London, England | THE INDEPENDENT | Fitness and ability to recover will be key factors in the Premier League matches to be played over the next three days as Liverpool defend their leadership with a difficult visit to Crystal Palace, while Tottenham look to bounce back from their defeat at Anfield with a tricky home game against a Leicester City side that currently sits just a point behind them.
Crystal Palace will be without former Liverpool striker Christian Benteke after he scored and was then sent off in their 1-1 midweek draw away to West Ham, while Liverpool are still missing a host of players, such as Virgil van Dijk, Thiago Alcantara, Joe Gomez and Diogo Jota for the trip to London.
Liverpool’s travel boosted by Roberto Firmino’s last minute goal which gave them three vital points at home to Tottenham on Wednesday night, although the lack of recovery time may persuade Jurgen Klopp to make some changes to his starting 11 with Nabi Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain both available again.
Manchester City will welcome Sergio Aguero back and hope that he can add some spark to a flat looking attack for their difficult visit to third placed Southampton, who have lost just one game in their last 13 and drew away to Arsenal in midweek, while Pep Guardiola’s side were held by West Brom.
Granit Xhaka and Gabriel’s suspensions after recent send-off only add to the pressure as Mikel Arteta takes his crisis hit Arsenal to face Everton, where he was so successful during six seasons as a player.
It’s been a year since Arteta replaced Unai Emery at Arsenal and his side visit Everton in 15th in the table, just six points above the relegation zone. Everton meanwhile moved up to fifth after beating Leicester City in midweek and look to be returning to their early season form.
Saturday’s last game sees Newcastle aim to recover from their midweek thrashing in Leeds at home to third from bottom Fulham.
Sunday kicks off with Brighton hoping that winless Sheffield United can provide them with three points to climb clear of the bottom three. Sheffield played bravely at home to Manchester United on Thursday, but Marcos Rashford’s excellence saw them fall to a 3-2 defeat.
Tottenham look to recover from their late defeat to Liverpool with a home game against Leicester City, who welcome Jonny Evans back after suspension. Evans’ return will allow Wilfred Ndidi to return to midfield, where he will be important to help stop Tottenham’s speed on the break.
Leeds United cross the Pennines to play Manchester United full of confidence after destroying Newcastle 5-2 in midweek and Marcelo Biela will believe their free-flowing style of play can cause problems to a rival that is far from convincing in defense. With Leeds’ back line also their weak point, it could turn into an entertaining game with goals at either end.
Sunday ends with Sam Allardyce making his debut as new West Brom coach with a home game against Aston Villa.
Monday sees Burnley at home to Wolves, while there is a tasty London derby between Chelsea and West Ham.