Valuable points are up for grabs at both ends of the table this weekend with sides battling for Premier League glory and survival.
Manchester City will be looking to continue gathering momentum at the top when they face Chelsea, but not before Liverpool welcome Bournemouth to Anfield aiming to end their dip in form. Tottenham will also be watching on before their clash with Leicester City.
At the bottom, things are getting serious for the likes of Huddersfield and Fulham while the teams in mid-table are hoping to ease fears of drifting into the relegation fight. Plus there is the small matter of the battle for Champions League qualification.
Two Squawka writers have had a browse of all 10 fixtures, made some predictions and identified the players to watch in each game.
Fulham v Man Utd
Chris Smith: Fulham followed up their morale-boosting, 4-2 win over Brighton with a 2-0 defeat to Crystal Palace last week and the writing is really looking on the wall now for the Cottagers. Man Utd’s turnaround under Solskjaer has been well documented and there isn’t much that can be added to the praise the Norwegian has already received. United’s blistering attack is going to have too much for the Premier League’s worst defence. Fulham 1-3 Man Utd
Steve Jennings: Fulham are in desperate need of a win and so they will have to attack Manchester United. Unfortunately for the hosts, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has turned the Red Devils into a counter-attacking machine. If Fulham leave too many gaps, United will pick them off at will – I fully expect that to happen. Fulham 0-2 Man United.
Player to watch: Marcus Rashford. The England international is finally being trusted in his natural centre-forward role and my word, it’s paying off for the Red Devils. You can bank on him scoring yet again against this porous Fulham defence.
Crystal Palace v West Ham United
CS: For Crystal Palace, you get the feeling this clash could be the difference between them playing out the season in mid-table security, or nervously looking over their shoulders as they battle against the drop. A win for the Eagles will put them to within three points of West Ham, while they currently sit just four points clear of the drop. West Ham are a horrendously inconsistent side and an away trip to Selhurst Park may just rough them up a little too much, especially considering Roy Hodgson’s men are unbeaten in their last three games. Palace 2-0 West Ham.
SJ: West Ham showed a lot of fight last time out against Liverpool on the back of three straight defeats. But Manuel Pellegrini’s side might be facing Palace at the wrong time. The Eagles have won their last two home games 2-0 against Tottenham and Fulham, showcasing their defensive resilience and finally scoring some goals. Palace 1-0 West Ham.
Player to watch: Michy Batshuayi looked a real threat during his short cameo against Fulham and will have left many Palace fans licking their lips at the thought of finally having a prolific striker to work off the movement of Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend.
Huddersfield v Arsenal
CS: To put it simply, Huddersfield are terrible. The Terriers are without a win in their last 13 games across all competitions, scoring a paltry five goals during that time, of which none have come in their past five outings. They’re staring down the barrel of relegation and the last thing they need right now is the visit of an Arsenal side containing the likes of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Huddersfield 0-3 Arsenal.
SJ: Yet to score under new manager Jan Siewert, Huddersfield’s chances of finding the net against Arsenal are hopeful given the Gunners’ poor away record. Still, it’s difficult to see a team as low on confidence as the Terriers getting anything against anybody right now. Unai Emery’s men shouldn’t have too many problems. Huddersfield 0-2 Arsenal.
Player to watch: It would be too easy to go for someone like Aubameyang or Lacazette as the player to watch in this one when in reality, the man who is likely to have the busiest day is Huddersfield stopper, Jonas Lössl. The Dane is a solid ‘keeper but will have another hard task between the sticks for the division’s bottom side. He will be the difference between a spirited battle or a humiliation on Saturday.
Liverpool v Bournemouth
CS: Talk of Liverpool ‘bottling it’ after their two recent draws has been rife and, if we’re being honest, incredibly premature. The Reds still have their fate in their own hands and we’re still only in mid-February; every team has a bad run of form at some point. The fact that Bournemouth’s recent league form reads ‘WLLDLWWL’ tells you everything you need to know about the Cherries – they’re attractive to watch, yet naive and lacking in that extra quality to progress. Jurgen Klopp will have his side fired up for this and the Reds should get back to winning ways. Liverpool 2-0 Bournemouth.
SJ: The Reds simply must bounce back from back-to-back draws with a win. Not only do they require the points, but Liverpool also need to ease the anxiety that is building among the fans as Manchester City look to be back to their best. Bournemouth are perhaps the Premier League’s most unpredictable team, but this should be a home win. Liverpool 3-1 Bournemouth.
Player to watch: It goes without saying that Mohamed Salah will be the one Bournemouth will try hardest to stop on Saturday. The Egyptian is the Premier League’s top scorer at present with 16 and has five in three against Eddie Howe’s side.
Southampton v Cardiff
CS: This is definitely one of the toughest games of the weekend to predict. Southampton are much improved under the impressive Ralph Hasenhuttl and are unbeaten in their last five Premier League games, while Cardiff ended a run of four league games without a win against Bournemouth last week and are just two points behind the Saints and survival. It’ll likely be a tense, nervy affair in which neither side will want to risk defeat. Southampton 1-1 Cardiff.
SJ: Cardiff have struggled on the road all season and I don’t think that will change here. After a flurry of goals when Ralph Hasenhuttl first took over, Southampton haven’t been clinical enough to win games recently. They have a good opportunity to secure a valuable home victory this weekend. Southampton 2-0 Cardiff.
Player to watch: Pierre-Emile Højbjerg is fit again after recovering from a head injury and will be crucial to Hasenhuttl’s high-energy, pressing style between now and the end of the season. The Dane is a massively underrated playmaker, making more passes (933) than any other Saints player in the Premier League this season. His tenacious, lung-busting approach makes him the perfect Hasenhuttl midfielder.
Watford v Everton
CS: The second ‘Marco Silva derby’ of the season has already been hotting up in the press, with Troy Deeney effectively giving the Everton players a team talk by threatening to kick the proverbials out of them. The Toffees have been awful of late, but a resolute performance similar to that in the harsh 2-0 defeat to Man City in the week should see them leave Vicarage Road without too many scars. Watford 1-1 Everton.
SJ: Marco Silva needs a win against his former club, who themselves have won just one of their last six league outings. The Portuguese coach will hope his knowledge of the current Watford squad will help him to gain an advantage, and Everton might just sneak a win as a result. Watford 1-2 Everton.
Player to watch: For Watford last season, Richarlison managed 0.7 shots on target per 90 league minutes; he has upped that to 0.99 for Everton this term. Will he draw the ire of his former club with a goal?
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Brighton v Burnley
CS: Brighton are on a run of five Premier League games without a win but sit in a comfortable 13th place due to their ability to pull out a big result when the chips are down. Burnley, meanwhile, are still languishing in 17th but have looked much improved in recent weeks with a run of six Premier League games without defeat. If Sean Dyche’s low block is on top form here, it’ll be tough for Brighton to make the breakthrough, but don’t bank on the Clarets showing too much ambition in attack either. Brighton 0-0 Burnley.
SJ: Chris Hughton’s men can’t quite steer away from trouble, knowing a couple of wins will do them the world of good in terms of survival. Burnley have rediscovered their defensive durability in recent weeks but, like Brighton, they don’t score enough goals. One side will edge this and home advantage could decide it. Brighton 1-0 Burnley.
Player to watch: Peter Crouch, who caused all sorts of problems when he came on for his debut, might start here and will be again aiming to equal the record of scoring for seven different Premier League clubs.
Tottenham Hotspur v Leicester City
CS: This really is an intriguing one. Spurs are everyone’s favourite ‘bottle job’, while Leicester are every top six side’s worst nightmare. Mauricio Pochettino’s side have been coping admirably with the loss of Harry Kane and Dele Alli to injury and remain an outside bet in the Premier League title race, sitting just five points off top spot. They’ll have too much at home for Leicester, who are the very definition of Jekyll and Hyde this season. Spurs 2-1 Leicester.
SJ: Unfortunately for Spurs fans, I have a feeling two things will end this weekend: Tottenham’s title push and their drawless run. The Londoners have struggled to overcome Watford and Newcastle in their last two home games, and Leicester’s superiority to those sides on the counter could see them snatch a point. Tottenham 2-2 Leicester.
Player to watch: In Harry Kane’s absence, Son Heung-min has stepped up. The South Korean has been directly involved in 14 goals in his last 10 games for Spurs with nine goals and five assists.
Manchester City v Chelsea
CS: So, Man City have managed to claw themselves back level with Liverpool at the top of the league and have overtaken them on goal difference, although the Reds do have a game in hand. With this game being on a Sunday, Pep Guardiola will already know what his side have to do to retain top spot and although Chelsea will certainly offer a stern test of their title credentials, you just cannot see City making another slip up now. Manchester City 2-1 Chelsea.
SJ: The champions can’t afford to drop many more points if they are to retain the title and they will be relying on a 100% home record from now until the end of the season to lift the trophy again. Chelsea will be boosted by their five-goal haul against Huddersfield, but City should be too strong for the visitors. Man City 3-1 Chelsea.
Player to watch: New Chelsea striker Gonzalo Higuain will be looking to down City and keep up an impressive ratio; the Argentinian has scored 37 goals in 37 matches under Maurizio Sarri’s management.
Wolves v Newcastle United
CS: The best of the rest at the moment, Wolves have won their last three Premier League games, scoring 10 goals in the process, and are absolutely loving life at the moment. Newcastle, meanwhile, are grinding out results as and when they need them and Rafa Benitez is doing a great job in keeping them out of the bottom three. As has been the story with Wolves this season, right when you think they’re hitting peak form, they can fall back to earth with a bang and Benitez may pull off another impressive result here. Wolves 1-1 Newcastle United.
SJ: Wolves have won their last three league matches and have more than lived up to their ‘best of the rest’ label in those games. Whether they can break down a resilient Newcastle side is dependent on whether the Magpies leave gaps in their own quest for points. The hosts will be disappointed with anything but a win. Wolves 2-1 Newcastle.
Player to watch: Newcastle will need to be wary of in-form Wolves striker Raul Jimenez, who has scored three goals in his last two league appearances, including two at Molineux.