Lampard’s Everton experiencing that sinking feeling
The English Premier League heads into its final few months with so much at stake, especially in the top-four race and relegation scrap. As many as 12 of the 20 teams have something to play for over the final dozen games or so of the season.
Fantasy managers will have a tricky run-in as key players look to impact their teams’ fate through consistency in performance. Diogo Jota could be a key option given Liverpool’s double matchweek.
Massive congratulations to February winner Wayne Balcombe, the manager of Wayne’s World, who amassed 359 points in a very close finish, with the top six of the month separated by just eight points.
J Martin aka “Pilot Flame” retains the overall lead with Hop Skip Jorginho, earning 1,916 total points so far.
Brighton & Hove Albion v Liverpool
Brighton are one of the few clubs in limbo heading into the final stretch of the season, yet suffered a 2-1 away defeat to Newcastle last weekend. Adam Webster remains out with a groin injury, while Enock Mwepu will be a doubt as he recuperates from a hamstring injury.
Liverpool withstood a resilient Inter Milan to advance to the Champions League quarter-finals in midweek. Roberto Firmino is the only doubt for the Reds’ trip to the South Coast.
The Seagulls have been a true test for the Merseyside title challengers recently, with Jürgen Klopp’s men dropping points in their last three meetings, including two draws.
Brentford v Burnley
Brentford earned a morale-boosting away win over Norwich, but still remain just six points above the relegation zone. Joshua Dasilva is suspended upon being sent off at Newcastle a few weeks back, while Kristoffer Ajer and Christian Norgaard are doubts with minor injuries.
Burnley, despite a strong first half, were demolished 4-0 at home by Chelsea last week. They still remain just inside the drop zone, and this kind of match-up will be critical in their survival chances. Erik Pieters, Johann Gudmundsson, and Matej Vydra will all miss the trip to West London. Ben Mee and Dale Stephens are both doubts.
The Clarets won their only prior top-flight meeting 3-1 at Turf Moor in October. New signing Maxwel Cornet scored a critical goal in that match, during his strongest run of form since joining from French side Lyons.
Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur
Manchester United were demolished 4-1 away to neighbours Manchester City. Luke Shaw and Raphaël Varane, who were both ill for the derby, should return after being spotted in training midweek. Edinson Cavani and Cristiano Ronaldo are both doubts.
Spurs pounced on poor defending in a 5-0 home win over Everton, with Harry Kane scoring twice to move up to nine on the season. Japhet Tanganga and Oliver Skipp remain out, while Ryan Sessegnon is a doubt after suffering a minor knock in the shutout win.
United have lost only four Premier League home meetings all time against Spurs, the latest being that infamous 6-1 thrashing at the beginning of last season.
Chelsea v Newcastle United
Chelsea are still in control of third place after their 4-0 away win over Burnley. Ben Chilwell and Reece James are both out, the latter suffering a muscle injury in the comfortable win. César Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso are both doubts for the visit of the Magpies.
Newcastle are unbeaten in their past eight league games, pushing them up to fourteenth, seven points clear of the bottom three. Kieran Trippier and Callum Wilson are both out. Federico Fernandez, Matt Ritchie, and Ryan Fraser are all doubts.
The Geordies have won just once at Stamford Bridge through 53 overall meetings.
Everton v Wolverhampton Wanderers
Everton were dragged back into the relegation scrap after their 5-0 away defeat to Spurs. Yerry Mina and Fabian Delph are both out. Michael Keane, Ben Godfrey and Demarai Gray are all doubts.
Wolves were defeated 2-0 at home by Crystal Palace last week, but remain in the hunt for a Europa League place next term. Nelson Semedo is out with a muscle injury, while youngster Ki-Jana Hoever is a doubt.
The Toffees hold a slim edge in this match-up, with six wins to Wolves’ four through 15 overall meetings. They must win to keep themselves in the hunt for survival.
Leeds United v Norwich City
Leeds got off to a losing start under new manager Jesse Marsch, going down 1-0 away to Leicester City. Liam Cooper, youngster Leo Hjelde, Kalvin Phillips and Tyler Roberts are all out for the visit of the Canaries.
Norwich have scored only three goals in their past five games, going winless. Andrew Omobamidele and Adam Idah are both out for the trip to Yorkshire.
Norwich have won four of their previous seven meetings, although they lost the reverse fixture 2-1.
Southampton v Watford
Southampton are officially safe, but got absolutely battered 4-0 away from home by Aston Villa. Lyanco is the only long-term absentee, while Mohanmed Salisu and Nathan Tella are both doubts as they recover from knee and hamstring injuries respectively.
Watford came up just short in their comeback effort to fall 3-2 at home to Arsenal. Ismaïla Sarr will be a key miss for the Hornets, while Nicolas Nkoulou is also out. Defenders William Troost-Ekong and Jeremy Ngakia are both doubts, while striker Josh King could miss this with a hamstring strain.
Saints are unbeaten in the past five meetings, winning three of them.
West Ham United v Aston Villa
West Ham were made to pay for poor finishing in their 1-0 defeat by Liverpool at Anfield, Manuel Lanzini failing to score from six yards out for one of the misses of the season. Key defenders Angelo Ogbonna and Vladimir Coufal are both out along with Andriy Yarmolenko. Jarrod Bowen and captain Declan Rice are both doubts.
Villa found their first convincing win in quite a while, a 4-0 win over Southampton. Marvelous Nakamba is the only absentee for the short trip to East London.
Another even match-up with very little to separate the sides, as 20 of their previous 45 meetings have ended in stalemate.
Arsenal v Leicester City
Arsenal are firm favourites to qualify for the Champions League next term after their resilient 3-2 away win over Watford. Takehiro Tomiyasu and Emile Smith-Rowe are both doubts for the Gunners.
Leicester held to an important 1-0 home win over Leeds last week, but may have lost Jamie Vardy to a long-term injury in the process. Jonny Evans, Timothy Castagne, and Ryan Bertrand are also out. Meanwhile, Ricardo Pereira and Wesley Fofana are both doubts, the latter whilst recovering from a broken leg.
A challenging match-up for Mikel Arteta, as the Foxes won 1-0 on their last visit to the Emirates Stadium.
Crystal Palace v Manchester City
Crystal Palace are on their best five-game run since midseason, losing just once. Nathan Ferguson and Joel Ward are both out, while James McArthur is a doubt.
City cruised through in first gear with a 0-0 home draw with Sporting Lisbon in Europe on Wednesday, having thrashed the Portuguese side 5-0 on the road. Ruben Dias is out with a hamstring injury, while Nathan Ake and Cole Palmer are both doubts.
The champions have struggled recently against the Eagles, as the South London side have taken four points from their past three visits to the Etihad Stadium. However, the Sky Blues won 2-0 at Selhurst Park in this fixture last season.
Brighton & Hove Albion v Tottenham Hotspur
Brighton should have midfielder Mwepu back from his hamstring injury, but key defender Webster will remain out until early April.
Spurs have scored almost twice as many goals as their hosts, corresponding with a jump in Harry Kane’s form. The England captain has been involved in six goals in his past four Premier League starts.
These sides met in the FA Cup last 16, with Spurs winning 3-1 at their new home stadium. However, they have lost their past two visits to the South Coast.
Arsenal v Liverpool
Arsenal are in the middle of a tricky period for the North London side. They have gone unbeaten in their past five and losing just once in ten. Their three games in hand over their rivals are against Spurs, Liverpool and Chelsea, though.
Liverpool are pushing on all four fronts, the odds of the Merseyside team doing a quadruple are 80-1. Brazil forward Firmino should return off the bench, as youngster Luis Diaz faces his first true test as a Reds player.
The Gunners will show their true colours, and worthiness of top four, although Liverpool have won four of their prior five meetings, including 3-0 n their last visit to the Emirates.
Everton v Newcastle United
Everton are in dire need of a victory, as they continue to face teams around them. The Toffees can remain hopeful, as there are seven points separating their visitors from Burnley in the first relegation place.
Newcastle have taken 21 points from their past nine league games, after taking just ten in their previous 20 matches.
The Magpies have earned six away wins over the Toffees, including the 2-0 success last season at Goodison Park.