Thanks for the memories, Sergio Agüero
The international break is over and we get back into the groove of English Premier League football with Manchester City attempting to continue their procession towards the title.
City dominated much of the headlines since the previous gameweek when confirming the departure of all-time leading scorer Sergio Agüero in the summer.
The Argentina star has been a peripheral figure at the Etihad Stadium for much of the campaign because of injury and Covid-19 infection. In his absence, City overcame a slow start to become the dominant force in a championship race that has appeared a fait accompli since Liverpool embarked on an incredible, record-breaking home losing run at the turn of the year.
Manchester United, who had their issues for long periods in the first half — even to the extent that manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s job was seen to be under real threat — have emerged as the only credible challengers to City. But only from a theoretical sense.
Far closer was the run-in to the March monthly title in the RG Fantasy League, where John Noon’s Henhousemanure dropped an 83-spot in Gameweek 29 to force a tie with Justin Robinson and Robby’s Eleven on 221 points.
Charlie Watson, who fields AFC Count Sneakula, had a bit of a ’mare and dropped from first place to seventh at month’s end.
In the overall table, Lara Nash still leads the way with How’s the weather Dan, but there are only ten points in it as we approach the stretch run.
Chelsea v West Bromwich Albion
Chelsea are unbeaten in seven successive games against West Brom, with five wins.
Thomas Tuchel’s men have won their past 11 games at Stamford Bridge against sides in the relegation zone. Their last failure against a side in the bottom three was a 1-0 defeat by Bournemouth in 2015.
Chelsea have not conceded a goal at home in five league games since Tuchel replaced Frank Lampard.
Leeds United v Sheffield United
Leeds beat the Blades 1-0 at Bramall Lane in September and are looking to complete their first league double over them since 1991-92.
The Blades have won their last two away league games against Leeds but have never won three in a row at Elland Road.
Leeds’s 45 goals this season are the most conceded by a promoted team at this stage of a campaign since Sunderland in 1999-2000 (46).
Leicester City v Manchester City
Leicester beat Manchester City 5-2 at the Etihad Stadium in September and are seeking their first league double over them since 1986-87.
Pep Guardiola’s City have won 14 consecutive away games in all competitions and have kept the most clean sheets (27) and conceded the fewest goals (26) among all teams in Europe’s top five leagues.
If Leicester defeat City, they will become only the fourth team to complete a league double over a side coached by Guardiola.
Arsenal v Liverpool
Arsenal defeated Liverpool 2-1 at the Emirates Stadium last season but have not beaten the Merseyside club in consecutive home games since 2015.
Liverpool’s last five league victories have come away from home.
A total of 166 goals have been scored in games involving Arsenal and Liverpool, more than any other fixture in top-flight history.
Southampton v Burnley
Southampton have lost only four of their 28 home league games against Burnley, winning 13 and drawing 11.
The Saints snapped a seven-game winless run against Burnley with their 1-0 win in September. They are searching for their first double over Burnley since 1970-71.
Ralph Hasenhüttl’s side have lost ten of their past 12 games in the Premier League since beating Liverpool 1-0 in their first league game of 2021, picking up fewer points than any other top-flight side (seven).
Newcastle United v Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham have won five of their past six away games against Newcastle, including each of their past three since a 5-1 defeat in 2015-16.
Tottenham’s 3-1 victory at St James’ Park last season marked manager José Mourinho’s first away win against Newcastle in eight attempts.
Newcastle have managed 11 points in their past 20 matches, fewer than any other team in the top flight.
Aston Villa v Fulham
Villa have lost only one of their past 17 home games against Fulham and are looking for their first league double over Scott Parker’s side since 2009-10.
Fulham’s eight-game unbeaten run away from home is the longest such streak in their top-flight history.
Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez has kept 14 clean sheets this season, behind only Manchester City’s Ederson.
Manchester United v Brighton & Hove Albion
Brighton have never beaten Manchester United at Old Trafford in 12 attempts and have lost each of their past five games against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side in all competitions.
United are looking to keep five consecutive clean sheets for the first time since 2017, when they were managed by José Mourinho.
United playmaker Bruno Fernandes, with seven, has scored more winning goals than any other player in the top flight this season.
Everton v Crystal Palace
Palace are winless against Everton in their past 12 league meetings and have lost on their past three visits to Goodison Park.
Only Sheffield United, with none, have kept fewer clean sheets than Palace’s one in their past 18 away league games. Roy Hodgson’s side have also conceded 13 goals in the final 15 minutes of games this season, more than any other team.
Everton striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s 14 Premier League goals this season are his best return in a single campaign.
Wolverhampton Wanderers vs West Ham United
West Ham are looking to complete their first league double over Wolves since 1922-23, after their 4-0 win at the London Stadium in September.
Wolves have scored the opening goal in a league-worst seven games this season, but are the only team to remain unbeaten in matches where they have bagged the first goal.
Ruben Neves is the only player to score more than one goal for Wolves this calendar year, netting five times.
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