London clubs can steal a march on FA Cup weekend
As the English Premier League season enters its final stretch, the title race has taken yet another twist in recent weeks, with Manchester City dropping points in a 0-0 draw away to Crystal Palace. Also, the relegation scrap has tightened as teams attempt to avoid the dreaded bottom three.
Fantasy managers must be careful this weekend in their team selection, as only eight of the 20 teams will be in action because of the FA Cup quarter-finals being contested simultaneously. For example, Bukayo Saka and Ivan Toney could be key assets in what would otherwise be recognised as a “blank matchweek” for four of the traditional top six in England.
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Leeds United
Wolves pushed themselves into European contention with a clean sheet 1-0 away win over Everton. They are now just five points behind fourth-placed Arsenal, although the latter have three games in hand. Key starter Nelson Semedo will be out for the visit of the Yorkshire side, while Ki-Jana Hoever and Hwang Hee Chan are both doubts.
Youngster Joe Gelhardt scored in stoppage time to earn a 2-1 home win for Leeds against Norwich, their first in six games. Kalvin Phillips, Liam Cooper, Leo Hjelde and Tyler Roberts are all out. Junior Firpo and Rodrigo are both doubts.
Wolves are unbeaten in their past six league meetings, winning five. That run includes a 1-0 win in this fixture last February.
Aston Villa v Arsenal
Aston Villa are back on track after a run of three straight wins, those coming over Leeds, Southampton and Brighton, in the past month. Marvelous Nakamba remains out, while Lucas Digne is a doubt with a hamstring injury.
Arsenal are on their best road league run since 2015, winning their past four on their travels. Takehiro Tomiyasu is the only doubt for the Gunners.
The North London side have won 12 times at Villa Park, although they succumbed to a 1-0 defeat last February.
Leicester City v Brentford
Leicester may have been comprehensively beaten away to Arsenal, but remain in thirteenth place with 33 points. They have several long-term absentees, including back-up goalkeeper Danny Ward, as well as outfield stars Jonny Evans, Timothy Castagne, Ryan Bertrand and club captain Jamie Vardy.
Brentford have won consecutive top-flight games for the first time since 1946, when they won four straight. Ivan Toney has scored seven in his past five. The last player to score more than twice in three straight league games for a promoted side was Kevin Phillips for Sunderland in 1999.
The Foxes edged the Bees on their visit to West London 2-1, and could make it six consecutive wins against promoted sides.
Tottenham Hotspur v West Ham United
Spurs virtually relinquished their chances of Champions League football last term with their 3-2 defeat by rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford, but they recovered well with a 2-0 away win over Brighton. Ryan Sessegnon, Japhet Tanganga and Oliver Skipp are all out for this London derby.
West Ham edged Aston Villa 2-1 at home to keep themselves in the European hunt. Angelo Ogbonna, Vladimir Coufal and Jarrod Bowen are all out, while Aaron Cresswell and key striker Michail Antonio are doubts for the short trip north.
These teams played to a thrilling 3-3 draw in their last meeting at Spurs’ new stadium in October 2020.