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New dawn at Stamford Bridge on Manchester derby weekend

Another Premier League weekend in the books, and yet another manager relieved of his duties. Leeds United have sacked Marcelo Bielsa after nearly four seasons in charge. The Argentine boss has since been replaced by American Jesse Marsch. This is the eighth managerial change of the season.

The fantasy landscape is intriguing as we head into the business end of the season. Matt Cash and Thiago Silva remain strong mid-priced items at the back, while Mason Mount and James Ward-Prowse could prove pivotal assets from midfield for your team.


Leicester City v Leeds United


Leicester may have had a difficult time, although their season rides on their form in the Europa Conference League. Jonny Evans, Timothy Castagne, Ryan Bertrand and Wesley Fofana are all out, while James Justin and Ricardo Pereira are doubts for the visit of the Yorkshire side.

Leeds are languishing just two points above the bottom three, and have since replaced legendary manager Bielsa with former RB Salzburg and Leipzig coach Marsch. Key players Liam Cooper, Patrick Bamford, and Kalvin Phillips are all out for their trip to the West Midlands.

This is a tight rivalry between two struggling sides, and the Whites can be positive given they won 3-1 on their last visit to the King Power.

Prediction: 1-1

Aston Villa v Southampton


Aston Villa started really well under Steven Gerrard, but they have won just three of their past nine league games. Marvelous Nakamba remains out, while Bertrand Traoré is a serious doubt for this mid-table match-up.

Southampton are on a strong run, unbeaten in their last five league games and beating Spurs 3-2 at their new home stadium. Lyanco and Nathan Tella are both out for Saints.

These sides served up a seven-goal thriller, as Saints won 4-3 on their last visit to Villa Park in November 2020.

Prediction: 2-1

Burnley v Chelsea


Burnley are fighting their way into a promising position for survival, earning seven points from their past five games. Johann Gudmundsson and Matej Vydra are out, while Erik Pieters, Ben Mee and Dale Stephens are all doubts.

Chelsea are quickly looking behind them in the top-four battle, and things could get tricky after owner Roman Abramovich announced he will sell the West London club. Ben Chilwell is the only key player out. César Azpilicueta, Andreas Christensen and Hakim Ziyech are all doubtful.

The Clarets have won just once in their 15 meetings, and the Blues won 3-0 on their last visit to Lancashire.

Prediction: 1-3

Newcastle United v Brighton & Hove Albion


Newcastle have ground their way to fourteenth place, with four wins and 13 points from five games. Matt Ritchie, Kieran Trippier and Callum Wilson remain out, while Allan Saint-Maximin is a doubt.

Brighton have earned just three wins in their previous 15 games, scoring just three goals in their last five. Adam Webster and Enock Mwepu are both out, while Adam Lallana is the lone doubt.

The Seagulls are unbeaten in this fixture, winning four of nine meetings, including a 3-0 win on their last visit to Tyneside.

Prediction: 2-1

Norwich City v Brentford


Norwich, despite starting well under Dean Smith, have quickly plummeted to the bottom of the division, with just two wins in their past 14 games. Andrew Omobamidele and Adam Idah will both be out for the visit of the Bees.

Brentford, themselves, have been dragged into the relegation dogfight, with just one win in their previous eight games. Josh Dasilva is suspended for this one; otherwise, no new injury concerns. Christian Eriksen could make his full debut.

The Canaries won at the Brentford Community Stadium in their only top-flight meeting back in November.

Prediction: 2-1

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Crystal Palace


Wolves are still in the hunt for Europe next season, although they have scored the fewest goals in the top half. Nelson Semedo is the only doubt with a muscle injury.

Crystal Palace, despite faltering with two victories in their last eight, continue to score consistently, netting at least one goal in seven of their past nine games. Nathan Ferguson is out with a hamstring injury, while Joel Ward is doubtful with a groin strain.

This is an even match-up historically, with each side winning three of seven overall meetings. Wolves have won their previous two home battles 2-0.

Prediction: 1-1

Liverpool v West Ham United


Liverpool have closed the gap in the title race from as many as 13 points to just six, with the Reds having a game in hand. Thiago Alcântara and Roberto Firmino are both doubts.

West Ham have pushed themselves back into European contention, despite dropping points to Newcastle and Leicester recently. Angelo Ogbonna, Arthur Masuaku and Vladimir Coufal are all out for the trip to Merseyside.

The Hammers are looking to complete the league double over Liverpool for just the second time, the last being 2015-16. Their prospects look grim, as they have only won once at Anfield in the top flight.

Prediction: 2-1


Watford v Arsenal


Ralf Rangnick experiences his first Manchester derby as United manager on Sunday, with the Reds looking to make it four wins in a row at the Etihad Stadium as City suddenly feel Liverpool breathing down their necks (Photograph by Jon Super/AP)

Watford are on the brink of going straight back down, despite hiring Roy Hodgson to attempt the great escape. They defended reasonably well to earn a 0-0 away draw with Manchester United. Nicolas Nkoulou remains out, while Kiko Femenia, Ismaïla Sarr, Peter Etebo, Kwadwo Baah and Samuel Kalu are doubts.

Arsenal, who have not played in nearly two weeks, edged out Wolves 2-1 in their last league game to take pole position for that final Champions League spot. Takehiro Tomiyasu and Emile Smith-Rowe are doubts for the short trip to Vicarage Road.

The Hornets salvaged a 2-2 draw with Arsenal in December 2019, but five of the Gunners’ 12 wins in this match-up have come on the road.

Prediction: 1-3

Manchester City v Manchester United


Manchester City now have some pressure on their title retention, as their lead has been cut to six points. They controversially won 1-0 away to Everton, Phil Foden scoring his fifth goal of the season. Youngster Cole Palmer and reserve goalkeeper Zack Steffen are both out for the derby.

Manchester United have drawn three of their previous five league games, and were knocked out of the FA Cup on penalties by Middlesbrough a few weeks ago. Edinson Cavani remains out with a hyperextended groin, while Scott McTominay is a doubt because of illness.

United are looking to extend their winning streak at the Etihad to four matches, their first such run since a period between November 1993 and November 2000. Will Manchester be red or blue after the first derby for United manager Ralf Rangnick?

Prediction: 2-2


Tottenham Hotspur v Everton


Spurs were upset 1-0 by Middlesbrough on the road at the FA Cup fourth round in midweek. Japhet Tanganga, Oliver Skipp and new signing Rodrigo Bentancur are all out, while Lucas Moura is a doubt after taking a knock in their win away to Leeds United last weekend.

Everton have mixed results in their first three games under Frank Lampard, winning one and losing twice. Yerry Mina, Fabian Delph and Ben Godfrey are all out, while Dominic Calvert-Lewin is a doubt, although the striker could return off the bench.

Spurs have lost just once in their previous 18 battles with the Toffees, winning eight and drawing nine. However, that defeat came in this exact fixture last season.

Prediction: 1-1


Southampton v Newcastle United


Southampton have scored in their past ten league matches, with only leaders and defending champions City on a longer streak with 17.

Newcastle midfielder Joe Willock has scored more goals than anyone else at the club since his debut last February (ten), after his move from Arsenal for £25 million.

Through 41 meetings overall, Saints edge the rivalry with 16 wins to the Magpies’ 14. Home advantage has proved crucial in this battle, with 27 of the 30 combined wins going to the home side.

Prediction: 2-0

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Watford


Wolves have struggled mightily at home this season, winning just five of 12 matches, and sit in the middle of the home table for 17 points. They have also scored just ten goals at Molineux.

Surprisingly, the Hornets have a very similar road split, taking 12 points from their 13 games, scoring 13 goals as well.

The West Midlands team hold the edge 3-2 overall, but be not surprised if the Hornets replicate their 2-0 away win from October 2018.

Prediction: 1-1

Leeds United v Aston Villa


Leeds have conceded 20 goals in their previous five matches before the double matchweek, since which they hired American Jesse Marsch. Young academy graduate Leo Hjelde could be in the squad for the first time since early February after a knee injury.

Aston Villa have scored in eight of their past ten league games. Philippe Coutinho has been involved in four goals in his first six games since joining on loan from Barcelona in January.

These sides played to a thrilling 3-3 draw at Villa Park, with the Brazilian scoring once and grabbing two assists on the night.

Prediction: 2-2

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Published March 04, 2022 at 7:54 am (Updated March 04, 2022 at 7:54 am)

New dawn at Stamford Bridge on Manchester derby weekend

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