola’s side performed at St James’ Park.

The clash with the Gunners feels huge in the title race, with a resounding win likely to give City new momentum but dropped points again playing into Liverpool’s hands.

Unfortunately, while Arsenal‘s attacking play can be devastating, their injury-hit defence could be torn apart by the hosts.

Prediction: Man City 3-1 Arsenal

To mark the end of the 30-year wait for a league title, the ‘Liverpool Mishmash’ poster is available to order exclusively on This Is Anfield — the history of the Reds in one image!

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