Following the busy international break, in which Gareth Southgate’s England narrowly lost out to Germany in Dortmund, before comfortably overcoming minnows Lithuania at Wembley on Sunday evening, Premier League action returns this weekend, with the races for Champions League qualification and top-flight safety remaining the biggest talking points. The Merseyside derby and Arsenal’s encounter with Manchester City are undoubtedly the most-anticipated matches, with Middlesbrough’s trip to Swansea set to have a significant impact on the rest of the bottom three.
Looking ahead to Saturday here’s what’s lined up….
Liverpool v Everton
After a positive performance at the Etihad before the international break, Liverpool will be looking to overcome their fierce rivals Everton at Anfield on Saturday lunchtime, with six points separating the duo in the standings at present. With Captain Jordan Henderson eyeing a return from injury for the home side, Jurgen Klopp faces some tricky decisions regarding his team selection. As for the visitors, Seamus Coleman faces a long spell on the side-lines following his horrific injury for Ireland, while midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin faces a race against time to prove his fitness. Premier League top scorer Romelu Lukaku found the back of the net for Belgium on Friday night, with the striker likely to prove the biggest threat for the Toffees.
Burnley v Tottenham Hotspur
These two teams come into Saturday’s fixture in opposite runs of form, with Burnley without a win in their last five, while Spurs have won their last three league matches. Despite Harry Kane’s continued absence, the visitors will be the favourites to consolidate their position behind Chelsea in the table, with Son Heung-min set to lead the line. Burnley have played like a side with little to play for over recent weeks, with Sean Dyche hoping the international break will have given his players some much needed recuperation time.
Chelsea v Crystal Palace
The London derby between league leaders Chelsea and relegation threatened Crystal Palace has a home win written all over it, with Antonio Conte’s men having won four of their last five matches. Diego Costa is an injury doubt for the home side having picked up an injury for Spain, while Eden Hazard is another likely absentee. Such injuries could well give Sam Allardyce and his men some confidence, with the Eagles having won their last three matches to climb out of the bottom three.
Hull City v West Ham United
Hull’s home form is the only thing keeping them in with a chance of survival this season, with Marco Silva in desperate need of three points as they bid to catch up with the likes of Swansea and Crystal Palace in the table. Robert Snodgrass is set to start on his return to the KCOM Stadium for the Hammers, who are themselves without a win in their last five Premier League matches. Slaven Bilic is under increased pressure in East London, with another defeat potentially pushing him over the edge.
Leicester City v Stoke City
Leicester’s revival under Craig Shakespeare has been dramatic, with the Foxes having won their last three top-flight matches, as well as making it to the quarter finals of the Champions League. Jamie Vardy continued his recent purple patch for England against Lithuania, with a home encounter with Stoke City providing a good opportunity to further distance themselves from the bottom three. Comfortably in mid-table, Mark Hughes visitors will certainly provide a tough test, with Sadio Berahino still hunting a first goal for his new club.
Leicester City to win against Stoke City @ 1/1 (SkyBet)
Manchester United v West Bromwich Albion
Both Chris Smalling and Phil Jones suffered injuries while on England duty, with Jose Mourinho now down to the bare bones in defence ahead of United’s home game with West Brom. With Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Ander Herrera still suspended, as well as Paul Pogba being ruled out, it could well be another nervy game at Old Trafford, with United’s Champions League qualification hopes now in their own hands. The Baggies impressively overcame Arsenal last time around, with Tony Pulis’ teams set pieces set to cause the home side much concern.
Watford v Sunderland
Now seven points from safety, rock-bottom Sunderland are in desperate need of three points, with England hero Jermain Defoe once again harbouring the hopes for David Moyes’ men. With Watford in a poor run of form themselves, it promises to be a cagey affair at Vicarage Road.
Southampton v AFC Bournemouth
The South-coast derby between Southampton and Bournemouth promises to be one of the games of the weekend, with the two teams on the same amount of points in mid-table. Having earned their first caps for England against Germany, Nathan Redmond and James Ward-Prowse will be hoping to continue their good form for the home side, while Norwegian international Joshua King will once again be the main threat for Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth.
Southampton to win against Bournemouth @ 4/7 (Bet365)