Mark Young picks out his five key games of the Premier League weekend, predicting a win for Newcastle in the relegation six-pointer against Norwich and results at Bournemouth and Southampton that will really put the cat among the pigeons…
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Bournemouth vs. Manchester City
It’s been two weeks since City lost in the Manchester derby and with European commitments and defensive injuries it could be another loss this weekend on the south coast.
Vincent Kompany, Nicolas Otamendi, Joe Hart have all picked up recent defensive injuries, leaving Martin Demichellis and Eliaquim Mangala struggling at the heart of the City defence.
PSG are next up in the Champions League in midweek for City and although they have enough to get a goal they may not have enough to keep Eddie Howe’s vibrant side out.
The Cherries are looking good for a second season in the Premier League and another home win against a big side will be the icing on the cake.
Prediction: Bournemouth 2-1 Manchester City
Norwich City vs. Newcastle United
Newcastle gained a point in the Tyne-Wear derby two weeks ago with a late equaliser and they can carry that momentum into their huge relegation clash with Norwich on Saturday.
The Magpies netted through Aleksandar Mitrovic and Rafael Benitez’s men will be looking to ride that wave, despite a point not really being ideal.
Rob Elliot has been ruled out for up to six months, with Tim Krul already out, so it will be third choice goalkeeper Karl Darlow in goal for Newcastle this week.
Norwich managed to grab a victory last time out at West Brom and sit three points clear of the Magpies in what is looking like a three horse race to avoid relegation.
That three point gap may be eclipsed this week as Benitez earns his first three points in the most vital of contests.
Prediction: Norwich City 0-1 Newcastle United
Liverpool vs. Tottenham
Tottenham go to Anfield on Saturday to try and put pressure on Leicester City in the race for the Premier League title.
Spurs sit five points behind the Foxes with seven games to go and play before them this weekend, so three points would really do the trick.
Anfield is the clichéd ‘never an easy place to go’, but if they defend like they did at Southampton two weeks ago then it may be relatively simple for the North London visitors.
From 2-0 up to 3-2 down at St Mary’s had Jürgen Klopp livid at his side and it wouldn’t be surprising if the on-fire Tottenham manage to make the Reds concede another three on Saturday evening.
Prediction: Liverpool 1-3 Tottenham
Leicester vs. Southampton
The Premier League title is Leicester City’s to lose at present and they will know exactly what they need to do to keep Tottenham at arm’s length come Sunday afternoon.
The Foxes have ground out 1-0 victories over the past few weeks when not playing well, which would usually be described as a ‘sign of champions’.
They may need to grind out another result against the gritty Southampton on Sunday though, as the Saints will be buoyed from their comeback victory against Liverpool two weeks ago.
That game was uncharacteristic of Ronald Koeman’s side, who have been solid at the back in 2016 and could shut out the Foxes for another twist in this Premier League season.
Prediction: Leicester 0-0 Southampton
Manchester United vs. Everton
A surprise Manchester derby win last time out has left United in pole position to take advantage if City continue to falter in the race for the top four.
And a home encounter with Everton could be just what the doctor ordered for United before a daunting trip to White Hart Lane next weekend.
The Toffees are leaky at the back, but United have been very generous there in recent times as well.
The fixture should produce goals, but it should be the young attack of Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard who give Ramiro Funes Mori and Phil Jagielka the greater issues – despite the obvious presence of one Romelu Lukaku up top for Roberto Martinez’s side.