Good Spurs, bad Spurs effect change at both ends of Premier League table
The English Premier League continues to show its true colours after another week in which both the title race and relegation scrap took intriguing turns with one third of the season remaining.
The fantasy landscape remains equally up in the air, despite solid picks such as Mohamed Salah and Jarrod Bowen shining through. Other standouts such as Jadon Sancho and the returning Conor Gallagher could be useful in the run-in, especially the latter, as Palace have a double matchweek coming up.
Southampton v Norwich City
Southampton cruised past Everton in a 2-0 home win to surely confirm their Premier League status next term. Saints will continue to miss long-term absentee Lyanco, while Romain Perraud, Nathan Tella, and Nathan Redmond are doubtful for the visit of the side from East Anglia.
Norwich are improving performance levels in their pursuit of survival for the first time since 2012-13. Tim Krul, youngster Andrew Omobamidele and Adam Idah will certainly be out for this trip to the South Coast, while Jacob Sorensen and Lukas Rupp are both doubts after recovering from knee and hamstring injuries respectively.
These sides have met 17 times in the top flight, with Saints edging the match-up seven wins to six, most recently edging them 2-1 at St Mary’s in December 2019.
Leeds United v Tottenham Hotspur
Leeds are in free fall after a valiant 4-2 at home to North East rivals Manchester United was followed by a 6-0 walloping by title chasers Liverpool. Marco Bielsa’s men must improve results to ensure their survival for a fourth straight season. They continue to deal with injuries to key players such as captain Liam Cooper and star midfielder Kalvin Phillips, who remain out until at least early March.
Spurs opened up the title race with their impressive 3-2 away win over Manchester City, but followed that up by losing to Burnley, which forced Italian manager Antonio Conte to question whether he was the best man for the job. Japhet Tanganga (knee) and Oliver Skipp (groin) remain out for an unknown period, while Sergio Reguilon (virus) and Emerson Royal (knock) are doubtful for the trip to Yorkshire. Leeds held on for a 3-1 win in their last meeting at Elland Road near the end of last season.
Brentford v Newcastle United
Brentford are in a massive slump of form, winning just two of their past 11 games. Mathias Jorgensen, Tarique Fosu-Henry, Mathias Jensen, Christian Eriksen and Ivan Toney are doubts for the visit of the resurgent Magpies.
Newcastle are unbeaten in their past six league games, their first such run this season. The last time they achieved this feat was between May and November of 2011 when they went 14 games without defeat. Matt Ritchie (knee), Javier Manquillo (ankle), Kieran Trippier (foot) and Callum Wilson (calf) are all out. Ryan Fraser (hamstring) and Allan Saint-Maximin (knock) could feature.
In their first-ever Premier League meeting in November, these sides played out a memorable 3-3 draw at St James’ Park.
Brighton & Hove Albion v Aston Villa
Brighton suffered a demoralising 3-0 home loss to Burnley last time out, which hampered their very slim chances of a Europa League spot. Enock Mwepu and Jeremy Sarmiento (both hamstring) are out, while Adam Webster (groin) is a doubt.
Aston Villa are stuttering a bit after a strong start under Steven Gerrard, dropping points in five of their past six league matches (two draws and three losses). Marvelous Nakamba and Bertrand Traoré remain the only absentees for their trip to the South Coast.
The Seagulls are the draw specialists in the division, earning 12 so far this season. This corresponds with their last meeting in Hove, a 0-0 draw last February.
Crystal Palace v Burnley
Crystal Palace broke out of a mini-slump by smashing Watford at Vicarage Road in midweek. Nathan Ferguson (hamstring) remains out, while starting goalkeeper Vicente Guaita (knee) and club captain Joel Ward (knock) are doubts.
Burnley defended with steel to earn an impressive 1-0 win over Tottenham in midweek, but key players James Tarkowski and Ashley Westwood (illness), along with Charlie Taylor (knock), are all doubts. Striker Matej Vydra (hernia) and winger Johann Berg Gudmundsson (calf) are both out.
The Clarets beat the Eagles 3-0 on their last visit to Selhurst Park and lead the overall rivalry with six wins to five for Palace.
Manchester United v Watford
Anthony Elanga scored a vital late equaliser to keep Manchester United in their Champions League round-of-16 tie with Atlético Madrid in Spain on Wednesday. Tom Heaton (knock) and Edinson Cavani (groin) are out, while Scott McTominay (illness) could be a doubt.
Watford pulled off an important 1-0 away win over Aston Villa last weekend, but were thrashed 4-1 at home by Crystal Palace four days later. João Pedro and Juraj Kucka (both knocks) will be doubtful, while Kwadwo Baah and Peter Etebo should return. Nicolas Nkoulou is the only long-term absentee for the Hornets.
Watford demolished United 4-1 in the reverse fixture, the final match of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s tenure. They have never won, however, at Old Trafford.
Everton v Manchester City
Everton have replaced Rafael Benítez with Frank Lampard, although things haven’t really changed under the former Chelsea and Derby County manager. They have won just once in their first four games since his arrival. Yerry Mina (thigh), Ben Godfrey (hamstring), Fabian Delph (thigh), and Demarai Gray (hip) are all out, while Abdoulaye Doucoure (groin) remains a doubt.
Manchester City suffered a shock 3-2 home defeat by Tottenham on Saturday, cutting their lead at the top to just three points after the midweek make-up games. Cole Palmer and Gabriel Jesus (muscle) are both out, while Jack Grealish (shin) is a doubt.
A critical battle on both sides of the table, with City earning eight wins at Goodison Park, including their last two by a score of 3-1.
West Ham United v Wolverhampton Wanderers
West Ham dropped points at home to Newcastle, and have lost four of their past eight games. Angelo Ogbonna (knee) is the only true absentee, while Vladimir Coufal (hernia) and Manuel Lanzini (knock) are both doubts.
Wolves held off Leicester 2-1 on Sunday, their fourth win in five, but a stoppage-time own goal away to Arsenal yesterday saw them go down by the same score. They have a clean bill of health and will need it for the challenging run-in.
Wolves have won six of the previous 11 meetings, but the Hammers thrashed them 4-0 on their last visit in September 2020.
Burnley v Leicester City
Burnley stunned Spurs 1-0 in midweek and closed the gap to two points for survival. Leicester do not play at the weekend, but lost 2-1 away to Wolves. They continue to miss Jonny Evans, Timothy Castaigne and Ryan Bertrand, while James Justin (muscle) and Wesley Fofana (leg) will slowly return to training and miss this midweek game. Jamie Vardy and Harvey Barnes (hamstring) could feature in some capacity.
A familiar rivalry of 13 matches sees the Foxes control the battle, with six wins to three.