Read the match previews of this week’s Premier League matches.
Antonio Conte is unlikely to make too many changes to side that drew 1-1 with Atletico Madrid in midweek. Davide Zappacosta could make way for the return of Marcos Alonso while out-of-favour defender David Luiz remains unavailable with a knee injury. Danny Drinkwater will also play no part in Saturday’s game having picked up an illness during the week.
“David Luiz is out, for his knee problem. Danny Drinkwater is out because he’s sick. It’s his third day with a fever. Then we have to check a couple of situations and make the best decision,” said Conte his Friday press conference.
Eden Hazard, who is currently enjoying a welcome return to form. recently joked he would talk to the club’s board about hiring Zinedine Zidane as Antonio Conte’s replacement. “I’ll speak to Chelsea’s board about that, we’ll see,” said Hazard when asked about the possibility of working with Zidane. “More seriously, for now, we have a manager who’s there, and he isn’t a small one either. It’s going to be hard to move him.”
There have been widespread reports that David Moyes is ready to drop England goalkeeper Joe Hart after Adrian impressed during West Ham’s 2-1 defeat to Man City last week. Adrian put in an assured performance at the Etihad in deputising for Hart, who was unable to play against his parent club. Demotion to the bench would represent a huge blow to Hart’s hopes of retaining the England No1 shirt, with Jack Butland and Jordan Pickford both staking a strong claim to be Gareth Southgate’s starting goalkeeper at next summer’s World Cup.
Javier Hernandez could play his first game in five weeks having recovered from a hamstring injury.
Possible Starting XI: Courtois, Cahill, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Alonso, Fabregas, Kante, Bakayoko, Moses, Hazard, Morata
Kick-off: Today 6 p.m
Spurs are looking to end a run of four without a win in the Premier League as they welcome Stoke City to Wembley. Last week the Potters ended their own four-match sequence without a victory – but having lost their last three against Tottenham 4-0, could face the ignominy of becoming the first side in Premier League history to lose by four goals or more to a side four times in a row.
Spurs recorded a morale-boosting 3-0 Champions League win over Apoel Nicosia on Wednesday night, with Mauricio Pochettino able to rest the likes of Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen and Eric Dier having already qualified for the last 16.
But it is a different story for Spurs domestically, with Pochettino’s men winning just one of their last six League games as they sit sixth in the table, and a huge 18 points off leaders Manchester City. Pochettino has acknowledged that Spurs’ title hopes are all but over before Christmas, but the north London club must not fall back into bad habits as Mark Hughes’ Potters head to the capital.
Tottenham defender Davinson Sanchez is suspended this afternoon. Sanchez is serving the first part of a three-match ban following his red card against Watford last weekend. Toby Alderweireld and Victor Wanyama remain out with hamstring and knee injuries respectively.
Kick-off: Today 8:30 p.m
Arsenal will have come out of last Saturday’s defeat to Manchester United wondering how they managed to lose a game they absolutely dominated. The Gunners recorded 33 shots, over 600 passes and saw United goalkeeper David de Gea equal a Premier League saves record in the process, but couldn’t finish their chances in what proved to be a freak game.
Sunday’s match against Southampton presents itself as an opportunity to get their league campaign back on track and manager Arsene Wenger believes goals are guaranteed at St Mary’s this weekend.
“There should be goals because they are an offensive team as well, with offensive potential,” Wenger said. “They have Charlie Austin back now, and of course they have players like Tadic, Redmond, Boufal who are all very strong offensively. They have a good technical level as a team and both sides can create chances so there could be goals there.”
Shkodran Mustafi has been ruled out of Sunday’s game with a thigh injury but Theo Walcott will be fit despite coming off with a tight calf during Arsenal’s 6-0 thrashing of BATE Borisov on Thursday. “The only one out at the moment is Mustafi,” confirmed Wenger. “He is certainly not available for Sunday. There’s a little chance of him coming back for West Ham, but he will not be available for Sunday.”
Spanish midfield maestro Santi Cazorla remains a long-term absentee with an Achilles injury and recently suffered another setback in his recovery which saw him undergo surgery for the ninth time, pushing his return date even further away.
Possible Starting XI: Cech, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Monreal, Bellarin, Ramsey, Xhaka, Kolasinac, Ozil, Lacazette, Sanchez
Kick-off: Tomorrow 5:30 p.m
Time for the Merseyside Derby. It’s the 229th Merseyside Derby between Liverpool and Everton, and the 197th in the league. Everton has not won this fixture since 2010, the Reds unbeaten in 14 against their Merseyside rivals. Everyone loves a local derby and Liverpool will be feeling confident of victory as they host Everton on Sunday. The Reds, coming off the back of a 5-1 win over Brighton, beat Spartak Moscow 7-0 in the Champions League in midweek, with their forward line looking outstanding once again.
Manager Klopp will no doubt have his full firepower on display again on Sunday, but he is still without Joel Matip and Nathaniel Clyne, while Alberto Moreno joins them on the injury list due to the knock he picked up against Spartak. Sunday’s Merseyside Derby is not only a clash of fierce rivals, but of contrasting transfer approaches and ideas of ambition as well. When Farhad Moshiri, Everton’s billionaire major shareholder, took possession of the microphone during the club’s general meeting on January 4 at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, he delivered an assertive address. “We don’t want to be a museum. We want to be competitive and we want to win,” he roared.
“The gold standard for me is our Premier League position. We don’t have all the time in the world. We have a window to establish ourselves.”
Having spent an initial £50 million to recruit goalkeeper Jordan Pickford and centre-back Michael Keane in the summer, Moshiri could not have possibly imagined that only West Ham and Stoke City will have conceded more than the Blues ahead of the festive schedule. There were pronounced celebrations when, for the first time in nearly a quarter of a century, Everton’s record transfer fee had surpassed Liverpool’s – the £45m investment in Gylfi Sigurdsson trumping the outlay on Mohamed Salah, which has a ceiling of £43.9m.
Possible Starting XI: Mignolet, Robertson, Klavan, Lovren, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Coutinho, Henderson, Can, Mane, Firmino, Salah
Kick-off: Tomorrow 7:45 p.m
Manchester United & Manchester City –
What’s more than a good Manchester Derby? Manchester City and United go head to head on Sunday at Old Trafford. The stakes will be pretty high as the top two teams battle it out.
The showdown of the season so far. Despite each manager’s public platitudes José Mourinho and Pep Guardiola know a victory for their side will have a seismic effect on the title race. If the Portuguese’s Manchester United can cut the gap to five points it gives them belief and boosts Chelsea, who are a further three points back. Lose and the Catalan’s Manchester City would return to their base in the east of the city cock a-hoop due to a near four-wins advantage.
Paul Pogba is suspended for tomorrow’s match after being sent off in the match against Arsenal. Bailly and Carrick are out due to injury.
For City Stones and Mendy are injured for tomorrow’s high profile clash.
Let’s hope for a good derby filled with goals coming from both the sides.
Possible Starting XI:
Manchester United: De Gea, Young, Rojo, Smalling, Valencia, Rashford, Pogba, Matic, Mata, Lingard, Lukaku
Manchester City: Ederson, Delph, Otamendi, Walker, Sterling, Silva, Fernandinho, De Bruyne, Sane, Aguero
Kick-off: Tomorrow 10 p.m