London, UK | THE INDEPENDENT | Manchester City look to extend their winning run to 20 games on Saturday and widen their lead at the top of the Premier League when they entertain fourth place West Ham on Saturday at lunchtime.
That game opens a weekend which also offers a fascinating game between Chelsea and Manchester United, while Leicester City face Arsenal and Liverpool will have hopes of returning to winning ways against bottom of the table Sheffield United.
The main drawback for Pep Guardiola’s side is that the league has given them little recovery time after Wednesday’s 2-0 Champions League win away to Borussia Monchengladbach, although with players such as John Stones, Kun Aguero and Kevin de Bruyne on the bench on Wednesday, Guardiola has options to rotate his side against a rival they drew 1-1 with back in October.
With just 14 points from 25 games, West Brom looked destined for a swift return to the Championship and any slim hopes of survival rest on beating Brighton at the Hawthornes in what promises to be a clash of West Brom’s defensive play and Brighton’s pretty but ineffective football as their recent defeat to Crystal Palace showed.
Fourth from bottom Newcastle United are a point behind Brighton and just three points above an improving Fulham, and with seven defeats from nine games there is a feeling they are playing with fire.
Newcastle coach Steve Bruce desperately needs a win at home to the Wolves, but his side is once again without injured top scorer Callum Wilson.
Saturday also sees what promises to be an entertaining game between Leeds United and Aston Villa, two sides who are safe from relegation but with little chance of qualifying for Europe next season.
Chelsea’s home game against Manchester United is Sunday’s biggest game with Thomas Tuchel’s side looking to continue their impressive recent form that has brought six wins from eight games with just two goals conceded in all competitions since the German took over at the end of January.
They showed their patience and organization in a 1-0 win in the Champions League against Atletico Madrid on Tuesday, and United will have to decide the best way to deal with Chelsea’s pressing, which is unlikely to allow much space for players such as Marcos Rashford, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood to use their space.
Liverpool travel to bottom of the table Sheffield United needing to end a four-game losing streak that has ended their title hopes and put a top-four finish in doubt. Jurgen Klopp’s men should welcome the influential Diogo Jota back after injury, while Sheffield’s Rhian Brewster will be desperate to do well against his former club.
Leicester City need to recover from their Europa League defeat to Slavia Prague and the loss of influential midfielder James Maddison through injury when they entertain Arsenal on Sunday, while it will be interesting to see if Jose Mourinho puts Gareth Bale and Dele Alli into his starting 11 at home to a dogged Burnley.
Both Bale and Alli have shown signs of returning to their best form in recent weeks and after five defeats in six league games have seen Spurs drop to ninth, Mourinho needs to change something.
Finally, Fulham hope to continue their recovery away to mid-table Crystal Palace by capitalizing on their hosts’ problems in front of goal. A win for Fulham would see them out of the bottom three if Newcastle lose at home to Wolves.