David Moyes and West Ham the sentimental pick for top-four finish
The business end of the English Premier League season is upon us and many of the teams whose fans believe they “should be winning things” will find themselves doubling up in Europe from now until the end.
This is when squad depth is put to the test, when managers who can afford to do so rotate quality players in and out.
Pep Guardiola is best placed to do so at Manchester City with no real drop-off in quality, as they stay on course for four major titles. Fierce city rivals Manchester United appear most likely to join them in the winners’ circle, as they are now odds-on to capture the Europa League after a 2-0 win away to Granada in the quarter-finals, first leg yesterday.
For the rest, it will be a race to the finish to secure a top-four place, with West Ham United the neutral man’s pick to reward David Moyes, who has more than salvaged his reputation in the wake of the dark days at Old Trafford.
Similarly tight, is the RG Fantasy League overall standings, where Lara Nash opened a 13-point lead after the first gameweek in April. She and How’s the weather Dan have a new chaser in Antoine Daniels’s Ahri FC after Bron Turner’s MegaBron suffered a relative dip and slipped to third.
Fulham v Wolverhampton Wanderers
Wolves have never beaten Fulham in an away Premier League match in five previous meetings.
Wolves were unbeaten in their first ten league games in London after gaining promotion in 2018 but have since lost three of their past five.
Fulham’s 2-1 defeat by Leeds United last month snapped a run of seven straight home league victories in games played on a Friday.
Manchester City v Leeds United
Manchester City are unbeaten in their last 41 Premier League games against promoted teams at the Etihad Stadium.
Pep Guardiola’s side have kept a league-high 17 clean sheets this season and are on course to surpass their record tally of 20 shutouts in 2018-19.
Leeds have secured 42 points from 30 games, which is their best tally at this stage of a Premier League campaign since 2001-02, when they finished fifth.
Liverpool v Aston Villa
Villa defeated Liverpool 7-2 last October and are looking to complete their first league double over the Merseyside club since 1992-93.
Jürgen Klopp’s champions are looking to avoid a seventh straight league defeat at Anfield.
Aston Villa, for whom the return of captain and chief playmaker Jack Grealish remains uncertain, have beaten Liverpool six times away from home in the Premier League, behind only Manchester United (12) and Chelsea (seven).
Liverpool have lost an incredible six straight at home in the league and also have a two-goal deficit to overturn against Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter-finals on Wednesday.
A big week for the champions.
Crystal Palace v Chelsea
Chelsea have won their past six league games against Palace, including a 4-0 triumph at Stamford Bridge in October.
Chelsea are yet to lose a league game away from home since Thomas Tuchel replaced Frank Lampard in January.
Timo Werner, despite his struggles, has been involved in more goals than any other Chelsea player this season (five goals, six assists).
Burnley v Newcastle United
Burnley defeated Newcastle 1-0 at Turf Moor last season and are looking for back-to-back home victories against the Magpies for the first time since 1968.
Burnley have failed to win any of their past six home league games, while Newcastle are winless in their past seven matches. However, they can take heart from how they fought back to snatch a point against Spurs last week.
Newcastle manager Steve Bruce is bidding to avoid a fourth successive away defeat by Burnley, having lost in 2009-10 with Sunderland, 2014-15 with Hull City and last season with the Magpies.
West Ham United v Leicester City
West Ham are winless in their past five home league games against Leicester.
David Moyes’s side are looking for their first league double over Leicester since 1999-2000, after their 3-0 victory at the King Power Stadium in October.
West Ham have scored in 25 different league matches this season, behind only Manchester City, with on-loan midfielder Jesse Lingard involved in more goals (six goals, three assists) than any other player since making his Hammers debut in February.
Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United
Tottenham have lost only one of their past eight home league games against Manchester United.
If Spurs net twice, they will become the first team to score eight goals against Manchester United in a single Premier League campaign, after their 6-1 victory earlier this season.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are unbeaten in their past 22 away league games and are looking to match Arsenal’s tally of 23 between August 2001 and September 2002.
Sheffield United v Arsenal
Arsenal have not beaten the Blades away from home in the Premier League in four previous attempts.
They have failed to keep a clean sheet in nine successive Premier League games, which is their third-worst run in the history of the competition.
The Blades have managed a league-worst 17 goals in 30 games this season.
West Bromwich Albion v Southampton
Southampton have won each of their past four leagues games against West Brom, including a 2-0 victory at St Mary’s Stadium in October.
Ralph Hasenhüttl’s side defeated Burnley 3-2 in their previous fixture but have not won back-to-back games since December.
West Brom have found the net in just three of nine home league games under Sam Allardyce, but they were exceptional in the 5-2 demolition of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge last week and will want to kick on.
Brighton & Hove Albion v Everton
Brighton have not lost to Everton in any of their three home league games.
Everton’s nine game unbeaten run on the road was snapped by their 2-0 loss to Chelsea last month.
Brighton have conceded 24 per cent of their goals from headers this season, the highest proportion of headed goals in the competition, while Everton have scored 12 headed goals, more than any other team.
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