This weekend of Premier League action is critical for those in the top four and relegation battles. Saturday sees a key battle near the top as Liverpool host Arsenal looking to move closer to the Champions League places.
Things kick off with Manchester United at home to a struggling Bournemouth side, who have not won since Nathan Ake’s departure.
Manchester United vs Bournemouth
The new EFL Cup champions will be delighted to play their first league game at Old Trafford in front of home fans. They however face a Bournemouth side capable of causing problems for big teams.
Both clubs have near full squads with only Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Simon Francis missing respectively.
Unless Eddie Howe can get the Cherries back to their best, this match is a Red Devils walkover. Last week, they led at West Brom but couldn’t hold onto the lead so will need to be tighter and leave not much space or Zlatan Ibrahimovic will punish them ruthlessly.
United are on a unbeaten league run and there will be little shock to see it continue here.
Prediction: Manchester United 3-0 Bournemouth
Result: Manchester United 1-1 Bournemouth
Leicester vs Hull
Near the bottom, this is a relegation six pointer without any question. Leicester lost the reverse fixture in the opening match of this season but are a reenergised side lately.
Both clubs have players out injured but Leicester still got their key players fit and available for the match. Hull’s injury list could be decisive come end of season when every point becomes vital.
After Claudio Ranieri’s sacking, the Foxes put Liverpool away in a display akin of last season so the Tigers will need to claw deeper to avoid defeat. Both sides are still in the relegation mires and Hull need a win here ahead of next weekend’s showdown with Swansea.
Current form suggests that this meeting could end in a draw but the visitors’ away form is pitful. If they can put that to one aside then they could become the first promoted team to do the double over the reigning Premier League champions.
If Leicester come flying out of the blocks then can see them picking up back to back wins. Their defence in 2017 so far however has been leaky so one goal could be key for Hull if get it early on.
Prediction: Leicester 2-1 Hull
Result: Leicester 3-1 Hull
Stoke vs Middlesbrough
If there is a match that Middlesbrough have to be favourites for, its this one.
Both sides will have strong squads to select from with only Calum Chambers missing for Boro.
Stoke will still be reeling from their beating at Tottenham Hotspur last weekend. Defensively, they were a complete mess at set pieces giving Boro some hope if they can get their corners or free kicks spot on.
Aitor Karanka will be confident of getting something here to avoid dipping into the relegation zone for the first time this season. They have been playing it right on the edge for months and now is the time to start finding goals. This is a good time as any to face the Potters, who are going to be eager to avoid another drubbing and a point apiece wouldn’t be a surprise.
Prediction: Stoke 0-0 Middlesbrough
Result: Stoke 2-0 Middlesbrough
Swansea vs Burnley
Swansea will be confident of victory against a side who are yet to win on the road this season.
The Swans will be missing Jefferson Montero whilst Burnley are without Steven Defour and Johann Berg Gudmundsson for this match.
This match is surely Swansea’s to lose but the Clarets will want a high league position as possible come May for extra prize money. Safety is however still in the balance for both clubs.
Paul Clement knows that a win here and defeats for the bottom four could give his side some breathing place between them and the drop zone. It would be a surprise if they got anything less but Burnley are starting to find some away goals so could be a threat.
Unlike the visitors, Swansea’s next four games are against Hull (A), Bournemouth (A) then Middlesbrough (H). A win here will be of huge significance heading into those three games, which could well decide who is in peril heading into the final throes of this season.
Realistically, Swansea should get the win here.
Prediction: Swansea 2-0 Burnley
Result: Swansea 3-2 Burnley
Watford vs Southampton
Southampton come into this match looking to put the late heartache of Wembley behind them.
Both clubs will be missing one player with Mauro Zarate and Virgil van Dijk ruled out through knee and ankle injuries respectively.
This match is difficult to call because Watford will be tricky to beat at home but Southampton need a quick reaction to get over their cup loss. If they start where they ended at Wembley then it’s going to be tough for the Hornets to get into the match.
Manolo Gabbiadini already has five goals to his tally despite making just three appearances since joining from Napoli at the end of January. After his performance last weekend, he will be the danger man for Watford to close down but he should get another goal here.
Prediction: Watford 1-2 Southampton
Result: Watford 3-4 Southampton
West Bromwich Albion vs Crystal Palace
West Brom will be keen to maintain their seventh place fight with Everton but face a tough test here against Crystal Palace.
The Baggies has a full squad to choose from whereas Palace are without; Mathieu Flamini, Loic Remy, Papa Souare and Connor Wickham.
Tony Pulis and Sam Allardyce have both never seen their sides relegated from the Premier League but are in different situations now. Allardyce’s Eagles need the points more if are to avoid the drop but face an organised West Brom side who are punching above their weight.
Palace go to the Hawthorns off the back of last weekend’s win over Middlesbrough but are yet to beat Albion away from home in the Premier League. Only clubs ranked above Pulis’ side have clinched wins at the Hawthorns this season so its a big ask for Allardyce here.
Expect West Brom to see off Palace with ease and close the gap to Everton in the race for seventh and potential Europa League football.
Prediction: West Brom 2-0 Crystal Palace
Result: West Brom 0-2 Crystal Palace
Liverpool vs Arsenal
This is a must win game if Liverpool are to stay in the race for Champions League football. Lose and they might have to prepare for the Thursday-Sunday routine next season.
Jurgen Klopp will be without Daniel Sturridge due to a hip strain but has a strong squad available. Arsene Wenger too has a full strength squad to choose from but is without Mohamed Elneny who is side-lined with an ankle injury for three weeks.
The Reds has picked up just one league win since the turn of this calendar year placing Klopp under pressure. A defeat here then fans could start turning against him if they go on and slump further down the table.
Arsenal can throw the kitchen sink at Liverpool here now that their Champions League exit is all but confirmed. In the original tie, these sides played out a thrilling battle with the Reds winning 4-3 but this match should be tighter.
A draw here wouldn’t be a nightmare but can see the Gunners squeezing a win out of this match.
Prediction: Liverpool 1-2 Arsenal
Result: Liverpool 3-1 Arsenal