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Breathless at the Etihad – now for the afterparty

The Premier League title push will go right down to the wire after the main contenders, Manchester City and Liverpool, battled to an enthralling draw at the Etihad. They remain separated by just one point as the fixtures begin to pile up in all competitions.

The fantasy landscape has also ebbed and flowed nicely throughout, as managers battle it out to become RG Fantasy League champion. This weekend also marks the semi-finals of the FA Cup, thus a few key teams face a double matchweek. Arsenal star Bukayo Saka and Spurs winger Son Heung Min could be key assets this round, especially the former, who will be pivotal in the Gunners’ push for European football next season. Congratulations to Kevin Robinson with Yolo FC, who lead the April standings with 162 points. J Martin aka Pilot Flame continues to hold the overall advantage with his team, Hop Skip Jorginho, amassing 2,208 total points.

Saturday

Tottenham Hotspur v Brighton & Hove Albion

8.30am

The brakes are off: Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold, left, duels for the ball with Aymeric Laporte, of Manchester City, during a pulsating top-of-the-table clash in the English Premier League last Sunday (Photograph by Jon Super/AP)

Spurs enhanced their prospects of Champions League football next season by thrashing Aston Villa 4-0 at Villa Park, with South Korea star Son scoring a hat-trick. Japhet Tanganga and Oliver Skipp are out, while starting wing-back Matt Doherty is a doubt for the visit of the Seagulls.

Brighton earned a dominant away victory over Arsenal last week, with midfielder Enock Mwepu scoring his first goal for the club. Jakub Moder is the only injury absence for manager Graham Potter.

The South Coast side could be dangerous in this battle of similar styles, but head coach Antonio Conte should not need to fire up the North London team to keep their strong run going.

Prediction: 2-1

Manchester United v Norwich City

11am

Manchester United continued their dreadful season with another embarrassing defeat, this time away to relegation-threatened Everton. The Red Devils are hampered with injury concerns of late as well. Luke Shaw, Scott McTominay, Raphaël Varane and Edinson Cavani are all out, while Fred is a doubt for the visit of the Canaries.

Norwich gained ground on their fellow survival chasers with a shutout home win over Burnley. Brandon Williams is not eligible to face his parent club owing to league rules. Andrew Omobamidele, Ozan Kabak and Adam Idah are all out. Key midfield duo Billy Gilmour and Lukas Placheta are doubts.

United, who are reported to have agreed a deal to sign Ajax’s Erik ten Hag as their next manager, have won 15 of the previous 19 meetings in the top flight. They must win to avoid falling farther behind.

Prediction: 2-0

Southampton v Arsenal

11am

Southampton were demolished at home 6-0 by Chelsea, their second-largest defeat at St Mary’s in the Premier League. Saints will need to quickly bounce back so they do not get dragged into the relegation scrap. Lyanco and Shane Long are the only doubts for Austrian coach Ralph Hasenhüttl.

Arsenal have struggled to recover from the latest international break, losing both their games, most recently the 2-1 home defeat by Brighton. Kieran Tierney, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Thomas Partey are out, the former for the rest of the season.

Saints are winless in the past five meetings, their last victory coming in a 3-2 thriller in December 2018.

Prediction: 1-2

Watford v Brentford

11am

Watford were thumped 3-0 at home by Leeds, but hold on to a slim chance of survival, despite playing one more game than their rival. Cucho Hernández is the only doubt for the relegation scrap.

Brentford have won four of their last five, scoring at least twice in all those victories. Frank Onyeka is out with an ankle injury, while Josh Dasilva and Pontus Jansson are doubts.

The Bees won their only Premier League meeting 2-1, but the Hornets lost just one of their four matches in the Championship.

Prediction: 1-3

Sunday

Newcastle United v Leicester City

10.15am

Newcastle may have won just two of five, but are now ten points clear of the bottom three. Kieran Trippier and Callum Wilson are out, while Ryan Fraser and Joe Willock are doubts.

Leicester have lost just one of their previous five games, including a valuable 1-1 draw at Manchester United. Danny Ward, Ryan Bertrand, Wilfried Ndidi and Jamie Vardy are out, while Ayoze Perez and Boubakary Soumaré are doubts.

This rivalry is evenly poised, with both sides winning 12 of the 29 overall meetings. The Foxes have won four of the past five match-ups, however, but club could have their focus on the Europa Conference League quarter-finals.

Prediction: 2-2

West Ham United v Burnley

10.15am

West Ham slumped to a 2-0 defeat away to Brentford last weekend, but they remain in the hunt for Europe next term. Angelo Ogbonna is out with a knee injury, while Kurt Zouma is a doubt with an ankle strain.

Burnley boast one of the worst records in the division, losing four of five. Erik Pieters, key defender Ben Mee and Johann Gudmundsson are out for the Clarets.

The Hammers are still in the Europa League, and should focus on that competition as it is the best route into the Champions League. They barely edge this match-up, winning eight of 15 total meetings to Burnley’s five.

Prediction: 2-0

Tuesday

Liverpool v Manchester United

4pm

Liverpool came from behind twice in their thrilling 2-2 draw away to title rivals Manchester City. Manager Jürgen Klopp has a full-strength squad to work with, although that could change after yet another meeting with City in the FA Cup semi-finals on Saturday.

United could virtually know their European fate after their weekend clash with Norwich at Old Trafford, although they have their injury concerns for that match-up and this North-West derby.

Although the Merseyside team are unbeaten against the Red Devils in the past five meetings, outscoring them 14-3, United have won this fixture at Anfield 12 times overall.

Prediction: 2-1

Wednesday

Chelsea v Arsenal

3.45pm

Chelsea put up a valiant effort, but fell just short of their attempt to eliminate Real Madrid and reach the Champions League semi-finals, despite being 3-0 up in the Spanish capital. Ben Chilwell and Callum Hudson-Odoi are out, the former with a knee injury for the rest of the season. Romelu Lukaku is also a doubt for this monster match-up.

Arsenal have now lost three of their last five, including consecutive defeats by Brighton and Crystal Palace. Their injury concerns are important to this run-in, although Japanese defender Tomiyasu could be assessed and return off the bench.

This London derby has been quite tight historically, with the Gunners edging it 22 wins to 20 for the Blues. The North London side shut out Thomas Tuchel’s side 1-0 on their last visit to Stamford Bridge.

Prediction: 2-2

Everton v Leicester City

3.45pm

Everton have suffered mixed fortunes in key match-ups over recent weeks, losing 3-2 at Burnley but winning 1-0 at home to Newcastle United. Yerry Mina could return from his thigh injury, pending fitness tests, while Nathan Patterson and Andros Townsend are out.

Leicester visit two teams on either side of the relegation scrap in this week — Newcastle on Sunday before the Merseyside blues three nights later. New French recruit Soumaré could return from the start, depending on his involvement in Europe six days prior.

Frank Lampard remains under pressure as Toffees manager, as they are still just four points clear of the drop zone. These sides have drawn 14 of their 30 meetings, but the former Chelsea legend needs a win to ease the tension around Goodison Park.

Prediction: 2-0

Newcastle United v Crystal Palace

3.45pm

Newcastle United have built an important foundation, along with smart recruitment, under new head coach Eddie Howe, who has now led them to 28 points from 20 matches in charge. The Magpies can relax with one more draw or victory, as most TV experts and columnists, including myself, believe 33 points will be enough to survive another Premier League season.

Palace are already safe as it stands with 37 points, even though they cannot find a consistent run of form. Tyrick Mitchell, Michael Olise and Will Hughes are doubts.

Newcastle have largely dominated the history of the match-up, winning ten to Palace’s five in 21 meetings. This should be a low-scoring game, if the trend of the last five continues, which have seen less than three goals scored in total.

Prediction: 1-1

Manchester City v Brighton & Hove Albion

4pm

Manchester City were pegged back twice in their thrilling draw with title challengers Liverpool. Youngster Cole Palmer is still out, while Ruben Dias is a doubt, but could feature after an illness.

Brighton stunned Arsenal last weekend, and conclude a challenging spell of matches with this visit to the Etihad. Polish midfielder Moder will be out for them, with no other injury news.

The Seagulls have won just once in nine previous league meetings, that coming near the end of last season. They have tested the defending champions, though, losing by just one goal on their most recent visit to the blue side of Manchester.

Prediction: 2-0

Thursday

Burnley v Southampton

3.45pm

Burnley have two very different match-ups in this matchweek, this being the more winnable to improve their chances of avoiding the drop. All the above injuries noted will miss the visit of Saints, although rotation could see the attack adjusted by manager Sean Dyche.

Southampton are safe if they can find one win from these two intriguing match-ups, and Shane Long could return if his ankle injury is not too serious.

The Clarets have eight games remaining, and must gain at least three wins to survive. This rivalry is close, with Saints edging it with five victories to four, although they are unbeaten in the past three with two victories.

Prediction: 1-1

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Published April 14, 2022 at 7:40 am (Updated April 14, 2022 at 7:40 am)

Breathless at the Etihad – now for the afterparty

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