Could a surprising Sunday be awaiting Premier League teams?
There are three live games that could have massive implications for the entire Premier League table. Could we see some surprises as Arsenal and Chelsea go for the title whilst Southampton, Leicester, Burnley and Hull all scrap away to avoid relegation?
Southampton vs Leicester City (12:00pm)
Southampton will be pleased to have had a four day gap after their midweek FA Cup win over Norwich.
Virgil van Dijk will have to establish a new centre back partnership after Jose Fonte joined West Ham on Friday. This could be critical against a Leicester side that wants to get back to winning ways after their thrashing by Chelsea last weekend.
Leicester are without Leonardo Ulloa has been ruled out with a thigh injury. Daniel Amartey, Riyad Mahrez and Islam Slimani are all still away at the African Cup of Nations.
This match could well be vital in the race to avoid the drop. The Saints need to start scoring home goals because their record is currently poor. Constant squad rotation isn’t helping their cause and more changes will be made ahead of Wednesday’s second leg of their League Cup semi final.
Claudio Ranieri’s side will be fresher due to avoiding the need for a midweek FA Cup replay. They will be looking to get their first away win of the season if are to avoid becoming the first Premier League champions to go straight down the following season.
Realistically, Leicester are best placed to win at St Marys for the first time ever given the fixtures that surround this match. Southampton will be targeting an immediate return to the Europa League so expect them to save themselves for Wednesday’s trip to Liverpool and field some youngsters.
Prediction: Southampton 0-1 Leicester City
Result: Southampton 3-0 Leicester City
Arsenal vs Burnley (2:15pm)
Arsene Wenger will be looking to build on last weekend’s return to form with another victory.
Arsenal are welcoming back Hector Bellerin, Kieran Gibbs and Francis Coquelin from injuries. Theo Walcott however heads onto the injury list with a calf injury.
Burnley will have midfield trio; Ashley Barnes, Johann Berg Gudmundsson and Dean Marney back after missing their midweek win over Sunderland. Scott Arfield is however a strong doubt with a hamstring problem.
On paper, this match should be a easy win for the Gunners but we don’t know which side will turn up. If the Arsenal that visited Bournemouth shows up at the Emirates then Burnley will have to make every opportunity count despite their appalling away form.
The Clarets will be happy to be firmly midtable ahead of this tough trip to the title contenders. Sean Dyche will look for the players to give their all and try to cause a surprise.
A goal would be a worthy reward to take away but if last week’s Arsenal show up then they will be lucky to not be torn apart after picking up only a single point on their travels this season.
Prediction: Arsenal 3-0 Burnley
Result: Arsenal 2-1 Burnley
Chelsea vs Hull (4:30pm)
Antonio Conte will be delighted to have captain John Terry back from suspension. Diego Costa will be back in the starting line up after resolving his argument with Conte.
Hull are looking to give Oumar Niasse and Evandro their first starts. Right back, Omar Elabdellaoui will be available for selection after joining on Friday.
The original leg at the KC Stadium in October kick started Chelsea’s 13 match unbeaten run. Will this match spark a giant step to the title after Liverpool lost and Manchester City could only draw with fellow challengers, Spurs?
Chelsea ‘s record against those in the bottom three during the second half of recent seasons isn’t the strongest. Hull will hope that they can cause a shock and get themselves out of the drop zone.
On this occasion, the Blues should have too much for the visitors, who will be looking ahead to Thursday’s League Cup’s semi final 2nd leg against Manchester United. Chelsea will be a test of what the Tigers can do against a top team before they host the Red Devils in late week.
Prediction: Chelsea 2-0 Hull
Result: Chelsea 2-0 Hull