Football, football, and more football. Another round of Premier League fixtures is on the horizon and this weekend we have a highly-anticipated clash towards the top of the table, a London derby and several games between sides in similar positions.
Aston Villa vs Arsenal (12:30pm Saturday)
The Premier League action kicks off at Villa Park in what should be a really fascinating game as Arsenal come to town.
Aston Villa have enjoyed a really successful season so far although have had a mixed bag of results in recent weeks, losing four, winning four and drawing two of their last ten Premier League games.
Their most recent outing ended in defeat against a West Ham side who successfully doubled up on Jack Grealish and were simply the better side according to manager Dean Smith.
The Villains are in ninth position coming into the weekend and will have their sights set on the European places, but more consistent results will be crucial for the remainder of the season.
Their opponents Arsenal have climbed through the rankings over the last couple of months and have got themselves into a position whereby they can challenge for the European places themselves.
However, their midweek game against Wolves hardly went to plan and although they were fantastic in the first half, the game turned on its head with David Luiz’s red card and concession of a penalty and got a whole lot worse later on as Bernd Leno was also given his marching orders.
So of course the Gunners will be without them at the weekend but given their form before the Wolves game and some crucial players returning from injury, they should feel they have enough to come out on top here.
Arteta’s men will be desperate for revenge after their 3-0 defeat at the hands of Aston Villa in November, and the Villains will be looking to do the double over the Gunners here for the first time since 1992/93.
Burnley vs Brighton (3:00pm Saturday)
The first of two 3pm clashes sees a clash between two sides who have dragged themselves away from the bottom three in recent times with some huge results.
Burnley are just one place above the drop zone at the moment so of course the job is far from done but the gap now stands at eight points.
The Clarets have been beaten 2-0 by both Chelsea and Man City in their last two games but they’ll be looking to get back to winning ways in this one.
Sean Dyche’s men have a run of four games in which they’ll be hoping for positive results, starting with this clash against Brighton at the weekend.
The Seagulls have enjoyed a fantastic week, beating both Tottenham and Liverpool within a matter of days.
They’ll feel that was a long time coming after some really good performances, but a lack of a clinical edge in the final third had really cost them at times.
Now that they’ve earned those six very valuable points, they can afford to put one eye in front of them and look to climb the table in games to come, although they can’t afford to become complacent.
Seven of the last ten meetings between these two sides have ended in a draw, four of which without a goal, so it would be wise to expect a close-fought affair at Turf Moor.
Newcastle vs Southampton (3:00pm Saturday)
Southampton make the incredibly long trip from South to North on Saturday as they look to put their horrendous 9-0 defeat to Man United behind them.
No one really saw that result coming, but they were put on the back foot from the second minute when 19 year old Alex Jankewitz was sent off.
Just the one win in nine Premier League games for the Saints now who have lost their last four games and are now in the bottom half.
Southampton certainly have no concerns about relegation, unlike last season when they were on the end of a 9-0 scoreline, but they are in danger of having an otherwise promising season fizzle out into nothing.
They face a Newcastle side in a really poor run of form with just one win and ten defeats from their last 13 games in all competitions.
That sole win came last weekend against Everton but they were unable to follow that up with another positive result in midweek, despite being ahead after two minutes against Crystal Palace.
The Magpies have slowly been dragged right down towards the bottom half of the table and although they sit eight points clear of the drop zone ahead of the weekend, they need to start picking up more points.
Defeder Jan Bednarek will be available for this game after having his red card rescinded and the Saints will look to win at St James’ Park this weekend for only the second time since 1997.
Fulham vs West Ham (5:30pm Saturday)
The tea time kick off comes from Craven Cottage where struggling Fulham host high-flying West Ham United in a West vs East London derby.
That gap currently stands at eight points but seems to be growing every week and Fulham need to be very careful not to let that grow any more.
Their performances haven’t been bad and they show a lot of positive signs throughout 90 minutes but just lack the final piece of quality at times.
They come into this game off the back of a 2-0 defeat to Leicester and although they looked good at times, especially in the second half, they didn’t have enough to match the Foxes.
West Ham are full of confidence right now, having won all but one of their eight matches this season.
They bounced back to their defeat at Liverpool in excellent fashion in midweek with a fantastic all around performance and a 3-1 win over Aston Villa.
They occupy the fifth spot coming into this game but will rise to the Champions League spots temporarily with a win this weekend and the Hammers look really up for a serious European challenge this season.
West Ham have a pretty good record against Fulham, not losing against the Cottagers since 2014 and winning six of the last eight meetings between the two sides.
Man United vs Everton (8:00pm Saturday)
Saturday’s Premier League action is wrapped up at Old Trafford where a Man United side full of confidence host European hopefuls Everton.
United have established themselves as serious title contenders, coming into the weekend three points behind Man City at the top.
That 9-0 thrashing of Southampton demonstrated the ruthless mentality they’ve developed as of late and although they were given a huge helping hand through the two red cards, they still had a job to do.
Apart from the shock defeat to Sheffield United a couple of weeks ago, which looks to have only been a bad day at the office, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men have been in fine form and will look to keep their title challenge alive here.
Overcoming Everton will be no easy task though as the Toffees have high aspirations of their own, looking to qualify for a European competition for the first time since 2017.
Carlo Ancelotti’s men responded well to their 2-0 defeat to Newcastle last weekend with a win away to Leeds and will look to follow that up with another positive result here.
The Toffees face a tough upcoming fixture list with the likes of Man United, Tottenham, Man City, Liverpool and Chelsea all coming up within the next month or so and it will be crucial they can keep a positive mindset going through that.
These two sides have already faced each other twice this season, once in the Premier League and once in the Carabao Cup with Man United United coming out on top on both occasions but Everton will look to win at Old Trafford for the first time since 2013 this weekend.
Tottenham vs West Brom (12:00pm Sunday)
The action continues on Sunday from midday as two sides who really need a win for very different reasons battle it out at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Spurs lost their third successive game on Thursday at the hands of Chelsea, losing consecutive home games for the first time since the move to the new stadium.
They can safely be ruled out of a title challenge now but even a return to the Champions League looks unlikely for Tottenham who sit seven points adrift of the top four coming into the weekend.
They look a completely different side in the absence of Harry Kane but need to find a way to adapt, especially in this game where they are really expected to come away with all three points.
The change of manager looks to have had no effect on West Brom whatsoever who are looking increasingly more likely to go down every week.
They’ve picked up just five points from a possible 27 since Sam Allardyce took over and the Baggies are shipping goals for fun despite the boss’s reputation.
They have by far the worst defence in the league and with the gap to safety currently at ten points, the Baggies need to find a way to pick up points quickly.
The reverse fixture between these two sides was a close affair with Spurs winning 1-0 back in November but anything other than another win for Tottenham at the weekend would be quite a shock.
Wolves vs Leicester (2:00pm Sunday)
The attention then shifts to Molineux where a Wolves side welcome Leicester to the West Midlands, with both sides coming into the game off the back of positive results in midweek.
Wolves turned the Arsenal game on its head despite being significantly outplayed in the first half, but a penalty from Ruben Neves and a stunning strike from Joao Moutinho secured the win against the nine-man Gunners.
But prior to that, Wolves had gone eight games without a win in the Premier League and will hope that this Arsenal result will give them the confidence they need.
Nuno’s men currently sit 14th in the league but could climb up to twelfth with another win this weekend.
Leicester meanwhile are still well in contention for the title although the gap to Man City at the top is growing and stands at five points.
The Foxes fell to a disappointing defeat last weekend against Leeds at home but responded well in midweek to beat Fulham through two moments of quality.
Brendan Rodgers’ has been without some important players in recent games but could welcome back Jamie Vardy and Wilfred Ndidi for this one, which would be a huge boost.
The last three meetings between these two sides have been very tight, with both of last season’s games ended in a stalemate and Leicester edging November’s reverse fixture 1-0, so we should be set for a close-fought affair in the West Midlands.
Liverpool vs Man City (4:30pm Sunday)
Probably the most highly anticipated match of the weekend sees two sides with title winning aspirations battle it out at Anfield.
Liverpool looked to have turned a corner after some poor results with wins over Tottenham and West Ham but were on the wrong end of a 1-0 scoreline against Brighton in midweek.
After a record breaking unbeaten run at Anfield, the Reds have lost twice at home this month, both in games they would’ve been expected to win, although their record against the so called ‘big six’ is very good and they haven’t lost in such games all season.
The gap to the top is currently seven points and if the Reds fall to defeat again in this one, they can probably wave goodbye to their title challenge.
Manchester City really look the team to beat at the moment and are on an incredible winning streak of 13 games in all competitions, conceding just three goals in the process.
City have by far the best defensive record in the league but only Liverpool and Man United have scored more than them, showing their efficiency at both ends of the pitch.
Their most recent win came away to Burnley in midweek and the Citizens are three points clear at the top as it stands with a game in hand on the teams around them.
This fixture has been really well contested in recent times with two draws, four City wins and four Liverpool wins in the last ten meetings between the two sides and we should be in for a really interesting game at Anfield.
Sheffield United vs Chelsea (7:15pm Sunday)
Sunday’s action comes to an end at Bramall Lane where a Sheffield United side who look up for the fight, welcome Chelsea to Yorkshire.
The Blades have a new sense of belief having beaten Man United, lost to Man City by only a single goal and come back from behind to beat fellow strugglers West Brom all in the space of a week.
Bizarrely, the Blades arguably now look the more likely of any side in the bottom three to stay up this season based on recent results but there’s still an awfully long way to go.
They could climb off the bottom of the table this weekend for the first time since the start of November and go level on points with Fulham if they beat Chelsea and other results go their way.
Chelsea are unbeaten so far under Thomas Tuchel’s management and secured victory in his first away game on Thursday night against Tottenham.
Those three points have lifted the Blues into sixth, four points behind the Champions League places which will surely be the target now.
Their possession based football has worked nicely in recent games and will be expected to get them over the line in this one too although they will, as always, have to be wary of the counter attack.
Chelsea had the better of this reverse fixture back in November where they won 4-1, but Sheffield United will have fond memories of the last night Chelsea visited Bramall Lane, when the Blades ran out 3-0 winners.
Leeds vs Crystal Palace (8:00pm Monday)
The weekend’s action is wrapped up on Monday night as Leeds United welcome Crystal Palace to Elland Road in what is likely to be a close-fought contest between two sides locked level on points.
Leeds sit 11th going into the weekend although the mid-table region is so close that only four points separate 7th place from 13th.
The Whites have had a mixed week so far, putting on an exceptional performance to beat Leicester last weekend but then falling to defeat at home to Everton, although they’ll feel they could’ve got more from that.
A top half finish will likely be the target for Marcelo Bielsa’s men this season, although a European finish isn’t completely out of the question, and they could end the weekend in 10th if they win and other results go their way.
Crystal Palace are only behind Leeds on goal difference so could climb up to the top then themselves this weekend, although that is unlikely.
The Eagles had been in rotten form with just one win from 12 before this week, but they have turned that on its head with two successive wins against Wolves and Newcastle.
Palace have the third worst defensive record in the league at the moment and Roy Hodgson will be keen to rectify that, although will take confidence from the fact that their weekend’s opponents, along with West Brom, have conceded more.
The Eagles will be keen to replicate their performance in the reverse fixture in November as they ran out 4-1 winners but they haven’t won at Elland Road since 2006.
So plenty to look out for the weekend and here’s to another exciting weekend of Premier League football.