Friday, March 5, 2021

Matchweek 27 Preview: Manchester Derby; Chelsea, Everton, Hammers Battle For Fourth; Reds Try Again At Anfield

This weekend’s Manchester derby at the Etihad is sure to be hotly contested even though its importance to the title chase has lost much of its luster. Manchester United was 1st in the table as late as January 20th but, after winning just twice in the 8 matches since that time, the Red Devils find themselves currently 14 points behind their cross-town rivals. Manchester City has won 21 consecutive matches and a win or draw will set a club record of 28 matches unbeaten across all competitions.


Third place Leicester has struggled with injuries recently but remains unbeaten in 12 away matches in all competitions as the Foxes travel to Brighton this weekend. Leicester’s 9 wins away from home this season are joint highest in the Premier League. The Seagulls are but 3 points from the relegation zone after losing twice and winning not at all during a 4-match  run in which they have scored only two goals.  

Chelsea gets little time to celebrate its victory at Liverpool which returned the Blues to the top four. Everton visits Stamford Bridge on Monday with the Toffees only 1 point behind the Blues with a match in hand. Chelsea is unbeaten in 10 league matches under Thomas Tuchel, winning 8 times. Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton side have won 3 consecutive matches while not conceding a goal.  

West Ham, 2 points behind Chelsea, will look for a return to the top four when the Hammers host Leeds on the weekend. Last week’s loss to Manchester City was just the second defeat in 12 matches for the Hammers. Hammer goalkeepers Luka Fabianski and Darren Randolph are both nursing minor injuries entering the match with Leeds. Leeds is looking to earn its first point in London this season.  

Liverpool, 7th in the table entering the weekend, have lost 7 of their last 9 matches as they prepare to host Fulham. The Reds will be trying to end a five-match losing run at Anfield where they have not scored in more than 10 hours of play. Fulham, currently fighting to escape the relegation zone, is unbeaten in its last 7 league away matches.  

Spurs will be hosting Crystal Palace, having not lost a home match to the Eagles in over 23 years.  Two consecutive wins have improved Spurs hopes for a European place. The north London side are 3 points from the top six, 5 points from the top four Champions League places entering weekend play. Crystal Palace is on a 3-match unbeaten run despite placing only 4 shots on target during that stretch. The Eagles hope to have Wilfried Zaha back for the tilt with Spurs.  

Aston Villa will host Wolves in their West Midlands derby. The Villans are expected to be again without Jack Grealish and they have been struggling in his absence, losing 2 of their last 3 matches. Goals have been scarce for Aston Villa who have not scored more than a goal in 7 consecutive matches.  Wolves, meanwhile, have won only once in their last nine away matches.  

Arsenal, 10th in the table entering the weekend, travels to Burnley where they are unbeaten in their last 8 visits to Turf Moor. The Gunners, however, have not been firing on all cylinders this season and have failed to score in a total of 10 league matches, one short of a club season record. Only Sheffield United has scored fewer goals than Burnley this season as the Clarets battle to stave off relegation.  Burnley was 6 points north of the relegation zone following this week’s draw with Leicester.  

Southampton travels Bramall Lane to face Sheffield United. The struggling Saints have not won in nine matches, losing 8 during that stretch. Sheffield United will try to win back-to-back games for the first time this season.  

A key bottom of the table matchup features Newcastle visiting West Brom. Newcastle is but three points clear of the relegation zone and will be without attackers Callum Wilson, Miguel Almiron and Allan Saint-Maximin due to injury.  Under siege Manager Steve Bruce was involved in a training ground incident with Newcastle player Matt Ritchie this week. Survival hopes are quickly fading for West Brom as Sam Allardyce’s Baggies are 9 points behind the Magpies and safety.

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