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Your weekend Premier League highlights

MANCHESTER CITY v CHELSEA Manchester City welcome Chelsea in a huge game for both clubs on Saturday evening. Last time the two clubs met in…

MANCHESTER CITY v CHELSEA

Manchester City welcome Chelsea in a huge game for both clubs on Saturday evening.

Last time the two clubs met in November Chelsea managed to hold the champions to a 4-4 draw. Since then the fortunes of the two clubs have been very different. Pep Guardiola’s City are on a ten match winning run. Jack Grealish and Josko Gvardiol will be missing from the City team and Chelsea could be without Thiago Silva with a groin injury and Badiashile who will be out for a month also with a thigh injury. Mauricio Pochettino is hoping Thiago will pass a late fitness test on Saturday morning. City sources tell me the likely line-up will be Ederson, Walker, Stones, Dias, Ake, Rodri, Silva, Foden, De Bruyne, Alvarez & Haaland. Chelsea’s likely line-up is Petrovic, Gusto, Disasi, Silva (if fit), Chilwell, Caicedo, Fernandez, Madueke, Gallagher, Nkunku & Palmer. Both teams might possibly be changed but these are the most likely line-ups allowing for any training problems. Chelsea are facing a tough challenge to even draw with in form City.

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR v WOLVES

Hosting a home game against Wolves on Saturday will likely see Tottenham’s captain Son Heung-Min start and slot in just behind James Maddison and Richarlison. Timo Werner is playing better than he ever did at Chelsea and that is praise indeed for coach Ange Postecoglou. The winger is feeding a constant flow of centres from the wing which have been worked on tirelessly in training. The return from AFCON of the Sengalese midfielder Pape Sarr impressed and his six-year-contract looks to be good business. He will likely line up behind Kulusevski and Maddison on the right. Postecoglou is pleased with the progress of Argentine midfielder Giovani Lo Celsos who has undergone strenuous training all week and the coach will make a Saturday decision but probably he will be given more time to recover fully.

Wolves’ manager Gary O’Neill is hoping Hwang Hee-Chan will recover from a Friday warm up session during which he suffered a calf injury. The coach is not panicking after two home defeats. Matheus Cunha had a scan on his hamstring injury and my Wolves contacts tell me the damage is serious. More medical checks are being assessed as I write this column. Hwang Hee-Chan could cover for Cunha if fit, but he prefers a No10 role cutting in from the wing but options are limited. O’Neil says Pedro Neto will embrace the pressure if Cunha is side-lined and will move from the wing to a more central position.

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BURNLEY v ARSENAL

This weekend Vincent Kompany’s claret and blues take on a rampant Arsenal. The Gunner’s distruction of West Ham was achieved with five different players scoring which underlines the versatility and talent of their squad.  Mikel Arteta feels he has the perfect team at present despite lacking Gabriel Jesus but with Leandro Trossard playing as a false No9 in the centre with Martinelli and Saka either side of him they should overrun the fragile Burnley defence. Eddie Nketiah will again be ready to come on in the striker’s role. Kai Havertz has blended in well and is enjoying his forward midfield position alongside Rice and Odegaard. Burnley will do well to contain the impressive Arsenal run.

BRENTFORD v LIVERPOOL

Liverpool are pushing even harder in the knowledge they will not have Jurgen Klopp coaching them after this season. With Andy Robertson, back from his shoulder injury, on one wing and Alexander-Arnold operating on the other, Liverpool have two players in the top five for providing assists. Alexander Arnold however will not play and Conor Bradley or Joe Gomez will take his place. Liverpool finished fifth last season but are rejuvenated this year and sit top of the table. The defence is holding well with Van Dijk is back to form and Jota, Diaz and Nunez are scoring well in Salah’s absence.

Brentford are a team waiting for their star man Toney to depart and blow hot and cold. They will struggle against Liverpool and coach Thomas Franks knows that and has trained ­­­­­­­­­­well this week, looking to expose stand in full-back Conor Bradley if he plays in Liverpool’s defence instead of Trent Alexander-Arnold. Brentford’s Ivan Toney is fit and will play but Bryan Mbeumo and Rico Henry will not be back for some time.

FULHAM v ASTON VILLA

Elsewhere Fulham look to continue their winning week as they take on Aston Villa. Villa coach Unai Emery said his team are not disheartened by their loss last weekend against Manchester United and Ollie Watkins, Leon Bailey, John McGinn and Jacob Ramsey will again lead the line. However, Villa suffered a blow this week with the injury to Boubecar Kamara which is likely to see him miss the rest of the season and playing alongside Douglas Luiz they have become the midfield heart of the team.

Fulham got back to winning ways with a 3-1 win over Bournemouth and Rodrigo Muniz is in goalscoring form after netting two last weekend.

LUTON TOWN v MANCHESTER UNITED & NEWCASTLE v BOURNEMOUTH

Manchester United and Newcastle got back to winning ways away from home last weekend and this time around face Luton and Bournemouth respectively. Both United and Newcastle are fighting hard for a European place next season and United are now only five points behind Aston Villa. Newcastle have dropped down to 7th place and Eddie Howe is under pressure from his Saudi owners to improve. Bournemouth are no push over and Newcastle cannot rely on midfielder Bruno Guimaraes and defender Fabian Schar to continue scoring their goals. Forwards Callum Wilson, Anthony Gordon and Miguel Almiron have put in extra training with Eddie Howe this week knowing that three points are vital to their European hopes.

Ipswich coach rejects Palace

Crystal Palace have approached Championship side Ipswich Town’s Kieran McKenna to take over as coach at Selhurst Park. Roy Hodgson has been going through a tough time at Palace and recently against Brighton, half the visiting fans walked out at half time when Palace went behind 0-3.  Banners calling for the removal of the current management have been displayed at matches by the supporters and Palace lost again at home to Chelsea on Monday. McKenna has refused the offer and pledged his loyalty to Ipswich at least until the end of this season when his decision will possibly depend on whether or not high flying Ipswich are promoted. Palace, I understand, were willing to wait until the end of the season and try again but three wins in 19 matches has forced them to act now.

Broja could be cheap deal for Fulham

Fulham’s loan signing of Chelsea’s Armando Broja could well cost them only half the agreed amount of £4million. It is all based on the number of games the forward plays and so far Fulham have not been impressed with Broja in training and only brought him into last weekend’s game in the 72nd minute but he made little impact against Bournemouth.

Moyes future at West Ham uncertain

David Moyes said his future at West Ham would work out and the closure of the January transfer window, which saw Kalvin Phillips arrive from Manchester City would see an end to speculation that he could lose his job. Regrettably those words look unwise as the Hammers have hit a wretched run of form. The board is now considering his position on the back of a 6-0 home thrashing by derby rivals Arsenal. Moyes is now in the final five months of his contract. The exit of players Said Benrahma and Pablo Fornals did not see them replaced and West Ham have paid the price. The Hammers are still eighth in the PL and five points off the top six and are still in the chase for European football again next year. The hesitation in signing a new contract however comes because of a winless run of seven games. The next four weeks will probably decide his future and there is hope for the coach because four of those matches are against sides in the bottom seven beginning with an away match at Nottingham Forest this Saturday.

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