North London derby to decide final Champions League spot
As the Premier League hits the final corner, three teams continue the fight to avoid the last relegation spot to the Championship, while the top two continue their push for the crown.
Fantasy managers have the additional conundrum of consecutive double gameweeks, as well as the FA Cup final within Gameweek 37 between Chelsea and Liverpool, prior to the final day.
Crystal Palace midfielder Conor Gallagher and Newcastle star Bruno Guimaraes are strong suggestions for the remainder of the season, as they may impact both ends of the league table. Congratulations to April monthly winner Benjamin Smith and Four Star Team, who amassed 371 points. Martyn C and Unintended Sub have taken the overall lead with 2,413 points.
Brentford v Southampton
Brentford may be coming off a 3-0 loss to Manchester United, but they had won five of seven prior to the defeat at Old Trafford. Mathias Jorgensen (thigh), Saman Ghoddos and Frank Onyeka are all out for the Bees, the latter two with ankle injuries. Ethan Pinnock and Sergi Canos are both doubts with hamstring injuries.
Southampton are on the same points as their hosts (40), but have won just once in seven league matches. Tino Livramento is the only absentee for Saints, who aim to win their third-straight match in London for the first time since March 1985.
Although Saints won the reverse fixture 4-1, they split their previous four fixtures in League One, with either side winning once and two draws.
Burnley v Aston Villa
Burnley are unbeaten since parting ways with manager Sean Dyche, looking to win their fourth straight since April 2018. Ben Mee, Ashley Westwood and Johann Gudmundsson are all out. Erik Pieters, Jay Rodriguez and Maxwel Cornet are all doubts for caretaker head coach Mike Jackson.
Aston Villa have been struggling over the last few months, losing six of their last 10. Kortney Hause (abdominal) and Morgan Sanson (knock) are both out, the latter could be assessed after missing the previous three games. Leon Bailey is a serious doubt with a sprained ankle.
This is a very equal rivalry historically, with both sides winning twice and four draws in the eight overall matchups. The Clarets won 3-2 in this fixture last season, and this could prove a key marker should they remain in the Premier League.
Chelsea v Wolverhampton Wanderers
Chelsea are stuttering on their quest to secure third-spot. They have dropped points (lost or drawn) in three of their last five games, including the 1-0 defeat away to Everton. Ben Chilwell and Callum Hudson-Odoi are both out for the remainder of the season, with knee and Achilles injuries respectively. Andreas Christensen, Jorginho, Ross Barkley and N’Golo Kante are all doubts.
Wolves have lost six of eight games to lose ground in their push for European football. Max Kilman, Daniel Podence and Nelson Semedo are all doubts for new coach Bruno Lage.
The last two league meetings have ended 0-0, though the Blues have never recorded three straight goalless draws against any opponent in the Premier League.
Crystal Palace v Watford
Crystal Palace are looking to win consecutive league games for just the second time this term, after beating Manchester City and Wolves back in October. Nathan Ferguson is the only absentee for manager Patrick Vieira.
Watford squandered an early lead to go down 2-1 at home to Burnley, becoming the first side in top-flight history to lose 11 straight home games in a single season. Cucho Hernandez is out, though he could return for the final game of the season. Francisco Sierralta is the only doubt for the short trip to Selhurst Park.
The Eagles look to keep their fourth-straight home clean sheet for the first time in the Premier League.
Brighton & Hove Albion v Manchester United
Brighton have taken 10 points from their last five, after losing four straight games prior. Jakub Moder and Jeremy Sarmiento are both out, while Enock Mwepu is a doubt with a groin injury.
Manchester United efficiently saw off Brentford 3-0 in their final home match of the season, where Bruno Fernandes scored his 50th goal for the Red Devils. Luke Shaw, Paul Pogba and Jadon Sancho are all out, the latter could be checked after suffering with tonsilitis prior to the home draw with Chelsea last Thursday. Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka are both doubts.
United are looking to win their eighth straight over the Seagulls, which would extend their longest unbeaten run against any opponent in the division.
Liverpool v Tottenham Hotspur
Liverpool kept their hopes of a historic quadruple intact with a 3-2 comeback win in Spain over Villarreal in the Champions League semi-final second leg, to advance to their tenth European final 5-2 on aggregate. Roberto Firmino is the only absentee for Jürgen Klopp.
Spurs have picked up their push for Champions League football, with Son Heung-Min scoring twice in a 3-1 home win over Leicester last time out. Sergio Reguilon, Japhet Tanganga and Oliver Skipp are all out.
Antonio Conte looks to become just the fifth manager to go unbeaten in his first three visits to Anfield; after Martin O’Neill, Peter Reid, Roy Hodgson and Paul Lambert. Should Harry Kane score, at a venue he has netted five times in seven trips, the Whites could stand a significant chance of pulling the upset.
Arsenal v Leeds United
Arsenal have grabbed that fourth spot back from rivals Spurs after winning three straight against sides also chasing Europe; Chelsea, Manchester United and West Ham. Eddie Nketiah scored three times in those games. Kieran Tierney and Thomas Partey are both out, while Ben White is a doubt having missed the last win away to West Ham.
Leeds are unbeaten in three away games under new manager Jesse Marsch, including dramatically edging Wolves 3-2 in March. Stuart Dallas, Adam Forshaw, Tyler Roberts and Crysensio Summerville are all out. Patrick Bamford and Liam Cooper are also doubts. The Yorkshire side last went four unbeaten on the road back in December 2001.
Though the Whites have kept consecutive clean sheets, the Gunners have won the last three meetings in all competitions. They are also on their fifth winning streak of more than three games.
Leicester City v Everton
Leicester have placed their priority on the Europa Conference League, in which they are level with AS Roma heading into the home leg midweek. Domestically, they have won just three of their last 10, though they still remain in mid-table. Ryan Bertrand and Wilfried Ndidi are both out with knee injuries. Backup goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic is a doubt with a minor knock.
Everton secured a vital 1-0 home win over Chelsea, pushing within two points of safety with a game in hand. Ben Godfrey, Nathan Patterson, Andre Gomes, Donny van de Beek and Andros Townsend are all out for Frank Lampard.
The Foxes have won eight of their last nine league games against teams in the relegation zone, last losing 2-1 to Fulham in November 2020.
Norwich City v West Ham United
Norwich were officially relegated after their 2-0 defeat away to Aston Villa, coupled with Burnley’s 2-1 away win over Watford. These results meant the Canaries had to gain an impossible 13 points from their final four games. Andrew Omobamidele and Ozan Kabak are both out. Kristoph Zimmermann, Kenny McLean and Josh Sargent are all doubts.
West Ham suffered a blip to European qualification with their 2-1 home defeat to Arsenal. Angelo Ogbonna is the only injury concern for David Moyes, unless something happens in their Europa League semi-final second leg at Eintracht Frankfurt.
Norwich are winless in their previous five games after suffering relegation within a single season. However, with victory, the Canaries would become the 23rd Premier League team to reach 100 wins.
Manchester City v Newcastle United
Manchester City failed to capitalise on their opportunities, and were punished by a clinical Real Madrid in their 3-1 defeat in Spain, eliminating them at the semi-final stage in the Champions League. Kyle Walker and John Stones are both out, though the former played 60 minutes at the Santiago Bernabeu. Nathan Ake is a doubt.
Newcastle have won seven of their last 10 league games, and pushed Liverpool despite succumbing to a 1-0 home defeat. Ryan Fraser is out with a hamstring injury, while Kieran Trippier and Callum Wilson are both recovering from foot and shoulder injuries respectively. Fabian Schar is a doubt with a minor knock, but could feature.
Though the Magpies are winless in 14 visits to the Etihad, including 12 straight defeats, only the top-two sides (Liverpool – 41 and Manchester City – 33) have taken more points than the Tyneside team (32) this calendar year.
Tuesday, May 10th
Aston Villa v Liverpool
Aston Villa could find themselves within five points of the bottom-three by the conclusion of this round, so they must find something from the visit of the tricky and history-chasing Reds. Morgan Sanson could return, though it could be premature depending on the nature of his knock.
Liverpool should be able to field a fully-fit squad for Jürgen Klopp in the final five games of the season, and rotation could play a factor with the FA Cup final against Chelsea looming four days later at Wembley.
Villa made history on one of the most bizarre days in football, smashing the Merseyside team 7-2 in this fixture last season, on a day where Manchester United were also demolished at home 6-1 by Tottenham.
Wednesday, May 11th
Leeds United v Chelsea
Leeds have taken just 17 points from their home games so far this term, just one more than eighteenth-place Brighton in that form table. They have also scored the third-fewest goals on their own patch, netting just 18 times at Elland Road.
Chelsea have been in similar form over the last few months with more strenuous schedules, including two defeats in their last five games.
Patience will be needed for the Whites, who have earned two draws from the most recent Chelsea visits.
Leicester City v Norwich City
Leicester have made a strong run to the Europa Conference League semi-finals, regardless of the result the previous midweek against Roma. The same injuries listed above will remain out for the Foxes.
The mini-resurgence in the early weeks of the reign of new teacher Dean Smith has been quashed by just one win in 11 games. McLean, Sargent and Zimmermann could return from their minor injuries.
The Foxes have taken 10 points from the last five meetings, and edge the overall series, with four wins to Norwich’s two, in seven overall battles.
Watford v Everton
Watford are the first club in top-flight history to move between three different managers in a single season. Current head coach Roy Hodgson has taken just eight points from his first 14 games in charge. Sierralta could return in limited capacity for this six-pointer, after missing the previous 15 games.
Prior to the decent run in the last four games, where they have taken seven points, Everton had lost nine of their previous 10 games, conceding at least twice in five of those nine defeats. The same injury concerns should hold for the Toffees and head coach Frank Lampard.
The Merseyside outfit have a significant historical advantage over the Hornets, winning eight of 15 matchups. However, the teams have split the last five, two wins apiece with the solitary draw back in December 2018.
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Manchester City
Wolves’ main problem this term has been scoring goals; only three sides have netted fewer in the division than their 33 and their top-scorer for the season is Raul Jimenez with six.
Manchester City must abolish the negative memories of their 3-1 defeat in Madrid, meaning Pep Guardiola can win just the solitary trophy this term, marking the Spaniard’s least successful campaign as a manager.
Back in December 2019, Wolves edged the Citizens 3-2 in a thriller at Molineux to further assist current challengers Liverpool to win their first Premier League title in resounding fashion.
Thursday, May 12th
Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal
Spurs have lost just twice in their previous 10 games, a solid run which includes victories over Manchester City and West Ham United. They scored at least three goals in all seven of their victories in this streak.
Although Arsenal have major difficulties finding the net this season, winger Bukayo Saka has still netted 11 goals and contributed seven Premier League assists. Ben White could return in some capacity following his hamstring problem.
This North London derby will surely decide who qualifies for the Champions League, as well as who has to settle for the Europa League next term. They have an even record in the last five battles.