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Intensifying title race remains finely poised

Rivalries resumed: Title-chasing Liverpool host relegation-threatened Everton in the Merseyside derby on Sunday

The tantalising Premier League title race remains on the edge with six matches to play, as both contenders fight tooth-and-nail to be crowned champions.

As well as needing to maintain pressure on current leaders Man City — who host Watford on Saturday — Liverpool also have the added incentive of heaping further misery on relegation-threatened rivals Everton when they host the Merseyside derby on Sunday.

Fantasy managers must be strategic with their choices in the run-in for the honour of becoming FPL champion. A few good suggestions include Chelsea star Mason Mount and tricky Brighton attacker Leandro Trossard, who both have favourable fixtures in the final few weeks of the season.

Craig Bridgewater with Blue Baller (s) leads the April table on 211 points, while James Gater and his team Unathletico Madrid has taken the overall lead with 2,256 points.

Tomorrow

Arsenal v 
Manchester United

8.30am

Arsenal cruised past Chelsea 4-2 on the road, keeping their Champions League hopes alive. They will miss Kieran Tierney and Thomas Partey, the former out for the season. Alexandre Lacazette is a doubt after falling ill against Crystal Palace.

Manchester United face their own injury concerns amid an abysmal run of form, which has seen the Red Devils win four of their last 14 games in all competitions. Luke Shaw, Fred and Edinson Cavani are all out, while Paul Pogba and Raphael Varane are both doubtful.

Prediction: 2-2

Leicester City v Aston Villa

11am

Leicester pulled into the top-half with a strong run of just one defeat in five, including a 1-1 draw at Manchester United. Danny Ward, Ryan Bertrand, Wilfried Ndidi, and Jamie Vardy are all out, while Boubakary Soumaré remains a doubt with a groin injury.

Aston Villa winning just twice in ten games. Lucas Digne is the only doubt for Steven Gerrard’s men.

This Midlands derby has seen at least three goals in four of the last five league meetings, with the Foxes leading 3-1 in those encounters.

Expect quite an open encounter between two sides with nothing to fight for in the Premier League.

Prediction: 2-2

Manchester City v Watford

11am

Manchester City continued their challenge to retain the Premier League title, though were eliminated by rivals Liverpool in the FA Cup on their quest to become the second team to clinch the treble (league, FA Cup, Champions League).

Watford continue to fail in key matches on their quest for survival, conceding the winner in the fifth minute of stoppage time in their 2-1 defeat at home to Brentford last time out.

Head coach Roy Hodgson has a plethora of injuries to contend with. William Troost-Ekong, Francisco Sierralta, Samuel Kalu, and Cucho Hernandez are all doubtful.

City have won eleven of the previous thirteen top-flight meetings, demolishing the Hornets 8-0 on their latest visit to the Etihad in September 2019.

Prediction: 5-0

Norwich City v Newcastle United

11am

Norwich can not string a run of victories together to pull off the bottom spot, though some positives came from their last two results, the 3-2 loss at Old Trafford and the 2-0 home win over Burnley.

The same absentees remain for Dean Smith, who could be without Andrew Omobamidele, Ozan Kabak, Adam Idah and Josh Sargent.

Newcastle, after their third-straight win on Wednesday night, moved up to 40 points into eleventh place. Kieran Trippier and Callum Wilson are both out, with foot and calf injuries respectively.

Ryan Fraser (hamstring) and Javier Manquillo (illness) are both doubts.

Though the Canaries are rank-outsiders to remain in the Premier League, this is an opportunity to show they still harbour hopes, as all of their five wins in this match-up have come at home.

Prediction: 1-1

Brentford v 
Tottenham Hotspur

1.30pm

Brentford have picked up form at a crucial time, winning four of five, and scoring at least once in their last six games.

Sergi Canos (hamstring) and Frank Onyeka (ankle) are both out, while Ethan Pinnock and Mathias Jorgensen are doubts.

Spurs have struggled to solidify that fourth Champions League spot, despite winning four of five and scoring twelve goals in that run, after they were pegged back by a late Leandro Trossard goal in the home defeat to Brighton.

Japhet Tanganga, Matt Doherty and Oliver Skipp are all out for the visitors.

The only Premier League meeting between these two clubs ended 2-0 to Tottenham.

Prediction: 2-3

Sunday

Brighton & Hove Albion v Southampton

10am

Brighton’s Yves Bissouma is suspended, while Jakub Moder is out with a knee injury. Shane Duffy (thigh) and Steven Alzate (ill) are also both doubts.

Southampton claimed an impressive 1-0 home victory over Arsenal, with Jan Bednarek scoring his first goal in over two years just before half-time. Ralph Hasenhuttl has a fully-fit squad for the short visit to the Seagulls.

It is quite difficult to choose a winner in this South Coast derby, with five draws in nine previous meetings.

No home team has managed to win this battle yet, with Brighton winning 2-1 at St Mary’s last season, and Saints winning by the same scoreline at the American Express Community Stadium in 2020.

Prediction: 1-1

Burnley v 
Wolverhampton Wanderers

10am

Relegation threatened Burnley are set to be without Erik Pieters, Ben Mee, Ashley Westwood and Johann Gudmundsson for the visit of Wolves at Turf Moor.

Wolves themselves could be without key midfielder Ruben Neves with a knee ligament injury, while Ki-Jana Hoever is a doubt with a hamstring pull.

This fixture has proved fairly even in recent times with each side winning three times in nine battles, as well as three draws.

Their meeting at Molineux earlier this term ended in a 0-0 draw, the first time neither team scored since their 2015 meeting in the Championship at the same venue.

Prediction: 0-2

Chelsea v 
West Ham United

10am

Chelsea paid for underestimating London rivals Arsenal on Wednesday, losing 4-2 at home to place doubt over their third-place security.

A week of tricky fixtures for the Blues continues with the visit of West Ham. Ben Chilwell, Mateo Kovacic and Callum Hudson-Odoi will all be out for Thomas Tüchel’s side.

West Ham fought back via Tomas Soucek to secure the 1-1 home draw with Burnley, preserving their hopes of qualifying for Europe.

Angelo Ogbonna is still out, while Kurt Zouma and Issa Diop are doubts as they recover from ankle injuries.

This fixture may have been dominated by the Blues historically, but the Hammers have fought back in recent times winning three of the last five meetings.

Prediction: 1-1

Liverpool v Everton

12.30pm

Liverpool still remain in the hunt for the quadruple (league, FA Cup, Carabao Cup and Champions League) after hammering rivals Manchester United 4-0 at Anfield.

Roberto Firmino is the only doubt for the encounter against their Merseyside neighbours.

Everton remain just four points outside the drop zone, though they have the second-best record of the bottom-six sides (seven points from five games, only behind Leeds).

Nathan Patterson and Andros Townsend are the only injury worries for manager Frank Lampard.

Prediction: 3-1

Monday

Crystal Palace v 
Leeds United

4pm

Crystal Palace will be without Nathan Ferguson as he continues to build fitness back, while Luka Milivojevic and Will Hughes are both doubts.

Leeds’ Tyler Roberts (hamstring) and Patrick Bamford (foot) are both out, while Junior Firpo (knee) and Jamie Shackleton (calf) are doubtful for the trip to south London.

The Yorkshire side edge this match-up, with five wins to Palace’s three.

Prediction: 2-1

Thursday

Manchester United v 
Chelsea

3.45pm

Manchester United must pick themselves up from the embarrassing 4-0 defeat at Liverpool, as their slim Champions League hopes remain in doubt.

Luke Shaw, Paul Pogba and Raphael Varane could return from their injuries, pending fitness tests.

Chelsea are still fighting on two fronts (league and FA Cup), but consolidation of third spot is certainly the priority, amid the challenging decision to determine the club’s next owner.

The previous encounter this term at Stamford Bridge ended in a 1-1 draw.

Prediction: 1-3

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Published April 22, 2022 at 8:00 am (Updated April 21, 2022 at 11:32 pm)

Intensifying title race remains finely poised

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