A look ahead to this weekend’s fixtures, with Neil McGlade.
King Kane sets his sights on Arsenal
Tottenham v Arsenal
BT Sport 1
After last weekend’s late penalty drama at Liverpool, Spurs are now braced for the visit of north London rivals Arsenal. There are just four points separating the two sides so stakes are again high for the clash at Wembley. Amidst the uncertainty over the late penalties awarded to Spurs at Anfield, let’s not forget Harry Kane’s milestone of reaching 100 Premier League goals in what is a quite remarkable feat for a player aged just 24. Who would bet against the England internationalist going on to become the Premier League’s all-time top goalscorer surpassing Alan Shearer’s record of 260? He has time on his side that’s for sure. Arsenal had a fantastic victory over a very poor Everton side. Aaron Ramsey looked back to his best against the Toffees with a hat-trick. This one definitely ticks all the boxes.
Allardyce hoping for immediate response
Everton v Crystal Palace
Sam Allardyce didn’t hold back in criticising his players following last Saturday’s crushing defeat at Arsenal. The former England manager was right to be so scathing of his team as they were completely shambolic. He will expect to see a response when Crystal Palace are the visitors to Merseyside this weekend. With the calibre of player involved at the club, the Toffees should be faring better than they are. Palace, meanwhile, are still just three points above the relegation zone and are without a win in their last three. Both clubs need the three points for different reasons.
Lambert striving for better luck this time
Stoke City v Brighton
That was a kick in the teeth for Stoke City and Paul Lambert at Bournemouth last weekend. The manager couldn’t quite fathom out how his side managed to surrender their 1-0 lead and return to Staffordshire pointless. A point for their efforts would have been enough to lift them out of the relegation zone but it wasn’t to be. With the backing of a home crowd on Saturday, the Potters will be hoping for a better outcome this time around. The Seagulls won’t be an easy nut to crack, though, a fine win over West Ham edging them three points above the drop zone. To their credit, Chris Hughton has his team playing some attractive football and they can travel north confident of securing back-to-back wins for the first time in the Premier League this season.
Swans will look to build on cup win
Swansea v Burnley
Swansea cruised through to the FA Cup fifth round with an 8-1 rout of League Two Notts County in Tuesday night’s replay, just what the doctor ordered for a team struggling near the foot of the table. Manager Carlos Carvalhal will hope his players can build on this result when Burnley visit the Liberty this weekend. The Swans have definitely improved under the Portuguese, a recent win over Arsenal was followed up with a well-earned point at Leicester City last Saturday. However, strikers Wilfried Bony and Leroy Fer have both been ruled out for the rest of the season through injury. Visitors Burnley held league leaders Manchester City to a 1-1 stalemate in their last outing in what was an assured display. Midfielder Steven Defour, though, is out for the rest of the season with a knee injury.
Mahrez feud shows no sign of ending
Manchester City v Leicester City
The Etihad Saturday, 5.30pm
Sky Sports Premier League
Will he, wont he? That’s the question on everyone’s lips ahead of Manchester City’s clash with Leicester on Saturday evening. It’s looking increasingly unlikely Riyad Mahrez will not feature at the Etihad and, more to the point, who knows whether or not he’ll even play for the Foxes again. It’s a difficult route back into the fold for the Algerian who has taken exception to the club blocking a transfer-deadline day move to this weekend’s opponents Manchester City. Many pundits have had their say on the situation with former England striker Chris Sutton the latest to offer his opinion. He has described Mahrez as acting like a “big baby” as well as being completely disrespectful to his manager and team-mates. The winger hasn’t been seen at Leicester’s training ground since last week and his whereabouts remains unknown. His contributions to the club are immeasurable given his role in Leicester’s unforeseen Premier League title win in May 2016. However, the player is still under contract therefore the club are not obliged to sell him. Surely his agent must be at fault for not including a release clause in his contract? You would think he is responsible to some extent. Manchester City, however, won’t be sympathetic to their rivals’ plight and will instead look to get back on the winning trail again following last week’s draw with Burnley at Turf Moor. Despite the two points dropped, City are still 13 points in the clear of neighbours Manchester United. Raheem Sterling, pictured left, will be desperate to make amends following his remarkable miss from all of two yards. City will be keen not to give United any hope with any more dropped points come Saturday night. Leicester have the ability to cause the hosts problems, with or without Mahrez.
Hornets must build on Chelsea triumph
West Ham v Watford
Who would have thought it? Patrice Evra back in the Premier League with West Ham. Now 36, he may be a yard or two short in pace but his experience at this level is unequivocal. He’s just the sort of player the Hammers need as they attempt to preserve their top-league status this season. This weekend’s opponents Watford were in dreamland on Monday night following their emphatic 4-1 victory over reigning champions Chelsea. The Hornets were ruthless when their chances came along and made a Chelsea side consisting of Eden Hazard, Willian and Pedro look very ordinary. Manager Javi Gracia couldn’t have hoped for a better home debut to his Watford tenure, describing the win afterwards as “unforgettable”. Time to refocus, though.
Cup football isn’t on Terriers’ agenda
Huddersfield Town v Bournemouth
John Smith’s Stadium
Sunday, 12 Noon
BT Sport 1
Huddersfield needed extra-time to secure their place in the fifth round of the FA Cup at the expense of Championship side Birmingham on Tuesday night. The Terriers will be first to admit the prize of a home tie with Manchester United isn’t likely to be at the forefront of their minds given their current league position of 19th. Three points against this weekend’s visitors Bournemouth would far outweigh any cup run. The Cherries will descend upon West Yorkshire in fine spirits following a 2-1 win over Stoke last weekend.
No love lost despite gap between clubs
Newcastle United v Manchester United
St James’ Park
Sky Sports Premier League
Two decades ago this would have been billed as a potential Premier League title decider. How times have changed. Newcastle are again in danger of slipping out of the top league – not for the first time – while Manchester United saw their hopes of winning the league title dashed months ago. Still, these two sets of supporters still love to get one up on one another irrespective of their current positions. Rafa Benitez’s men just can’t buy a win at the moment, two victories from their last 18 Premier League outings. So much disharmony at board-room level, however, has shifted the focus from the demise on the pitch. United remain on course to finish best of the rest behind champions elect Manchester City. A fiery
affair beckons on Tyneside this weekend.
Saints braced for Liverpool backlash
Southampton v Liverpool
St Mary’s Sunday, 4.30pm
Sky Sports Premier League
Mauricio Pellegrino may have just bought himself another couple of weeks in charge of Southampton with last Saturday’s 3-2 triumph at West Brom. Saints are out of the relegation zone, for now, but for how long? Liverpool arrive on the south coast this weekend likely to be feeling more than a sense of injustice given how last week’s clash with Spurs panned out. Jurgen Klopp was livid and made his feelings clear to the match officials, and journalists, in wake of the 2-2 draw. The
Anfield club might just take out their frustrations at St Mary’s on Sunday. Despite the penalty controversy, Mohamed Salah is a man very much in form.
Conte and Pardew both need results
Chelsea v West Brom
Sky Sports Premier League
Chelsea, Chelsea, Chelsea. The Stamford Bridge side’s season is slowly but surely imploding. It is believed the club’s hierarchy will give manager Antonio Conte time to change his side’s fortunes but the chances of him still being in charge next season are becoming slimmer by the day. Anything other than three points at home to bottom club West Brom on Monday night would be another nail in the coffin for the Italian. The Baggies, meanwhile, are four points from safety and in desperate need of a win. Last weekend’s loss at home to Southampton was agonising for the supporters so Alan Pardew will be desperate to give them something to cheer about soon. It just probably won’t be this weekend.